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View Full Version : 8ball v 9ball Planning - Multi-Option Positioning.

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 05:53 AM
An area where 8ball run out planning is very different from 9-ball is what I call Multi-Option Positional Zones. MOPZ.

In rotation games a player has just one ball to play for and become quite an expert at choosing the best way to get onto that ball.

But in 8-ball, quite often it is not a great idea to set your mind upon a definite order of play. It is a good idea to let new better patterns emerge and one way this can be maximized is playing for multiple options. It also means if you mess up position a bit that you'll still have a good next shot choice.

I'm often imagining lines through the balls from various pockets to see where they congregate. These areas where lines congregate become good positional target options.

This diagram explains the notion. A 9-ball player might play a soft draw to get onto the 3 ball in the center pocket, or perhaps come up a little higher to get on the 6 ball. But with some thought it's worth taking a risk to get up closer to the 6 ball into the zone area because if you go too far or a little left or right you'll still likely end up with a very good shot on the 1 or 3 balls.
START(
%AT1O8%BR8Y3%Ce6Q5%Dp4J4%FP7G7%HN2O4%Pp6P6%Q[2L1%RX7I3%S[7I1
%WV5G3%Xs4[1%Yj2P2%ZC3C5%[\8K3%\o6K2%]p2L3%^p4O7%eB3b3%__8G2
%`S9O7%aC1[7
)END
If you finish along the line of position A, you can play the 3,6,1,2 to finish.
Position B: 6,1,3,2
Position C: 1 then back into the zone area and then assess the best finish option.

Hope that makes sense :D
Colin

EDRJR
07-08-2006, 06:14 AM
Thanks Colin. I'm leaving in one hour for an 8-ball tournament. I like this concept. I just hope it doesn't take too much experience to get good at it, LOL. I'm not going to have a lot of time to practice it.

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 06:26 AM
Thanks Colin. I'm leaving in one hour for an 8-ball tournament. I like this concept. I just hope it doesn't take too much experience to get good at it, LOL. I'm not going to have a lot of time to practice it.

Good luck EDRJR!

Hope you find a couple of shots to try it on. But as always, don't think about it too much, it might put you off your game until you've practiced thinking this way a bit more.

Colin

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 06:36 AM
Ball-Ball-Pocket Lines
Another tool that is useful in 8-ball but doesn't come into play much in 9-ball is what I'll call Ball-Ball-Pocket Lines. Or BBPLs for short.

This is especially useful in finding ways to deal with problem balls. There's usually at least one or two trickier balls in a runout, and spotting BBPLs to deal with them can make running out a lot easier.

They are also especially useful in figuring run out plans that require little CB movement, which is very important when there are lots of balls on the table that can block a runout.

A good way to develop the skill to see these options and work them into a high percentage run out plan, other than just playing 8-ball, is to play the no-cushion drill. i.e. Just scatter 10 balls on the table and try to pot them all without touching a rail. You'll need to spot all the BBPLs that can help you to do this without much CB movement.

Anyway, here is a diagram to show the BBPL concept.

We can see that the 2 ball can be used to set up well for the 1,3 and 7 balls. And the 7 lines up with the 3 ball in the center etc etc.

So a good way to start this out might be. Draw back 2 inches on the 5 ball for the 1 into the center. Draw from the 1 for position on the 2-ball. Play 2 to 7 to 3 and finish the 4-6-8 as you please. The whole runout could require just 2 shots that have to move the CB any significant distance.

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 07:08 AM
Just to expand a little....

MOPZ and BBPLs are two useful tools in reducing the thousands of possible runout plans to a few dozen quite good plans. It still takes a lot of practice to reduce these to a single plan which determines a smart next shot.

With experience in better planning a player, without improving his shooting abilities, could realistically increase his clearance after breaks from 40% to 70% and clearance with the opponent's balls off the table from 60% to 90%. For a good pro, the gains won't be as large, as they can runout most the time even if they choose a plan that is less than optimal. But tweaking a few extra percent with better table planning for a pro could make the difference between winning and losing a lot of their matches.

I'm certainly not an expert in runout planning, but I find these tools have helped me significantly in recent months practicing them in my planning. It's a bit like chess. It takes a clear sharp mind and a lot of practice to sort out all the options in your head and then to decide and focus in on the execution.

Colin

Blackjack
07-08-2006, 07:14 AM
Just keep things simple. Play a sequence that sets you up for

a) a set up ball to get on the 8

b) a set up ball to get on that ball

That leaves 5 balls that I would break down into A, B, C, or WP - as George Fels explains about 14.1 in Mastering Pool. That works for me, it may not work for everybody, but IMO, that is the simplest way to break things down.

8 ball is a completely different animal from any rotational game. In my book Lessons in 9 Ball, I cover the subject of Reading Racks (http://www.geocities.com/theblackjacktable_nl/Reading_Racks.html)- and I talk about pocket availability options and the importance of re-reading the rack after every shot. With every shot that is taken, the lay of the table changes. Missing position an inch to the left or right of that 6 ball will change the way that you will shoot it and get position on the next ball, and it may change your shot sequence. Great players are able to adapt and can run out in 8 ball even when things don't go exactly as planned.

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 07:32 AM
Ball In Hand Rule
Another useful tool in planning an out is what I call the Ball-In-Hand Rule. Or BIHR for short. It is another concept that doesn't come into play in 9-ball, as the order of play is pre-set.

To apply, imagine what you would do if you had ball in hand. In the diagram below, we see that the we don't have a good first shot on stripes, so solids are probably the best option. With the solids, the trickiest ball is the 6 ball, so if I had ball in hand I'd place the CB at position A.
START(
%AN3S2%B_5S6%CK9D7%Dh2E6%EE8Q6%FO6H0%Gl2R6%HL3P7%I e5K8%KJ3Y0
%Lb2X3%MW3H5%N]1M9%OH4F3%Pe6N7%QM1D6%Wr0M4%Xk4Q8%Y[6\6%ZN0E2
%[j8Q5%\f2O1%]a0F8%^r7L9%eB3b3
)END

So the BIHR tells me that I should be looking for a sequence that gets me to position A as early as possible. Luckily for me the 3 ball is positioned well to get the CB to position A, so my first shot here will be to play for good position from the 7 to the 3 ball so I can get rid of the problem 6 ball and then go about planning my finish.

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 07:47 AM
Just keep things simple. Play a sequence that sets you up for

a) a set up ball to get on the 8

b) a set up ball to get on that ball

That leaves 5 balls that I would break down into A, B, C, or WP - as George Fels explains about 14.1 in Mastering Pool. That works for me, it may not work for everybody, but IMO, that is the simplest way to break things down.

8 ball is a completely different animal from any rotational game. In my book Lessons in 9 Ball, I cover the subject of Reading Racks (http://www.geocities.com/theblackjacktable_nl/Reading_Racks.html)- and I talk about pocket availability options and the importance of re-reading the rack after every shot. With every shot that is taken, the lay of the table changes. Missing position an inch to the left or right of that 6 ball will change the way that you will shoot it and get position on the next ball, and it may change your shot sequence. Great players are able to adapt and can run out in 8 ball even when things don't go exactly as planned.

I agree Blackjack that your points a and b are very important things to consider from the start and that reassessing after each shot is usually crucial, but I don't think that good planning is simple. Even though great players can make outs with 80% rates without optimal planning, that doesn't mean that they wouldn't benefit considerably with more detailed table planning.

Regarding points a and b. It's often necessary to have to sacrifice the best 8-ball set up ball and pre-set up ball in order to deal with other problems in the layout. But a player must always ask himself "Can I finish?" and if their estimation is that the finish is below 50% probability (as a generalization), they should look for a useful strategical shot.

For example, in my BBPL post above, the 2 ball is probably the best set up ball for the 8 ball, but as there are several good options, it is worth potting it earlier in the sequence to develop a better plan. And later on in that plan the player could finish 6-4-8 or 4-6-8. Even though it's easier to get from the 6 onto the 8 than from the 4 onto the 8, by going 6-4-8 you can avoid playing a trickier judgement shot from the 4 to the 6 ball. Hence, it's not always important to set a solid plan for the ball that will be used to set up for the 8-ball.

Colin

Blackjack
07-08-2006, 07:55 AM
Regarding points a and b. It's often necessary to have to sacrifice the best 8-ball set up ball and pre-set up ball in order to deal with other problems in the layout. But a player must always ask himself "Can I finish?" and if their estimation is that the finish is below 50% probability (as a generalization), they should look for a useful strategical shot.

Colin

IMO, this is where many players get themselves in trouble. "8 Ball Suicide" is usually the result of improper planning or poor strategic play earlier in the rack, which is why it is vital to reasses your options and re-read the table after each and every shot you or your opponent makes. Great posts. Keep them coming.

Colin Colenso
07-08-2006, 08:25 AM
IMO, this is where many players get themselves in trouble. "8 Ball Suicide" is usually the result of improper planning or poor strategic play earlier in the rack, which is why it is vital to reasses your options and re-read the table after each and every shot you or your opponent makes. Great posts. Keep them coming.

Thanks Blackjack,
I like the term "8 Ball Suicide" lol. We used to refer to it as "Digging a Hole" or after the act "Burying Oneself".

Anyway, the reason I'm putting these concepts up for consideration is not just for the instructional aspect, but to provide some terms and ideas for the ongoing 9ball v 8ball debate. As you succinctly stated, 8ball is a different animal.

Is it tougher to be a world champion bull rider or a world champion equestrian? The difficulty will depend on the abilities of the competitors.

It's sure that 8ball requires less good shot making than 9ball, but as I've tried to show, there are many aspects to 8ball which are indeed very challenging and the game on occassion requires extremely creative shot making that is not so often seen in 9ball. For example, if you get out of position in 9ball, there is usually a reasonable saftey option which allows the player to maintain the advantage. But in 8-ball, if you lose your way trying to go out, the safety option is usually so weak, that the player must commit to some extremely difficult shots.

I think 8 ball has a bit of almost everything. Good potting and position, kicking, combinations, cannons, planning, strategy, power, precision, risk taking etc etc. It's achille's heel as a sport may be that the planning requirements lead to slow play and that good planning leads to what looks like a simple game with few big shots. That makes tv production a real challenge, for only a fractionally small percent of the population will ever appreciate the game for the various skills that are required for top-level play.

Colin

Flex
07-08-2006, 09:57 AM
It's achille's heel as a sport may be that the planning requirements lead to slow play and that good planning leads to what looks like a simple game with few big shots. That makes tv production a real challenge, for only a fractionally small percent of the population will ever appreciate the game for the various skills that are required for top-level play.

Colin

Tap, tap, tap.

sixpack
07-08-2006, 11:59 AM
An area where 8ball run out planning is very different from 9-ball is what I call Multi-Option Positioning.

In rotation games a player has just one ball to play for and become quite an expert at choosing the best way to get onto that ball.

But in 8-ball, quite often it is not a great idea to set your mind upon a definite order of play. It is a good idea to let new better patterns emerge and one way this can be maximized is playing for multiple options. It also means if you mess up position a bit that you'll still have a good next shot choice.

I'm often imagining lines through the balls from various pockets to see where they congregate. These areas where lines congregate become good positional target options.

This diagram explains the notion. A 9-ball player might play a soft draw to get onto the 3 ball in the center pocket, or perhaps come up a little higher to get on the 6 ball. But with some thought it's worth taking a risk to get up closer to the 6 ball into the zone area because if you go too far or a little left or right you'll still likely end up with a very good shot on the 1 or 3 balls.
START(
%AT1O8%BR8Y3%Ce6Q5%Dp4J4%FP7G7%HN2O4%Pp6P6%Q[2L1%RX7I3%S[7I1
%WV5G3%Xs4[1%Yj2P2%ZC3C5%[\8K3%\o6K2%]p2L3%^p4O7%eB3b3%__8G2
%`S9O7%aC1[7
)END
If you finish along the line of position A, you can play the 3,6,1,2 to finish.
Position B: 6,1,3,2
Position C: 1 then back into the zone area and then assess the best finish option.

Hope that makes sense :D
Colin

Colin,

I like this way of thinking, I hadn't really thought of converging lines, but what I do typically is look for what I call 'outliers' and 'transitional balls' and key balls. Trouble balls and clusters come into play too, but there aren't any in this diagram.

Outliers are balls, like the 2 in your table, don't fit the pattern for most of the balls.

Transitional balls are balls that allow you to move from one section of the table to the other. In your BIH post, they would be the 2 & 13.

Key ball is a ball that gives you a great chance for position on the 8-ball.

I usually work to get outliers first unless they are key balls, then I try to work backwards from them. My reasoning is that going outside the pattern and then coming back in is where you're likely to make a mistake. The more balls you have left in the pattern, the more likely you'll be able to get back into it.

In your example, I would identify the 2 & 6 as key balls. It's a trivial out, but I would play the 4 and then reassess to see which one of them is easier to get straight in on after playing the other 3 balls. Incidentally, I would probably play the 4 one rail with top left, the rail will help it die in the zone better and brings it into the line better IMHO.

Because of the angle I'm coming in at, I would anticipate the out would be 1, 6, 3, 2 then 8. But subject to change after 4 ball.

Cheers,
RC

sixpack
07-08-2006, 12:17 PM
Ball In Hand Rule
Another useful tool in planning an out is what I call the Ball-In-Hand Rule. Or BIHR for short. It is another concept that doesn't come into play in 9-ball, as the order of play is pre-set.

To apply, imagine what you would do if you had ball in hand. In the diagram below, we see that the we don't have a good first shot on stripes, so solids are probably the best option. With the solids, the trickiest ball is the 6 ball, so if I had ball in hand I'd place the CB at position A.
START(
%AN3S2%B_5S6%CK9D7%Dh2E6%EE8Q6%FO6H0%Gl2R6%HL3P7%I e5K8%KJ3Y0
%Lb2X3%MW3H5%N]1M9%OH4F3%Pe6N7%QM1D6%Wr0M4%Xk4Q8%Y[6\6%ZN0E2
%[j8Q5%\f2O1%]a0F8%^r7L9%eB3b3
)END

So the BIHR tells me that I should be looking for a sequence that gets me to position A as early as possible. Luckily for me the 3 ball is positioned well to get the CB to position A, so my first shot here will be to play for good position from the 7 to the 3 ball so I can get rid of the problem 6 ball and then go about planning my finish.

Colin,

I appreciate and understand the BIH rule you're talking about here, I use it myself. However, this rack illustrates a little bit of what I'm talking about in my previous post.

There are two pattern areas in this rack, the right side of the table (7,4,2) and the left half (3, 6, 1, 5, 8). The two ball acts as a transition ball to move the CB from the right to the left. There is no transition ball to move from the left back to the right though....so while I agree that getting the 6 early is crucial, I think if you take it while leaving the 4&2 over there, you could end up having to perform unnatural acts to get back over there safely and then back again for the 8.

In this situation, I would make the 3 balls on the right (7,2,4) then leave on the rail for the 3. If you're straight, you can do as you diagrammed and stofp for the six in the side, if you're not perfect, you can bump the 15 playing shape on the 5 and then the 6 is open and you can work back around to it as the ball before the 8. That way you don't have to navigate the traffic in the middle of the table more than once. In my head that's a little cleaner.

Cheers,
RC

Big Bad Bern
07-08-2006, 12:33 PM
Hi Colin, I found three things that greatly increased my runout percentage in 8ball, from 5-10% to 25-40% break and run and 80-90% on a second trip to the table.
1.) Playing every ball into the closest pocket!

2.) Minimizing cueball movement!

3.) Linking balls!

It is not always possible to do these things but when these principles are applied it greatly simplifies the game and patterns start to jump out at you.

Start by looking the table over and seeing the closest pocket to each ball in your desired group(stripes or solids), then look for a pattern that links the balls together with a minimum of cueball movement( preferably stop shots, short draws or short follows), just stay in line after linking balls and you should not have to stop to relink. Sometimes rule one will have to be broken to accomodate rules 2 & 3, but I have found that making a ball in a poket farther from it inorder to minimize cueball movement and continue a well linked pattern is much better than making an easier shot and trying to make a much tougher position.

I do agree with Blackjack also in that if you miss position on a link it is best to stop and reevaluate/relink. This process will be made much quicker, as you already know the closest pockets for all your group of ball.

Bern

Colin Colenso
07-10-2006, 04:50 AM
Summary and Implementation

When you come to the table, one of the first thing's you'll do is to assess if there is a good percentage pot option...or how many of them.

Then you'll need to look out for the difficult or blocked ball situation. Then consider if the Ball-In-Hand Rule (BIHR) could be used to deal with this ball.

Then look at the shot options you have to begin with, and look for the MOPZ (Multi-Option Positions Zones) and the BBPLs (Ball Ball Positional Lines) and see if any of them create ideas for planning the out sequence or just for the sequence in the next couple of shots.

Combining these into your planning procedure should help to spot better plan options. The plan should be reassessed after every shot if something changes.

That's about as close as I would push it toward a systematized approach. There are other aspects to consider in shot selection and execution which can require a creative mind and years of experience.

Colin