I watched the HollyWood Jack Memorial One Pocket Tournament online (thanks to Lenny who streamed it for us avid one pocket fans via ontherailtv.com!) a couple of weekends ago. They had an interesting rule to speed up the play of this one pocket tournament that they incorporated into this event:
From Tournament Director Jay Helfert:
"Here is how it works. There can only be three balls inside the kitchen (head string). When a fourth ball (or more) goes inside the head string, you spot one (or more) balls on the foot spot. You take the balls(s) closest to the end rail first."
Jay added on the onepocket.org forums:
"Interestingly the better players adapted quite easily to these rules (like Sylver), and still controlled their matches. It does affect some of the strategy, knowing that a ball will be spotted if you shoot one more ball into the kitchen. So you must be cognizant of that fact when there are already three balls in there. Even with these rules the best One Pocket players dominated."
It was a pretty cool rule to watch in action - I obviously hadn't seen that before. Not everyone would remember when 4 or more balls were in the kitchen and then had to be spotted, and sometimes they would need to be reminded, but by the second day of the tourney, everyone was remembering the rule more.
I was curious what the Champion of this event thought of the rule and so I called Sylver Ochoa after the tourney to get his take on it.
He said that although it was intended to speed up the game, if some of the players had used the rule repeatedly in certain situations, it might have instead slowed the game down a little.
He acclimated to the rule pretty quickly and he noticed just like the online fans did, that on the first day not many players were spotting balls in the first or two rounds. Jay announced reminders throughout the event which helped, because it was a new rule not many were cognizant of while they were playing. It took a while to get used to and remember. Even the top players would forget sometimes to spot balls when too many were in the kitchen.
When Sylver was playing in the semi-final match again Ismael "Morro" Paez, in one particular game of the set, there were only 4 balls left. Sylver said he would normally leave the balls down table but since each time one was spotted, he at one point rolled one of the balls close to the kitchen, but not in it. The normal reaction in this one pocket spot is for the incoming player to move that ball further up the table and leave the cue on the rail. Morro took the bait, nudged the ball, but forgot it would be spotted and Sylver had a cross bank and made it.
Other times, Sylver said he would go for a long rail bank and deliberately nudge balls into the kitchen at the same time. He knew that the ball would be spotted and he wouldn't sell out because he deliberately nudged them into the kitchen to be spotted with an already spotted ball.
He also mentioned that against players who didn't shoot at their hole much, he would move several balls into the kitchen to be spotted, and that helped out as well.
It was an interesting perspective from someone who had to use the rule for the first time, so I'm glad I asked him about this for my blog.
Link: Article and Results
Til Next Time!