Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fun with Byrne's draw

I've been doing some PAT exercises lately and I had fun applying of a piece of knowledge from Byrne's New Standard Book of Billiards to one particular exercise.

The chapter is titled "How to kill cueball speed with draw", diagram 52, and describes couple of situations where you aren't using draw on the object ball but where draw can be used to kill the speed. The other example in the book is making a really thin cut in the side pocket and then killing off the speed of the cueball by using draw. See the diagram below:

The layout of the exercise I've been working on couple of times is like this:

The goal is to pocket the balls in rotation order.

The layout I often ended up with was something like this:

So the cut on the object ball is relatively thin and the distance is quite large too, so it's pretty difficult to control the cueball effectively. There were spots where I had to use draw just to avoid a kiss on the next ball. But in general I found using draw to be effective just for killing the speed of the cueball. With draw, one can use a pretty authoritative stroke, as Byrne puts it, but still have a decent control of the cueball.

All in all, not a ground-breaking revelation to anyone, but it was fun to apply a piece of knowledge in at least seemingly different situation. I have used similar shots before, but this time I had a "ah, that's the shot" feeling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My first racks of one-pocket

I've been an avid watcher of one-pocket videos for quite a while, but I've never had a good chance to play the game. Last night, after our league match, my fellow teamer agreed to play few racks of one-pocket. He has been playing one-pocket for some time, but is not an expert or anything. (Hi there Sami if you read this!) He's better than me, though I managed to win the couple of racks we played.

Finnish one-pocket community is organizing a one-pocket tournament in the summer and I figured I should get some experience as I'm planning to attend the tournament. The tournament is going to be really tough as one-pocket typically attracts players that are quite proficient in general and their experience in one-pocket really gives them an edge. In one-pocket, you have to play shots that you pretty much never play in other billiard variants.

Our game was pretty reckless and aggressive, but even a reckless game of one-pocket consists of quite a few safeties and challenging pots and position plays. Even on a pretty open table you really have to struggle to run-out over five or so balls. But that's the fun of one-pocket. In, say, 9-ball, position play is mostly straight-forward and simple. (Though not easy or else anyone made run-outs in 9-ball all the time.)

The main reason I'm interested in playing one-pocket, because the game itself seems fun. I'm not playing it because it might improve aspects of my "normal" game, though I'm sure it will. I just find the game of one-pocket to be interesting in and of itself.

That said, it surely should be useful to play a game that has safeties as central part of the game. Sure, you do have to play safeties in almost all other games too, but you can mostly ignore the safety aspect in other games and still do pretty well. In one-pocket, however, it's just not possible. It seems to me that in one-pocket, safety play is crucial even when you're attacking. If you're making, say, semi-tough banks, you just can't expect to make the ball every single time and not care about whether you leave an open table for your opponent.

On John Biddle's review, I've already ordered Upscale One Pocket book by Jack Koehler. I also plan to keep watching those excellent one pocket videos, like for example this Reyes vs. Daulton game with expert commentary by Joey Aguzin and Jeremy Jones. And I hope that I get to play some practice games before the tournament.

PS. And finally the title of this blog stands up! I didn't keep a count, but I wouldn't be surprised if I caromed a combination in the game.