Perfect Position vs. Options

skipbales

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I'm curious about who that would have been. I'm guessing it was Cliff Thorburn.

I am 72 and was about 24-25 at the time, so I guess it was about 47-48 years ago. My player was "Little Oscar". He recognized the player and said "Do you know who that is?" I said "no". He told me and said he was the current World Champion Snooker Player. I said "goodbye Oscar" and that is when he said "No, he can't beat me on a bar table playing 9 ball with the big cue ball".

I don't know if he mentioned the name or not. It wouldn't have meant anything to me. I had never watched any form of pool on tv and knew less than nothing about snooker. I wish I did know.

They played for $20 a game and we got stuck $200 and I wanted to quit. Oscar said "let me play him one on nerve" (where you can't pay off if you lose). I was against that but he insisted. Oscar won back to $0. They upped the bet to $40 and the same exact thing happened again. When we got back to $0 again the guy quit us. I gave Oscar $40 for coming down to the bar to play him and that is all I remember.

The best players in our area, at the time, were Wade Crane who was going by the name Billy Johnson and Ronnie Allen I didn't hear the name Wade Crane until 40 years later. All I knew about pool was what little I picked up from local hustlers but some of them were pretty good. They played "one shot shoot out" 9 ball. No safeties. They just pushed out and accepted or declined the shot. Different era. (Southern Calif)
 
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skipbales

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1971 would have been John Spencer
1972 Alex Higgins
1973-1976 Ray Reardon
1977 would have been Cliff Thorburn
Thanks to Wikipedia, not like I would know. :) And I can't say I would recognize his picture if I saw it.
 
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BC21

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"A mixture of both" This is actually a vote for #2. The #1 instructors simply do not include the concept of alternates in training.

I am a Tor Lowry Patreon. He is a #1 trainer. Every week he posts a table with some issues and everyone has to pick a specific pattern. You are looking for the easiest way to run them. You are supposed to pick all the balls and pockets then run it out. You take everything into consideration except any alternate shots. Here is Kia running a pattern with stripes. http://www.kiasidbury.com/post/zero-x-8-ball-10-17-19-pattern If you watch you can see she is more figuring it out as she goes. I think that is how she ends up with her patterns. I think she shoots them first then writes them down. It is what I have to do. What seems like it will work can be a lot harder than it looks. And sometimes, when shooting, a new pattern emerges which I had not even considered.

Been watching a lot pro 8ball matches lately, and they are reminding me this thread.

There might be a few great instructors out there teaching that practice needs to be geared toward perfect position, never considering any alternate shots that rearrange the plan or sequence that you initially decided to play. But, honestly, I don't think that's being realistic, considering how some of the world's best players play patterns.

I believe if you're practicing full table runouts, not individual shot repetition or cb control, the most beneficial way to practice should match the reality of actually playing, competing. In a real match we seldom run the balls in the exact pattern we initially choose. I watch SVB, Shaw, Pagulayan, and other great players, and each play the game exactly as I do, exactly as countless others do. Of course, they make fewer mistakes, but what I'm talking about is pattern play. Any good player, after deciding how to run a group of balls, takes time after each shot to ensure the initial plan is still the best option.

Pattern play isn't set in stone. There is usually plenty of room for change, and sometimes a new pattern presents itself when you're looking at the table from a different perspective. On occasion, we see a pattern and run the rack very much in tune with that pattern. But anywhere along the way we could easily rearrange a shot or two if that looks like the best option at the time, based on our experience. So when practicing full rack strategy and pattern play, part of what you should be working on is recognizing opportunities that come up, opportunities that may lead to a new and improved pattern. If you practice tunnel vision style, then you'll play that way also.
 
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skipbales

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Been watching a lot pro 8ball matches lately, and they are reminding me this thread.

There might be a few great instructors out there teaching that practice needs to be geared toward perfect position, never considering any alternate shots that rearrange the plan or sequence that you initially decided to play. But, honestly, I don't think that's being realistic, considering how some of the world's best players play patterns.

I believe if you're practicing full table runouts, not individual shot repetition or cb control, the most beneficial way to practice should match the reality of actually playing, competing. In a real match we seldom run the balls in the exact pattern we initially choose. I watch SVB, Shaw, Pagulayan, and other great players, and each play the game exactly as I do, exactly as countless others do. Of course, they make fewer mistakes, but what I'm talking about is pattern play. Any good player, after deciding how to run a group of balls, takes time after each shot to ensure the initial plan is still the best option.

Pattern play isn't set in stone. There is usually plenty of room for change, and sometimes a new pattern presents itself when you're looking at the table from a different perspective. On occasion, we see a pattern and run the rack very much in tune with that pattern. But anywhere along the way we could easily rearrange a shot or two if that looks like the best option at the time, based on our experience. So when practicing full rack strategy and pattern play, part of what you should be working on is recognizing opportunities that come up, opportunities that may lead to a new and improved pattern. If you practice tunnel vision style, then you'll play that way also.

This is exactly how I see it. I think practice for perfect but accept that no one always gets there and be prepared for alternatives. In play I look for alternatives as part of my initial pattern. I look for patterns that present options.
 

BC21

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This is exactly how I see it. I think practice for perfect but accept that no one always gets there and be prepared for alternatives. In play I look for alternatives as part of my initial pattern. I look for patterns that present options.

In practice you should also do what's in bold.
 

Dan White

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A couple of recollections that might be of use:

Mike Sigel said he always plays with options in mind and Rempe tended to play more for the specific shot AND that Rempe would have done even better had he played with more options in mind.

However, Jim Rempe said he reevaluates his plan after every shot, always looking for a Plan B. Sometimes you happen to roll into a perfect position that you could not have predicted and you have to keep your eyes open for those kinds of things.
 

BilliardsAbout

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That is helpful, thank you, and may relate to intense focus.

I find what separates good league players from strong league players, often, is the ability to create Plan B after making a shot but missing shape.
 

skipbales

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A couple of recollections that might be of use:

Mike Sigel said he always plays with options in mind and Rempe tended to play more for the specific shot AND that Rempe would have done even better had he played with more options in mind.

However, Jim Rempe said he reevaluates his plan after every shot, always looking for a Plan B. Sometimes you happen to roll into a perfect position that you could not have predicted and you have to keep your eyes open for those kinds of things.

I like this analysis. No matter what they say, I think all players re-evaluate after every shot. For practice I think pre-selecting a pattern and sticking to it has value. But I think learning to see patterns that allow for multiple choices is even better.

You can kind of tell, based on the drills people suggest, how they approach things. One that every instructor points out is to roll balls out and shoot them in order. Here are some of the variations, all of which are for the same drill but with different rules. You start with 3 balls shot in sequence then at some point add a ball as you improve:

1. Bert Kinister - never roll them out, always practice your break shot. (I like that) but no pre selection, just get it done. He does not spread clusters or roll anything. You have to take what you get from your break.
2. Tor Lowry. Roll them out with separation and pick a pocket for each ball before beginning. It counts so long as you don't change pockets.
3. Jerry Briesath. Roll them out with separation and have in mind what you intend to do. No pre-selection per sae so switching pockets or playing for either or seems to be ok. But no "hard shots" and no "hard position". As long as everything you do flows and you don't have to do anything "hard", like a bank shot or tiny window position , it counts. I think "hard" is according to your ability. It should not be hard for you. If any shot you have is "hard" you lose that rack.
4. CJ roll them out no separation. Get it done and try to think ahead to give yourself as many pocket choices and position choices as you can.

There is something to be learned from each one. I practice them all but use the 4th method in play. Especially in non rotation games. Options there are really important. I also doubt my ability to ever achieve great position for only one ball 8 times in a row consistently. Once in a while but not even half the time.
 

FranCrimi

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A couple of recollections that might be of use:

Mike Sigel said he always plays with options in mind and Rempe tended to play more for the specific shot AND that Rempe would have done even better had he played with more options in mind.

However, Jim Rempe said he reevaluates his plan after every shot, always looking for a Plan B. Sometimes you happen to roll into a perfect position that you could not have predicted and you have to keep your eyes open for those kinds of things.

Jim probably didn't really mean it that way when he said it. I've watched him play live and even refereed a few of his 14.1 matches back in the early 80's. He was a pretty quick player; and once he had a plan, he would go with it unless he was out of line or planned to stop and reevaluate at a particular point.

I'm sure he always kept an eye out for something that may pop up that may have been better than what he originally planned, but reevaluating after every shot makes it sound like he stops and looks around at his options after every shot. You can't do that and expect to finish a match in under 4 hours.
 

Dan White

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Jim probably didn't really mean it that way when he said it. I've watched him play live and even refereed a few of his 14.1 matches back in the early 80's. He was a pretty quick player; and once he had a plan, he would go with it unless he was out of line or planned to stop and reevaluate at a particular point.

I'm sure he always kept an eye out for something that may pop up that may have been better than what he originally planned, but reevaluating after every shot makes it sound like he stops and looks around at his options after every shot. You can't do that and expect to finish a match in under 4 hours.

I agree completely. He was pretty clear about it at the time and I took notes, but I didn't take it that he literally reconsidered what he was doing after every shot. I think more likely he was of a mindset not to stay with the plan if it wasn't quite working, and I'm sure he took a good look at clusters any time balls were repositioned. I probably should have included that characterization originally.
 

skipbales

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Update

I am now a believer. ;) This week's patreon pattern put out by Tor Lowry stumped all the participants. We thought of and tried all kinds of patterns. I came up with one that worked and so did some others. But they were all difficult and "sometimes" patterns. In frustration I just ran them out as I play and did get out but moved balls and changed pockets,etc. as I went.

Just as I was about to say seeing a pattern wasn't that important Tor released his pattern. With one simple shot he solved all the major issues and opened up a simple half table run. We bounced all around the solution but did not see it. Tor hit the 5 ball into a hanger 9 ball which opened up one side of the table for the 14 and left no stripes at the other end of the table. We were all bumping the 5 or using the 14 as a combo and that works but is much harder. There was always uncertainty as to where the balls would end up and so forth. Here is the pattern https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1EsC46eR5Q It is open table and you have ball in hand. Of course, on the first shot, you can use a solid to make a stripe. We just didn't think of it since the balls are so far apart.
 

FranCrimi

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We have a lady player in our league who is a great shot maker but clueless about position to the point it is maddening. Given 7 open balls she will run them if she happens on a clear shot each time. But she is much more likely to roll behind an opponent's ball and totally hook herself towards the end of her run. Even simply rolling forward a few inches or drawing back a little escapes her. She makes a great shot, stops the cue ball then has to kick at her remaining ball(s). It is painful to watch.

If she's really the great shot-maker like you said and not just the occasional good shot, then just give her time. She'll start to play position too.
 

BC21

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If she's really the great shot-maker like you said and not just the occasional good shot, then just give her time. She'll start to play position too.

If someone ever explains to her the theory of staying on the right side of the ball, then she might start playing position.

You may find it surprising, or unbelievable, but many league players spend their entire pool playing lives content with just getting a shot, any shot, and they become very good at pocketing balls, especially difficult shots because they leave themselves in difficult situations all the time. They play one night a week, just a few games, for years. "Position" to them is being able to have another shot, regardless of difficulty or chance of getting to the next shot. It's weird, because they can watch the better players and still not get it. They iust don't pay attention I guess.
 

FranCrimi

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If someone ever explains to her the theory of staying on the right side of the ball, then she might start playing position.

You may find it surprising, or unbelievable, but many league players spend their entire pool playing lives content with just getting a shot, any shot, and they become very good at pocketing balls, especially difficult shots because they leave themselves in difficult situations all the time. They play one night a week, just a few games, for years. "Position" to them is being able to have another shot, regardless of difficulty or chance of getting to the next shot. It's weird, because they can watch the better players and still not get it. They iust don't pay attention I guess.

Yeah, see, I think you and I are thinking different things about the meaning of the term 'good shot-maker.' I don't mean a good shot-maker for a once a week player. I mean someone who plays a lot and pockets balls from just about everywhere. That type of player is just on the cusp of reeling it in and playing position. It's just a natural progression. The type of player you're referring to should probably continue to work on their shot-making skills.
 

BC21

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Yeah, see, I think you and I are thinking different things about the meaning of the term 'good shot-maker.' I don't mean a good shot-maker for a once a week player. I mean someone who plays a lot and pockets balls from just about everywhere. That type of player is just on the cusp of reeling it in and playing position. It's just a natural progression. The type of player you're referring to should probably continue to work on their shot-making skills.

You're right. I think a good shot maker is any player that can consistently pull good shots off, whether they play less than a dozen games of 8ball on a barbox every week, and never practice, or they play countless games in a poolhall every day and practice 5 days a week. If you are good at pocketing balls, especially difficult shots when you're way out of line, then you're a good shot maker.

Of course, the player playing in a poolhall and practicing a lot will get out of line far less often than the bar banger, but both players can certainly be great shot makers. Playing position is not a prerequisite to becoming a great shot maker. It's usually the lack of good position play that forces a player to shoot tough shots all too often, which helps them develop uncanny pocketing skills, and it doesn't automatically lead them to playing good position. Years of just settling for any shot creates a habit of just settling for any shot, especially when you've developed the ability to consistently pocket shots from crazy positions.

So the type of player I'm referring to already has excellent shot-making skills. What they need to work on is playing better position so they'll have easier shots to shoot most of the time. And when or if they choose to go down that road, they'll start missing a lot of shots at first, and, unless they make time to practice, they'll probably revert back to their old ways of just getting a shot, any shot. This "natural progression" to playing good position only applies to players that are continually working to improve their game, and this certainly doesn't pertain to every person that plays pool.

Regarding position play, there is better information available today compared to 25 or so years ago. The principle of "staying on the right side of the ball" wasn't something one found in any instructional book that I know of, at least not until the 1990's when Phil Capelle came out with his book, Play Your Best Pool. Prior to that about the only info an aspiring player could gather on position play was "always leave an angle" and "play for the biggest area" within the tageted position zone for any given shot. And today, with YouTube and Amazon and AZ Billiards and other prime markets for learning opportunities, more and more players have access to instructional material. So the great shot-making bar bangers that I'm referring to, the ones that only know one rule for position -- leave another shot, any shot -- are probably becoming a dying breed.
 
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skipbales

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Update

It is interesting to me that Tor's focus is so clearly on perfect playing of a single pattern that when I added a comment about a plan B pattern being a consideration on a particular layout the moderator deleted my post.

I am sure it was too far outside the concept of one pattern one plan perfect execution. I didn't mean to go against the grain, it just turned out a natural addition. You go for perfect position on the 1 ball and if you are off a little you shoot the 2, 7 then the 1 and still get out. The concept that you had an either or option in your plan was too far off subject.

I have landed on perfect position is for practice. Options are for play. I just don't think it is smart to develop patterns that are one ball position specific when there are other choices. Still I see value in recognizing them and if the windows of position are large enough they are viable and maybe even preferred sometimes.
 

BC21

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........perfect position is for practice. Options are for play. I just don't think it is smart to develop patterns that are one ball position specific when there are other choices. Still I see value in recognizing them and if the windows of position are large enough they are viable and maybe even preferred sometimes.

In order to develop consistency and play your best game, runout practice should be geared toward matching actual playing situations. In other words, if you want to develop the habit of looking for or recognizing options or opportunities, you should incorporate that mentality in your practice. If you practice in a strict tunnel vision style, then you are likely not going to be very good at recognizing when a better option or better opportunity presents itself.
 

One Pocket John

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Hey thanks John. He brings up an excellent point. If you don't make the object ball not much else matters.



Hey Skip.
You'll also want to get Tor's latest book.
Mental System for Pool Players.
It covers the same exact approach as shown in the video and more.
Have a great thanksgiving day.

John :)


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