Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reverse Angle Kick

In this game won and lost by fractions of an inch, I seem to be particularly adept at being on the wrong side of that inch fraction. Just last night, I blew an 8-ball break-and-run by over running position on the last ball by a half-inch. Ugh. Up 'til that point, the run was a nice challenging surgical cluster-busting run, not one of those magical ones where all of your opponent's balls line up neatly tucked away against the long rail while all of your balls end up hanging in open pockets (the remaining few that didn't drop on the break, of course). Oh, and the 8-ball sits there all by itself center-table.

No, it wasn't one of those. It was ducking in and out of traffic, making something runnable that wasn't really runnable in the first place. Then all I had to do was drift over near one of the opponent's balls for a simple stop shot on the key ball that would in turn leave me perfect shape on the 8-ball. Sigh. Whitey drifted ever so slightly too far. About a half an inch. Probably less. I could still hit my ball, but didn't have the angle I needed. Again.

The whole scenario got me thinking of some of the crazy stuff I've had to pull out of my butt (or at least attempt to) due to sloppiness in position play. I'm mumbling to myself, of course, because I'm sure none of you have this problem. ;)

It also reminded me of a game the previous week where I once again over ran position by about a half inch or less. The game was 9-ball that time, and I had a really delicate shot on the 1-ball in the corner pocket (next to the 5-ball as shown in the diagram). I obviously wanted to line up on the 2-ball which was a couple diamonds back up the rail. The 1-ball was far enough out from the corner that a stop shot wouldn't leave me the shape I needed, and I didn't want the cue left too far off the long rail or shape on the 4-ball would have been tougher. So I used a drag shot to slow the cue ball down but get just enough follow to put me near the pocket without scratching.

The good news is, I didn't scratch.

The bad news is, I followed it just enough to hook myself behind the corner of the pocket... unable to hit the 2-ball. Sooo frustrating. Worse, the 5-ball blocked just about every conceivable kick path I could think of (even a five-railer, Jeanette... sorry to report your ESPN "Tip of the Day" didn't help).

I sat there and scratched my head for a bit while my opponent chortled at my misfortune and I concluded it was Hail Mary time. I had a very narrow route to work with between the corner of the pocket and the 5-ball... heading pretty much towards the center diamond on the far rail. I first considered using right English to widen the angle off the foot rail and try to hit the 2-ball with a two-rail kick (in theory coming off the side rail between the 6 and 7-balls towards the 2-ball). I didn't have a good feel for the English required and angles involved, so I wasn't so crazy about that option.

I then considered another possibility. I wondered if I could load up on enough left English to reverse the kick angle and hit the 2-ball with a one-rail kick off the end rail? The 2-ball would be a bigger target from that angle (compared to above) and I also realized that if I wasn't able to reverse the angle that far, I might get it far enough to have a shot at hitting the 2-ball on the second pass after the cue ball came back off of the head rail.

Overall, I liked the odds a lot better, and was mainly just trying to get a good hit at this point (luckily, the 2-ball wasn't frozen to the side rail) but I honestly had no idea if I was going to be able to stroke the ball well enough in the vicinity of the pocket and the side rail and the 5-ball. And even if I managed to stroke it perfectly, I wasn't sure if I could bring it back that far. The chortling continued and perhaps even intensified.

I lined up... took a few practice strokes... took a couple extra... and unleashed my best effort.

The chortling halted abruptly and was replaced with "DUDE!!!"

I got the angle, made a good hit on the 2-ball... and... damn near made it! It rattled in the pocket next to the 5-ball. Yeah, a little luck was involved. But that's part of the game too, right?

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