Friday, January 22, 2010

It's So Over

We made the playoffs. Henry, Mike, Alex, Mimi and I managed to finish fourth after the Fall regular season was over(due largely to Mimi kicking ass when she subbed for me).

That first night, Alex saved us by killing his opponent 7-1. I had eeked out a 5-4 victory, and combined with Henry's one game loss and Mike's one game victory, we were only one game ahead. For some reason, Alex's rout was the longest match of the opening round.

"She couldn't shoot - I mean at all, " he told us at the bar. "Maybe she was having a bad night, but she could barely form a bridge."

Intriguing, because she was ranked a six, and sixes can (generally)at least shoot decently.

In the second round, I was matched against a nine. I prepared for a (possible) ass-kicking, and early on, that's exactly what I got.

I broke the first rack of eight-ball, and the cue ball got kicked into the side pocket by the fourteen(which followed it in, so at least I had a strong break going for me). My opponent took ball-in-hand behind the headstring, and calmly ran out.

Then he ran out the second rack in his second turn at the table(an incredibly difficult run out, he had to pocket three of his balls into the same pocket, playing pin-point position - it was impressive, though depressing, to watch). I stared at the ceiling, sighed, and thought about how much it would suck to tell me expectant teammates I had lost 0-7.

Then, I managed - with help from my handicap - to win the third game. Fourth game, he tried a difficult safety and left me a window. I ran out from there. Suddenly it was even, two games apiece.

The last game was a replay of the fourth game - he misses a difficult safety, and I make a gutsy shot on the eight to win it. Down 0-2, I came back to win eight-ball 3-2. Even though I wasn't playing that great, I still felt good about the comeback.

He won the flip for the nine-ball portion of the match, and preceded to run out the first game. He shot beautifully, juicing the cue ball, gliding it around the table softly;whatever was needed. Occasionally, he missed a shot down the rail or a long cut shot. Those were my only openings in the match, and most of the time, I took advantage.

Having the seven ball - because of the handicap - as an additional money ball helped. He left me straight in on the seven once, but length of the table. I drilled it. Practice was paying off.

With him ahead 3-2, I got lucky. I had a good shot on the six but needed to bang it home hard to get the cue ball up table towards the seven in the corner pocket - I got good on the seven, but the six jawed and shot out of the pocket only to roll directly into the opposite corner pocket. I shook my head, smiled, and tapped by cue stick on the table, apologizing for my luck. Either way, the seven went down, and the race was tied.

The next game, he left me a difficult shot on the five. I had two options: a) table-length bank with follow and hope to get lucky with position on the seven, or b)play safe. Since there were only four balls left on the table(the 5, 7, 8 and 9), I went with the bank. It was beautiful. The five banked off the end-rail and sailed into the opposite corner pocket, and the cue ball hesitated then spun up the table and gave me a passable shot at the seven, which was glued to the rail nearest the pocket I had just sent the five to.

"Well, guess I'll have to do that again," I said.

I studied the table - the seven was makeable, but certainly not probable. However, the eight and the nine were very close to each other, on the left side of the table near the side pocket. If I missed the bank, I reasoned, I could still hide the cue ball behind the 8-9 cluster and hope for ball-in-hand. I ended up missing the bank by a mile, but hit the safety perfect. He missed the kick, I took ball-in-hand and made the seven. Match to me, 7-5.

Chris came up to record our results, and I asked if anyone else on my team had finished.

"Oh yeah they've finished - Henry lost 7-1 and Mike lost 5-1, " Chris said. "I'm going to stop Alex, because I don't think he can win 8-0, since that's impossible."

Well...fuck. Hearing that took the polish off my victory.

Still, we made the playoffs for the second straight season, and we made it out of the first round. Hopefully next season, we can do even better.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The last time I had played Tom was in the playoffs. I won the match by one game - after he had been up 2-0 in eight-ball. He squeezed out a 3-2 win over me before losing 4-2 in nine-ball. That wasn't the end of our night: our teams tied, so as the designated "tie breakers" we had to play, er, a tiebreaker.

It was over in less than two minutes. He broke, making nothing. The one ball was visible but tough, and the two-nine combo was dead in the corner. I safetied, hoping for ball-in-hand after he(most likely) broke up the two-nine, purposely fouling but not leaving the easy win on the table. Instead, he tried to kick at the one, missed, and I calmly made the one and the two-nine for the win. My team advanced, his was out.

Flash forward to tonight. My team is in the toughest division, above five-hundred but mired in the middle of the standings. Tom's has a losing record, but is in second place among a bunch of struggling teams in a division that even Tom admitted was "dogshit".

"But I'll take first place in the dogshit division any day. We are the Kings of Dogshit," he said before our match.

We were put in the "TV Table", so called because it's at the front of the club and is covered by a webcam. I wish I had played better for the one or two people watching.

Stocky and jovial in the way only stock guys can be, Tom was a ball or two away from burying me 3-1 in eight-ball. I made two mistakes and lost two games. Tom, a good player, was playing good, mistake-free pool. Then, inexplicably, he took a risk and accidentally sank the eight-ball. Instead of a 3-1 victory, it was 2-2. Boosted by my unexpected good fortune, I made short work the next game and won after just two turns at the table. A 3-2 victory. Incredible(or as incredible as amateur pool can be).

Nine-ball swayed back and forth, but eventually Tom won a hard 4-3 victory. That meant a tiebreaker, though this time the game wouldn't decide our respective team's fate.

I won the flip and chose eight-ball for the tie-breaking game.  It came down to Tom missing a tough but makeable eight after a three-ball runout, leaving me a three-ball runout of my own. 11 ball in the top left corner - click, ball drops, decent but not great position on the 12 in the bottom right corner. Great, sink the 12 with a little follow, drop right on top of the eight ball. Game over.

And I did drop right on top of the eight-ball. Which was great...for Tom. The 12 missed the pocket by about an inch. I didn't shoot it confidently. You're going to miss it, miss it, miss it! I was not the master of my own mind. You're not even lined up correctly - just shot it soft and shoot it now, hope for the best! It should be easy to stop, get up, think, and get back down over the shot with confidence. Shoot quickly, it's your only hope! I did, jumping up after the shot, pathetically twisting my body as if I had telekinetic powers at my disposal to make up for my empty nutsack.

So Tom won. A small measure of revenge.

Afterward, I drank with him and his teammates. I did shots with Ben the Brit(perpetrator of my only other loss this season). After we tossed back the tequila, out of the corner of my eye I saw Chris shaking his head. His gesture had a reasonable point: it was Tuesday night, and we all(probably) had work the next day.

Reasonable decisions are rarely made at a pool room bar, though.