Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Coming Back from the Dead

A gold star if you can name this film!

I was asked by a WPBA fan to blog about making comebacks in matches that look to be over. Unfortunately I have become known for miraculous comebacks.  I would rather be known for miraculous dominating of matches :)  I escaped from a doozy while at the Pacific Coast Classic in Lincoln City, OR.  I was down 6-0 to Rachel Eliazar and came back to win 9-8.

Here is a synopsis of what was going through my head during the match.

Beginning of the match: Okay let's do this!
First rack: I just ran out and shot the 9 Ball into the rail... f*ck!
Second rack: I'll just play a safety here - oh nice shot opponent.
Third rack:  I'll just sit here and watch my opponent snap 9 on the break :(
Fourth rack: Ok. We're okay. One shot at a time until we shoot the 8 into the rail argghhhhhhhh!

Ok, it's time to take a bathroom break and flush it!
Give myself a pep talk. Calm down my racing heart. We're fine. We're fine.
(It's matches like this that get you talking to yourself, sometimes in the third person.)

Ok, I am SOOO ready to go now!!!!
Quickly lose two more racks, one of which sees me dogging the 8.

Here is where it really gets interesting.  Here is where I am committing to the fact that I will be quitting pool after this match.  I'm sure of it.  I think I'm going to cry...

Miraculously, some inner, stronger part of myself takes charge and says "WE ARE NOT GOING OUT LIKE THAT."

My whole demeanor changes.  I forget about everything else.  I'm just going to play.  I am aware that I have had control of the table in most of the games.  I am aware that I have the ability to win from here.

Seventh game:  The first time getting out is the hardest. But. I. Fight. Through. It. 6-1.
Eight game:  An open rack. My recent success gives me the confidence I need to get out more comfortably. 6-2.  From here I first believe that I am going to win.
Ninth game:  Now it is like a little game, moving the beads over one at a time. It is actually fun. 6-3.
Tenth game: Use my experience to get a quick three-foul win.  6-4.
Eleventh game - Thirteenth game:  I can't even remember what happened. It's just so fun to keep moving beads over. Up 7-6.
Fourteenth game:  Ah, it couldn't go on forever. My opponent gets a game. I'm not sweating it anymore.7-7.
Fifteen game: Grind out the out to get on the hill. 8-7.
Sixteenth game: Out of line on the 9, I am forced to play safe.  It gets a little ugly as we both miss tough shots and leave even tougher shots. This continues until I hang the 9 on a full table length straight in shot.  My nerves are back a little but I am relying on my experience to see me through the hill-hill game. Thankful just to be there :)
Final game: A two-way shot on a 1/9 carom leaves my opponent safe.  The hit is so tough that she has to take a foul and push the 9 out of the way, but ends up creating another, tougher combination.  With ball in hand, I have arrived at the moment of truth...  the 9 splits the pocket, praise Jeebus!

I have invested so much energy and emotion in this match that it takes me an hour before I stop shaking, but it is worth it.

- Liz

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welcome to Oregon, beaches!

Mirror Pond Pale Ale by Deschutes Brewery is the greatest beer on earth.

I am here at my favorite WPBA event in Lincoln City on the Oregon coast.  Actually, I am at the bar at my favorite WPBA event in Lincoln City on the Oregon coast drinking the nectar of the gods and soaking up some wifi.

I wanted to take some time out and profusely thank my featured sponsors for bringing me to this event.

First, my beloved home room and second home...

Beer interlude

and B, my favorite orthodontist, bowler and all-around sports enthusiasts:

Check out one of his other philanthropic interests, The 2009 Natomas Challenger, here.


In tournament info, I play Yu Ram Cha, tomorrow, at 1:30 Pacific Time.

That is why I will only have the one beer, though I want all, all the beer.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When Rhinos Attack (Damn Nature, You Scary...)

By rhino, of course I mean rhinovirus.  I just got dressed, which is farther than I got yesterday.  I spent all yesterday in a replica of the bathrobe that Brad Pitt wore in fight club (only blue, not purple...found by my mother-in-law on ebay.)

All this lying about has given me much too much time to think about the little mini-slump in which I've been.
After playing quite a bit lately (some match-ups, some tournaments) it has become apparent that I have trouble getting out of the "simple" racks.  I know that nothing in pool is simple, by "simple" I mean racks where the balls are lying well and it is completely within my capabilities to get out.  Routine runouts.  Since this was brought to my attention a few weeks ago, I have started to pay attention to it and unfortunately it's true: If I could get out of all the simple racks, I would be beating a hell of a lot of people. 

There is a lot of hope in this realization because there are so many difficult things that I am doing well.  My break is much better, as is my safety game.  I am skilled with difficult recovery positions and with power strokes.  I am getting the jump on my opponents but not consistently finishing my job at the table.

When I was in college I majored in Cognitive Science and I still enjoy reading on the subject.  One of my favorite authors is best-seller Malcolm Gladwell.  After reading "Blink" and "Outliers", I just finished his first book, "The Tipping Point."  In "The Tipping Point", Gladwell examines the properties that cause ideas, behaviors and trends to cross over ("tip") from obscurity into the mainstream.  He reveals that small and often simple changes in message, messenger and context cause things to "tip."  While his writing only concerns how information is passed between people, I think that his premise that small changes often cause the largest differences can be applied to my pool game (of course I always find a way for everything to apply to my pool game!)

It is not a bigger break, kicking like a champion or table-length draw that is going to "tip" me from low-level pro to elite player, it is the management of the small, everyday things like being able to draw the cue ball six inches and not three or twelve.

It is with an eye on this that I am preparing for the Pacific Coast Classic.  Even though it might take a while to change, acknowledgment of the problem is the first step towards fixing it.