Midwest 9 - Feb 2014 Review

I don't have a lot of good things to say about my weekend in Olathe, KS for the Midwest 9Ball Tour, other than to say (and proud that I can say it) I literally did not miss a ball in my first round (not counting breaking dry or the one mis-cue).  If I shot at it, I made it.  Now, having said that. I did lose 5-9.  I had a good break and run, and was about to do it again, but I babied the 6 ball and hooked myself on the 7.  There was a small score debacle where I would've bet my truck that it was tied at 5, but apparently I was wrong and it was 5-6 to him, so when he marked up game #7 on the wire I was totally confused and thought he was trying to steal a game; which took me completely out of the match, mentally.  He broke and scratched and left a mess of a table, but I found a brilliant way to win. I had to shoot a 1-7 combo which would leave a 1-9 combo, but I overran position on the combo and hooked myself again! I kicked, missed the ball and left him the 1-9 I had just manufactured for myself.  He's on the hill, breaks, makes a ball and what's there? The 9 hanging in the corner, and a clean shot for another 1-9.  That was that.

Saturday afternoon .. I won't even waste virtual space with it. I lost 1-9.  My head was totally missing.  I felt like I was sleepwalking, though I had "slept" for a good 7.5 hours.  It must not have been good rest, I felt dog-tired all day.

Afterwards, I hung out with some friends and finally got around to playing a bit more.  I matched up with a guy from my home area and we did some one pocket to see how we'd play.  We played even for about 6 racks, of which I won only 1, then he gave me 9-7 for another 3 racks of which I won zero, then he offered 10-6 and I said No, lets stick with this 9-7.  We played another 5 racks and I won only 1 of those.  I don't feel like we played great one pocket, neither of us were overly aggresive or overly defensive, but I just dogged safes or shots too many times.  I knew he was a better 1p player than me, but I still think 9-7 is the game I should get and be close to even.

I played some 9-ball with another friend and played better, including another break and run (this is big table still); so that's nice.  I finally went back to the hotel around 4am.

Sunday I drove home and was on FB looking for a game at my local room where they had just put on new blue Simonis cloth on the barboxes.  I found a sparring partner and we did a couple of sets in the midwest 9 style (race to 9, alt break, RYO). We used the magic rack though, since the balls were a little off-sized.  I played ... less than great the first set, and lost 4-9. Just couldn't close it out.  Then the 2nd set, I played much better, put another package together.  With alternate breaks... I broke and ran, he broke dry, I ran out, then I broke and ran out again... so it's *sorta* like a 3-pack! haha It went hill-hill, but his safety game is just better than mine, and when he froze me between the 7 and the pocket, I had zero shot at the 3 ball, and he ran out from there.

It was great practice and he's a good opponent, so I'm sure I'll match up again (and hopefully come away with more than I walked in with next time).

I'll get to try my hand at the tournament again in 2 weeks when the tour comes to my hometown. :)

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Milestone: Putting Together a Package

This weekend presented me with a goal I've long sought after: The "Package".

Friday night I met up with my practice partner and he utterly destroyed me in 2 races to 7. After being up 3-0, he proceeds to win the first set 4-7, then the next 2-7.  I made a few errors, sure, but the balls just weren't going my way that night.  Oh well.  It happens.  (On a sidenote, I didn't really let it phase me; kept a nice level mental state through all of it.  Another good point for me.)

After he left, I hit balls for a little while, then decided that I needed to really practice.  There wasn't any one particular shot I felt like I should practice, just my overall approach to the rack - and I always want to practice my break, so the obvious choice was to play the ghost.

Playing the ghost, if you aren't familiar, is a great game that punishes all mistakes.  Rack the balls, break em best you can and take ball in hand (if you need it) and run out.  If you miss a shot, the ghost the wins the game.  If you run out, you win it.  There are variations available, like the ghost could be giving you the last 4, or the 7-ball or maybe you get 2 innings to get out; if you aren't at the level of running racks yet.  Generally you play a race to 9 or something of a decent but not extruciating length.

I, apparently, am a masochist and typically play the ghost even, though I have never even gotten halfway to the hill for some reason.

I quickly go down 0-3, missing a 3-ball, a 7-ball and 6-ball in the first racks.  Then I get a rack. 1-3. Ghost gets 2 more before the amazing happens.  At 1-5, I break and run out - without ball in hand.  2-5.  Then I break and run out AGAIN, making this my first pair of back-to-back break and runs; and consitituing my first "package" ever!  It's now 3-5.  I break the next rack and it's a pretty good looking table, but I get the wrong angle on the 2, causing me to have to force the 3-ball to get shape on the 4, and I miss the 3-ball.  SO ANNOYING!  Thus ends my "package" at just a "2-pack".  But, it's still my first 2-pack ever!.  So, here we are 3-6 in favor to the ghost, and he gets 2 more games, making it 3-8, and I come with another B'n'R (no bih) to get to 4-8.  The next rack, I don't take ball in hand (going for another package) when I probably should have and miss the 1-ball, giving the ghost the set.

Final score: 4-9 in favor of the ghost.  While this score would make me want to hide my head in shame if I were playing in a league match, I'm actually quite happy with the result.  It is the best I've done against the ghost, playing even.

As luck would have it, I was videoing that night and caught all my run-outs on film! :)

After watching the raw footage, I realized that even if the ghost were giving me the last 3, I still would not have won the set; though it would've been much closer. I made it to 6 before he got to 9 with that spot (getting the last 4, I think I get to the hill and 5-out I win; gotta watch it again to be sure).  So, it seems that I really must focus on the end of the rack when I come to the table.  I need to remember that when I get passed the "hard work" of the rack and find myself with a good spread of the last 4 balls, I need to make these last 4.  I earned those last 4, I deserve those last 4.  Why would I give them up now, after "doing all the heavy lifting"? It is the worst time to relax and assume that I'm out. I have a nasty habit of doing that, unfortunately.  And I do it by both over and under thinking the rack.  Sometimes I focus too much on getting the out, trying to really ensure I'm dead perfect on the last 4; which adds extra pressure, which pulls me out of my rhythm and I end up jarring a ball.  Other times, I purposefully try not to over-think it and just make the ball, because I can make all the shots from just about anywhere; so I stop playing any kind of small-zone position and just focus on making the ball.  This, of course, leads me to a series of the 4 hardest shots imaginable, usually at great distance and thin angles, which leads to a missed ball.

In summary, this little ghost session has given me a great To-Do list:

  • Work on my cueball control on the break (although this was with my back-up break shaft, as my Samsara came off my OB-Break AGAIN last week).
  • I need to maintain the same level of focus and concentration through the entire rack. Do not try to hyper-focus or relax when I get to the "easy part of the rack"
  • Work on my speed control - let my subconcious brain do what it's supposed to do; don't try to out-think my instincts.
  • Trust my instincts - when the first position route I see is a simple 1-rail position, don't try to "help" by adding a 2nd rail or a bunch of english to get perfect on the next ball.
  • Play the ghost more often.

The "wins" from this session are just 2 - but very important notes: 1) I stayed calm the entire time, never getting upset about missing a ball and just accepted the result, then analyzed why I missed the shot. 2) I RAN MY FIRST TWO-PACK!!!

Here's to many more in the coming months!

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Training

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