Times up! As a reminder, here’s the layout I was presented with in ‘shot 2’ from my last post:
My thoughts on this situation:
- Thinking ahead to the eight ball, the eight ball is blocked from both the left and right upper corner pockets, so it can only realistically be pocketed into the upper side pocket via a cut shot or the lower side pocket via a bank shot. Obviously, I’d prefer to take the higher percentage cut shot, but if forced, the bank is an option.
- The solid ball (yellow) is easily makeable in the upper left corner, but I won’t have a shot on the eight ball from there.
- My opponent’s balls (blue) are everywhere, and they are not clustered, so my opponent has a pretty good chance of running the table if (or when) I miss.
- …UNLESS I CAN PLAY A REALLY GOOD SAFETY! But how can I play a safe here???
I considered the safety shot diagrammed below, but decided against it given the extreme level of speed control required, not to mention the precise thin cut needed. I thought my probability of success on this shot was next to zero; maybe 5-10% at best:
Well, when all else fails, I fall back to an old mantra….”When all rational shots have been considered and discarded, whatever shot remains, no matter how irrational, must be the right shot!” …lol…
Since I’m pretty good at draw shots (it helps to know thyself!), I thought I might be able to pull off the shot diagrammed below and then finish off the rack with a sharp cut or bank on the eight ball. Here’s the shot I planned:
I took a few practice strokes, focusing on body position, arm mechanics, and wrist snap, then uncorked a break shot speed stroke, hit the cue ball extremely low, applied maximum wrist snap, and as much follow through as I could manage. The resulting shot is diagrammed below:
Without a doubt the best draw shot I’ve ever executed! I easily pocketed the eight ball on my next shot to win the rack.
Here’s the second shot that really stood out in my memory. I was competing in the US Amateur Preliminary round last weekend, and at one point I was presented with this shot in 8 Ball:
Here’s the situation: I broke the rack, reviewed the initial table layout, and decided that I could run all the solids on the table, so I tried….and failed! I had lost cue ball position on a previous shot which got me out of line and caused me to miss my final ball (yellow). In response, my opponent decided to break up a cluster of his stripes so that he could go for a run out on his next turn, and left the cue ball safe for me at the far end of the table.
So here’s the question, oh wise reader…..WHAT’S THE RIGHT STRATEGY FOR ME? BETTER YET, HOW WOULD YOU PLAY THIS? Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I tried.
As a reminder, in my last post I described a shot that I encountered during the US Amateur Preliminary round where I was playing 8 Ball and was presented with the following layout:
Here are the shots I considered:
- My very first thought was to cut the closest solid ball to the lower right corner pocket, and in fact I moved over to take that shot…only to realize the 8-ball was directly in the path of the shot and there was no way around it.
- My second thought was to cut a solid ball to the upper left corner, but that’s a very thin cut and I’d likely lose control of the cue ball and possibly rearrange the positions of other balls on the table (an action I always try to avoid since it introduces a luck factor into the game).
- Next I considered a one-rail bank to the upper right corner pocket (a relatively high probability shot for me since I play a good bit of One Pocket); however, THAT solid ball had my opponent’s stripe ball nearly kissing it, and I was afraid that I would accidentally touch the stripe before the solid (foul) and give my opponent ball in hand (another HUGE no-no in my book).
- I very (emphasis on very) briefly considered cutting one of the two solids just above the cue ball to the far upper right corner, but that would be a difficult cut shot and I’d definitely lose cue ball control on that shot.
- When presented with a low probability shot and especially given a loss of cue ball control, I always fall back to a safety shot. I looked for a good safety (as they say, ‘when you leave the table, leave on YOUR terms’) and saw a pretty high percentage safety.
Here’s how I planned the shot: I wanted to make a very thin soft cut on the solid with a lot of left spin and with speed to put it close to the bottom rail next to the other solid. I didn’t care where the first solid went; in fact, I was praying that it would NOT make it to the upper left corner pocket. Here’s the diagram of the shot as I planned it:
Here’s a picture of the final result, which I took before my opponent could figure out how he wanted to respond:
The result was mostly due to good planning, with a little luck on the speed and position, but my opponent had absolutely nothing he could do to make a legal hit. The cue ball was essentially frozen between the rail and my solid. He subsequently fouled (and didn’t mess up the table layout) and with ball in hand I was able to run out from here.
Tomorrow, I’ll share another very interesting shot, a shot that I consider to be . . . . . well, you’ll just have to see it to believe it.
Pool is such a fascinating sport because no two racks are ever alike. You must think and plan how you are going to attach each rack. Constant problem solving. There were a couple shots I encountered last weekend during the US Amateur Preliminaries that I wanted to share with you. Why? Because there are many ways to solve the same problem, and different people have different perspectives. I’ve posted shots that I’ve made before, thinking that I made the best decision, only to have another player offer a better solution. Pool is a learning environment, and I’m always looking for input.
Here’s the first shot…we are playing 8-Ball:
I’m solids (yellow) and I’m in a bit of a predicament. I’ve got 5 solids on the table; my opponent only has 3 stripes (blue). I don’t have an easy shot, but I initially figure I have two likely offensive shots as indicated in the diagram below:
I can take shot # 1 and make a very thin cut to the upper left corner, or shot # 2 and try a one-rail bank to the far right corner. Alternatively, maybe I could do something else? Is there a third shot?
WHAT DO YOU THINK? What would you do? When presented with this situation I stood over the cue ball and pondered my options for a minute, then a light went off and I quickly made my decision knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I’ll share my decision in my next post, but first I want to see if anyone has any input.
A couple days ago I won a spot in the Northern California preliminary and will be headed to Tampa, Florida to compete in the final round of the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship tournament. This tournament is an annual event created and promoted by the APA, and typically features the best of the best APA players in the country. To win the spot I had to compete against several good players, all friends of mine, and this year I was the one who got a few rolls and got lucky. This will be my second trip to Florida, so I know what to expect in terms of hotel accommodations, host location, and most importantly, the competition. I plan to get there a few days early to get comfortable with the location, learn the tables, and also just to relax and enjoy the experience. My first trip to the finals was in 2011, and at that time I was practicing a lot and put a lot of pressure on myself. This time, I’m a different player. I’ve improved my 8-ball and 9-ball games by adding a few tricks/skills from One Pocket, but I have to admit that I don’t practice much anymore. Just been too busy. Oh well. I feel I have a responsibility to represent NorCal to the best of my ability, so I’ll be hitting the practice table pretty intensely over the next month. See ya in Florida!
U.S. Amateurs Update
Slept in late. 😦 Headed to Strokers in 15 minutes. Yesterday, I lost my first match 3-7 then won my second match 7-5. I’ll play again today at noon. If I continue winning (and that’s a BIG if), I will need to play 6 or 7 straight matches with no breaks to make it to Sunday. I found out they are live streaming one table on the internet. Here’s the link from the APA website:
Tonight I’m packing for my trip to Tampa, Florida for the finals of the US Amateur Championships. Just a short 6.5 hour flight from San Jose to Tampa… I can’t wait!!!! I’ll be getting to Florida a couple days early to give myself time to adjust to the time zone change. My plane lands at 10:30pm, so I figure I can check into the hotel and get to Strokers in Palm Harbor by midnight. I’ll grab a light dinner, visit with some of the locals, then hit a few balls to get accustomed to the equipment. On Thursday I’ll be at Strokers as soon as they open so I can practice all day and get into stroke while the other competitors are arriving. Ahhhh, the life of a pool player!