US Open Break Rules

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I just confirmed the break rules for the US Open this year: Referee to rack, template rack, one ball on the spot, break from anywhere in the kitchen, no three point rule. They said "Players must use a forceful break. Players must not slow cut break." They also said no checking the rack. This adjusts in the final 16 when it becomes a hand rack.

These are the same rules we had 20 years ago when Corey Deuel beat Mika Immonen 11-0 and demonstrated how vulnerable this rack is to a soft break. Ever since then pool has done a number of things to make the break more difficult: Break from the box, 3 point rule, and 9 on the spot. Now we are not only reversing all three of those adjustments and going back to the 2000 rules, we are also using a template rack (whereas back then it was a Sardo Tight Rak) which makes the break even easier.

I speculate this was done to speed things up. With the one on the spot there is an almost guaranteed wing ball being pocketed meaning players will be playing shape on the one ball and there will be an extremely high break and run percentage. They are also using a 30 second shot clock on all matches starting round one which is new at least since my last open.

My concerns are this:

1) I wish there was more consistency from tournament to tournament. It sometimes feels every tournament I play has a different format or different set of rules.

2) I am disappointed there isn't more play after the break. I would like to see more problems to deal with, tough transitions, safeties/kicks, clusters, etc. Watching champions run 7 spread open balls on new clothed tournament tables is like watching 7' Valley 9 ball.

3) I don't like the "Player's must use a forceful break" thing. Who's to say what is a soft break? Without a 3 point rule it is totally judgmental. This means it won't be consistently enforced. When you make a rule that can't be enforced consistently it rewards players who break the rules and punishes those who follow them.


I want to add that I appreciate Matchroom for putting on the event. I have chosen to play and will focus on the many, many things they are doing that make this one of the best events of the year. All of us will be playing by the same rules so I will do my best and enjoy the contest. And I can appreciate that they are trying to avoid rounds lagging behind schedule and other problems that come with 256 player fields. So I'm not trying to be negative. And I know we'll never all agree on what role the break should have in the game or what the rules should be. I just found it a very surprising rule choice and wanted to share my thoughts on it with the community and find out what you all think.
 

middleofnowhere

Registered
I just confirmed the break rules for the US Open this year: Referee to rack, template rack, one ball on the spot, break from anywhere in the kitchen, no three point rule. They said "Players must use a forceful break. Players must not slow cut break." They also said no checking the rack. This adjusts in the final 16 when it becomes a hand rack.

These are the same rules we had 20 years ago when Corey Deuel beat Mika Immonen 11-0 and demonstrated how vulnerable this rack is to a soft break. Ever since then pool has done a number of things to make the break more difficult: Break from the box, 3 point rule, and 9 on the spot. Now we are not only reversing all three of those adjustments and going back to the 2000 rules, we are also using a template rack (whereas back then it was a Sardo Tight Rak) which makes the break even easier.

I speculate this was done to speed things up. With the one on the spot there is an almost guaranteed wing ball being pocketed meaning players will be playing shape on the one ball and there will be an extremely high break and run percentage. They are also using a 30 second shot clock on all matches starting round one which is new at least since my last open.

My concerns are this:

1) I wish there was more consistency from tournament to tournament. It sometimes feels every tournament I play has a different format or different set of rules.

2) I am disappointed there isn't more play after the break. I would like to see more problems to deal with, tough transitions, safeties/kicks, clusters, etc. Watching champions run 7 spread open balls on new clothed tournament tables is like watching 7' Valley 9 ball.

3) I don't like the "Player's must use a forceful break" thing. Who's to say what is a soft break? Without a 3 point rule it is totally judgmental. This means it won't be consistently enforced. When you make a rule that can't be enforced consistently it rewards players who break the rules and punishes those who follow them.


I want to add that I appreciate Matchroom for putting on the event. I have chosen to play and will focus on the many, many things they are doing that make this one of the best events of the year. All of us will be playing by the same rules so I will do my best and enjoy the contest. And I can appreciate that they are trying to avoid rounds lagging behind schedule and other problems that come with 256 player fields. So I'm not trying to be negative. And I know we'll never all agree on what role the break should have in the game or what the rules should be. I just found it a very surprising rule choice and wanted to share my thoughts on it with the community and find out what you all think.
Is that Corey Deuel Mika, Immonen soft break match on line. I would love to see that.
 

alstl

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Interesting. When it switches to a hand rack is the referee still racking?
 

Cameron Smith

is kind of hungry...
Silver Member
The problem with the modern break rules is that they are complicated. If you are a casual viewer, it’s a lot to take in and the commentators would have to explain the rules on every match.

So I think the goal here is to simplify things and ensure the players are playing the same variation of 9 ball that the viewers are.

With respect to the forceful break rule, I’m not sure that is much different than sportsmanship warnings since those also are ultimately subjective and up to referees discretion. Obviously there are some instances than are clearly in violation but there are a host of situations that can be interpreted/handled differently.
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Middle - I don't think the Mika/Corey match is on youtube. If someone knows differently please let me know.

ALSTL- Yes, referee will be hand racking the final 16.

Cameron - What would you do if you were playing? Break hard and be at a disadvantage to many of your opponents? Or try to break soft, control the one, give yourself the advantage, and play cat and mouse with the referees, edging slightly firmer on the break just enough to avoid consequences?

I've seen many examples of rules that can't be enforced. "No pattern racking" is an example on rack your own. People who complied were at a disadvantage to those who rotated 2-3 patterns through and laughed at how they got away with an edge. My opinion is that rules like this put players in a difficult spot and reward a lack of integrity.

I don't believe this is about audience understanding. That doesn't change all of the different sets of rules the rest of the tournaments.

As I type this I realize many, many rule sets have been tried. You know what hasn't been tried? Sticking to one thing tournament after tournament for a few years. How are you going to build something if you start from scratch every tournament? Has any magic rule set found the secret sauce to make pool take off? It's like watching someone who switches their fundamentals every time they play trying to make them perfect instead of just doing things one way, and even if it's slightly suboptimal sticking with it and getting good with their approach.
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Do we know the reasoning for switching to a hand rack towards the end?
Not officially. My only thought would be they want to speed through the qualification rounds and then have a bit more play for the final 16.

Watching the top 16 players shooting with a template rack with these rules would be asking for 3 inning sets with no safeties.
 

middleofnowhere

Registered
Middle - I don't think the Mika/Corey match is on youtube. If someone knows differently please let me know.

ALSTL- Yes, referee will be hand racking the final 16.

Cameron - What would you do if you were playing? Break hard and be at a disadvantage to many of your opponents? Or try to break soft, control the one, give yourself the advantage, and play cat and mouse with the referees, edging slightly firmer on the break just enough to avoid consequences?

I've seen many examples of rules that can't be enforced. "No pattern racking" is an example on rack your own. People who complied were at a disadvantage to those who rotated 2-3 patterns through and laughed at how they got away with an edge. My opinion is that rules like this put players in a difficult spot and reward a lack of integrity.

I don't believe this is about audience understanding. That doesn't change all of the different sets of rules the rest of the tournaments.

As I type this I realize many, many rule sets have been tried. You know what hasn't been tried? Sticking to one thing tournament after tournament for a few years. How are you going to build something if you start from scratch every tournament? Has any magic rule set found the secret sauce to make pool take off? It's like watching someone who switches their fundamentals every time they play trying to make them perfect instead of just doing things one way, and even if it's slightly suboptimal sticking with it and getting good with their approach.
Half of his stuff is a solution looking for a problem. Rack the Fn balls and play the game like it's been done for a zillion years.
 
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Cameron Smith

is kind of hungry...
Silver Member
Middle - I don't think the Mika/Corey match is on youtube. If someone knows differently please let me know.

ALSTL- Yes, referee will be hand racking the final 16.

Cameron - What would you do if you were playing? Break hard and be at a disadvantage to many of your opponents? Or try to break soft, control the one, give yourself the advantage, and play cat and mouse with the referees, edging slightly firmer on the break just enough to avoid consequences?

I've seen many examples of rules that can't be enforced. "No pattern racking" is an example on rack your own. People who complied were at a disadvantage to those who rotated 2-3 patterns through and laughed at how they got away with an edge. My opinion is that rules like this put players in a difficult spot and reward a lack of integrity.

I don't believe this is about audience understanding. That doesn't change all of the different sets of rules the rest of the tournaments.

As I type this I realize many, many rule sets have been tried. You know what hasn't been tried? Sticking to one thing tournament after tournament for a few years. How are you going to build something if you start from scratch every tournament? Has any magic rule set found the secret sauce to make pool take off? It's like watching someone who switches their fundamentals every time they play trying to make them perfect instead of just doing things one way, and even if it's slightly suboptimal sticking with it and getting good with their approach.
From watching the previous matchroom events the players appear to be trying to get as close to the line or acceptability as possible. Sometimes they get warnings, but by and large I prefer that to someone losing their inning because a ball took a wrong collision and didn’t make it into the kitchen.
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Half of his stuff is a solution looking for a problem. Rock the Fn balls and play the game like it's been done for a zillion years.

There's a spectrum that ranges from nit-picking on one end and serious issues on the other.

If I got to the tournament and the color of the 7 ball was different I think this is a time to shrug, rack the balls and play. I'd agree that making a mountain out of a molehill like that would be a waste of mental energy and it would be a sign the player was looking for something to complain about.

If, however, I got to the tournament and it was being played on 7' Valley Bar Tables, I think it would be very fair to say "Wait a second, this is the US Open, why am I looking at a tournament room full of Valleys?!?"

The question is where on that spectrum are these breaking rules? I get that for 99% of the readers they don't play against world class players often so their experience is that the rules don't matter much. The problem is when you are playing the best in the world these rules change the game almost as much as playing on a bar table. I think to call this nit-picking shows a lack of experience competing in these types of arenas.

One might also say "Well, those are the rules, either play with them or don't play!" I agree. The challenge there is it can be very hard as a tournament player though to sort out which rules each tournament director is using. In this case the US Open was going to fill the day registration opened so I signed up right away under the assumption that we'd be using 9 on the spot rules like we have in the past. I just learned yesterday my assumption was wrong. I'm going out there, I have entry paid, time off, travel arranged, and a road partner. I'm not cancelling. And I will use these rules to the best of my advantage and will break the balls and play the game like it's been done for a zillion years. Part of my preparation for doing so is getting this off my chest so it's not a distraction when Jeremy Jones hits me with a 5 rack run off the lag.
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
From watching the previous matchroom events the players appear to be trying to get as close to the line or acceptability as possible. Sometimes they get warnings, but by and large I prefer that to someone losing their inning because a ball took a wrong collision and didn’t make it into the kitchen.

Yeah, the 3 point rule can be frustrating. And I think you have the right strategy. I'll break with my playing cue until they stop me! :)
 

middleofnowhere

Registered
There's a spectrum that ranges from nit-picking on one end and serious issues on the other.

If I got to the tournament and the color of the 7 ball was different I think this is a time to shrug, rack the balls and play. I'd agree that making a mountain out of a molehill like that would be a waste of mental energy and it would be a sign the player was looking for something to complain about.

If, however, I got to the tournament and it was being played on 7' Valley Bar Tables, I think it would be very fair to say "Wait a second, this is the US Open, why am I looking at a tournament room full of Valleys?!?"

The question is where on that spectrum are these breaking rules? I get that for 99% of the readers they don't play against world class players often so their experience is that the rules don't matter much. The problem is when you are playing the best in the world these rules change the game almost as much as playing on a bar table. I think to call this nit-picking shows a lack of experience competing in these types of arenas.

One might also say "Well, those are the rules, either play with them or don't play!" I agree. The challenge there is it can be very hard as a tournament player though to sort out which rules each tournament director is using. In this case the US Open was going to fill the day registration opened so I signed up right away under the assumption that we'd be using 9 on the spot rules like we have in the past. I just learned yesterday my assumption was wrong. I'm going out there, I have entry paid, time off, travel arranged, and a road partner. I'm not cancelling. And I will use these rules to the best of my advantage and will break the balls and play the game like it's been done for a zillion years. Part of my preparation for doing so is getting this off my chest so it's not a distraction when Jeremy Jones hits me with a 5 rack run off the lag.
Wow, that's a long answer to a short comment. I know what you're saying the intent of rules are to anticipate problems and eliminate them before they happen.
I certainly agree that the soft break or a safe break does destroy the spirit of the game.
 

Island Drive

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Keep in mind, 3 pro tours over the last 35 years, NONE of em worked.
Most all rules are Groomed for Rounders or the local hot shot, period.
With the American roaming cat$ it$ obviou$ to the game....who i$ alway$ trying to $teer the $HIP.
Matchroom will learn allot from this moment in time.
Once the money is right, the lamb$ will follow.
 

skogstokig

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
how about a 2 balls to kitchen rule?

i would by the way love to see a mika vs corey match, especially if corey starts fiddling around with the break lol. they had a slight altercation at the derby 2-3 years ago, corey did the soft break, mika called him a disgrace and threw his chalk away
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Balls, cue ball included go into pastry box. Shake well and empty onto table. Shaker gets first shot period. Winner shakes.
 

BasementDweller

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
These break rules are ridiculous at this point, and anyone that's been paying even a little bit of attention to professional pool for the past 30 years knows this. I'm sure Matchroom has their go-to pool players they can talk with to get info, and I'm certain they wouldn't have proposed this. So why is Matchroom doing it? This will make a total mockery out of all the early matches, and maybe even the latter ones. It will be nothing more than a 7 or 8 ball at most, ghost contest. There are times when I feel bad for professional players, and this is one of those times.

I've argued in the past, that this version of 9 ball -- is a much more binary game. One that is either mastered or it is not. So if players play this particular version of 9 ball a lot they will have elevated Fargo Ratings. Anyway, does anybody think Corey Deuel's rating wouldn't still be among the best in the world if this was the only version of 9 ball he played?

Oh well. Good luck anyway Tin Man. Just practice flailing around a bit on your break to make it look like you're trying harder, while crushing it at about 14 mph.
 
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kollegedave

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There's a spectrum that ranges from nit-picking on one end and serious issues on the other.

If I got to the tournament and the color of the 7 ball was different I think this is a time to shrug, rack the balls and play. I'd agree that making a mountain out of a molehill like that would be a waste of mental energy and it would be a sign the player was looking for something to complain about.

If, however, I got to the tournament and it was being played on 7' Valley Bar Tables, I think it would be very fair to say "Wait a second, this is the US Open, why am I looking at a tournament room full of Valleys?!?"

The question is where on that spectrum are these breaking rules? I get that for 99% of the readers they don't play against world class players often so their experience is that the rules don't matter much. The problem is when you are playing the best in the world these rules change the game almost as much as playing on a bar table. I think to call this nit-picking shows a lack of experience competing in these types of arenas.

One might also say "Well, those are the rules, either play with them or don't play!" I agree. The challenge there is it can be very hard as a tournament player though to sort out which rules each tournament director is using. In this case the US Open was going to fill the day registration opened so I signed up right away under the assumption that we'd be using 9 on the spot rules like we have in the past. I just learned yesterday my assumption was wrong. I'm going out there, I have entry paid, time off, travel arranged, and a road partner. I'm not cancelling. And I will use these rules to the best of my advantage and will break the balls and play the game like it's been done for a zillion years. Part of my preparation for doing so is getting this off my chest so it's not a distraction when Jeremy Jones hits me with a 5 rack run off the lag.
Tin Man,

You are among my favorite posters on this board. All of your posts are insightful, respectful, and on-topic (if you are responding to a thread). You make some valid points about what might be the shortcomings of the U.S. Open this year. However, I think of it a bit differently.

I agree about how frustrating it is that the rules are always changing. However, the 1 on the spot vs. the 9 on the spot, (I think) is close to a distinction without a difference. From my perspective, the winner of this tournament and the players that go deep are very successful on their break--even with the 9 on the spot. It might be with the old rules that you were less likely to be the victim of a 5 pack, but that was certainly not outside the possibility of what could happen At the last International Open, Gorst, SVB, Lechner, Filler, Shaw and Woodward were all very productive against their opponents from the break with the 9 on the spot. I think Lechner, SVB, and Woodward all put together some pretty healthy packages with the 9 on the spot and 3 point rule. You might say that I have named elite players or even breakers. Sure, I have. However, all of the other players that are going to go through the time and expense to sign up for this tournament have had two years to catch up when it comes to the 9 on the spot breaking method. If the rules were the same as before, everyone would be better than before. At least, they have no excuse not to be.

Very strong players like yourself are used to the occasional 2 or 3 game deficit. However, because of how rare it is now that tournaments are winner break, it is not often that spectators get to see large packages (or even more interesting to me), how very accomplished players like yourself respond when they recipients of a Jeremy Jones 5 pack. I am not wishing a 5 pack on you versus some other player, I am just saying that the chance for large packages adds an element of interest for the spectator that is not in most other tournaments these days.

I hope you can avoid having those packages put on you, and I hope you can dish out your fair share of punishment.

kollegedave
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
These break rules are ridiculous at this point, and anyone that's been paying even a little bit of attention to professional pool for the past 30 years knows this. I'm sure Matchroom has there go-to pool players they can talk with to get it info, and I'm certain they wouldn't have proposed this. So why is Matchroom doing it? This will make a total mockery out of all the early matches, and maybe even the latter ones. It will be nothing more than a 7 or 8 ball at most, ghost contest. There are times when I feel bad for professional players, and this is one of those times.

I've argued in the past, that this version of 9 ball -- is a much more binary game. One that is either mastered or it is not. So if players play this particular version of 9 ball a lot they will have elevated Fargo Ratings. Anyway, does anybody think Corey Deuel's rating wouldn't still be among the best in the world if this was the only version of 9 ball he played?

Oh well. Good luck anyway TinMan. Just practice flailing around a bit on your break to make it look like you're trying harder, while crushing it at about 14 mph.
Awesome post BD. Thank you.

I was practically in tears at the idea of me rolling into the rack softly, then full on leg kicking/cue extending like a 90's Archer while glancing guiltily over at the ref to see if he was buying it! :ROFLMAO:
 
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