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View Full Version : A shot in the 14.1 Warmup tournament


Steve Lipsky
07-03-2007, 02:20 PM
Below is a shot I faced late in my game against Thorsten. The score was something like 81-71 me, in a race to 100. We had both missed some very uncharacteristic shots in the middle of the game, though the early innings were decent. (And yes, any time Thorsten misses it's a little more uncharacteristic than me doing so ;))

I don't remember how I got to this spectacularly bad position, but there it was. While the next rack was being prepared, I thought about my options here. Obviously, there were only two:

1) I had a great angle to play the 1 in the side and call safe, leaving him downtable. Please note: there was no way to play this shot and not have the cueball roll downtable. I had no option of holding the cueball on the rack-side of the table to play an effective side-rack safety.

2) I could play the 1 in the corner, with speed. The shot - though very unorthodox, to be sure - was laying very well. In other words, I knew this shot would be very high-yielding. The rack would explode.

I include the analysis that the break shot would be high-yielding because I felt there was no vig of me making the ball but not having a shot.

I chose, fairly quickly, to shoot away. I felt that trying to engage in a safety battle with Mr. Hohmann would be, while not fruitless, certainly not in my favor. I also estimated that my chances of making the shot were roughly 1 in 2, and that if I did make the shot, I would almost certainly win the game. Yes, I needed to get into the next rack, but I expected a wide-open spread, and whenever you can get that, you usually wind up with another high-yielding break ball (or three) to choose from.

I missed. He ran out. However, although I heard a few people in the room questioning my decision, I had no regrets. If I played safe, lost the safe battle, and then the game, I'd be sick knowing I passed up a 1-in-2 to beat a world champion.

Finally, I just want to let you all know what a true pleasure it was to play Thorsten. He is a total gentleman, and even though he did not have his best game against me, he handled himself with the utmost class. He is such a nice guy that you almost can't help but root for him, even while you are playing him! ;)

So... what would you guys have done in this spot?

- Steve


http://CueTable.com/P/?@3ADuI4BCYB3CCpA4DCYe4EFCe3FCxe4GBKP3HAMB3IAUe3JF bd4KDnP3LBjP3MEMO4NBJl3OBal3PQMx@

alinco
07-03-2007, 02:32 PM
Shoot away!

I've pondered this question many times myself. My offense-minded thinking is this:

Playing a lesser player - shoot because they will only run so many balls before missing and you'll be back at the table.

Playing a better player - shoot because they'll win the safety battle with better knowledge and execution. You'd hate bypassing a 50% chance of beating a world champion.

The best offense is a strong confident offense!
Andy

JayBates
07-03-2007, 02:40 PM
i agree with alinco. considering the circumstances, this isnt a big gambling match, this is a warm up tournament, and a chance to beat a world champion. now if it were in the finals of a tournament, or such, i would ellect to play safe. taking this shot before the tournament is also a good way to judge how well your playing. you said you missed the shot, do you know why? horrible mistakes are ones you learn nothing from, good mistakes are ones you learn from. regardless, kudos on giving Hohmann a close game.
Jay

selftaut
07-03-2007, 02:43 PM
refering to the old saying "No time like the present", with a chance to win I would have fired away as well :) and most likely missed it as well :( .

Steve Lipsky
07-03-2007, 02:48 PM
Playing a lesser player - shoot because they will only run so many balls before missing and you'll be back at the table.


Andy, this piece of advice works from a general standpoint. But given the situation I just described, my opponent needs less than 30 balls. You don't have to be a world-beater to get out from there, especially when you start with a wide open table.

There is no way I would play this shot against anyone at B-level or at A-level, for example.

- Steve

Steve Lipsky
07-03-2007, 02:56 PM
i agree with alinco. considering the circumstances, this isnt a big gambling match, this is a warm up tournament, and a chance to beat a world champion. now if it were in the finals of a tournament, or such, i would ellect to play safe.
Jay

Hi Jay. I agree about learning from your misses, and also want to thank you for the nice words.

I do take issue with your above statement, however. It's either the right shot or the wrong shot, and I was trying to take the right shot for all situations. If you are saying I took the right shot simply because the game didn't mean anything, then I think you feel I took the wrong shot ;). That is fine, but we should call it what it is.

- Steve

VKJ
07-03-2007, 03:32 PM
Exactly what you did. I was in my book the right shot.

VKJ
07-03-2007, 03:55 PM
As a follow up let me say that since I've watched you play for years, I feel you have a very strong offensive game, in short your always a high run threat. I don't know if your hitting them strong right now or not but in general not only can you pocket strong your a strong classic pattern player (at any stage of the game) and you have strong rack reading skills. I'm not saying this just to compliment you. The items I mention all bode well for you doing what you did.

If the angle of the shot you show was more severe or if the cue had to go first into a rail then into the rack then the question mark gets a lot bigger but with the shot you had I say you were right on.

I have seen many top players shoot that angle shot in top flight matches mainly because its not super severe and as you say the cue is going to do major damage to the rack.

Obviously, the safety play of the one ball in the side and bringing the cue down to the end rail is an option but that somewhat goes back the type of overall game a player likes to play.

Plus lets not forget that you went down shooting. You had the world champ on the ropes and you went for it.

No shame in that.

Just curious, did you ask Thorsten about this?

Steve Lipsky
07-03-2007, 05:38 PM
Just curious, did you ask Thorsten about this?

Thanks VKJ. In response to this question, no, sometimes I don't ask top players about shots like this when it's against them. I don't think I'm likely to get a true answer because they're often too humble to acknowledge that they'll definitely outmove me in a safe game.

It's a hard thing to say to someone, "Well, you have no chance in a safe battle, so you should have shot away at this. It was definitely your best move."

One of the reasons I feel confident in my decision is my old rule of looking at it from my opponent's perspective. If I were Thorsten and I saw my lesser-skilled opponent shooting at this break shot, I would definitely not like it. If I saw him play safe, I'd be loving it. So, if my opponent doesn't like what I'm doing, I must be doing something good.

- Steve

3andstop
07-03-2007, 06:28 PM
I'm chicken, I'da thinned the 6. :)

Neil
07-03-2007, 07:25 PM
..................

TX Poolnut
07-03-2007, 07:42 PM
I guess it depends on what I want the cue to do after rack contact and where I would have to stroke the cue ball. I think this shot requires no english. Just stay on the center axis and MAKE THE BALL.

Add the chance to beat Hohmann and I'd have swung away too.

It's better to regret something you did, rather than something you didn't.:)

Mike_Mason
07-03-2007, 09:04 PM
In fact there is no way I would pass up this shot...

Your thoughts on being an underdog in a safety battle are legit but that is not the reason for my choice...

I just see this as a natural angle shot...fairly close to a classic break shot...maybe have to draw a bit...the difference being the distance from the hit to the pocket...the angle is about the same...same angle - same great chance of making the shot...and breaking the rack and continuing your run...and probably victory.

I have no doubt that you made the right choice...I'm just sorry that you missed the shot...and did you say that you 'rushed it'?...

Taking the shot shows an aggressiveness that marks a champion...imo the safety play would show a lack of confidence in your ability to control a game...and might make you shy away from other opportunities...etc etc...

You did the right thing...you just missed it...tough luck and better luck next time...you can still take pride in going toe to toe with a world champ...my congrats...

Mike

MOJOE
07-04-2007, 07:40 AM
No doubt what I would do either, Steve. I tend to play a bit aggressively too, some would say too much, but that is just my style.

Without a doubt, I would have gone for the shot as well. I like my odds of making the ball a majority of the time but I would not consider it a flyer.

Peace, JBK

Williebetmore
07-04-2007, 08:59 AM
post deleted

VKJ
07-04-2007, 10:01 AM
In fact there is no way I would pass up this shot...

Your thoughts on being an underdog in a safety battle are legit but that is not the reason for my choice...

I just see this as a natural angle shot...fairly close to a classic break shot...maybe have to draw a bit...the difference being the distance from the hit to the pocket...the angle is about the same...same angle - same great chance of making the shot...and breaking the rack and continuing your run...and probably victory.

I have no doubt that you made the right choice...I'm just sorry that you missed the shot...and did you say that you 'rushed it'?...

Taking the shot shows an aggressiveness that marks a champion...imo the safety play would show a lack of confidence in your ability to control a game...and might make you shy away from other opportunities...etc etc...

You did the right thing...you just missed it...tough luck and better luck next time...you can still take pride in going toe to toe with a world champ...my congrats...

Mike

I completly agree. Very well said on all points.

Williebetmore
07-04-2007, 12:12 PM
[QUOTE=Steve Lipsky] I had no option of holding the cueball on the rack-side of the table to play an effective side-rack safety.


So... what would you guys have done in this spot?

- Steve [QUOTE]


Steve,
I'm somewhat surprised that anyone would criticize you for this particular sequence.

While I am no world-beater, I have discussed similar situations at length with Danny D. (who is definitely a scholar of the old-school game). The key element here is your inability to get whitey into position to play a side-rack safety.

If you could have gotten whitey to that side area (I'll attach a diagram), then your chances of winning the resulting safety battle are about 80%, even against a world beater. If you judge your make percentage on the break shot at 80% or better, then it STILL is a better shot than the side of the rack safety (it's hard for me to believe you couldn't make this shot at least 80% - YOU SHOOT STRONG). Some Monday morning quarterback might quibble about that option; but your shotmaking is superior, and the reward of the shot is great.

In this instance, you couldn't get into side rack position. The safeties available offer you only a very slim advantage. Send him down table and he will be just roll whitey around into the back of the stack; where you will have the advantage of having him on the first foul; but basically it's still a toss-up as to who will win the battle.

I also totally agree with your assessment of altering strategy according to the level of your opponent (especially in the end game). If you promise not to tell anyone; I will admit that if I totally butcher the end of a rack in my games with our local world-beater, I will purposely forego attempting to get on a break shot, and instead will plan a sequence to end with the safety below. It drives my opponent crazy; but I still win my fair share of safety battles from that position (it is the ONLY position from which I usually win a safety battle; all other safety battles I lose about 4 out of 5).

There are 2 pages to the diagram.

http://CueTable.com/P/?@4BCYB3CCpA4DCYh4EFCe3FCxe4GBKP3HAMB3IAUe3JFbd4KD nP3LBjP3MEUO4NBJl3OBal3PWnn4XCYh4XFsK4YFCe4YOAd3aC xe3aAfk4aBLt4aBLt4fDnP4fHOB3hEUO3hYaW3hYkg3hEMPzb3 kWnn3kGYE2qYCnIf_you_can_get_whitey_into_this_area ,_even_a_shmo_like_me_can_win_a_safety_battle_agai nst_a_world_beater_about_80_percent_of_the_time.__ Roll_whitey_very_softly_with_topspin_into_the_13_j ust_hard_enough_to_knock_the_6__to_the_rail,_try_t o_freeze_whitey_to_the_pack.__Check_the_13/6_to_make_sure_they_are_frozen,_if_not,_then_hit_a _bit_firmer.__If_frozen,_then_this_is_a_very,_very ,_soft_shot;__it_is_difficult_to_hit_it_soft_enoug h_to_keep_the_6_from_bouncing_back_into_the_stack. _The_5_and_6_should_provide_threats_that_your_oppo nent_will_not_like.&ZZ@4BCYB3CCpA4DFsK4EOAd4FBLt4GBKP3HAMB3IAUe3JFbd4K HOB3LBjP3MEMP4NBJl3OBal3PGYE2qYKn&ZZ2rHOFEven_Thorsten_won't_like_it_much_from_here.&ZZ@

Steve Lipsky
07-04-2007, 06:07 PM
An excellent analysis, Willie. I must admit to not being as familiar with this safety as it sounds you are, though of course I do play it from time to time. I have two questions concerning it:

1) Do you aim to hit the 13 exactly full, or maybe 3/4 on the 13, 1/4 on the 3, if that makes sense?

2) Can you really play it as far uptable as the outer edge of your gray triangle? I probably would have considered that too risky, and chickened out going behind the rack.

It's sad how much time I've devoted to this game, and I just haven't taken the time to study this very important safety to an extent it definitely deserves.

And thank you for the replies everyone; they have been very informative!

- Steve

sjm
07-04-2007, 06:26 PM
Below is a shot I faced late in my game against Thorsten. The score was something like 81-71 me, in a race to 100. We had both missed some very uncharacteristic shots in the middle of the game, though the early innings were decent. (And yes, any time Thorsten misses it's a little more uncharacteristic than me doing so ;))

I don't remember how I got to this spectacularly bad position, but there it was. While the next rack was being prepared, I thought about my options here. Obviously, there were only two:

1) I had a great angle to play the 1 in the side and call safe, leaving him downtable. Please note: there was no way to play this shot and not have the cueball roll downtable. I had no option of holding the cueball on the rack-side of the table to play an effective side-rack safety.

2) I could play the 1 in the corner, with speed. The shot - though very unorthodox, to be sure - was laying very well. In other words, I knew this shot would be very high-yielding. The rack would explode.

I include the analysis that the break shot would be high-yielding because I felt there was no vig of me making the ball but not having a shot.

I chose, fairly quickly, to shoot away. I felt that trying to engage in a safety battle with Mr. Hohmann would be, while not fruitless, certainly not in my favor. I also estimated that my chances of making the shot were roughly 1 in 2, and that if I did make the shot, I would almost certainly win the game. Yes, I needed to get into the next rack, but I expected a wide-open spread, and whenever you can get that, you usually wind up with another high-yielding break ball (or three) to choose from.

I missed. He ran out. However, although I heard a few people in the room questioning my decision, I had no regrets. If I played safe, lost the safe battle, and then the game, I'd be sick knowing I passed up a 1-in-2 to beat a world champion.

Finally, I just want to let you all know what a true pleasure it was to play Thorsten. He is a total gentleman, and even though he did not have his best game against me, he handled himself with the utmost class. He is such a nice guy that you almost can't help but root for him, even while you are playing him! ;)

So... what would you guys have done in this spot?

- Steve


http://CueTable.com/P/?@3ADuI4BCYB3CCpA4DCYe4EFCe3FCxe4GBKP3HAMB3IAUe3JF bd4KDnP3LBjP3MEMO4NBJl3OBal3PQMx@

I'm struggling to put this together, Steve. If outside draw on the one in the side doesn't allow you to play onto the second ball safe on the thirteen, which would make you a clear favoritie in the safety battle to follow, you must have had a decent amount of angle on the one in the side, certainly more than the diagram would suggest. If this was the case, what would stop you from pocketing the one in the side and playing shape off the top rail for a front of the rack second ball safety on either the thirteen or the eleven? From my sense of things, there must have been a way to achieve this result.

Still, if there was no possible way to play aggressive defense, you made the right decision for sure! Fire away unless aggressive defense is available....it's definitely not a good time to play passive defense.

Steve Lipsky
07-04-2007, 06:58 PM
I'm struggling to put this together, Steve. If outside draw on the one in the side doesn't allow you to play onto the second ball safe on the thirteen, which would make you a clear favoritie in the safety battle to follow, you must have had a decent amount of angle on the one in the side, certainly more than the diagram would suggest. If this was the case, what would stop you from pocketing the one in the side and playing shape off the top rail for a front of the rack second ball safety on either the thirteen or the eleven? From my sense of things, there must have been a way to achieve this result.

Still, if there was no possible way to play aggressive defense, you made the right decision for sure! Fire away unless aggressive defense is available....it's definitely not a good time to play passive defense.

It's funny... I was struggling with the diagram also, because I was trying to figure out a way for it to display what I was facing! I was having quite a bit of difficulty with it. There was a lot of angle, moreso than I felt comfortable with to hit the 1 with a ton of outside draw to hold it for the safe.

As far as going off the top rail and then back to play the safe, I definitely did not think of that. Now that I am (thanks to you!), I think I will reserve that play for a situation where an offensive shot is clearly too wild too attempt. In this case, with a roughly 50% make percentage on the break, I think I still have to go with that against Thorsten. While that safety is super-effective, he is way too smart a player to sell out to it. In other words, if I really get him, he's going to two-foul to a very tricky position for me. If I still don't like it, and foul back, and he doesn't like it either, he's just going to take the third and re-break. I don't have to like it against him, winning 79-53, but having to execute from his break.

But thank you for suggesting the off-the-end-rail solution. I will definitely add that to my future shot-selection, except of course when I am playing you ;). Can't beat you with your own shot!

- Steve

Williebetmore
07-04-2007, 07:12 PM
An excellent analysis, Willie. I must admit to not being as familiar with this safety as it sounds you are, though of course I do play it from time to time. I have two questions concerning it:

1) Do you aim to hit the 13 exactly full, or maybe 3/4 on the 13, 1/4 on the 3, if that makes sense?

2) Can you really play it as far uptable as the outer edge of your gray triangle? I probably would have considered that too risky, and chickened out going behind the rack.

It's sad how much time I've devoted to this game, and I just haven't taken the time to study this very important safety to an extent it definitely deserves.

And thank you for the replies everyone; they have been very informative!

- Steve

SL,
I actually spent a half hour or so working on it with Danny D. - but of course it was a couple of years ago; so I may be a little off.

Danny D. actually preferred to get to the highest point in the triangle - the point furthest toward the head rail where you could still contact the 13 full (without shaving the ball above it - don't go by the triangle, the diagrams are limited by their size). From this point a little outside English helps keep whitey near the stack, and a LOT of high. Danny definitely plays it a little higher than I feel comfortable with, but it works well from a fairly decent size position zone.

It is surprising how little force is needed if the 13 is frozen to the 6 - we worked on getting the 6 to go to the foot rail, and back out a little bit (if it comes too far back towards the rack, you lose the threat along the bottom rail - however you hit it, you usually have a threat on the far side of the rack unless 2 balls tie up over there). The fuller you shoot the 13, the less force needed to drive the 6 to it's proper resting place. Even a slight gap between the 13 and 6 requires a significantly harder stroke; but just a few trials makes it very easy to judge.

Danny estimated that top-of-the-rack safeties, and safeties played from the bottom of the stack were closer to 50-50 propositions between players of equal skill - the player with greater shotmaking skill or significantly greater safety skills has a definite edge in those battles; but nowhere near as great as in the side-of-the rack beauty.

If you fail to position the 6 ball properly, or if balls tie up on the other side; you have failed, and you are back to a 50-50 proposition. If you fail to get a rail with the 6 - YOU ARE SCREWED (that's why we practice making it hit a rail and bounce back - the balls on the other side of the rack only occasionally make a rail).

I hope sjm will favor us with his corner ball safety (where whitey is fairly even with one of the bottom corner balls). There is also a really cool 3 rail safety that Danny D. showed me (I think sjm also is familiar with it) when the "break ball" is along a long rail on the wrong end of the table.

P.S. - oops, I think I neglected to answer your question. The hit is generally almost completely full, you can favor a slight cut to keep whitey against the stack. Even though it is struck super soft, it is usually with maximum top (not that much of it will be left at impact at such a slow speed, maybe it's psychological).

JoeW
07-05-2007, 06:58 AM
I think that what you have here is a Rorschach for 14.1. There is no right answer, only your answer. The selection depends on one's style. And therein lies the lesson that you learn about yourself. This information can be used to adjust your style of play as needed.

As a psychologist this is exactly the kind of shot I would look for to help a player make "better" decisions based on their previous win / loss ratio.

As Sean Connery said in one of his movies "Here endith the lesson." :D

Steve Lipsky
07-05-2007, 07:34 AM
Thanks Joe! That movie was The Untouchables, btw. It was my friend's high school yearbook quote :).

Bob Jewett
07-05-2007, 03:35 PM
... So... what would you guys have done in this spot?
...
I like the shot you took. I think I'm at least 50% to make the ball (and I think you are better than that) and I agree with your analysis of the chances in a safety battle.

If you are going to play safe, an alternative is to shoot almost straight at the object ball at a speed that banks it two rails to the head spot and freeze the cue ball to the top of the rack. Of course this shot depends on exactly how the ball are sitting. I assume you were playing all fouls, and if not, shame on the tournament management.

Bob Jewett
07-05-2007, 03:44 PM
... Danny D. actually preferred to get to the highest point in the triangle - the point furthest toward the head rail where you could still contact the 13 full (without shaving the ball above it - don't go by the triangle, the diagrams are limited by their size). ...
I'm most comfortable with the side-of-rack safety shot when I'm shooting almost along the 13-6 line. Try to leave the cue ball frozen to both the 13 and the 3 with soft follow.

mjantti
07-05-2007, 08:28 PM
If you are going to play safe, an alternative is to shoot almost straight at the object ball at a speed that banks it two rails to the head spot and freeze the cue ball to the top of the rack. Of course this shot depends on exactly how the ball are sitting. I assume you were playing all fouls, and if not, shame on the tournament management.

How about playing a 1pocket shot here, almost straight at the object ball but while leaving the cueball frozen to the side of the rack, play the object ball 3 rails near the lower left foot pocket ?

Anyway, in that particular situation against Thorsten, I would've tried to continue my run as well.

Rod
07-08-2007, 12:12 AM
Andy, this piece of advice works from a general standpoint. But given the situation I just described, my opponent needs less than 30 balls. You don't have to be a world-beater to get out from there, especially when you start with a wide open table.

There is no way I would play this shot against anyone at B-level or at A-level, for example.

- Steve


Steve, I think you answered your own question. It sounds like you don't like this shot. If so, you'll like it less against a champion. However, if your motive like many others here was take a risky shot just to beat a champion, then sure fire away. If it was based on your chances of safety play, it still doesn't make the shot look any better.

From my standpoint, (if I was shooting), any small error at the ball is magnified at the pocket end. Knowing that, I'd have to take speed off this shot to be successful. I also know that scattering the rack is not necessary. If I think my chances are appx 50-50 then I'm not going to take shot either. That's me though, not you.

Rod

Jimmy M.
07-08-2007, 04:31 AM
Hey Steve. Although the only time I ever saw you play it was 8-ball on a 7' table in Vegas, from what I know about you, I think you play a smart game of pool and probably do a pretty good job of playing "percentage pool". In this case, it looks to me like you looked at your situation, took all factors into consideration, and made a choice. Had you made it and ran out, there would be nothing to discuss here (other than us all congratulating you on beating the current World 14.1 Champion). You took a risk but, like you factored into your decision, you would be taking a risk by playing safe. You took the offensive option. It's easy for us all to say it was wrong now because you missed. I don't think it was a flier though. It sounds like you weighed out your options and made a calculated decision to go for the shot. You can't do much more than that. Now, had you just jumped up and fired at the ball like a jackass, okay, maybe it was a bad shot then. :D I don't think that's what you did though.

To put my 2 cents in, if you had any kind of angle to shoot the ball into the side and leave the cue ball below the side pocket to where you had a good angle to just shoot into one of the balls along the side of the rack, sticking the cue ball there (standard shot - you know it), I might have taken that option because, if you hit it well, it's a pretty effective safe. If all you had as an option to play safe was pocketing the ball and sending the cue ball up table then, yeah, it's "safe", but you don't necessarily have a huge advantage going into that safety battle, especially considering who your opponent was. So, again, you weighed out all your options and I don't think you can fault yourself for making a bad decision. You made a decision and, in hindsight, a different decision *MIGHT* have yielded a different result. Had you played the safe by sending the cue ball up table, lost the safety battle from there and, consequently, lost the game, you might have been sick knowing that you DID have a shot to win and didn't take it.

CreeDo
07-08-2007, 11:55 AM
I'd have played it... it's not a bad cut. It may not be textbook but the 1's facing the fat part of the pocket, you don't need to do a lot with the cue ball... I'm surprised you put yourself at 50% on this shot. It's harder than a straight pool purist wants, but I bet you could do it more like 70%.

Snap9
07-10-2007, 08:37 PM
Since I am an aggressive player----but somewhat logical with percentages. My option is none of the ones you listed. I would have crossed banked the one oposite side. Cue ball going 3 rails(top rail-->side rail-->bottom rail) at warp speed to break the stack from the bottom. Or play the same shot weak speed in case you miss the cross bank leaving the cue under the stack. A great safety position by the way.

Like I said I am aggressive I would have fired the cross at warp speed.