I am a keen amateur pool player, with amateur being the key word.
My preferred game in the traditional pub 8-ball. The object of the game, for those not in the know, is to pot your 7 coloured balls and then pot the black "8" ball. Sounds simple and when you watch the really good it looks simple too.
Last night I played my second match since rejoining my old team after a two year hiatus. My first had ended in a deciding frame defeat against one of the leagues better players. I, perhaps, should explain that the team experience is different. No player can play more than one "end" or frame and the captains have to pick players end by end out of the squad available. It is a best of seven match, although dead ends are played due to frame difference in the league. So my first frame back was in an away match playing with the scores at three each. I acquitted myself well but lost on a black ball game.
So yestereve I was selected again. It was a cup match and we were three-two down, our captain had one the frame before me to bring us back into the match from three-one down.
So here I was, once again put into the high pressure frame against a good, solid player. I remember I potted the first ball and went onto yellows but I ran out of position. What followed was one of the most intense, gruelling and ultimately enjoyable half hours I can remember. I had forgot the shear joy to be had when playing under intense pressure (I know it is only pub league but when you have 15-20 people watching with a vested interest in the result it is pressure), of trying to outwit, out skill and out psych your opponent. Too many players think pool is all about potting, and obviously that is important, but preventing your opponent from playing and forcing them into risky shots or to clear a pocket they don't want to is part of the game too. An important one when you are playing in the highest tier of your local leagues three tier system, I assure you.
The match, ultimately, was going to be decided by my frame. Although it was only the sixth end my opponents team only had six players. If I lost they won four-three and if I won we won by the same score. After the match I was shaking as the adrenaline finally had chance to take over.
And next Sunday we are in the drawer for the next round.