Monday, November 9, 2009

Its still a gentleman's sport: all profanity is submerged.

I may be the last person in the world to see this, but I figured if I posted it, I might find at least one or two other people who haven't seen it either. A more serious post is in the works, but in the meantime, remember, you may not be able to choose your family, but at least you can choose where to play pool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Now that everyone has lost interest, I can secretly begin blogging again

Well, sort of. From the depths of time, will soon, emerge some new posts. Please stand by.

Its a little pathetic that I didn't even finish blogging about APA Nationals. And I'm torn between doing a quick update or actually taking the time to do a proper narrative. I know that no one out there really cares, but as the real purpose of this blog is to record my own journey, I'd kind of like to take the time to do it right.

But, for the record I will bore you with a brief update on what's happened in the past month, just in case I never get around to writing more:
* I played well in the APA 8-ballTeam Nationals, and my team finished 129th out of 712. Much better than I expected.
* Even though I played A LOT of pool in Vegas, I came back fired up to play more and more....but after the adrenaline wore off in a week, I was ready for a break, but previous commitments meant no rest for the pool-weary.
* US Amateur Preliminary was next. I went two and BBQ, but I was happy with how I played in my first match, especially given that I really didn't feel like playing.
* I opted out of playing in the West Coast Women's Regional 9-ball tour because I really needed a weekend off.
* Traveled 5 and a half hours to Bakersfield, to play in the APA Singles Regional Tournament and was undefeated until the semi-finals in both 8-ball & 9-ball. I now officially hate the Single Modified format (although it did help me get home at a decent hour on Sunday).
* After not qualifying for Singles Nationals, I immediately texted my 8-ball captain and told him I was taking the session off. I planned to do the same for 9-ball, but made the mistake of trying to tell him in person, and I chickened out. I'm only a part-time player for 9-ball, so I still feel like I have a lot more freedom. Woohoo!
* When I started this blog several ago, it was about becoming a better player, but it was also about getting to Vegas. Along the way, my perspective has broadened quite a bit and I have other goals, but something about getting that checked off my list...its oddly freeing. It really feels like I've reached a milestone, and I'm not sure what's next.

On another note, in the past, I have gone out of my way to avoid or even change telling details in my blog so that I could be sure to remain anonymous.
(I know its a little strange to want to be public through a blog, but still expect to remain private, but I have my reasons).

Well after these years of blogging, I've decided the effort to conceal and deflect is more trouble than its worth, and that I'd rather just not worry about it. I won't be posting my name or photo, as I'm not really interested in being a known blogger, but not really bothered if you're curious to know who I am and figure it out. If as a result of this new policy, you realize that you know me and think that you read something about you that offends you slightly, I offer two interpretations: 1) I'm not talking about you, 2) you deserved it. If you're not okay with interpretation #2, my preference is that you choose to believe interpretation #1. After all, its just a blog :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Paris Slot Machines

Well, the upside of losing, is that I get a day off. Fortunately, I don't have to spend it with my doubles partner.

I do have another tournament to prepare for. And although I feel good about how I played, I really do, At the same time, on some level, I'm kind of unnerved by my partner's reactions. I called up a friend who coaches collegiate basketball and has done a lot of mental training. And while he agreed, it was no fun, he was pretty clear, that no matter what my partner said or reacted, it should have NO impact on my confidence in my ability. None.

"As lame as this sounds, that's why they call it SELF-confidence. So, your partner had some blips in his mental game. His mental game and your mental game are different, especially now that you aren't playing doubles anymore. Whatever boost you were getting from his support in the past, you've just got to find it within yourself now. In the long run, its probably a good thing. No more crutches. "

"Thanks, that just the wise, if slightly irritating, kind of advice I suppose I need."

"Either that, or just eat, drink and gamble yourself into a stupor. It may not help your pool game, but it could be fun."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Who are you, and what have you done with my partner?

Day 2. Scotch Doubles. My normally supportive partner is replaced by his evil twin. He pouts when I miss. Tells me what I did wrong in the middle of the match. When I play well, and we pull off match #1 of the day, he's not excited or complimentary, or grateful for the lucky rolls. He acts like, "well, of course we should win." We lose match #2. I play well, but miss a few tough, but critical shots. He sulks, and then just takes off.

I'm probably making it sound worse than it was, but seriously, I was like WTF? I feel like crap. I went over the shots I missed again and again, and wondered, what happened? They weren't easy, but they were makable. All of them I missed by just a hair. Did I just not want to win? Did I just give it away? Did I choke? Were my fundamentals off?

After much analysis, I have come to one conclusion: I missed.

I'm tempted to look at my partner's behavior and try to figure it out. All I will say, is that I've seen his own game go south because he can't manage his feelings when he doesn't meet his own high expectations. But as a doubles partner, in the past, he's never imposed those expectations on me. Last year I played miles over my head in this tournament. This year I'm a stronger and more consistent player. I would say I played well this year, but I didn't vastly exceed my average playing ability. Maybe that was a factor. But, anyway, that's his problem to figure out.

My problem was, and is, that his attitude got to me. During the match, I think I did okay at trying to not let it bother me. The whole tournament there had been subtle changes in the way he coached and acted toward me. It was a little distracting, and I could feel it undermine my confidence ever so slightly. I don't think it affected my performance too much, but it really made it A LOT LESS FUN. Part of the reason I played so well last year, was that I let go and just really enjoyed myself.

Its hard, because, sometimes when I need a little extra confidence on an 8-ball shot, I imagine him giving me words of encouragement. Now, I feel like that's gone. Instead its replaced by his words of criticism and the look of disappointment on his face when I missed those shots. Ugh.

Somewhere in the desert

Ah yes. Vegas.

It was 108 degrees when we got here, but the weather forecast has been toned down to a more reasonable high 90's. Almost feels like a cooling rain has drenched the city.

Although it doesn't matter much, because, as you can imagine, I'm spending a lot of time inside the Riviera Casino. Its amazing how fast a year goes. I almost feel like we never left.

Anyway, Day 1 of the scotch doubles was pretty much a repeat of last year. We made it to the third round undefeated and then lost. Which, if you're going to lose, is the best time to do it. Its the last round before single elimination kicks in anyway, and you only need one more match to make it back to the winner's side. If you make it to the winner's side, you're coming off of a one-loss side win, and your opponents haven't played for almost 24 hours. (That's a long wait) And from there its a marathon.

Up to the third round we played well. Starting the tournament, I was a little uncertain how it would go, because I had been playing horribly in practice. I mean horribly. And while I tried to tell myself that, its only practice and I know that its not a predictor of how I'll play in a match, I just kept sucking, and I started to be a little concern.

Once we got into real competition though, it was like I was a different player. My heart started pounding, the adrenaline started flowing, and thank god, the balls started finding their way into pockets again. We had a good rhythm. We played good safes. We made nice outs.

It is amazing to me how much the time I've spent on working with the mental side has changed things. When I first started playing, my heart pounding was such a bad sign. It meant that I was too nervous and wouldn't be able to perform my best. And now, it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it can be a good thing. I've found that when I don't let it bother me, it actually means that I'm really in the game, and I can actually play some of my best pool at these times.

Going into match #3, I felt good. I was excited to play and feeling confident. I usually try to meditate before a match, but I felt very calm and present, so I decided to skip it. At the time, I wondered if it was a mistake, but I really felt good. The match started out okay, but in the middle I started to get tired, think too much, and was getting a little tired. And all of these things are actually okay. They are pretty much bound to happen at some point in the tournament. The problem was that I wasn't monitoring my state of mind so these things continued unchecked. Even though the results should have clued me in to step back, breathe, and change course.

I think the truly low point of the match for me was when the other team was on the hill and I went to play safe. The shot was a simple stop shot to hide behind another ball. But in my over-thinking mode, I decided that I needed to hide the ball completely, and needed to replace the ball, or I'd miss the hook. Of course I over hit it, and sold out. In hindsight, that was incredibly stupid, because a partial hook was all I needed.

But its a good lesson. Mostly about trying to train myself that when things aren't going right on the table, I need to stop and look inside and what's going on mentally. If I'm tired, thinking too much, being indecisive, I need to just stop. Remind myself to keep it simple and not exceed my abilities, and remember that its only a game, even if its a game I really want to win.

So, our next shot is this afternoon. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Must I paint you a picture?

Okay, nothing really pool related today, but I'd like to buy a camera before Vegas and I'm looking for recommendations. I'm not sure what I want to do, get a ultra-compact point and shoot, that will be cheaper and convenient, but more limited in what I can shoot. Or spend more to get something like a low-end superzoom camera, so I can go a little crazy.

As you might imagine, I might take a few pictures in the pool I'm looking for something that's good in low light and has good image stabilization. I've posted on a few camera forums, and I've heard something to the effect of, if you're taking pictures at pool tournaments, NOTHING less than an SLR will do, you might be able to get by with something for about $800. Sigh. Even if I could afford an $800 camera, I'm not sure I'd want to be carrying it around.

Then, for a compact, if I MUST, they recommend a discontinued Fuji camera which is now available on ebay. (Maybe it is the best low-light compact camera ever built, but its still kind of pricey for a compact that comes with no warranty).

So, I'm throwing this out to the blogosphere...

Any pool player out there with a camera that they love?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Good stuff

I'm not in the mood to talk much about myself right now. I'm playing pretty well, and my inclination is to just let it be and not over analyze it...or even relive it here in my blog. I'm just going to enjoy it one moment at a time...and *maybe* you'll hear about it later.

Instead, I thought I'd point out a couple of great posts from AZBilliards that I recently came across. I love AZB, but mostly for its entertainment/social value. It can be light on serious pool content, but Jude Rosenstock's posts are usually full of real pool stuff. These two posts, on great shots to know for B & C players, I thought were especially good:

Want to Get Better? This is How. Pt 1
Want to Get Better? This is How. Pt 2

What's great about these shots, is not only are they ones you will use, but as Jude describes, they are one's that teach you a lot about english, speed control and other fundamental concepts. Simply, they are shots that can change your game.

At one time, I had hoped that I would catalog these kind of shots in my blog. Last year when someone showed me the second shot from Part 1, I thought it was a little too challenging for me. But once I got it, I felt like my understanding of the game went from two to three dimensions. I saw so many more options for getting from here to there, the layouts never looked quite the same again. Learning that one shot was a "life" changing moment.

If I discover anymore of these shots, I'll try to include them here. But for now, Jude has done a good start on creating a great list of shots that can change your life. Thanks, Jude. Still waiting parts 3-5.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cruel summer

9-Ball Break & Run/Break Cue Challenge: Week 1

After setting up my challenge of having a 9-ball break and run before Vegas, I realized I needed to set a few parameters, or I could end up chasing my tail, trying to run unrunnable rack after unrunnable rack, and just wasting my practice time.

So, here are the rules: I can count any break & run in a league match or any other friendly match up. During practice, I get only 5 attempts per week. I can try to run as many racks as I want, but I have to choose, before the break, whether its a challenge rack.

During league, I played well, but none of my breaks produced layouts that were likely to earn me my break cue. No patch. No break cue. Maybe during practice.

Last night, I practiced for a bit, and was feeling pretty good. I hit one practice rack of 9-ball and then started on my 5 challenge racks. First 3 racks, I make a ball every time, control the cue ball, I have a shot on the 1, but either the 2 or the 3 is in a bad spot, so I don't get very far.

Rack #4, I get a good break. The balls spread out evenly. The cue ball centers itself nicely. The 1-ball stops just short of rolling in the side pocket. Dry-break. Grrrr. I go ahead anyway, thinking maybe I should count runs off a dry-break. After all, you're actually pocketing one more ball, right?

I focus on each shot, and get pretty much perfect on each one, until the 6. Of course, I actually put the cue ball where I wanted it. Then I walked to the other side of the table and looked at the shot and thought "What was I thinking. This shot sucks." Fortunately, the 7 was a hanger, so I make the 6,7,8. I'm a little steeper and closer on the 9 than I wanted, but still very makeable.

This could be it.

I start writing in my follow up blog post entitled "Well, that was easy."

I'm lined up. It looks right. I think about how I wrote in my last blog post that I run down to the nine and miss. I think this time is different.

So, what happened?

Did I:
a) Go ahead and pull the trigger.
b) Stop myself. Realize this was for a break cue. This was like a $200+ shot. I had a little too much stream of consciousness going on to be fully focused on making this $200 dollar shot. I got up again. Centered myself and nailed it.

Do I really have to say...the answer is A!

Get up. If you're not sure, if you're not committed, if the shot matters, get up!

Rack #5. Make a ball. Center the cue ball. Shot on the 1. The 3 is completely buried and I don't see a break out.

This is a great challenge for me and I feel like I'm learning a lot, just from the 5 racks I shot last night.

Obviously, I really need to bear down on the 9 more, but my break needs a lot of work. Not sure why the making a ball tends to go with a clustered rack. I've noticed that before. When I break dry, I usually leave my opponent an easy rack.

I haven't spent a lot of time on my break, because I was advised early on, that until you can run out, its not the best use of your time. If I'm going to stick to my original goal of an actual break and run, now may be the time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My new break cue....

A few weeks ago, I posted about my search for a new break cue. I looked both high and low, with contenders ranging from the Icebreaker, Mezz Powerbreak to the J&J. I was very tempted by the high end, but I just couldn't spend that much money on a cue I hadn't tried, especially if it was a luxury item.

I was about to go for the J&J when a friend of mine offered to sell me his cheap sneaky pete for $25. I've always liked this cue. Its nothing special, but for some reason I always seem to play well with it, and it breaks fine. Plus it can double as a playing cue when I'd rather leave my regular cue safely at home. It was a bargain I couldn't resist.

(Incidentally, a few days later the BCA announced they were banning break cues with phenolic tips, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the break cue market).

I haven't given up the idea of getting a nice break cue...but I did decide that before I spend that kind of cash on a pool item, that it shouldn't just be an impulse buy; it should be attached to reaching some kind of meaningful milestone.

I've had a few break and runs in 8-ball, but I have never, ever, not even in practice, run a rack of 9-ball. I've come close, running down to the 9, getting great position...and every time, I've dogged it.

So, here's the plan...if I get my 9-ball B&R by the end of August, when I'm in Vegas for APA Nationals, I can do a little shopping.

So, here we go, sixty days and counting.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

V is for.....

Booking my tickets for end of August. Woohoo. Go team go!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Still taking a break

Okay, in case it isn't obvious, I'm taking a little break from blogging. Between work, pool, and making sure I have adequate rest, I just haven't had time to put together a coherent post, and haven't felt like I wanted to just ramble. After next week, I should be able to get back into the swing of things.

So, a few random things that have happened recently, and I'd like to blog about:
* I actually had a dream where John Schmidt told me that I was doing okay, but it would be a good idea for me to set some goals. I was looking for my shoes, and he was playing straight pool with Nick Varner, and stopped to come over to talk to me just to say that. He returned to his game, and I kept looking for my shoes. I guess I need to set some goals, and perhaps organize my closet.
* I've been re-reading "Mental Toughness Training for Sports by James Loehr. And have some different reactions to it the second time around.
* I took the PAT 1 exam. I wasn't feeling particularly well, and was trying to keep my table time down, so I rushed a little bit. I ended up with 444 out of a possible 1549. (Hey, I never claimed to be anything but a D Player). But I think on a better day, with a little practice, I could score as well as 600, (maybe...). (800 is considered passing). I was actually pretty pleased.
* I have been playing pretty well in matches when it matters, but I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground and remember all the times in those matches that I got lucky or where my opponent gave me a second chance. We're in the middle of league tournament season, and its no time to get over-confident. Even if I'm in stroke its still just one ball, one game, one match at time.

I guess I just rambled, but in an efficient, almost tidy kind of way. I can live with that. Anyway, wish me luck over the next week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I could be blogging....

but I'm too busy watching John Schmidt and Chris Bartrum playing a 10 ahead set. Am I am in Vegas? Nope. I'm stuck in New Jersey for work, which would be incredibly boring if it weren't for the fact that I can stay in my hotel and watch all the live streams from Vegas. Last night at 4:00 am I couldn't sleep, so I pulled up the Predator 10-ball tournament website and got to see Alex Pagulayan run out his final rack on his match. Unbelievable.

God bless the internet, and god bless the action report (and sponsors OB Cues, Cue Sports International and Dragon Promotions, too. I love TAR best, but I love all the other choices too).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I need a break

I have been working like a dawg, although that really doesn't even begin to capture how much pressure I've been under at my job. There must be a more colorful way to describe it, but creativity was killed in action several days ago. Lets just say, a zombie would have no interest in my brain. Its just too dried out.

I have managed to squeeze in a little pool, and I wish I had time to write about it. Basically, my lowered expectations seem to be helping my league game, so much so, that the temptation to raise expectations is pretty strong. The pool gods are simply evil to be toyng with me that way. (Just kidding, Pool Gods That Be, I really didn't mean that. I LOVE YOU! I am but your humble servant.)

Anyway. I need a break at work. Which I will get eventually. Just not immediately, so I've decided to at least get myself a break cue. I'm tempted to splurge here and get something top of the line, but I realize for my little pool life, it would be a total luxury item. I know that everyone raves about the Predator BK2, and I've tried one, and liked it a lot. But its just so "THE" break cue, that I know its not the one for me. I'm considering getting a Mezz ZZBK. It seems like the Mezz is the up and comer in break cues and that appeals to me. The ZZBK Power Break II is probably more than I want to spend, even on a splurge, unless someone tells me that its really worth the extra money.

But at the end of the day, I love a bargain, so I may just settle for a J & J, save the extra cash for Vegas.

Anyone have any Break Cue recommendations???

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The power of numbers

Over time I've become kind of uninterested in my APA league stats. Each match is its own event, and I know how I played. At one time I tracked my win-loss record closely because its is used to calculate the "Top Shooter" points. (The Top Shooter score is your win percentage multiplied by the cumulative points of the skill level you've beaten. ) The top 20% or so of the Top Shooters get to play in the Top Shooter Tournament at the end of the session.

So, if you're playing 5s, 6s & 7s frequently, and you play a lot of matches, your win percentage can be around 50 percent to qualify. On the flip side, if you're like me, and you almost exclusively play 2s & 3s, your only chance to make the cut is to play every week and win almost every match. And even then its not guaranteed. Basically, the math excludes me from the tournament so, I've lost interest in my actual percentage.

At one point last season, when I was struggling to find the motivation to win against weaker players, someone said, "Well, don't you just want to win for the sake of pride?" I was kind of surprised to find that, at least in that moment, the answer was no.

Anyway, this is a long segue into mentioning that the APA National Website now has a member section where you can log on and see the number of matches you've played (since 2003) and your win percentage. I was shocked to find out that I had played 170 8-ball matches and my win percentage was 43%. (That's what I get for playing on 3 teams and lots of singles qualifiers, I guess) I was even more shocked to find out, that for some reason, I actually cared about this lifetime number, and found myself wanting to win just to bring that closer to 50%. I'm not unhappy with 43%. In a handicapped league, most people's percentages should probably be around 50%. I'm in the ball park. But, I'm such a geek that after winning the next week, I logged on so I could see that number go up to 44%.

I'm not sure what it really means, other than I've lost more than I've won. It doesn't tell you how much I've improved, or how well I played in any of those matches. It doesn't tell you if I was simply outplayed or whether I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. But it still gives me something to shoot for, even when I don't have a lot of other incentives.

So, yay to the APA for doing something that gives me more for that $5 in extra membership fees I paid this year. I do appreciate it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Raising the floor

After months of struggling with being bored by my matches and disappointed in my shooting, I'm settling into a good space with league again. I've finally accepted that as one of the lower ranked players on my team, it is for now, simply my job to play the lower ranked players from the opposing team, and win for the team.

My record against lower ranked players is not that good at the moment. When I get bored, I take risks to make things a little more interesting, and end up making mistakes that, in a short race, can mean losing. So winning means I have to make some adjustments. I've decided that in league, I'm not working on pushing the ceiling, but working on raising the floor. I'm not showing up anymore with the goal to play lights out pool. I'm trying to simply be consistent. Try to make each shot. Get some kind of shape. Play the right ball. Play safe when its smart and will win the game. Nothing fancy.

On league nights, I often show up tired and even if I'm not, if I don't feel challenged, I may not be focused. Most likely, I'm not going to be able to play at the top of my game. Instead of trying to fix this, but accept it, I've been playing better. As a perfectionist, I find this almost disappointing, but I'm enjoying league again, so I'm not going to argue with it.

So, I've found some balance in my expectations. But, in general, I've realized that if there is indeed one thing that will improve my game, it has nothing to do with my stroke, my aim, my pre-shot routine. For now, my number one pool goal is to get more SLEEP.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A fresh start

Yes. I am still here. This may be the longest break from blogging I've taken since I started. I guess there were weeks when I just didn't have much to say, and then other times when I had almost too much on my mind, that I didn't feel I could get it into a coherent post, so I just stayed away.

The last couple of months have been kind of up and down. I've been dealing with some health issues and not getting a lot of sleep, which has meant I've had a hard time controlling my emotions at the pool table. If I have a lot of frustration from elsewhere in my life pent up, apparently, when I compete, it just all starts to bubble up. So either, I need to channel that energy in a positive way, find away to let go of it while I'm playing. But just when I'm about to give up and think that all my effort just isn't worth it, I have a good day, and remember that despite all evidence to the contrary, there are signs of improvement.

Anyway, I'm just going to let the last few months go and start fresh.

I now have a greatly reduced league schedule. Hooray! Which means I will not be playing matches I don't want to play, and will give me more time and energy to play more tournaments, practice and do non-pool stuff, like exercise (which really helps me be less stressed when I play).

I'm taking a week to think about what my pool goals are for the year. I saw that Trigger over at "Pool is a Journey" has taken on just one simple goal: To stay down on her shots. When its so easy to create a long wish list of things to improve, I think its genius to just pick one very important goal. If you achieve it, then your whole game improves.

I've been thinking a little about what one thing I would choose. You really couldn't go wrong with staying down, but I often wonder if I get up on shots because something else wasn't right. For one reason or another, I didn't feel comfortable or committed to the shot. In preparing for a recent tournament, a friend of mine got some advice from a Philippino sparring partner. "Just remember the 3 P's of pool: pockeTING, PREParAtion, and POCUS. (You really need the accent to get the full effect). Of the three, as much fun as it might be to have my goal be related to the most interesting sounding of the 3 Ps, (either pockeTING or POCus), I think preparation is my downfall. I really think that I when I miss, its because I haven't centered myself mentally and I've gotten down on the ball wrong, even if I see the aim point correctly....and from there everything can get screwed up.

Okay, its after 11 which means the pool hall is open, and I really, really need to get some breakast.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Trying to shift gears

Between the holidays and some business travel, I had a nice long break from pool. Sure I played some, but I had a solid 5 weeks away from league pool, which is the most time I've have since I started 3 years ago.....ah, it was fabulous. I've made up my mind that unless I qualify to play in an event at the APA National Team Championships, which would mean I have to be on a team continuously through August, I'm taking a break this summer. (I just hope that doesn't unconsciously give me an incentive to not qualify). Just knowing that, somehow makes league seem less onerous...

So, a quick recap on recent matches:

Match #1: Jetlagged. My team anxiously awaits to see which pool minnow will show up after my break. Will it be "Vegas Minnow", determined to beat all comers, or "I'm not sure I want to play league anymore" Minnow who loses the match after losing interest about half way through. Verdict: after an hour and 55 minutes, the race to 3 (yes, almost two hours for a race to three), I lost hill-hill to a guy whose volume is stuck on 11. It was much easier to play him before I knew him and found him to be a sweetheart in spite of the pre-shot routine that incorporates air guitar and the "why me" dramatics following every miss. My lesson: sometimes, if there isn't that much on the line, its worth it to just bust up the clusters. Even if it means you risk selling out without increasing your chances to win. I had no idea the match was actually taking that long, but by the end, my teammates were almost on suicide watch. At this point, I'm uncertain whether the time off did much good. This sucks.

Match #2: Asleep on the couch. My match started after midnight. A race to three. My opponent was drunk and loose, I had just taken a nap on the couch, and was not used to the big cue ball. It took me about a game to make a ball, and then I figured it out, and was playing good-enough safes, and making some small runs. She was shooting well, but getting sloppy at the end of her runs and letting me back in. In the hill-hill match, she ran down to the eight and then had no shot. I got ball in hand, and felt pretty confident about making my last 5 balls, when I bumped one of my balls and almost froze it to the eight. I set up to have the choice to either break it out, or position myself to play safe. In the end, I didn't really choose, and kind of went for the break out, but didn't stroke through it, and froze the cue ball to the 8, with my last ball just on the other side. Sweet. I missed the kick, and lost. Lesson: If you're going to go for it, just go for it.

Despite losing, and despite having to play so late and not being thrilled with how I played, I left this night excited about playing again. I wanted a rematch. I wanted to kick ass. I actually.....cared? Really? Yes, I actually cared.... Wow, maybe there's hope for me yet....

To be continued....