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8-Ball Runout: Dallas VNEA - Semifinals, Game 2

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Uploaded on Oct 11, 2008

GAME TWO - the break rotated to my opponent, who failed to pocket a ball. The 8, 4, and 14 were tied up in the rack area, but I saw that if I led off with the 15-10 combo I could spread them and still leave the 15 as insurance near the corner pocket. I like to open clusters early, while there are plenty of alternate shots remaining.

After the breakout, the 8 wound up on the side rail blocking my opponents 3. This allowed me to play a little more aggressively than otherwise.

At first glance my 11 seems to be in trouble with no pocket, but I had noted before choosing stripes that I could use his 5-6 cluster to stop my cueball for position on the 11 in the corner. I tried this next, shooting the 10 with what I thought was high right, and missed that 5-6 cluster by a mile! Looking at the video, you can see that I started moving my bridge hand mid-stroke, causing me to miss my tip-contact point on the cueball - a rookie mistake.

Now I found myself needing to run off three balls just to work myself back to another try at the 11. So I played the 9 to get me to the foot rail, followed by the 15 to get the correct angle on the 14. Once again I shot my force follow with inside, but this time I hit it better and ran rail-first into the 5-6 cluster. On his tapes, Buddy Hall calls these curving-cueball force shots whipping action. I was first motivated to practice them by Rod Elliot, a very good player and CCB veteran from Phoenix.

The three-rail position lane was open to put me in a zone for the 13 in the side. I played the 11 with low right. The draw was to shorten the three-rail pattern, so that I wouldnt run into the one ball. The right (inside) english was to prevent the slight amount of collision-induced left from partially killing the cueball off the first rail. Since coming off the third rail would put me more or less on the line of the shot, I had a foot or two of leeway for my final resting place.

Once on the 13, I had four reasonable options for getting to the 8. At the time, I only considered three options, not seeing the fourth until I reviewed the match tape. I played this much too fast, and should have looked for all the options. But, I may still have chosen as I did.

Option #1: If I had been just a little bit straighter on the 13, the simplest and best play would be to draw my CB into my opponents 7 and stop to cut the 8 down the rail. Although the camera angle doesnt show it well, I rejected this option because my actual cut was thin enough that I couldnt draw solidly into the 7. I would have caught the 7 more on the back side, sending my CB to the rail and possibly hooking me behind the 7 or the 4.

Option #2: I could cut the 13 in the side, follow to the rail, and come back out between the 7 and 4 to line up the cut on the 8. This would require a moderate amount of inside english to narrow the rebound angle, and I didnt feel comfortable doing this and still maintaining adequate distance control to stop in the position zone. Yes, I could also have taken the natural two-rail path around both the 7 and the 4, but it would be a foolish play to approach the zone at such a narrow spot after two rails and six feet of travel.

Option #3: This is the path I chose. Noting that the 13 was a dead bank cross-side, I decided to draw back into a seemingly-narrow zone to shoot the 8 straight down the rail. Now this sounds crazy, but its easier than it looks, for two reasons. First, the 8 was slightly off the rail. What this meant was that, even if I got a little bit hooked by the 3, I could play rail-first and make the 8. I practice this shot, and Im pretty good at it. By using follow, draw, and english, you can pot it from angles that look geometrically impossible. Anywhere within three, maybe four inches of the rail, and I should be out. Second, since the far end of the zone was bounded by a rail, the width effectively doubles. In other words, if I try to nominally stop on the rail, I can be either four inches short or four inches long, and Im still within four inches of the rail. And its really even easier, because if you play to just hit the rail, the CB loses a little to the rail and doesnt rebound as far as it would have rolled. So, I knew I was working with an eight-inch position zone. As it happened, I hit it pretty well and got straight in on the 8.

So what was the good option I missed? Go two rails natural, and stop a half-diamond to a diamond-and-a-half off the foot rail for an easy cross-corner bank.

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