My (second) tournament experience

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Duane Mor » Tue, 23 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Background - I'm no great player.  But I do like to take the game
seriously, and try to play as well as I can.  I get in about 3 days of
shooting a week.

Well yesterday afternoon my local hall had a D 9-ball tournament, so I
entered.  They play race to 7, double elimination.  The last
tournament there was almost a year ago, and I got smoked - lost both
my matches.  I wanted to see if I could do better this time.

All the way up to it, I kept telling myself : "Ok, you've got a goal.
You lost both matches last time.  Do better than that."  Now, some
might say that the appropriate philosophy to have is "Always play like
you're going to win the whole thing", but sometimes reality has to set
in.  There were plenty of C players in this one - the guy running it
even said so, but each snuck by on various technicalities of the
system (if the computer says you're a D, even if you're supposed to be
bumped, you still get to play as a D) (*).   But I also knew that I
was better than some of the guys there, so I wanted to see how well
I'd fare.

And I did well, relatively speaking.  Won my first two matches (7-6,
7-6.  Nothing if not dramatic!) but then lost the next two 4-7, 2-7.
I was dead tired at that point, having never played 5hours of pool
straight before.

Some interesting "strategy" that I saw (some I knew I'd see and
watched for it, some was new to me):

Your opponent has fouled twice, deliberately play him safe in an
attempt to go for the 3-foul rule.  First guy I played tried to do
this to me a few times, just wasn't very good at it.  One of the kids
there (and I say kid, he was probably about 14) was extremely good at
it.  Personally, I don't do this.  Maybe it's a weakness in my play,
but given ball in hand and the other guy on two fouls, I've never
deliberately safed him to win that way.  I just can't see that as a
real "win", in my eyes.   [Something I did do, many times, was play
the guy safe at least once.  Or do my best to leave him with no pocket
for the next ball.  But given ball in hand after that, I always played
the next ball, not another safety.]

"Hey, good shot!  Great try!  Nice shot!'  I was smiling when the
tournament director went over to one guy and essentially said, "Hey,
shut up.  If it's not your turn, go sit down and keep your mouth shut
while the other guy is shooting.  It's courtesy.  None of this nice
shot great shot stuff.  Nothing.  Just be quiet."  Having discussed
this topic a few times on this group, I was very careful to keep my
mouth shut when I wasn't shooting.

Send the nine for a ride and maybe you get lucky.  Second guy I played
tried this a few times.  Didn't work for him.  I can't see it, myself.
I'm not talking about trying to make a clean combination - I'm
literally talking about sending two or three balls (nine included)
around a couple of banks and hoping something falls.

And the one that finally knocked me out of it : Just whack the balls
around and let the other guy do the work until there's only two balls
left on the table.  You could see that's exactly what this kid
(another kid) was doing - wasn't trying to play me safe, wasn't trying
to make a combination out of the nine...just got up, whacked the low
ball, sat back down.  And at this level, it's a legitimate strategy -
odds are that I'm only going to run maybe 3-4 balls at a time.  So if
I do that twice, that probably leaves him with 8-9.  Had I not been
dead tired at this point, I probably could have done something about
this, like played lots of safeties, or doing the same thing to him and
forcing him to sink a few balls.  I tried, but they just didn't go
where I wanted them to go.  Ah, well.

But it was definitely a good experience for me, far better than the
last one.  I've actually learned something since then.  I would prefer
to have been knocked out by someone I felt earned the victory (the guy
in the middle that beat me 4-7 clearly earned it), but still -that's
the name of the game.  I'm keeping my eye out for the weekly
tournaments around my area now to get more practice at this sort of
"strategy".

(*) One C player, who knew he was a C, and was in the computer as a C,
caused a major scene screaming at the guy running the thing because he
was letting so many other C's in.  Personally, I don't think that
shows a great deal of class.  You should want to participate in a
tournament because you want to try your hand at the competition, and
maybe win something for your efforts.  These guys were clearly looking
at it as a chance for easy money.  And for the record, the final match
was between two of this hall's regular players who are extremely
likely to be C's.

Duane

========================================================
Views and opinions expressed above are mine and do not
necessarily reflect those of my employer.
http://www.tiac.net/users/dmorin/ <-- A real "home" page
========================================================

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Ron Shepa » Tue, 23 Apr 1996 04:00:00


[...]

Quote:
>Your opponent has fouled twice, deliberately play him safe in an
>attempt to go for the 3-foul rule.  

This isn't "strategy", this is 9-ball!  :-)

Quote:
>First guy I played tried to do
>this to me a few times, just wasn't very good at it.  One of the kids
>there (and I say kid, he was probably about 14) was extremely good at
>it.  Personally, I don't do this.  

For some reason, this is an all-too-common attitude among beginners.  The
correct approach in a tournament is not to pull punches.  If the odds are
in your favor to win with the 3-foul, then that is what you should do.

On the other hand, you have to learn how to recover after losing a game by
fouling out.  I've seen many beginners who, after fouling out a game, fall
completely apart and can't make even simple shots.  Winning, or losing,
due to the 3-foul rule should be thought of the same way as winning or
losing by making any other shot.

If you do pull punches and lose anyway, then everyone feels bad.  You feel
bad because you know you didn't play as tight as you could have, and your
opponent feels bad because he won only because you were pulling punches.
And if you both pulled punches, then someone won a pillow fight -- who
cares?  If you win, it is better to win because you deserved it after a
tough match, and if you lose, it is better to go down fighting to the end
with your best game.

Quote:
>Maybe it's a weakness in my play,
>but given ball in hand and the other guy on two fouls, I've never
>deliberately safed him to win that way.  I just can't see that as a
>real "win", in my eyes.  

Pool is not just about pocketing balls.  It takes skill and knowledge to
get a good snooker, and to shoot out of one.  In 9-ball, this is such an
important part of the game that the rules allow you to actually _win_ by
getting good snookers.

The closest analogy to this attitude in other sports such as baseball,
football, or basketball, is to imagine how interesting the game would be
without defense.  In baseball, if the batter hits the ball, then he would
always get a home run; in football, the offensive team would just set up
and run the ball to the goal every time; in basketball, they would just
dribble in and shoot.  (Actually, I saw a celebrity basketball game on TV
a while back like this, and yes, it got boring real quick.)  It is the
interaction between the various facets of offense and defense that makes
these games, and 9-ball, interesting.

In my opinion, beginners should try for more 3-foul wins than they usually
do.  As their skill advances, the chances of getting a 3-foul win
decreases relative to their chance of running out or of securing some
other tactical advantage, so they naturally should try for them less
often.  The pros almost never try for 3-foul wins because their chances of
running out are so high and because the probability of the opponent
getting out of the snooker is so high.  The relative probabilities change
drastically with skill level.

[...]

Quote:
>Send the nine for a ride and maybe you get lucky.  Second guy I played
>tried this a few times.  Didn't work for him.  

You gotta learn this lesson sometime.  Better to learn from someone else's
mistakes than your own.  Even if you can't run from the position, there is
almost always a better option than slamming balls around.

[...]

Quote:
>I would prefer
>to have been knocked out by someone I felt earned the victory (the guy
>in the middle that beat me 4-7 clearly earned it), but still -that's
>the name of the game.  

If all the players in the tournament could only run 2 or 3 balls, then you
would expect close matches, with lucky rolls playing a big part.

Quote:
>I'm keeping my eye out for the weekly
>tournaments around my area now to get more practice at this sort of
>"strategy".

It helps to watch players compete who are better than you.  You can learn
when to run and when to duck, when to try for the 3-foul win, how to shoot
out of good snookers.  A good thing about 9-ball is that it is an _honest_
game, where the shooter's intentions are exposed (this isn't necessarily
true for 8-ball or one-pocket; yes, there are 2-way shots in 9-ball, but
even these are open and honest).  Position play is demanding.  Tactics are
sharp.  And your losses are limited to the tournament entry fee.  All in
all, a very good situation for beginners to learn how to play tight
competitive pool.  

And whether you win or lose, always try to learn something when you play.
If someone makes a different choice of shot than you would have made, then
set up the position in your next practice session and see if he knew
something that you didn't (or if he just made a mistake, or maybe you knew
something that he didn't).  If you see a new way to get position, then set
it up a bunch of times and see how reliable it is.  If you see a new way
to play a safety, set it up and try it a few times to see how it compares
to the other alternatives in that position.

$.02 -Ron Shepard

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Duane Mor » Tue, 23 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>Pool is not just about pocketing balls.  It takes skill and knowledge to
>get a good snooker, and to shoot out of one.

I think that to snooker your opponent is one thing - it requires a
significant amount of skill on your part to do that.  But when you've
got ball in hand, it seems like the amount of skill required to push
the object ball 3 inches and leave the cue touching a second ball
diminishes drastically.  I'd look at it as a much higher demonstration
of skill to take that same ball in hand and run out.  To play for the
3-foul rule could be translated (depending on the mood you're in) as
"No, I don't think that I'm able to run this table, so I'll take the
easy way out."

Quote:
>In 9-ball, this is such an
>important part of the game that the rules allow you to actually _win_ by
>getting good snookers.

Actually, I would think that it's more likely evolved that way in
order to be as fast and furious as possible.  It becomes important to
the game after it became a rule, not necessarily the other way around.
But I can't prove that either way.

Quote:
> In baseball, if the batter hits the ball, then he would
>always get a home run;

Pitchers would get better.

Quote:
> in football, the offensive team would just set up
>and run the ball to the goal every time; in basketball, they would just

These analogies aren't particularly valid for the situation, however,
because in each case the playing field remains identical.  The playing
field of a pool table (assuming all offense for a moment) is totally
dependent on your own ability to make the balls do what you tell them
to.  A football or basketball player could never snooker himself in
such a way that he was unable to (or made it extremely difficult for
himself to) score, no matter how wild the circumstances.  

Quote:
>In my opinion, beginners should try for more 3-foul wins than they usually
>do.  As their skill advances, the chances of getting a 3-foul win
>decreases relative to their chance of running out or of securing some
>other tactical advantage, so they naturally should try for them less
>often.

Wait a second, though.  You're effectively saying that the skill of
being able to get a 3-foul win has a limited lifetime.  Yet if I try
for more of those, then it stands to reason that I'll be trying for
less run-outs.  When exactly would I be improving my offensive
ability?

Quote:
>>Send the nine for a ride and maybe you get lucky.  Second guy I played
>>tried this a few times.  Didn't work for him.  
>You gotta learn this lesson sometime.  Better to learn from someone else's
>mistakes than your own.  Even if you can't run from the position, there is
>almost always a better option than slamming balls around.

I realize, which is why I worded it like I did.  I knew it wasn't the
greatest option in the world - BUT, given the all important rules of
nineball, I also knew that people would try it.  After all, if a luck
9ball shot isn't an element of the game, why allow it in the rules at
all?

Quote:
>It helps to watch players compete who are better than you.

True.  And I've done this on occasion, but usually from a distance.
Not because I'm playing them :).

Quote:
> A good thing about 9-ball is that it is an _honest_
>game, where the shooter's intentions are exposed (this isn't necessarily
>true for 8-ball or one-pocket; yes, there are 2-way shots in 9-ball, but
>even these are open and honest).

I can't understand how you say this, except for the fact that the
shooter doesn't HAVE to have any intentions when he gets up to the
table.  He sends the 2 down the rail, and it clips the 5 before going
in.  Or, knocks into the 5 and the 5 goes in.  What were his
intentions with that shot?  Doesn't matter - he didn't necessarily
need to intend anything.

Quote:
>All in
>all, a very good situation for beginners to learn how to play tight
>competitive pool.  

Does "play tight competitive pool" mean "do whatever you can get away
with to take home the bucks" or does it mean "learn to become better
at your game?"  

Quote:
>And whether you win or lose, always try to learn something when you play.

Very true, and I certainly did this.  Like I said in my original post,
I may not have liked every shot I saw yesterday, but I recognize that
this is part of how the game is played and that I'm going to have to
do it if I want to end up in the money.

Quote:
>$.02 -Ron Shepard

Appreciate them!

I think a big part of my problem was illustrated during my third match
(lost, 4-7).  One of those losses came when my opponent scratched on a
nine-ball shot.  As I was tossing the balls down to him, I said half
to myself, half outloud "Normally, I _hate_ winning like that."  My
opponent had a rather confused look on his face and said "Really?  I
don't."

Duane

========================================================
Views and opinions expressed above are mine and do not
necessarily reflect those of my employer.
http://www.tiac.net/users/dmorin/ <-- A real "home" page
========================================================

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Thomas M. Suare » Wed, 24 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Tournament Play, League Play and ***!
All have one thing in common, you take a chance on losing!
No one likes to LOOSE.....Egos get the best of us and we are in a
realm of competition that can bring out some real ugly charactoristics.

I recently was in a tournament that had a women (who was a better shooter
and player) loose to a young man. The loss was her second of the double
elimination tournament and she was MAD.

She claimed her oponent had "safed" her so much and so often (even when
he had easy shots on the table) that she thought he was just doing it to
***her off.  She was pissed off and lost control and could not regain
the level of play to win. Words were exchanged and foul language was
rampent. UGLY scene.

He knew that she would normally beat him in a race to their respective
handicaps. He also knew that she was a bad Kicker (from snookered plays).
He played to her weakness and won. This might be thought of as "SHARKING"
your opponent, and in some cases I would agree. Doing something that is
considered by many players (older ones esp) that qualifies as SHARKING"
is "DIRTY POOL"

Sharking is another subject

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by DBAllr » Wed, 24 Apr 1996 04:00:00


writes:

Quote:
>She claimed her oponent had "safed" her so much and so often (even when
>he had easy shots on the table) that she thought he was just doing it to
>piss her off.  She was pissed off and lost control and could not regain
>the level of play to win. Words were exchanged and foul language was
>rampent. UGLY scene.

>He knew that she would normally beat him in a race to their respective
>handicaps. He also knew that she was a bad Kicker (from snookered plays).
>He played to her weakness and won. This might be thought of as "SHARKING"
>your opponent, and in some cases I would agree. Doing something that is
>considered by many players (older ones esp) that qualifies as SHARKING"
>is "DIRTY POOL"

Anybody who gets "pissed off" because his or her opponent is playing
safe--no matter how often--doesn't sit very high in my list of exalted
ones.  Playing safe may be a "sharking technique" or "dirty pool" to some
of the bar table players, but most serious players accept and even admire
good safety play--even if they are the recipient.  My opinion.

DB Allred   OKC

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by steven m » Wed, 24 Apr 1996 04:00:00

: I think that to snooker your opponent is one thing - it requires a
: significant amount of skill on your part to do that.  But when you've
: got ball in hand, it seems like the amount of skill required to push
: the object ball 3 inches and leave the cue touching a second ball
: diminishes drastically.  I'd look at it as a much higher demonstration
: of skill to take that same ball in hand and run out.  To play for the
: 3-foul rule could be translated (depending on the mood you're in) as
: "No, I don't think that I'm able to run this table, so I'll take the
: easy way out."

I guess you could look at it that way, but what is your purpose of
playing the game?  Are you trying to win or are you putting on a
"demonstration of skill"?  If you argue that you are instead simply
trying to improve your skills then there a 3 other points to consider.
First, you may be underestimating the skill required to play excellent
safeties.  It is often not good enough to simply stick the cue ball
next to another object ball; it certainly is not good enough against
strong competition.  An excellent safety will take into account the
entire table- all the object balls, all the rails, and the distance
between the cueball and the next object ball.  In your quest for
pool improvement, your goal should not be to play an adequate safety
but rather an excellent one.  Second, it can be argued that skill
improvement should not be your primary goal when playing matches.  If you
allow yourself to accept defeat and justify it by claiming that you
have loftier goals, you are in effect practicing how not to win.  It
is easy enough to come up with excuses for losing, so we really don't
need to add one more.  The more you play without the strongest passion
for winning, the more accustomed you will be to playing that way.
Sure it'll hurt less when you lose, but ultimately you're impeding
your own path to winning 9-ball.  The more you practice winning, the
easier it becomes to play a winning game of pool.  Ask any top professional
and they will tell you that they've seen loads of up and comers with
and abundance of skill but who can't seem to clear the first hurdle of
winning their first major tournament.  Why?  Because the first one is the
hardest to attain.  But after that, they have started to learn what it is
like to win win win, and the winning will come more frequently.
The third and final point is that when 9-ball is played at the highest
levels of skill, control of the table is the key to winning.  Thus
even if your goal is simply game improvement, playing the safety instead
of the run-out might still be the right decision, depending on the
circumstance.  You should be striving to improve, but also to play within
yourself.  If you have ball in hand and you study the table but conclude
that you are not likely to run out, you should either play a safe now,
or look at the table to decide which other ball in the run you might choose
to play a safety on.  The worst thing to do is to try for the run-out and
miss, leaving a clear shot for your opponent.  That would surrender
control of the table.  If you think that's ok because at least you tried
for the runout, I'd say that you should try to shift your mentality
so that you try to refine your runout skills during practice sessions instead.
Because if you are playing this way, thinking it's ok to just surrender
control of the table, you are essentially throwing a good deal of the
strategy of 9-ball out the window and placing too much emphasis on
running out.  If that's the case, you should play with modified rules
such that anytime a player misses, the opponent steps up to the table
with ball in hand.  

: Wait a second, though.  You're effectively saying that the skill of
: being able to get a 3-foul win has a limited lifetime.  Yet if I try
: for more of those, then it stands to reason that I'll be trying for
: less run-outs.  When exactly would I be improving my offensive
: ability?

When you're trying to get someone to foul, you aren't necessarily trying
to get them to 3-foul.  After you get ball in hand, you can choose to
run a few balls and play your next safety somewhere further along in the
rack (often you will do this so you can roll the cueball into a cluster
to break them up and play safe at the same time).  If you break out
the cluster successfully, when you get ball in hand again, maybe this time
the table will be runnable.  If not you can choose to play yet another safe.
These choices are possible because you have maintained control of the
table, letting your opponent only shoot shots that you want them to shoot,
and giving yourself the most options each time you step back to the table.
If you keep getting ball-in-hand, your offensive opportunities will
naturally increase.

: Does "play tight competitive pool" mean "do whatever you can get away
: with to take home the bucks" or does it mean "learn to become better
: at your game?"  

Just to reiterate, when it comes to playing safeties or going for
3-fouls, taking the cash and becoming better at the game aren't necessarily
different things.  Trying for runouts when you are not likely to get all
the way out is bad 9-ball and you should not trick yourself into
believing otherwise.

Congrats on your early success.  Keep up the game improvement AND winning!

-$

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Steven Stanner » Wed, 24 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> She claimed her oponent had "safed" her so much and so often (even when
> he had easy shots on the table) that she thought he was just doing it to
>***her off.  She was pissed off and lost control and could not regain
> the level of play to win. Words were exchanged and foul language was
> rampent. UGLY scene.

> He knew that she would normally beat him in a race to their respective
> handicaps. He also knew that she was a bad Kicker (from snookered plays).
> He played to her weakness and won. This might be thought of as "SHARKING"
> your opponent, and in some cases I would agree. Doing something that is
> considered by many players (older ones esp) that qualifies as SHARKING"
> is "DIRTY POOL"

> Sharking is another subject

From what you say, it doesn't sound to me like her opponent was doing
anything wrong.  He was just playing smart pool in my book. If playing safe
works, then do it.  It's a part of the game.

To me, sharking implies doing something to distract your opponent while
they're shooting, or some other underhanded behavior intended to break your
opponent's concentration.  

Just my opinion.

Steve Stanners

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by bobgree » Wed, 24 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Steve, I totally agree. Defense is a big part of the game (that often
determines who wins or looses close matches) & takes some unfair knocks
from beginning players that don't understand its potential. A loss is
almost a certainty in 8 ball if you run all your balls off the table &
miss the 8. If the remaining balls are open, then most decent players
can either run the table; or if their balls are not open,  can play safe
to insure appropriate break outs of problem balls using ball in hand.

Not long ago I recall being a bit surprised in the finals of a major 8
ball tournament  when both pro-level players had balls in the jaws of
pockets, but refused to make them (easy shots) and repeatedly played
safe shots trying to get ball in hand so that they would have a better
chance at breaking out a problem cluster of balls in order to run the
table. It is especially dumb to unblock pockets for your opponent when
you can't run out. I'm sure that leaving your easily made blocking ball
in the pocket while shooting (& possibly missing)  more difficult shots,
might be perceived by a beginner as toying with your opponent-but I
consider it smart winning pool. Another aspect is that when you break
out a problem cluster, your position on the remaining balls may be
compromised, so its always nice to have a ball in the pocket that can be
used to get back into position...NEVER MAKE BALLS WITHOUT A PLAN OR IF
IT WILL HELP YOUR OPPONENT MORE THAN IT WILL HELP YOU!!

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Ron Shepa » Wed, 24 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:


>>Pool is not just about pocketing balls.  It takes skill and knowledge to
>>get a good snooker, and to shoot out of one.

>I think that to snooker your opponent is one thing - it requires a
>significant amount of skill on your part to do that.  But when you've
>got ball in hand, it seems like the amount of skill required to push
>the object ball 3 inches and leave the cue touching a second ball
>diminishes drastically.  

But the snooker may not do you any good if your opponent is skillful with
banks.  This is one good thing about the ball-in-hand and 3-foul rules.
It requires a whole new set of skills in order to master the game.

Quote:
>I'd look at it as a much higher demonstration
>of skill to take that same ball in hand and run out.  

Maybe, maybe not.  It depends on the situation.  What is easiest may not
always be what is the highest percentage to win.  It depends on what your
opponent can do in return.

Quote:
>To play for the
>3-foul rule could be translated (depending on the mood you're in) as
>"No, I don't think that I'm able to run this table, so I'll take the
>easy way out."

A better translation is "This is the path that gives me the best
percentage of winning.  I've analyzed all the possibilities, and this is
my conclusion.  If I do anything less, then it shows that I don't respect
your skill, or I'm just showing off, or I don't care enough to determine
the best option."  

Of course, it is possible to make a mistake in such evaluations, and
different players might come to different conclusions on a particular
shot, but this is a different issue.  The pool term for someone who always
goes for the runout is "Cowboy", and (in pool, at least) this is not a
compliment.

Quote:
>>In 9-ball, this is such an
>>important part of the game that the rules allow you to actually _win_ by
>>getting good snookers.

>Actually, I would think that it's more likely evolved that way in
>order to be as fast and furious as possible.  It becomes important to
>the game after it became a rule, not necessarily the other way around.
>But I can't prove that either way.

Yes, I think this is true.  Before the BIH+3F rule, if you got a good
snooker your opponent could just move the cue ball somewhere, sometimes
even going to the effort to make it look like he was trying to hit the
ball, and you had to shoot from that position.  You were not rewarded for
your snooker, and your opponent was not punished for not knowing how to
get out of one.  This is how I learned to play 9-ball in the late '60s and
early '70s.  It was a shooter's game, with not many interesting tactical
situations.

To "fix" this problem, push-out rules were introduced in the mid '70s.
With these rules, if someone was snookered, he could just roll the cue
ball somewhere, as before, but now the incoming player had the option of
taking the ball or making the original player shoot again.  Sometimes, an
arbitrary number of pushouts were allowed, with the incoming player always
having the option.  Sometimes there was only one allowed, with BIH penalty
for the second bad hit (this was common by the late '70's and was the pro
rule in the mid '80s).  These were an improvement in that the shooter had
some reward for his snooker, but not much.  On a good push-out, the
incoming player is looking at a 50/50 situation, not much reward really.
At least these rules avoided largely the frequent situation where a player
benefited from a bad hit (intentional or otherwise).

The current step in this evolution is the BIH+3F rule, which became
popular in the late 80's.  By eliminating the pushout (it is still there
after the break), the player is now required to know more about kick
shots, and cushions, and how the ball curves around obstacles, and how
sidespin affects the trajectory, and so on.  It rewards the shooter who
played the snooker, and it rewards the shooter who knows how to get out of
one.  It is a sharp game because a snooker is not just threatening to give
the player a runout advantage, but it is also threatening a straight-out
win.

[...]

Quote:
>>In my opinion, beginners should try for more 3-foul wins than they usually
>>do.  As their skill advances, the chances of getting a 3-foul win
>>decreases relative to their chance of running out or of securing some
>>other tactical advantage, so they naturally should try for them less
>>often.

>Wait a second, though.  You're effectively saying that the skill of
>being able to get a 3-foul win has a limited lifetime.  Yet if I try
>for more of those, then it stands to reason that I'll be trying for
>less run-outs.  When exactly would I be improving my offensive
>ability?

Not during a tournament, that's for sure. :-)  You should of course spend
time improving your runout abilities, but don't practice during a
competitive match.  And you should also practice getting snookers -- this
is part of "offensive ability" in 9-ball, whether it is used for 3-foul
situations or to gain other tactical advantages.  And you should practice
getting out of snookers.  And you should practice the break shot.  And
everything else.  But a tournament match is where you try to put
everything together in the best possible way, to play the best match that
you can, against an opponent who is trying to play the best match that he
can.

Quote:
>After all, if a luck
>9ball shot isn't an element of the game, why allow it in the rules at
>all?

Lots of things are "allowed", but that doesn't mean that that is the
optimal thing to do.  I agree with your original comments on this.  I was
just saying that, as a practical matter, this is almost never the optimal
tactic.  This is not, in my opinion, a sportsmanship matter, but just one
of percentages.  I play sometimes in tournaments with an older fellow who
used to play a lot of 3C; he is surprisingly good at rolling the cheese
(sometimes 5 cushions before it drops ;-).  In my opinion, he could
improve his game a bit by changing his tactics more toward runouts, but I
do not consider it unsportsmanlike for him to play the way he does.

One of the nice things about 9-ball is its simplicity.  The rules are
short, simple, and to the point.  You make the 9-ball on a legal shot and
you win.  I think it would hurt some of this elegant simplicity to add a
bunch of "fine print".

Some players think that "call shot" 9-ball should be played, but this is
really more complicated than it seems at first.  What happens when you
call the 9-ball, miss, but pocket another ball?  Do you keep on shooting,
or lose your turn?  Should "called safeties" be allowed, where a ball is
pocketed but the player loses his turn?  Should uncalled pocketed balls be
spotted (as in 14.1) or stay down (as in 8-ball)?  There are several other
situations like this that make the game different from other call shot
games (8-ball, 14.1), and it would change the nature of the current game.
Adding rules to cover all of these situations might double the text of the
9-ball rules.  Some players think it would be an interesting game, but it
shouldn't be called "9-ball", and it shouldn't replace the real 9-ball
game.

Quote:
>>It helps to watch players compete who are better than you.

>True.  And I've done this on occasion, but usually from a distance.
>Not because I'm playing them :).

That can be just as good.  The unique thing about a tournament situation
is that everyone is trying to put together their best matches possible.
In a *** situation, there is always another match to make up for any
losses, and you never know how hard someone is trying.  In a tournament,
if they lose even against a weaker opponent early in the tournament, then
they don't get a chance for the money at the end.  And it may not be an
issue of money, the goal may be just playing well enough to get to the
finals, but in any case the players are usually doing the best they can.

Quote:
>> A good thing about 9-ball is that it is an _honest_
>>game, where the shooter's intentions are exposed (this isn't necessarily
>>true for 8-ball or one-pocket; yes, there are 2-way shots in 9-ball, but
>>even these are open and honest).

>I can't understand how you say this, except for the fact that the
>shooter doesn't HAVE to have any intentions when he gets up to the
>table.  He sends the 2 down the rail, and it clips the 5 before going
>in.  Or, knocks into the 5 and the 5 goes in.  What were his
>intentions with that shot?  Doesn't matter - he didn't necessarily
>need to intend anything.

In this case, it would matter depending on whether he played position on
the 3-ball, or whether he played position on the 2-ball (after making the
5-ball).  In one-pocket or slop-shot 8-ball, for example, the intentions
of the player in these situations may not be clear.  The player may decide
afterwards which ball to shoot next (this is why I think 8-ball is not a
good game for beginners).  But in 9-ball, he usually has to decide well in
advance what he is trying.

Quote:
>Does "play tight competitive pool" mean "do whatever you can get away
>with to take home the bucks" or does it mean "learn to become better
>at your game?"  

I was not talking about sharking or cheating, if that is your question.

[...]

Quote:
>I think a big part of my problem was illustrated during my third match
>(lost, 4-7).  One of those losses came when my opponent scratched on a
>nine-ball shot.  As I was tossing the balls down to him, I said half
>to myself, half outloud "Normally, I _hate_ winning like that."  My
>opponent had a rather confused look on his face and said "Really?  I
>don't."

Is there a m***difference if he had scratched on the 8-ball, or the
7-ball, or any other ball?  From his point of view, a mistake is a
mistake, and he lost a game because of it.  If he is like most players, he
will kick himself a little bit, enough so that it won't happen again but
hopefully not so much that he loses concentration over it, and go on with
the ...

read more »

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Paul Mulhollan » Thu, 25 Apr 1996 04:00:00

  Playing safe may be a "sharking technique" or "dirty pool" to some

Quote:
> of the bar table players, but most serious players accept and even admire
> good safety play--even if they are the recipient.  My opinion.

I've come to expect that any bar player will express aggressive resentment
to anything that looks like an intentional safety.  You will be lorded over
when you lose, but should not play safe to avoid losing.  Even when there
is something at stake, this absurdity is lived out.  

Paul (another use ta was)

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Ron Shepa » Thu, 25 Apr 1996 04:00:00

: Wait a second, though.  You're effectively saying that the skill of
: being able to get a 3-foul win has a limited lifetime.  Yet if I try
: for more of those, then it stands to reason that I'll be trying for
: less run-outs.  When exactly would I be improving my offensive
: ability?

This didn't sound right when I read it the first time, but it took a
second look to see what was wrong.  The above statement assumes that a
player has only a certain number of turns, and at each of those turns he
must decide either to play for a safety or play for a runout.

This, of course, doesn't happen.  There is not a fixed number of turns in
a match.  If you try a low percentage runout (instead of some other higher
percentage tactic), then you will miss, and it is your opponent that gets
to show off his offensive ability, not you.  By keeping control of the
table with good snookers, you increase your chances both of running out
yourself and of being in a position to win by 3-fouling your opponent.  

Perhaps you will have more innings in the match if you never play
snookers, or perhaps not -- if you are playing Earl Strickland you might
get just that one turn at the table.  Not many innings in the match, but
not the outcome you wanted either.  And one good snooker might have
stopped him from running out on you?

$.02 -Ron Shepard

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Duane Mor » Fri, 26 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>The current step in this evolution is the BIH+3F rule, which became

I can understand the evolution of the BIH rule, but by what path did
the 3F rule come into existence?  Simply to make the game shorter?

Quote:
>Some players think that "call shot" 9-ball should be played, but this is
>really more complicated than it seems at first.  What happens when you
>call the 9-ball, miss, but pocket another ball?  Do you keep on shooting,
>or lose your turn?  Should "called safeties" be allowed, where a ball is
>pocketed but the player loses his turn?  Should uncalled pocketed balls be
>spotted (as in 14.1) or stay down (as in 8-ball)?  There are several other
>situations like this that make the game different from other call shot
>games (8-ball, 14.1), and it would change the nature of the current game.
>Adding rules to cover all of these situations might double the text of the
>9-ball rules.  Some players think it would be an interesting game, but it
>shouldn't be called "9-ball", and it shouldn't replace the real 9-ball
>game.

I play a regular weekly game with my father, who taught me (at least a
variant of) "old style" 9-ball.  Spot the mispocketed balls.  Call
shot.  Ball behind the headspot on a scratch.  First time one of the
regulars at a pool hall saw us playing like that, he commented "What
are you, nuts?  It'll take you all day!"  So, at least for our game,
we evolved the rules to be closer to the up to date "texas express" or
whatever the heck they call them rules.  Ball in hand.  Call pocket
(mispocketed 9 spots).  No 3-foul rule.  A mispocketed ball, however,
presented an interesting challenge - we treat this like a push, where
the incoming shooter has the option of shooting or handing it back.
So if a ball slops in and leaves the shooter clean on the next ball,
you get punished for it by making it easier for the other guy.  If it
slops in and leaves you snookered, you get punished for it as you
would in a tournament match.

I've seen tournaments on television where you have to call the 9ball,
but it was never made clear that I saw what would happen if you called
the 9ball, missed, but pocketed another ball.

This was in another post of yours, but I wanted to make a comment on
it:

Quote:
>Perhaps you will have more innings in the match if you never play
>snookers, or perhaps not -- if you are playing Earl Strickland you might
>get just that one turn at the table.  Not many innings in the match, but
>not the outcome you wanted either.  And one good snooker might have
>stopped him from running out on you?

And if Earl had chosen to play any snookers, he wouldn't have won a
million dollars.  I was told in email that (paraphrased) "the audience
appreciates a good safety, and shows it, but a pocketed ball barely
gets a nod."  I wonder about the difference in recognition between
running 11 racks versus 3-foul-winning 5 times.

Duane

========================================================
Views and opinions expressed above are mine and do not
necessarily reflect those of my employer.
http://www.tiac.net/users/dmorin/ <-- A real "home" page
========================================================

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by LEON3 » Fri, 26 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:
Morin) writes:

>And if Earl had chosen to play any snookers, he wouldn't have won a
>million dollars.  I was told in email that (paraphrased) "the audience
>appreciates a good safety, and shows it, but a pocketed ball barely
>gets a nod."  I wonder about the difference in recognition between
>running 11 racks versus 3-foul-winning 5 times.

>Duane

Since the paraphrase and the account of the 5 3-foul-wins were both mine
to start with, I feel I should comment on this subject one more time.

Both the 11 rack run and the 5 3-fouls were done in special circumstances
and both were appropriate for those occasions.

With $1 million riding on the line, it would have been sheer stupidity on
Earl's part to try for a safety, no matter how appropriate it might have
been.  So, in his case, he had to go for pocketing each ball, no matter
how minuscule his chance of making it were (witness his last combo shot).

Filipino Gene's game was like this:  He had to give up 3 games on a race
to 5 to an unknown player.  This player promptly ran the first rack and
was thus already on the hill.  Gene then went on his patented
safety-playing mode.  Now, you may consider this a defensive move, but the
way Gene plays it, it is aggression all the way.  His cue balls that night
were laser guided and became hidden so well that it would have taken shots
from under the cue ball to get it loose.  Yes, this tactic at first
frustrated and angered the opponent, but by the third game that Gene took
this way, the guy was grinning and shaking his head (in amazement, I
presume).  By then most of the other players had gravitated towards Gene's
table to see the master at work.  I could say that -to a man (or woman)
there that day - everyone was marveling at the skill on display.  No one
that I could hear said anything about "dirty pool" or "chicken-s**t"
tactics.

As I've mentioned to you, I also have taken the martial arts, so I'll
counter your analogy with my own.  You mentioned that match wherein the
defending champion did nothing as being in a defensive mode -- which, by
implication, you similarly hold 3-fouling safety plays.  My analogy would
be to place 3-foul safety plays as more akin to the tactic taken by the
DeGracies.  While other fighters went for kicks and punches, DeGracie (I
forgot which one of the Brazilian brothers it was) chose instead to use
grappling and *** holds to neutralize all opponents.  Certainly
kicking and punching were the "normal" offensive weapons, and grappling
and *** were merely within the rules.  DeGracie made that portion of
the art an aggressive one and utilized them so effectively that he won the
championship -what- three years in a row?  So what are his opponents
saying?  No fair, you couldn't take us out with punches and kicks!?  Be a
man, stand up and fight!?

You see my point.  We differ in our vantage points.  I think that safety
play is not a defensive ploy so much as a potent weapon of aggression
which I want very much to be part of my arsenal, since I do like to
win....

Leon W

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by Ron Shepa » Fri, 26 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:


>>The current step in this evolution is the BIH+3F rule, which became

>I can understand the evolution of the BIH rule, but by what path did
>the 3F rule come into existence?  Simply to make the game shorter?

There were (and are) 3-foul rules in other games (14.1, one-pocket), so I
guess that it was borrowed from them in order to enhance the safety
aspects of 9-ball.  It also eliminates some perpetual safety situations.

It is relatively uncommon to see the pros get into foul trouble, but the
3F threat does affect their tactics.  One match does come to mind.  In
1994, the PBTA world championship semifinals were televised live on ESPN.
One of these matches was George Breedlove vs Earl Strickland.  (ES
eventually won the title, as you probably know).  Anyway, at one point GB
played a hellashus snooker on ES.  ES tried to hit it, but missed.  GB
then rolled another object ball on top of the 9-ball, taking an
intentional foul himself, but leaving the ball covered in all directions.
ES had few options, even with ball-in-hand.  He could have tried to jump
the cue ball, or some other "miracle" shot, but this was low percentage.
He could not afford to take another foul and leave the cluster -- this
would have put him on two fouls instead of one, and he would be in the
same predicament next shot and in danger of losing the game.  So his best
option was to take an intentional foul, but to break apart the cluster of
4 or 5 balls, so that he would reduce the chance of getting into another
impossible situation.  If it had not been for the 3F rule, those guys
would have left that ball covered up and they would still be playing that
same game to this day!

Quote:
>I play a regular weekly game with my father, who taught me (at least a
[...]
>A mispocketed ball, however,
>presented an interesting challenge - we treat this like a push, where
>the incoming shooter has the option of shooting or handing it back.
>So if a ball slops in and leaves the shooter clean on the next ball,
>you get punished for it by making it easier for the other guy.  If it
>slops in and leaves you snookered, you get punished for it as you
>would in a tournament match.

I saw an adverti***t for a 9-ball tournament with similar rules a few
years ago.  For missed shots, the idea was that the incoming player always
had the option to make the other player play from that position, unless
the previous player had declared beforehand a "safety" shot.

Quote:
>I've seen tournaments on television where you have to call the 9ball,
>but it was never made clear that I saw what would happen if you called
>the 9ball, missed, but pocketed another ball.

Yes, the Challange of Champions tournaments used rules like this.  It was
never clear what happened in the various situations that would occur
frequently with less skillful players.

[...]

Quote:
>And if Earl had chosen to play any snookers, he wouldn't have won a
>million dollars.  

Apparently he did take one low-percentage 9-ball combination shot.  I was
curious myself if he would have played a snooker in that situation (or
some other higher-percentage 2-way shot) if it had not been for the $1M
bonus.

Quote:
>I was told in email that (paraphrased) "the audience
>appreciates a good safety, and shows it, but a pocketed ball barely
>gets a nod."  I wonder about the difference in recognition between
>running 11 racks versus 3-foul-winning 5 times.

Whichever one has the $1M bonus will get the attention of the audience. :-)

Remember however that tactics change with skill level.  Given the same
table situation and a choice between two shots, a pros percentages may be
99% one and 98% the other, while my percentages might be 80% one and 40%
the other.  In many situations, it is much more important for the less
skillful player to know the odds, and to take the right option, than the
pro.  And there are also situations where the relative odds are reversed;
that is, the highest percentage shot for the pro is the lowest percentage
shot for the tyro.

And the strangest paradox is that just because the shot succeded doesn't
mean that the player made the right choice, and just because it failed
doesn't mean that the player made the wrong choice.  If I take my 80% shot
and miss, that doesn't mean that I was "wrong" and should have taken the
40% shot instead, and if it take the 40% shot and make it, that doesn't
mean that I was "right".

$.02 -Ron Shepard

 
 
 

My (second) tournament experience

Post by steven m » Sat, 27 Apr 1996 04:00:00

: gets a nod."  I wonder about the difference in recognition between
: running 11 racks versus 3-foul-winning 5 times.

As a spectator I`d have to say it depends on who's 3-fouling.  If it's
any of the big name pros (e.g. Earl Strickland, Efren Reyes, Nick Varner, etc)
3-fouling 5 times in a match would be the stuff legends are made of.
If it's some relative unknown, most spectators would probably just dismiss
it by saying the player's kicking game is suspect.
Percentage wise, I'd have to say that the top players are A LOT more
likely to run 11 racks versus getting 3-fouled 5 times in a match.
There are players like Grady Matthews who I think still has NEVER
3-fouled during a match (this was still true a few years ago; dunno if
anyone's managed to accomplish this feat since then).

-$