I get it. You don't see it, it's just some balls moving in a game that looks like Pool Billard. Hence this blog – a battle report of tournament games from last sunday I tried to memorize. This is a very absurd attempt, as I didn't take pictures. You don't take pictures in a Snooker tournament. I hope it works well. It's also an attempt to try to explain Snooker strategy in general.
Tournament Preparation and Intro
Alright, let's explain Snooker in some few words, you don't need to know much. A snooker table looks like a Pool table, even though there's a large difference. Literally. A Pool table is roughly 2 meters long and 1.3 meters wide (numbers made up). A Snooker table is about twice the size, roughly 3,5 m * 2,1 m. Meanwhile, the balls are about 33% smaller and the pockets are round – they don't feature sharp edges like pool tables. In pool you have a larger margin of error, if you pot a ball slowly, it still might drop. In snooker you miss if you don't play exact.
Also, the general logic of Snooker is different. You have 15 reds, build up as triangle, and six colors. The colors are worth 2 – 7 points, the reds are worth one point. You pot red – color – red – color and so on, until all reds are gone. Afterwards the colors are potted starting with yellow (2 points) up to black (7 points) in order of worth. All in all you can score 147 points in one go in total.
If you pot more than one ball you call it a break. Professionals usually are good enough to pot streaks of 50 points regularly, even centuries (100 points) are not really rare for them. In any given professional tournament there are usually fifty 50-point breaks and more than twenty centuries to be observed. Amateurs like me are happy to pot six balls in one go. In my club exactly one person once scored an official century. Two more have a record of one official break of more than fifty points. Doing well break wise is very important, but also very hard.
Since I only play on occasion and focussed on Pool the last years, I decided to train for Snooker. I would go to my club, put up a training set-up (see picture) and only leave if I scored three 20-point breaks (at least six balls in a row). I started two months ago and did this routine twice a week. At first it took me two hours, now I usually need thirty minutes. Please note, I'm not a quick learner, I simply play the game for about eight years now and it took me less to get rid of my rusty ways.
The reason why I focussed so hard on my break building was, that I made an ass of myself the last tournament I entered. I faced two guys who both shot me dead and I had to go beyond nice ways to make it interesting. I fought hard, but eventually lost. This time I wanted to perform better, instead of being passive-aggressive, I wanted to dominate the game from the get go. I improved my technique a lot (!) over the past three years, so I was really looking forward to the competition.
Fouls and Amateurs – The Basic of Strategy
Alright, I already tried to get into strategy, before explaining roughly what strategy is – in the context of the game you still can't understand it. A basic principle of pool is to always control the white ball. Without control you are bound to commit fouls, you play at random, because you do not get into a position, from which you can pot the next ball.
Now, fouls do matter. Fouls can be:
- White leaves the table. Either because you accidentally pot it, or you put so much force into cueing, that it jumps off. It happens a lot more often than you might think, especially when a first timer goes into Hulk mode.
- You play the wrong ball first. This happens a lot: You should play red, but you play black first. This is often the case when to balls are next to each other, or if you have to play long distances.
- You touch no ball at all. This happens if you do not quite get the pace correctly or miss to hit the ball on.
There are other fouls as well, such as touching balls with your shirt, or more complicated ones as touching two balls with your cue while cueing (e.g. white touches red, you play white onto the red – you can't possibly not get you cue back in time, so that all three balls are not connected).
A foul has consequences.
- Penality Points: If only white is involved, it means four points your opponent. If a higher valued color (blue, purple, black) it means 5-7 points.
- Miss: If you commit to a shot (in contrast to touching the ball with your cue), your opponent always can insist you put the white where it was, as well as all other balls on the table, so the game is restored. Then you have to repeat the same shot again and again, until you do not commit a foul anymore.
- Force-Taken-Shot: Your opponent can also forgo his „miss“ right. He can then force you to play the next shot. E.g. you are in a harder position than you were before the foul, this is a good thing for your opponent.
Here one possible strategy arises: Playing for Snooker. If you can't pot, you hide the white behind a color, so your opponent can't directly play onto a red. If you are entirely blocked this way, you are „snookered“. Keep this in mind.
Yet, in my club, we're almost all amateurs, except for a few guys, who take it more professionally. However, the professional people are the minority, and the organizer is a very odd creature. He insists that we play without the miss rule. Instead of using the miss, we simply play on as if nothing happened – there's still the force-taken-shot option open. I can live with this, as it's incredibly hard to restore a table with 20 balls on it to the exact positions they were on before. However, it also limits your strategic options.
Enough foreplay, let's go to the games and the actual tournament I played two days ago.
Game I: The Coach
Remember when I said there are no professional people in my club? My first opponent is an exception, he was a registered coach and played the game for more than twenty years, even on the highest German level. He was never among the best of our country, but you could see he knew what he was doing. I didn't know at first, even though his entire appearance, the way he would go to the table and so on, spoke for itself.
We played a Best of Three with some changes to the official rules. Instead of using 15 reds, we played with 10 reds. This makes sense, as we only had six tables. Each red prolongs a frame endless, if you can't decide a frame in one go – as you'll see soon. However, it also means that the start is quite different from what you are used to, Snooker is a game in which details matter a lot. It's like a difference between LAN Latency and ordinary B-net Latency; at least for the first shot, afterwards it's okay.
The 10 Reds set up on the table, including values of the colors. For a 15 Reds set up imagine another line of five reds at the bottom of the pyramid.
The 10 Reds set up on the table, including values of the colors. For a 15 Reds set up imagine another line of five reds at the bottom of the pyramid.
My opponent „won“ the coin flip and decided he'd do the break-off (first shot in a frame). To be honest, it doesn't matter who does it. Not on our level, and almost never in professional games. Yet, in this example it did, because of the 10 Reds set-up. Usually, you play the shot like shown in the picture: You only nudge the reds slightly, see that white runs up the table and stays near the top. This way no reds are „open“ - or easy to pot. If you want to pot, you have to take it over three meters – that's a alot and needs incredibly amounts of precision.
The white-transparent line indicates the way the white rolls „ideally“, whereas the white box shows in which area it's fine for the white to rest after the shot. The square shaped thing at the bottom indicates where the reds spread. The harder and fuller the white hits the pack of reds, the stronger they spread. It'd be best if they didn't spread much. Any potential reds breaking out should be covered by blue, green and brown – so you can't hit them at all, or only very hardly. Obviously, this is ONE possibility to split. Others invovle trying to hide white directly behind one of the small colors – green, brown or yellow, or – very rarely and stupidly – try to just roll up the white onto the pack from „behind“.
I can't explain why it's harder to break-off on ten reds, it's just the way the thing works. The biggest mistake you can do in a break off is to hit the blue on the way back. If you hit it, the white will finish in the middle of the table, or closer to the majority of reds, thus increasing the chances for your opponent. However, in his case he didn't hit the blue, instead he overestimated the speed of the white – it went back in between blue and reds, like shown on the picture. More so, he hit the pack of reds slightly too hard, so one red was „in the open“.
This determined, as ridiculously outlandish as it sounds, the entire progress of the frame. It gave me a surprisingly huge amount of room. Let's start with the real strategy!
Shot to Nothing
Let's have a closer look at the picture above, as there were basically three ideas I could follow up with, which ranged from two defensive ideas, to more aggressive ones. Important are five out of the ten reds on the table.
There were some obvious variables, which don't need much thinking. First off, the black was blocked by a red that went „downwards“ on the table, so that they touched each other. Trying to get a position on black therefore was futile and out of the picture. Secondly, all other colors were pottable, however with pink only being viable options in three pockets. Usually the pink ball is the one that's blocked the longest, as it remains very close to the pack of reds; not this time, hence it had to be factored in.
The reds with numbers (1-3) were more interesting options. Balls 1 and 3 were the ones to chose to do a really easy safety. The white rolls up back to the table and you get a „safe“, because white will either be hidden behind a colour, or there's going to be so much space between white and reds, that any pot will be hard.
Now to the downsides: Black will be moved towards the bottom cushion if you hit Red #1. It might therefore be blocked longer, or – if you are very unlucky – block the pocket at bottom right. All in all still the option to go for if you want to get a safety out.
Red #3 will have a lot more problems. First off, you might, if you hit it too softly, the duo of black/red 1 at its bottom. This will leave white in a position, in which your opponent can dictate the speed of the upcoming shots, if not getting a very good chance. Moreso, a safety will for certain spread all other reds to the right side of the table. Depending on how hard you hit, there might even be the lose red at the bottom of the pack moving towards the right side pocket. Not a too good option, but one to consider.
The most interesting option presented itself in red 2. It was a rather hard pot, but it could be shot into the left bottom pocket of black. There's no need to put any kind of effet on white, white will automatically move around the bottom of the majority of reds, never be in danger to hit black/red; however, it might crash into the one loose red on the right side cushion if you really mis-cue hard. But I was comfortable I couldn't possibly slip too hard.
Now the question was all about pace. If I played it slowly, white would stop in square 2a – and thus give me a chance to go for pink and another red afterwards; maybe even to split the pack. However, playing this slow AND miss would also mean my opponent would have a VERY easy red in return. So this option was high risky, considering this would be my first go at the table for the day.
The same applies for the squares 2b and 2c, mid-sized tempo. It'd be „somewhat“ easy to leave white there. If it stays in 2b I could go for pink and get an auto position on the next red at the bottom of the pack. However, if white moves too much towards the blue I could only aim for pink and would require to cue with a ton of effet to get the next red.
Same thing for the 2c – easy to stay on blue, but hard to be precise enough to go from blue back to the reds. All this with the consideration that it really was my first shot and the red was hard enough to pot to begin with.
Option red2 with square 2d seemed like the rational option. A rather fast pace and no effet, and the white would go all the way up to the table, never hit pink or blue on the way and be left in a somewhat safe area. Afterwards I could try to think about a Snooker. This is called a „shot to nothing“ - if you score, you get a point and an easy safety. If you don't hit, you at least get a decent, but not horribly forcing safety. Commiting to shot-to-nothings the entire time is rather common for some professionals of the lower world ranking region (the best example being Rod Lawler but also one of the strategies of Graeme Dott, Peter Ebdon and Mark Selby, former World Champions).
So I took on red 2 and potted – to my surprise. It went in very smoothly and white finished about 25 cm directly behind brown – I couldn't have done much better saftey shot from any other color. I aimed for green, as a roll up onto brown was a little too hard for me. With that, I forced my opponent and forced him to find a good escape shot.
Again, we have to have a look at what happened. As described, I tried and shoot the green into the long cushion on the left side. White should then (and did) jump back and move behind the colors. I was able to put pressure on my opponent, he could only see one red, and that one was barely pottable: if a ball lies on a cushion, it needs to be potted with a lot of care. If it touches the cushion it will never go into the pocket, thanks to the rounded edges any whole has.
If you look at the picture, you will see that Red 1 is the only ball my opponent could hit directly. He now had two options, either to hit a cushion on the right side of the table, so that white will hit red 2 or 3 softly and then stop. In this case I would have no option to pot and find a way to bring white back up to the low colors. However, since pink was so close, it was a very risky option. If he touched it, he would give me six points. On the newb level we play six points are „a lot“, depending on how hard we mess up the table. Also, in case he missed I could have forced him to do the next and incredibly hard shot.
The solution, for any experienced player that is, was to play a shot over red 1 like painted in the picture. It is no less easy, as it brings a ton of risk. First, if you hit the red too hard, the white and the red will „double kiss“. This means the red will be pushed into the cushion and jump back, thus hitting white a second time. This also means that the white will then be shot into the pack of reds, very likely moving one into a vicinity of a pocket.
Secondly, if he hits the red too hard or too soft, white will finish somewhere between pink and blue, while the red will finish similar to a pocket like I saw before (my first shot); also there's the red labelled „A“ - this is still pottable to the left black pocket. If white would finish below the line on blue I was left not only with an easy safety shot, but also with a chance.
If he plays it right however, white will finish on top of the table and the red will move towards the black spot (square 1a).
My opponent played the shot ever slightly too soft and this happened:
Please note that the pictures do not really show how reality was. The red with the letter A was almost in one line on top of black, and the red labelled B was in the way, as I will explain shortly. And here's the thing that happens a lot in newb matches: It's crystal clear what shot you want to take on, pot A into the pocket like shown. However, it's a hard shot on his own, as it requires you to play with the rest as right handed person, unless you want to do yoga. Next, the natural angle makes it somewhat possible that you crash into the red B on your way back. It's not bad, but you want to have a color to continue. Hence, you have to hit white not in its center, but like shown by my cool graphic on the left side of the table.
Hitting the white below its center will have several effects, depending on the angle. If white was on the red line, it would move backwards after hitting the red. Since it isn't it has an alternative effect. It will drag the white more towards the bottom right pocket, where it will hit the cushion. Now, from my perspective it was questionable if this was enough – hence a right hand side rotation was required as well. This pushes the white in an unnatural angle faster towards the long cushion than it would elsewise. Both effets have one clear goal, to avoid Red B on the way back at any cost. They come with great risks – the more side you use, the more likely it is you mis-cue and just slide off the white. Or that you miss the pot entirely. In my case it was another attempt at a shot to nothing, so I really didn't mind.
And again, I was surprised, it was literally the first time my technique was good enough to not only avoid Red B (with a rest) AND rattle the ball in. Really, it went into the pocket, moved around a little, but eventually went off the table.
Score so far: 2 – 0 for me, with 91 points still on. So, this isn't a big lead. Also, the white did something really bad for me, it went up the table, hit the top cushion and went back – and stopped touching the yellow ball from behind. I now was forced to play „away“ from the yellow, even though it'd been perfect if my opponent had to take on the shot from that; it was a perfect snooker. I just touched the white as softly as I dared, so I left a somewhat decent snooker on. In my head. In reality white finished on the semi-circle between brown and yellow, leaving Red B on as pot. Shiiiet.
My opponent's first real attempt at a pot went wrong. He missed it ever so slightly and the white divided red and black.
This was the second and most crucial mistake my opponent did in the entire match, not just this one frame. First, when newbs play, breaks higher than twenty points are a rare occurance. Secondly, colors are usually blocked, like black was before his shot. Both observations play into each other's hands. Newbs don't often pot than more four, maybe five balls in one go. I'm not an exception in real, non-training games. He couldn't know and so far he had to assume I was capable to at least get four balls on record. This picture gave me ample opportunity.
Ignore the squares, lines and the white at the left side for a bit.
In the last tournament I failed hard, as I didn't dare to aim for high breaks. This time I was, and this is understatement, amibitious. I didn't care, I wanted to dominate. Hence, I had to take a step back and come up with a plan. Not only what had to be potted first, because that was a no brainer. Red 1 in this picture was an obvious choice. It was also obvious that I would finish on a very easy and doable black afterwards.
However, there was more to be considered. First, there was just another open red – the red with the number 2. The rest was blocking each other and therefore a split was required. I needed to factor in a way, with which I could bring them out in the open. This would take a good pot on the first red, else my plan was doomed from the get-go.
Now, option 1a was to play the first red with a touch of right hand side. This would bring white on a parallel with black, somewhere in square 1a. A rather difficult shot, not the pot itself, but the pacing and the effet. Afterwards I would play the white with a lot of spin towards its bottom – so it would crash in the right side of the pack, as shown in the picture. The reds would split and I was bound to have a position on red 2. Now, in combination both shots require a very, very high amount of accuracy and if I overdid it, I would end up with my third point and not more.
The second option, to pot the red with the natural angle and a slow-medium pace would leave the white somewhere in square 1b. The black would be slightly harder to pot, but still nothing to worry about, as I trained these shots over and over again in the past month. If I then would give it a bit of top spin (see the white), the white would move somewhere above red 2 and give me another angle to go in the pack over the red. It seemed more doable to me, so I did it.
The shot went well and white finished somewhat nicely. Now I wanted to pot the red again and press/force it via the bottom cushion and top spin again into the left side of the pack. I didn't want to hit it fully, just slightly. Afterwards white would finish on pink – either in the lower circle or the one above. The upper one has the downside that the break might stirr up reds and leave them in between pink and the bottom right pocket.
Alright, so the red went in, it touched it like I wanted it to have, but it didn't really split much. Just the bottom red opened up, but I was nicely on pink to get a natural angle into the white square shown in the picture. From there on I could easily stun into the last five reds and get more into the open. Here's where I want to stress out it was over-ambitious from the start. This is professional stuff, stuff I'm not good enough to perform.
What happened after potting the pink was that the white finished in the blue square. I was still on the open red and it was an easy shot. But I could only get on the left side of the black, thus making any pot split very hard. I potted the red and this is what I finished like:
I potted the black and was happy I was up so many points already. However, I saw an option to maybe pot the red on the farthest right into the yellow-middle-pocket – if I got the white in the square shown in the picture above. So I went for it and even managed to do it.
The only problem was, my break was over. There was no question about it. Black was back on its spot, the red was gone and the white was almost in one straight line on top of black, and I only saw black.
Fall back strategy – newb style
So far I potted twice red. Then I had a break of black, pink, black – that's how'd you tell any player. This makes, in points:
1 red = 1 point
1 red = 1 point
4 reds + pink + 2 blacks = 27 points
A total of 28 points against nothing. Four reds remaining meant 4*8+27 = 59 points remaining. I was half way over, so I thought I just do it newb-style from here on out. He requires to not only pot all reds remaining, he also needs as much high valued colors as possible. So, in my opinion, why make it easy? I started to intentionally hit the black and press it against a cushion, from where it's nearly impossible to use in a break. This is how I left the table, and in white lines, how his response was.
I was snookered and tried to attempt to get out of via cushions first and going into the back from the right side. I failed marginally, as I had hit the pink first. This was where the match turned around. Instead of panicing, like the rest of us does whenever we face a ~30 point deficit, he played concentrated, on the point and very precisely. I managed to press pink to a cushion and move blue to the top of the table – so to make all high valued colors unaccessable. However, he hit back again and again, showing no nerve at all. Even though I was still leading with 27 – 6 I felt like prey each more minute. After 25 minutes or so the table looked like this, and he did something that unsettled me hard:
The transparent red A symbolizes where the „real“ red ended.
Obviously I was in a hard spot. I couldn't see anything and it wasn't the first snooker he managed to achieve. However, it was the hardest one. He managed to keep one red out in the open and, to escape it, I needed to hit at least two cushions. So I tried yet another fancy technique: Swerving with a soft massé.
This technique requires you go into the white at a steeper angle – you have to hold up your cue and not parallel to the table; also, you do not shoot straight at the ball but slight to the left. Plus, you have to hit it far on the side, giving it quite a bit of rotation. As a result the white will really do some sort of curve. I managed to do it, I trained it heavily on the Pool table, as I do not have a Jump-cue ready. It wasn't such a big deal to force the white to behave unnatural, however, timing the arc was hard enough as it is. I did hit the red I aimed for, but way too hard so it went into the table. My opponent took his chance, potted it and somehow managed to roll in black. Black was back on the table, he took eight points from my lead and was in a great position. It looked somehow like this, and he went for full board snooker again.
As the picture shows, he has quite a ton of alternatives to factor in. First, he has to realize that the red 2 is open and he can't play it. Regardless of what he does, this has to be covered. If it isn't, he has a huge problem, as I get a chance to either pot, or to hide the red and he is left with two blocked reds labeled with #1. Hence,
1) he either plays the double-reds from underneath and brings back white underneath black (white square)
2) he plays the double reds with or without side. He will loosen both, thus making his chances "in the long run" better. These will remain open. White will then go up the table and finish in one of the two other squares. He decided to go for this option - it's the more strategic one, showing he thought ahead.
However, his first contact with the cushion went of wrongful. I can't express it, it made a strang SRRRR sound and the white really jumped instead of ran. It went off with about 10% more speed than anticipated, thus white didn't finish behind the small colors, but went in front of brown. This gave me this:
Again, I want to stress out that this frame went far better than I could ever hope for and I sincerirely counted with my opponent being impressed – thus far. I knew I couldn't keep my luck that long, so I tried to take on the shot as hard as possible, with full pace and a lot of speed. It was somewhat risky, the red I targeted could finish somewhere on the table, but it would for sure press black out of the way. I didn't go for any break – and hit. White went up the table again, black approached pink and I was up another point. Yet, white overpaced a ton and finished up somewhere „entirely“ wrong.
Now I had to see what to do once again.
The picture displayed my solution to the problem. I had several options again, one being the aggressive attempt to get green into a middle pocket. White would then finish somewhere in the Southern hemisphere of the table and I could maybe even get a position on a red. Yet, playing a white from the cushion is hard and I would have had a hard time controlling its speed, not to mention that I couldn't possibly stun it at all (playing it below its center). I could also try to play safe over the blue, pressing it against a cushion, or do the same with yellow or brown.
Blue was really tempting me. However, my opponent showed that he is more than capable and cool enough to get blue in from a somewhat safe spot. It was fine where it is, regardless of how he potted red, he would also have to make sure to get in the vicinity of blue to get points out of a red. I thought it might trap him into taking on more complicated shots somewhen in the distant future. So I left blue where it was.
Yellow was also a tempting choice, but it was already really safe. It would have been possible to lay a snooker, but with white at the cushion – you know, pace problems. It could mean I accidentally move yellow into the table again.
That left me with brown. I did what I show in the picture.
My opponent went to the table, had a long look, scratched his head and pulled a magic solution out of his ass. He potted the red in „the open“ with a medium pace and stun. The white then moved towards the pink and stopped about 20 cms apart from it. Afterwards he potted black and moved white in the back of the last open red. He also potted that, carefully, and then sank black again.
Score: 28 – 24
It was getting hard for me to concentrate and I got nervous. I couldn't fathom he could come back from such a position, that's really hard. We then started to fight for each ball from there on out. We mostly tried to lay it safe. I did my best, but he was able to sink yellow and green with great long pots – and now it turned out my idea with brown was a life safer. In all that time he somehow even managed to loosen pink from the cushion, whereas I tried to press it SOMEWHERE against another one over and over again.When trying to remove brown from the cushion he mis-cued and I had a chance. By then the standing was:
37 me – 29 opponent with 13 points on. I only needed a foul or sink one of the remaining balls.
This was a relief. The idea is simple and shown, a really easy shot, yet one you don't want to take against a strong opponent. I managed to do it. Potting the pink was far too risky, I was bound to leave on a total clearance. Simply shooting at pink and stunning white... well that's standard.
I was up 1-0.
The Coach – second frame and shoot-out
After the game my opponent shook his head and went on. I did the break-off and messed up similarly to my opponent. The second frame was a repetition of the first, except we swapped roles. He made a larger break of 20 something and I countered with two minor series (12 and 14 points), then got into a fight with him on the remaining reds. However, defending a lead and getting one by safeties were two different issues. He won against me with about 10 points on the blue ball. This sounds worse than it was, I definitely had chances but fought an uphill battle the entire frame.
The total we played on this small best of three was about two hours by now. My opponent sighed and then told me he was surprised to never see me in tournaments or the internal league that takes place in my club. Turns out he was some sort of semi-retired coach for better players, talking here about Germany's finest. Well...
Anyway, to make things short the rules said we now had to play a shoot-out. This means we'd play with only one red. The red is placed on one of the long cushions at the same heigth of the pink. I'll make it short, it was completely different from the rest. He snookered me from the first shot three times in a row and then made a 22. It was over.
The rest of the tournament
The other frames were alot more boring, especially not worthy to report them. It should be obvious, but the first two frames drained my concentration by a lot. I'm not used to defend anything, if I play snooker, I usually play with half-assed Pool players, who don't have a sense of safety play. They approach the table and are amazed at the difference. Yet despite being able to pot some streaks, they stand in awe and start to babble about how good pros are, than actually enjoying the game. They mostly lose because they hand out chances after chances. So did my next opponent. At least to some extent.
After a 30 minute break and some chat with „the coach“ I learned something about my play. He discussed this and that, mentioned I have the wrong standing, but a rather good and advanced technique given that I'm a self taught player. He suggested to invest some more in better equipment – which matters now.
The thing about tournaments is that you get to learn a ton of different personalities. Snooker is fair play, don't get me wrong, I never had an impolite opponent, the worst part is people swearing at balls under their breath, but they hardly give you shit for being passive/safety oriented or that you get lucky from time to time. Mostly there are mutual jokes going around and it's fine.
However, there are posers which make you face palm. The biggest mistakes of newbs is to play with a bunch of their friends. They play for about twenty hours and notice they get comfortable with somewhat „hard“ shots, which aren't „that hard“ at all. They get overconfident and think they have talent. You improve fast in Snooker, at least at first. Then this class of people starts to think the balls they miss are missed because of the club's cues, or the table. It's somewhat true, our tables are old, the cushions are sometimes magical and bend the laws of physics, but that's it. Tables for certain make positional play harder for us than for pros on heated tables with constant maintenance. Regardless... sooner or later these self-declared talents start to invest in professional gear.
So, my next opponent seemed to be just one of them. I never saw him before and he was a total unknown to anyone else as well. He came in with a large one-piece cue, which looked expensive like shit. Mine is worth 100 Euros, and only because it has a cheap extension. His looked four figures expensive. He had two extension sets for his cue, he had billard glasses, he had a glove and special made chalk. He also had oil for his cue and extensions for the rests at the table. Overall I estimate the worth of his equipment to be something around 1500 €. At least, maybe more if he his eye sight requires special glasses, then we're talking about 2500€. Since we also have two people in the tournament who are top class German snooker players and they never saw him before, I went with „yeah, a poser“ - the ICCup pendant to a 30% D+ newb on ICCup playing on an Alienware computer „and that mouse Boxer used“.
It took me 12 minutes to stomp him into the ground in the frist frame, not by doing good breaks. Ok, I somehow managed to fabricate some 30ish thing, a top thing. But that was mostly because he broke apart the red-pyramid from the first cue and left two colors within pockets. It really was nowhere as hard as it sounded. Afterwards he managed to either sink white or a wrong color with every shot. He gave up.
The next frame was worse as he got lucky as shit. He managed to pot red-black-red without potting them in the pockets he aimed for. Like he took on a long shot over the table – the red knocked into a pocket, jumped out, went diagonally over the table, hit the pink, changed course and went into a middle pocket. Black, afterwards, did something similar, except it went into a bottom pocket. So did the next red. He was up 9 points, but managed to foul on the black, giving me a 7-0. He also managed to move literally every other of the reds close to a cushion or next to a color. I lost my temper and started to play carelessly.
It got worse as he managed to „fluke“ (lucky shots) snookers time and time again. Instead of white falling down into a pocket, it started to rattle and stopped. I was snookered by the round edges of a pocket. It was a ghastly thing. Eventually he won on the black, because it was impossible for me to make a longer series.
Then, in the shoot-out, things changed yet again. I tried to snooker with red and he – out of thin air – started to play like the coach did. A 20 something and i was gone. That was when I learned that the guy was member of a bigger club and usually plays in the second highest league in Germany. Turns out, he simply had a very, very bad day. He also admitted he almost gave up after me clearing the first frame in record time.
This also meant I was out of the tournament, as the coach never would lose against my opponents, and I was down 0-2. I then encountered a rather bad player and was like mentally done with the day. I decided to just have fun and joked around with the guy. I knew him from previous tours and we talked more than we actually played. I intentionally took on the most idiotic long pots, tried to swerve and just had fun fooling around with all kind of effets. I lost that 1-2 as well, but really didn't mind.
All in all it was a fun tournament. The thing that stuck with me the longest was the realization how much I have to improve. I was able to stand my ground against someone not playing very chaoticly. However, if things go down badly and colors are blocked I need to come up with back up plans – improve my strategical play.
Well, the next tournament is in the middle of december. If I don't have a job in a larger city by then, I might participate again. Until then I will keep my training sessions and include tactical training.
I hope this blog wasn't as boring as the previous Snooker blogs. Let me know if it raised your interest!