Sunday, January 20

Derby City Classic 2008

I went this time again just for the 9-ball and straight pool portion of the all-around tournament.

I arrived on Wednesday, 9th of Jan a day before the preliminaries for straight pool(14.1) would be over. That day I tried some 14.1... I think my best run out of 12 was 56. Ouch!

So I figured it wasn't smart to just go with guns blazing after having just done the commute from New York. You know the drill with waking up just in the nick of time, then pack, then get a cab, check-in at the airport, security etc. I decided it's better I do some practising. Also I needed to get in stroke for the 9-ball that was scheduled to start the following day.

On a side note, I noticed a bunch of guys like Scott Frost, Alex Pagulayan, Gabe Owen, Corey Deuel, Cliff Joyner, Jose Parica etc... were all scattered around the table next to the main 14.1 table. It was pretty noisy (you know who you are Alex) as they were trying to beat the one-pocket ghost. The record so far at that time was set by John Schmit at 45 balls on 5 innings. (break any way you want, then without ball-in-hand, proceed to run balls in your chosen pocket. If you miss, the inning is over and the balls get re-racked) In other words 45 balls in 5 innings is 9 per try. Not bad.

For 50 $ you can try 5 innings three times over. The table was playing very tight as it was a used cloth and it wasn't racking that great either. Also the balls were catching dirt from the humidity and chalk.

I realized that being an aggressive shotmaker, this might be something worth a shot. I knew it would put me in the right frame of mind for 14.1. So first I studied how the guys were breaking. Specially Scott "The Freezer's" break impressed me. It was a high risk-high reward break. So basically you needed a good execution and a little luck. Check out diagram:

The cue ball will eventually hit a lot of "traffic" after two rails thus moving the balls closer to the designated pocket A. Like I said, sometimes the cue ball finds a gap and ends up hitting the spreading rack too late, and scratching to pocket A. Or staying on the A-pocket side of the table which is almost as bad.

So after practising in the main room I came out and was able to beat the high run on the 2nd general try-out. My runs were 3,14,13,8 and 9 which totals to 47! That was, I think, around 6pm and the guys running the event said it would be over by midnight. So yeah they had at least 6 hours to beat the record. I don't think they really wanted the money but it was more the challenge. Interestingly enough I don't really play one-hole. Some though. Next year I'll probably play the all-around.

Finally, Gabe beat my record. But I feel compelled to mention that Gabe's run of 60 was done on a much "softer" TV table. It broke easier, ran faster. The balls slide into pockets. Its just a different ball game. Nevertheless it is a great run. Also after they transferred to the TV table John Schmit's 2nd place turned into a tie for 4th. Alex Pagulayan managed to run a 45 and a 46. So I guess it wasn't a coincidence. Next year I'd recommend keeping it on one and the same table.

Back to the 14.1 then. I came back the next day realizing I had to run at least around 70 balls to even have any kind of hope making it into the top 8. They would then have the top 8 seeded accoring to each players high run. nr1 plays nr8, nr2 plays nr7 and so on. So I had 4 chances. First two sucked. Maybe 42 at most. I said to myself: "Better do something now, you don't wanna leave it for the last chance."

Finally I started seeing some patterns and was able to beat Fabio Petroni's high of 144 with a 147! Cool, so I was in quarterfinals for 14.1. seeded nr1.

I actually met with Darren in 1st round. He is very inexperienced playing straight pool, but this didn't seem to bother him. Or maybe he was pretending. He was running balls with confidence, and after just one unforced error from me I was trailing by a hundred plus. So long story short he kicked my ass good. End of story. (He ended up winning beating John Schmit in semi's and Niels Feijen in finals.) Not bad for a rookie. Watch out for him in the future. But hey, I still kept the high run!

Then its time to tell you what happened in 9-ball. Or what didn't happen. I didn't win! He he, very funny. Anyways, I had a couple of relatively easy games to start with before the 3rd round.

In the 3rd round I had to play Mike Dechaine, an up and coming talent. He played really well and was making balls on the breaks. I came empty 3 times in a row, and it cost me dearly. He did fluke the last nine in a way that I have never seen before and will never see again. It's impossible to repeat. Diagram:

So that's 9-ball for you: I lost 7-4. By the way, Mike just got his new set of Mezz Cues and went on to snap of the Northeast tour stop at Comet billiards, NJ. Congrats Mike!

So then next round I was up against Bobby Pickle, who was by no means anyone to take lightly. He actually jumped to a 4-1 lead before I gained any composure. I had to come with some arsenal to fight my way back in this match. You know it's a short race to 7, at that point I could hardly afford any unforced errors. I did manage to creep by him not losing another rack finishing of 7-4. That felt good. The comeback, I mean.

Then, 5th round, it was time to play someone who eventually became the "Master Of The Table" at this very tournament--first time in his career. You can imagine he was in "dead gear".

Ok, his name is Francisco Bustamante. I was actually just breaking and running out most of my racks and eventually ended up on the hill first. (6-2) Then I had this out that was supposed to be pretty routine, but there was a tricky 7 ball that proved otherwise. (I'll post the diagram later) I ended up kinda weird on the nine on the short side. I think I might have been slightly cocky by taking the next shot to seal the match left-handed. I ended up missing, thus giving an easy nine for "Django". After 3-6 I have one opportunity to play safe, which I did. But even then he kicked and got a little lucky not to leave me a shot. Other than that he was just running one rack after the other, and thats how I got knocked out of the tournament. Poor me.

Congrats Busti, especially for winning the all-around.