Thursday, December 16, 2010

First. Ever. Double. Carom!

League night last night; week #2 of playoffs for my Wednesday night APA 8-ball team.

As you may recall, my Wednesday night team is the one I took over as captain early in the season after the  previous captain had a bit of a falling out with the rest of the team. We rolled to a strong 3-0 victory in the first week of playoffs, so this week would determine first place in the division. Our opponents were a strong, balanced team and I heard they came back from a 0-2 deficit in the previous week to win 3-2, so I definitely wasn't going to take them for granted.

Earlier in the week I was doing a little pre-match 'homework' on our upcoming opponents, and couldn't shake my curiosity about their comeback upset victory (in my opinion, anyway, having played each team at least a couple of times during the season). I wanted to know what happened! So... I picked up the phone and made a call to someone on the team they played the previous week. I didn't know this person extremely well, but I hoping well enough that they'd be open to having a bit of a chat. I figured "what was the worse that could happen" right? Anyway, my instincts were right, and we had a very pleasant conversation. I found out how the individual match ups went and so on... and I got a critical nugget of information about a new player on the team we hadn't seen before. "The kid's rated SL 5 but played like a 7" was the comment that grabbed my attention. "I don't think he missed a single shot, and beat one of our 6's pretty badly." Bingo. I was suddenly very glad I made that phone call.

Walking into the host bar prior to the match, it was pretty easy to spot the new guy. I've seen everyone else on the team before, so he was a new face obviously. But it was more than that. It actually reminded me of a typical bar scene from "Color of Money". Young, cocky, strutting around, obnoxious. Wonderful. I'll refer to our star as Wonderboy.

I lost the coin toss, and the other captain deferred to me to put up first. Having already anticipated this possibility, I had a good idea who I was going to put up - myself, or our strongest female player. After some further thought and a quick discussion with her, I decided to put myself up. The other team matched me up for an even race. I shot quite well overall. I had a couple pocket rattlers here and there, and blew position badly on my key ball once... but other than that, I must say it was a very solid match for me. While I was shooting, Wonderboy was all over the place... checking the line on numerous shots, making loud comments here and there... fidgeting back and forth at the edge of my peripheral vision while I was down on shots, loudly cheering my opponent on, and generally being far more obnoxious than the average (or even above average) league player. I'm not sure if he was trying to shark on purpose, or if that's just the way he was. It didn't matter. I won my first two games quickly and never really felt threatened throughout the match. In the third game, I missed a tough shot on the 8-ball and my opponent was able to run out. We jockeyed back and forth a bit, but I ended up on top in the end. One down.

An observation about Wonderboy. He was the one doing the coaching during timeouts. He was new to the team and a SL 5, yet he gave all the advice while the captain of the team, a very capable SL 6 who did the coaching in the past, looked on. Interesting.

Another observation about Wonderboy... he was drinking... a lot. Both beer and shots. Interesting.

After my match, we were up 1-0 and it was the other team's put up. I already decided I'd throw off with a SL 3 if they put up Wonderboy. They didn't. They put up their captain, a SL 6, so I put our SL 7 against him. A few games later, we were up 2-0.

Wonderboy was still drinking heavily. It was our put up, but Wonderboy was up at the table already thinking he was going to play. I put up a SL 2. Their captain freaked out for a second, then realized it was our put up and he could choose someone else... so he threw up a SL 3. Our SL 2 is a methodical player and she played very well. The match went hill-hill and she narrowly missed a shot on the winning 8-ball. Slow play and a hill-hill match gave Wonderboy plenty of time to down a couple more drinks. We were up 2-1 at this point, and very much in command.

It was their put up, and Wonderboy finally got the call. Much to his chagrin, I didn't throw up a SL 6 like he was expecting. I instead threw up our strongest SL 3 (the female I considered starting the night off with). Wonderboy was not happy about that and actually more or less called me a chicken (I don't remember the exact words he used, but they were slurred in any case). Of course, I could care less. All I knew is that we had to win one more match to take first place in the division... and although I actually liked the odds of our SL 3 beating him given the handicap advantage (and his condition), I was fine with saving our SL 6 for the last match (likely against an average SL 3, which was pretty much the best they had left in the house).

Our SL 3 played extremely well. Wonderboy played surprisingly well too, it was obvious that he had skills... but as expected, his brief periods of brilliant play were peppered with careless mistakes. The match went hill-hill and down to the 8-ball for both of them. Well, almost. Wonderboy scratched sinking his last ball to give our player ball in hand on the 8-ball and the victory. We won 3-1 with a well warmed up SL 6 in ready five for the last match if necessary. It was a sweet and solid win. It was especially satisfying to take out Wonderboy with a female SL 3.

Oh, the double carom thing. Midway through one of my games, I was trying to figure out how to deal with a semi-problem ball near a corner pocket more or less blocked by a couple of my opponent's balls. I studied the layout shown... (the balls aren't perfectly positioned, just trying to give you an idea of the layout). The 6-ball could not go directly in to the pocket and there were no caroms available off of either of the blocker balls into the pocket. But then it suddenly jumped out at me that a double carom off of both balls would not only go, it seemed like it'd go pretty darn easily as long as I hit it right. I'm fairly comfortable with caroms these days and won't hesitate to use them if it's the right shot to take. But a double carom? I've maybe slopped something like that in before, but never intentionally lined up for such a shot in a match. I did a quick ego-check just to make sure I wasn't getting too cocky or something, and my brain kept telling me that it was not only the best shot, it seemed to be a fairly high percentage shot with the blocking balls perfectly positioned. So I stroked and shot it. And my ball dropped beautifully center pocket. I heard Wonderboy  mumble "not much you can do about luck like that" to my opponent... and I just smiled internally and lined up for my next shot. Life is good.

1 comment:

  1. LMAO!!!!!!
    Great story! I love hearing stories like this! Congrats on the team victory...keep up the great work captain!