Play the table or the opponent?

Bob Jewett

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Recently there were some comments in the turning point thread about playing your opponent, which I take to mean consider his skills, weaknesses and faults, and be sure to put him in a position where he will not be able to exercise his skills and his faults are likely to show up.

The contrary idea is to play the table and the position of the balls and simply play the right shot and a beautiful game without any consideration of which particular meat-sack is stationed in the other chair.

I have been watching a chess channel lately and two of the quotes I've seen there seem to sum up those two sides in that game:

CropperCapture[86].jpg

CropperCapture[85].jpg

Which side do you take?
 

terpdad

Registered
I use primarily the 2d method, but I do keep in my mind "they are likely to make/miss" what I might leave them based on the opponent's skill level. My wife is pure #1, though unintentionally. She can't play a lick, sprays the balls everywhere & completely changes the table layout w/ each turn. It's like facing 15 safeties in a row. Completely wrecks me mentally some days:embarrassed2::grin:
 

pwd72s

recreational banger
Silver Member
From watching many youtube matches involving top players, I think it's both, depending on the situation, at that level. In safety play for example...if a player is a lefty, opponent puts cue ball in an area difficult for a lefty to play.

(edit) This is more evident with push outs than in general safety play.
 
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couldnthinkof01

AzB Silver Member
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I'm in the middle. I play the table and the right shot but...
should I get out of line or there is too much trouble
I must consider my opponent and his/her abilities.
 

michael4

AzB Silver Member
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I sometimes play the player, but I think that is a mistake.....As soon you assume a player will not make a tough shot, they will do so.....

Playing the table always seems correct to me, as it always assumes the other player has the ability (or luck) to make the perfect shot.......
 

pt109

WO double hemlock
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I feel if you don’t play the table AND the player, you’re an armchair quarterback.
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
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I think the answer is both

There have been many matches over the years where playing the player made the difference. I would say that the game being played makes a difference. Rotation and straight pool, more playing the table. Eight ball, often an advantage to play the player.

Small indications that a shot annoys a player will insure that they see a lot more of them. Sometimes in long match-ups I have briar-patched shots too, feigning annoyance. Most of the time it doesn't matter a whole lot, you can assume the other player dislikes the same things as most. However, if I am playing someone for hours I am going to watch them from the chair until they get back into the chair. Also, what safeties do they leave? This may indicate the type of shots they like least.

Information is power. All information, about the table and about the player. Sometimes I am literally playing that table, a bad spot in a cushion, a pocket that likes to reject balls, a spot of sunlight or where a ceiling vent blows. Other times I am playing the more conventional meaning, playing the balls as they lay.

Friendly games, I mostly play the table. Gambling for higher stakes or tournament play, I seek every legal advantage shy of the really jerk moves. If the other player is a jerk I will even meet them halfway!

Hu
 

Bic D

AzB Silver Member
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Depends on the game. If I'm playing golf against someone, I'm playing the course 95% of the time.

In pool, it's more like 60% table and 40% the person. I will change my shot attitude based on my opponents skill set.
 

jokrswylde

AzB Silver Member
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Came up with me in a match last night. Had a long back cut on a ball that I felt 70% on making. I knew my opponent was not a good kicker, so I played a safety, subsequently got BIH and made the easy runout for the win.

Against a good kicker I would have tried the long shot, hoping to keep him in his seat.
 

Bob Jewett

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8 minute mark of this video Irving Crane give his opinion of whether to play the balls as they lie or the opponent.

http://vintagevideoirvingcrane.blogspot.com/2008/04/mort-luby-interviews-irving-crane.html
One thing that is touched on by Crane is that there is a third aspect: playing the score. That is much more common at one pocket where if you are way behind, it makes sense to try a low percentage shot that leads to a possible run out rather than play a safe which will probably lead to lots more safeties and maybe the chance to squeeze one ball out at a time.

I don't think playing the score is really a factor at nine ball because in each rack you have to do your best (by whatever tactics or style) to win the game to give yourself the best chance to win the match.
 

alphadog

AzB Silver Member
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I think the Monk advised league players to play 1 good safety and they will win 2 more games. there is some truth to that:wink:
 

David in FL

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Came up with me in a match last night. Had a long back cut on a ball that I felt 70% on making. I knew my opponent was not a good kicker, so I played a safety, subsequently got BIH and made the easy runout for the win.

Against a good kicker I would have tried the long shot, hoping to keep him in his seat.

Our own skill level comes into play as well. You might have decided differently if you were 90% confident in that back cut.

I’m less likely to run a challenging table than many here. As a result, I probably mitigate my modest skill level by managing how I play an opponent more than those who can get out from most anywhere.

Bastards :wink:
 

Poolhall60561

AzB Silver Member
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When I play a player who I know I can beat, I play the table. If I’m playing a player who is a lot better than myself I will focus more on the player trying to find a way to win.
 

Bavafongoul

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It depends on the type game but usually I play the table but my shot selection
and how I play the shot contemplates my opponent’s skills. Obviously straight
pool and one pocket are uniques games but 8, 9 & 10 ball are basically alike.

You can pocket any object ball but where you want to place the cue ball afterward
decides how you play the shot. Sometimes trying to get shape winds up jawing the
pocket and you surrender the table. You used too much English or speed or cut and
the OB jaws the pocket wiggling. But if you played the shot just to make the ball as
if it was the last OB in the game, you’d have played it differently since shape did not
matter and only avoiding a scratch is on your mind. Example: center ball cut shot vs.
a low left hand English draw stoke. You can pocket balls more easily when shape is
not on your mind and just accept the results on the table.

If my opponent has the ability to run the table, what number do I assign to him or her?

Again, 10 ball as an example. How many times will my opponent run out from the break,
from the 2 ball, 4 ball etc. I realize the table lay after the break largely decides the runout
difficulty. Balls may or may not be touching, frozen, on opposite rails, etc. so that also has
to be factored in but if my opponent doesn’t command my respect that they can run the table
from say the 3 ball versus say the 5 ball (on average), then I am a little more aggressive with
my shots and position play until the table approaches the number of balls I regard as their table
runout danger zone. So instead of playing a safety early in the match, I’ll go for the hard shot as
long as it not within the rating I assigned to the player. I mean if your opponent usually only runs
4-5 balls, I am a little more bold when there’s still 7, 8, 9 balls left in the rack. Again, always take
into consideration how the table lays because even a blind squirrel still finds the occasional acorn.
Your opponent may only average 4-5 balls but remember it an average. That means sometimes he
runs less and other times he runs more. So you never know when they might get lucky with the table.

If I am playing for practice, then I play the table exclusively and when I miss, I reset the shot or start
a new rack. I also incorporate practicing safety play and then see if I can pocket that same shot. But
in actual play, it’s a combination of playing the table as much as my opponent. It’s really sorta blended.


Matt B.
 

markjames

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
hello everyone! and welcome back to the good stuff

i almost always follow the magician from riga (2+2=5)
the exception being when i am left with little to nothing
and then i feel history will help so i go with theory even if i don’t want to
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
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I just have to pipe in and share my two favorite chess quotes:

"When I am White I win because I am White. When I am Black I win because I am Bogoljubov."

And, my favorite:

"It began to feel as though you were playing against chess itself." -- Walter Shipman (on playing against Fischer)
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Recently there were some comments in the turning point thread about playing your opponent, which I take to mean consider his skills, weaknesses and faults, and be sure to put him in a position where he will not be able to exercise his skills and his faults are likely to show up.

The contrary idea is to play the table and the position of the balls and simply play the right shot and a beautiful game without any consideration of which particular meat-sack is stationed in the other chair.

I have been watching a chess channel lately and two of the quotes I've seen there seem to sum up those two sides in that game:

View attachment 558185

View attachment 558183

Which side do you take?

Ronnie O'Sullivan learned about this from Ray Reardon.
https://youtu.be/Y36x3_NoYdM

I used to approach the interplay with a predator mindset. Waiting for a chance to pounce. But then I remember the wounded bird act of a robin. A predators weakness is often he is too hungry and over eager. Then I remember the shepherd. He knows you don’t have to kill the sheep to shear them. Take the path that lets you control the table.
 
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Geosnooker

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Came up with me in a match last night. Had a long back cut on a ball that I felt 70% on making. I knew my opponent was not a good kicker, so I played a safety, subsequently got BIH and made the easy runout for the win.

Against a good kicker I would have tried the long shot, hoping to keep him in his seat.

That’s my strategy in a nutshell. On D Day the German defenses determined our offensive.

Know your opponent. How I play on the table always depends on my opponent. It’s weighing risk.

Having said this, our leagues are casual so we are just out to enjoy ourselves. more so than any need to win. I’ll take on shots I wouldn’t otherwise.
 
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