> so... the pros don't play 8-ball, there are barely any 8-ball tournaments
> around (the only one i know of in chicago is in a distant suburb), the
> best most people have to say about it is "it's a good beginner's game",
> and i've heard considerably worse.
If you want good competition, get on one of these leagues. You'll get to
play Larry Schwartz, Mike Bandy, Billy Incardona, Marco Marquez, and many
other good local players.
Also, the PBTA world championship 8-ball tournament is sometimes on TV. I
think the one this year is scheduled to be on Prime (SportsChannel on
local cable around here) later this fall.
> defensive play, [...]
really prefer 9-ball. I think 8-ball is a lousey game for beginners
learning how to play; I think both the offense and the defense are too
easy technically. There are some interesting tactical situations between
players of intermediate strength, but to me it is pretty boring when two
beginners play each other or when two pros play each other. Watch the
championships on TV this year and see for yourself.
> tables, or is 8-ball actually inappropriate for high-level play for
> some reason?
seems to be their game of choice; many of them have never played another
game on a pool table (except maybe cutthroat, which is a worse game than
8-ball) and have never heard of 9-ball or 14.1.
> against better players, but it seems like the only way to do that is
> to play 9-ball all the time...
9-ball. Look for some of the weekly handicaped local tournaments that
have good players, and enter some of the larger nonhandicaped local
tournaments or McDermott stops when you feel ready. If you want to
improve your 8-ball tactics, then play opponents above your skill level.
There are lots of good players in the Chicago area.
$.02 -Ron Shepard