Monday, November 29, 2010

Hammer Week Wrap-Up

Quick update from my last post. The week was a mixed bag. Monday night I won but the team as a whole struggled... we lost, and dropped to second place. With one more week to go, I think we're solidly in the playoffs though... and it's very possible that we could regain first place with a decent win this week.

Wednesday night, we all struggled. Most matches (mine included) went down to the wire in hill-hill races... but the pool gods just weren't on our side and our highly motivated opponents pulled out the majority of wins to tie us in third place in the overall standings. We're going to need a big win against the first place team just to stay alive. We are capable of a big win against these guys... we beat them 5-0 last time we went up against them.

Friday night, I won and we won. I actually played really well Friday night, sweeping my opponent in straight games. I was a little worried in the first game, because I broke dry and then watched as she nearly ran the table... missing position on the 8-ball by just a couple of inches (why couldn't I have that kind of luck on Wednesday night!!??) I took advantage and ran out, then managed to stay ahead of her in the subsequent racks as well.

The biggest news of the week is... I got a new computer! Yay me! I got tired of begging and borrowing my daughter's computer and/or surviving on my iPhone and grabbed a new desktop at Costco on Black Friday to replace my still ailing laptop. I've been poking at that darn laptop for over a month now, and tried just about everything I could short of a destructive tear down and rebuild. I saw a decent deal on a desktop and figured that was the best way to support the pending destructive tear down and rebuild. Now all I have to do is suck the data off the laptop's hard drive and I'm golden even if I'm never able to resurrect the darn thing. I'm actually in good shape anyway, all of my really important stuff is backed up.

I hope everyone (in the US) had a great Thanksgiving... and now it's on to double hammer time for the last week before playoffs!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hammer Time!

Another APA season is coming to a close, and of course that means playoffs and tournaments. All of my teams are in line for both at this point - at the beginning of the week my Monday night 9-ball team was in first place in their division, my Wednesday night 8-ball team is currently in second place, my Friday night 8-ball is in first, and my Sunday Master's team is in second place.

The races in some divisions are tighter than others... I feel pretty good about the Monday and Friday teams; a bit nervous about my Wednesday team because it's my baby - I took over as captain earlier in the season. It's a very solid team, but the race between the top five teams is extremely close and we're wrapping up the season against two very good teams. This week, we play a team that managed to sweep us 5-0 earlier in the season. I wouldn't say they're better than us overall, just got the right match ups and got the rolls, etc. It was one of those nights. Tonight is our chance to respond!

Next week, we play the team that's currently in first place in the division. Coincidentally, we managed to sweep them 5-0 earlier in the season, so I'm sure they're thinking the same things about us that we're thinking about tonight's team!

Good luck to everyone else out there wrapping up their season(s) as well - finish strong!

Also, to my US readers - I hope you have a very happy (and safe) Thanksgiving. And if you happen to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade... I feel the need to have a quick "proud parent moment" and point out that my son will be in it this year, marching and playing the euphonium in the Green Valley High School Marching Band.

He claims he'll be the one that trips and falls in front of 50 million TV viewers - LOL. I'm sure he'll do fine, but if someone does trip, I'll state for the record now that it wasn't him (even if it was).

Monday, November 15, 2010

PoolSynergy: Three Handy Shots

Wow, it's been two whole weeks since my last post. It's amazing how quickly time flies when you're sick and your computer is dead. But it would take more than that for me to miss the special first anniversary edition of PoolSynergy, so I loaded up with a triple dose of Nyquil, booted my daughter off her computer and here I am! Her YouTube, Daily What, and U.S. Government homework can wait... it's MY turn damn it, and I built this computer in the first place - so HAH!

Now I have to hurry up and madly hammer this out before the Nyquil kicks in and I ZzzzZzzzzzz.
For this month's edition of PoolSynergy, John chose to go with the theme of "Three Tips" and after he very nicely explained to me that he was talking about three hints and not three tips such as the Moori, Tiger Sniper (my old favorite), and Tiger Onyx (my new favorite) I wandered off into my corner to figure out what I could possibly write about. Something GOOD. I mean "don't miss your shots," "don't scratch," and "don't hook yourself" seem kind of obvious (and short).

OK, I admit those were my backup plan in case I had to do the whole article from my iPhone. But I've commandeered a real computer so I'm going to do three real tips! And since I also listed my emergency backup tips, you get a sweet 2-for-1 deal on tips today and it's not even Black Friday yet!

Alright, the Nyquil is starting to kick in (which will be my excuse for any lame humor that appears in this post) so I need to get back on track. It actually took me awhile to come up with the three tips I was going to cover. Most of the other authors jumped on good ones before I could stake my claim (be sure to check the others out) so I had to dig a little deeper. I pondered some about what made me ME... and realized that I tend to use unique, creative shots more often than a lot of others do. While others get perfect shape shot after shot and sink everything (yawn), I'm the one who screws up shape just so I can pull some jaw-dropping crazy shot out of my ass. And then, of course, while the thrill is still fresh in the crowd's mind I miss an easy straight-in shot on the money ball and slink away to my chair. Or at least that's the way it seems during some matches.

But it is true that I use unique shots at times. Most of them aren't rocket science but as I mentioned, I often don't see them used when the opportunities present themselves to other players. Of course... once you know a shot and have practiced it a bit, it's easier to recognize the opportunities when they come up. It's like the old adage "when you have a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail."

I'm of the opinion that having as many tools available as possible is a Good Thing (tm). I mainly get ideas for shots from books like 99 Critical Shots in Pool and Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots. Another good resource for different types of shots is Dr. Dave's excellent Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots (VEPS).

So without further ado, here are the three shots I've selected as being not quite so typical but definitely handy when the situations arise.

The first seems like a no-brainer but I'm amazed at the number of people who will gladly trade off an easier straight-on shot on the current shot for much poorer position on the following shot. Take a bit of time to practice off the rail shots, they're not that tough!

Slightly less obvious, but very handy nonetheless is the Ticky shot. Again, it really isn't a very difficult shot to do with just a little bit of practice.

Being able to roll a ball in after another ball can be extremely handy! I've used it numerous times to drop my ball in after an opponent's blocker ball, or dropping in two of my balls in one shot, or even in game winning situations. Again, this really isn't a tough shot once you get a feel for it with a little bit of practice.

A slightly different approach is required when your object ball is close to the blocker ball.

And there you have it, three handy shots to add to your repertoire if they're not already there. Shoot straight, and kick some butt out there people!