Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Honor System

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I played at the OB Cues Ladies Stop last weekend at Jamaica Joe's in Oklahoma City, Ok and had a rules issue with a new player in my second match.

In my 3rd match, something else happened that was stressful and could have potentially ended very badly.

I am on the one loss side in my third match playing against a really good player.  This outcome will determine who goes home early or not.

I somehow manage to play decent though.  We both made mistakes, but I found myself up 6-5 in a race to 7!  I played great on the hill game, but I over hit a cut on the 8 ball and barely missed it.  She wins and therefore the match is now hill-hill.

We play our little hearts out the last game.  One will go home; one will win this match and eventually place 7th on Sunday.  Who will it be?

We both play safe and or miss the 7 ball a few times in the last game of this important match.

One final miss by my opponent and I'm about to get hooked on the 8ball.  My opponent shouts, "get behind there!"

I'm a little stunned, but not really.  I truly respect her game more than most, but I also know she sometimes says things out loud.  She is an extrovert and very competitive. 

The 7 and 8 are close to each other and I'm indeed hooked and can't see the 7ball.  I decide to kick short rail towards the 7 because I notice it could actually be made in the side if I kick it good.

I look at my angle for the kick, then walk to the other side of the table and shoot towards the balls.  I don't make the 7ball, but the 8ball goes two short rails and falls into the side!  I'm pretty pumped!  I start to approach the 7 ball and all of a sudden my opponent asks me if it was a foul.


I stand there dumbfounded.

Foul?  What foul?

I knew it was close, but I stand there going over the shot in my head trying to figure out if I really did foul or not.

Pretty critical crucial situation I'm in. I look at the table and there are two balls left; each sitting right in front of their holes; it's hill-hill; one-loss side.

I just still remain standing there.  I'm shocked.  Confused.

She then finally says deflated, "You know what, I didn't call a ref over."  And her and I both know it goes to the shooter because of that.

I still don't really know what to do.  She's upset.  Not loud, but her body language is such that she truly feels it was a foul, yet since there wasn't someone to watch it, she knows there's nothing she can do about it and is about to lose.

I say in a whisper, "I thought it was a good hit."

She then explains to me why it was a bad hit.  "The 8ball moved toward the right, if you hit the 7 first, it wouldn't have done that.  But, I didn't call anyone over to watch the shot - you shot too fast."

I knew I hadn't shot fast; I think she was just upset it ended up being such a close hit that we could have used a ref.

I still stood there and visualized the shot.  I knew it was close, but her description was correct what the balls did and therefore I did indeed foul.

If I thought I for sure hit the 7ball first, I would have easily stood my ground.  Instead, I knew she was right.  I walked over to her and shook her hand.

I didn't even make her shoot the last two balls.  They were both sitting in front of pockets.

She wanted to run them out and I told her don't worry about it.

A guy was filming (or taking pics, we weren't sure) but she wanted to see if it was on video.  I was pretty adamant we didn't need to see anything on film - I had fouled.

It was a tough ten minutes or so.  But while I wanted to keep playing in the tournament, I couldn't win by foul.  It's not in me.

I'm glad she spoke up - because at first I really did think it was a good hit.  I think I was too in the moment because I was excited I made the 8 and was about to win, lol.

After the match, I find her in the crowd and again reiterated to her not to worry about a thing because I did indeed fouled.  I didn't want any hard feelings and started to feel quite embarrassed about the whole situation.

I also told her she doesn't have to say out loud for bad rolls to happen, tho.  I giggled as I said it (because I was uncomfortable offering the advice) and suggested she keep those thoughts to herself and just not say them out loud.  I didn't want further confrontation but I felt she needed to know that her outburst was unnecessary.

I admit, I prolly only said that to her because I lost a close match I should have won (if I hadn't missed so much earlier in the match).

Let's face it.  Many people would have just shot again.  Even I considered it, because I wasn't sure at first.  Being hill-hill and on the one-loss side makes for a tough admission.  The rule IS it does go to the shooter.  But I knew in my heart after she explained the balls' movements, I knew I had fouled.

I do wonder tho if I'm ever on the other end of a situation like this, would the outcome be the same.  I somehow doubt it, but that's okay. What matters to me is I didn't cheat to win.

We can agree to disagree all day that the ruling was a ref wasn't present so it goes to the shooter (me).  But the ruling in my heart and integrity surpasses any rule like that.

Video Tour: Jamaica Joe's

LOVE this pool room!  My first time to Jamaica Joe's in Oklahoma City, OK!  16 Diamond tables, owned by Jessica Massey.

I took this video the weekend of July 28, 2012 when Jamaica Joe's hosted the OB Cues Ladies Tour.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Rules and Newbies

I played in the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop last weekend and ran into an unfortunate situation during my second match.

I HATE when this happens.  :(

I was playing a new girl and we were going back and forth and the score was about 3-3 when this happened.

She kicked at the 6ball and didn't hit a rail afterwards.  She hit the rail first, then the cueball hit the 6ball, and both balls moved a few inches to the center of the table.  I asked/told her it was a foul - I didn't want to just pick up the cue ball without her realizing the error.

She looked at me confused.

"I hit a rail," she tells me.

I explained to her that the cueball nor the 6ball didn't hit a rail afterwards.  She told me confused, "But I hit a rail."

I tried to explain again a rail had to be hit AFTER contact is made.

She expressed that she was told a rail had to be hit, it didn't matter when.

I explained the rule again.  She finally succumbed and said, "okay" and I took ball in hand and ran out the few remaining balls.

I ended up winning 7-4 and felt pretty bad.  A female player attending their first tourney is very vulnerable.  They are already very nervous and out of their comfort zone.  And if they have a bad experience, they may never come back.

I was hoping the incident didn't put a bad taste in her mouth.  It was simply a rule confusion, but if I didn't explain it well or she didn't receive it properly, it could be detrimental.

I would over hear her say later she normally only plays 8ball, but even in 8ball the overall rules are the same, so I was kinda confused.

But, I was VERY happy to see her back on Sunday when she came back to play in the Second Chance tourney.  Whew!

She had a very good game and once she gets rid of the jitters, she will be a force to be reckoned with.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Peer Pressure

As I mentioned before, I have joined three leagues all of a sudden!  Where I used to never like league, I find myself three nights a week playing in leagues, lol.

On Monday night, I was scorekeeper for the new men's team I am on.  I show up and three of the guys on the team are raving about how well I play.  They heard I went 5-0 my first night on the team and also brought up my scotch doubles play and my Nationals win.  Felt good to hear such accolades from fellow male players who play good.  I admit I was beaming.  :)

On my Tuesday and Thursday night league, they are both all-women.  I played last Tuesday and still feel like eyes are on me.  I don't know how else to put it except I feel like the players are watching me - how do I play, do I miss, am I getting out?  I can hear people talk, "She was on the team that won Nationals."

I don't mind people watching, talking; keeps me on my toes.

On Thursday, we played the best team on the league (my team is in second place).  I felt a lot of pressure to play well, and again, felt like all eyes were on me.

I feel like people are looking at my decisions.  I take my time and plan my balls in 8 ball.  So, I think a lot at the table.  I try to stay down and play well; try to live up to my expectations (which, I know, I'm not suppose to do).

This Thursday, I was 4-1 again.  One of my teammates brought her Mom along.  They introduced her as, "this is Mom."  Took all I could not to cry.  She was about my Mom's age, and thoroughly enjoyed watching her daughters' team compete. 

We all high-five after a win, and that included a high-five to Mom after each match, and she seemed so thrilled every time I won.  At the end of the night, she actually thanked me for playing well - it was so cute!  I joked with her she had to come to all my matches in the future - I even hinted I'd give them my tourney schedule, lol, so they could come support me.

I really enjoy the camaraderie on my team AND the other teams.  I only know about half of the players and they have been all super nice and complimentary.  The opponents hug each other before and after every match; I'm not at the point yet with the ones I don't know but they are all still very friendly... and I'm having fun.

It's cool to be accepted.  :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Who Wins: Eating Contest or Pool?

On my flight to Reno back in February, I ran across a very intriguing article in the American Way magazine about food eating contests and their contestants.  "No Guts No Glory" was the title of the piece and as I read it, I was screaming on the inside with how similar the sport is to ours.

Yep, I said sport.

We get that same question ALL the time.  Is pool really a sport?  Well, so does Competitive Eating.  The author asks the MLE (Major League Eating) Chairman and co founder, George Shea, that question, and his reply was "Competitive eating at its peak level isn't a gag or just some outrageous spectacle.  All irony aside, it is 100 percent a sport."

It's funny to me that people question the same thing about pool, but those of us who love pool, would never judge Competitive Eating - we understand that at its core, competition is competition.

Does Competitive Eating get more air time than pool?  I do not know.  But I DO know there are other sports that hardly ever get on tv if at all - foosball and competitive putt putt.  We are pretty dang lucky pool is on tv!  Even if in limited quantities.

The familiarities for Competitive Eating was shocking to me.  Mostly, because I had NO idea about it until I read the article.  They are so many integral things in common with pool, I HAD to write this blog entry to share with you all that the same issues we face, other sports face.  And, the same things that I feel make pool special, other minor sports have them as well.

For instance, some Competitive Eaters have nicknames too.  "The Black Widow" (ironically), "Gravy, "Jaws, "the Tsunami," "Cookie," "Crazy Legs," etc.

They have a well-known Competitive Eater - Kobayashi.  We have Steve Miserak and Jeannette Lee, to name a few of our mainstream pool representatives.

Pool players and Competitive Eating live the same life.

We mention to anyone outside the pool room that we play pool and oh wow - the person we are talking to played pool, too!  They get excited and share that they used to be a child prodigy and played in their basement, or they play pool every weekend at the bar and want to see how well we play, or they played in college or the military, etc.  Everyone has a pool story who isn't even a pool player and they want to play us when they hear we are good.

Same for Competitive Eating.

Chris "Chompy" Floyd says in the piece, "Whenever I meet a friend of a friend, and it comes up that I just won a cupcake or ice cream or pizza or whatever eating contest, regardless of the food, the response is often enough, "I can eat a lot of that too."  I can't explain it, but this stuff just brings something out in a surprising number of folks who may never compete, but you can see them mulling over it."

And of course, they have the same money problems.

"If a competitor is in the sport to make money, they're probably going to be very disappointed, "Crazy Legs" Conti says.

"Because even when you're a nationally ranked eater, you're not quitting your day job," the author Jordan Rane quickly surmises.

As with pool, the top 3 or 4 can make money, but after that it drops off.  Just like pool.

Their events *can* have $10,000 added, but there are not that many events in a year to make enough money, nor that many events that add that much.  Appearance fees however do bring in the dough (pun intended).  That can add almost $100K to your income per year.  But again, those are only the top eaters.

As with pool, Competitive Eating is mental.  Thomas in the piece says, "I think so much of it is a mind thing - maybe even 60 to 70 percent."

The Competitive Eater sometimes get recognized and their autographs wanted, just like pool.

One guy even called it an alter ego.  He has a normal day job, but is a Competitive Eater.  Davelos says his Competitive Eating alter ego provides the perfect outlet to support his three passions in life outside of family and career:  Food, Travel and Competition.  "Being a professional eater has given me a platform to combine all three."

Same with pool.  We get to travel all over to compete.  Obviously for them the food is the cornerstone to the competition, but even us pool players get to combine our passions for food, travel and competition as well.   Just the other day I saw a professional pool player state he was in Dubai, about to head to China, and then next stop was Spain, then the U.S..  How's THAT for passion and fun?

Competitive Eating raises money for charities, just like pool, and they even have an organization that is now international - the MLE I mentioned earlier.  Who would have ever thought one would need an organization to run a pro circuit for Competitive Eating?

Competitive Eating has grown so much, even tho most all are coed, just last year they started separate men''s and women's divisions for some of the bigger events (like Nathan's Famous hotdog eating competition on the  4th of July in Coney Island).

The Competitive Eaters are every day folks like you and I.  We have a passion (pool or Competitive Eating), and we all dream for our passion to be mainstream someday, but we still love the competition almost to an obsessive level.

Floyd added, "I guess what I'm trying to do in these competitions is to push the disgustingness of it aside and just focus on some sort of quest for accomplishment.  I mean, it's not an easy task.  It's something that only a few people out there can actually do well."

I feel that way, too.  I can't begin to tell you how personally successful I feel about winning the National Championship this year with my women's team.  It's so minor to everyone else in the world, but to us pool players, it really IS a life-long accomplishment.

 I can't even imagine how the World Champions feel or the U.S. Open Champions.  Wow!

And even more similarities between our two sports - women's professional top pool player Vivian Villarreal was interviewed for the American Way magazine (American Airlines' onboard magazine) about 10-15 years ago and pool got some major spotlight time in their magazine.  American Way keeps up the spotlight and now shared with their readers about Competitive Eating.

As you can tell by now, Competitive Eating is like any other sport - mostly mental, takes dedication, has hardcore fans and competitors.  The difference for Competitive Eating and Pool is they are not high ranked among the masses.  I've said my whole life, "If pool paid like golf or tennis, I wouldn't have my day job.  I'd be playing pool for a living instead."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Leagues, Thoughts and Decisions

A lot of "league things" have been going on in my life lately.  More than ever before!

Previous League
My Sunday league that I dearly loved because of the guys and girls on my team, had to move on without us this year.  They needed to start their season and my women's team for BCAPL needed to figure out how to qualify for State and Nationals.  We finally figured out to join a women's league on Thursdays next Fall.  I will miss the team - they were SO much fun - but I do like my Sunday afternoons off now. :)

BCAPL League
Although my women's team is set, I needed to figure out how to qualify with my boyfriend for scotch doubles BCAPL State and Nationals.  He asked his Monday night team if I could join them.  That's the team he qualifies with for State and Nationals.  It wasn't an easy question or answer, as they are one of the top teams on the league (literally) so they can't just have chump change play with them.  Plus, the captain had to check to see if he had room AND if the other guys on the team were okay with it. 

They said yes! 

So, now boyfriend and I wont have to find a separate league to qualify on - with me joining their team, it makes it very easy.   

However, the first night I played for them (last week) I was SUPER nervous.  I put so much pressure on myself to play well and do well.  I kinda freaked out a little.  Turns out, I was thee ONLY person on our team that night to win ALL five of my matches and I even had a break and run!  Maybe I'll fit in a little bit. ;)

ACS League
One of my good friends Janet told me about a team meeting for an ACS League starting up.  She told me about it b/c if I was in the area if I wanted to come by, we could hang out.  Inside, my little brain starts running and I wondered if she needed a player for State (and *possibly* Nationals in Vegas).  She talked to her teammates and it might work out that enough players qualify we can have two teams at State!

This league is very smart!  It's an all-women's league out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Thursdays.  Last year a HUGE fiasco happened and the dual sanctioned league broke off and split up.  So, the teams left on Thursdays play only BCAPL now.  They would prefer to be dual sanctioned with ACS like they were, but whatever happened broke ties and the women have split leagues now.  So, the BCAPL Thursday league players want to play ACS State, so they smartly started a new league JUST for that purpose!

It's a scotch doubles ladies-only league.  Twelve weeks, minimum weekly dues ($3) to qualify us for ACS State (and Nationals if teams go).  I'm very impressed by their organization and pro activeness.

The only bad thing is the non-traveling Tuesday league is at Diamond Jim's and Tuesdays is $1.50 long-necks, lol!  Luckily, I don't like beer that much.

You have to be a member of the Thursday league so I joined the team and will play several weeks with them.  Pretty cool - they have two Queen of the Hill tourneys I'm very excited about!

Straight Pool League
I haven't written about this because I was pretty ashamed, but I quit my Straight Pool League last season.  I *could* tell you I only had two and a half weeks left for 7 matches and was too exhausted after Nationals to get them all in.  But, that really wasn't the only reason.  I had the worst season so far on that league.  I was excelling in so many tournaments (state, regional, local, national) but the straight pool league was a bad indication of the great year I was having.  And it made me sick to be so low in the standings!  I had 4 wins and 5 loses when I quite and just didn't think I could even get in the top 5 like I had for the other 8 seasons I've played. :(

And all you straight pool players may not like this even more:  I'm thinking of not joining the league that starts next month.

I know, I know, I will disappoint a lot of you, but my heart isn't in it.   I studied it so much over the holidays and yet STUNK.  Sure, I won the ladies straight pool challenge in May in Vegas, but I am simply not interested in the league.  It's 30 minutes away and I have to deal with annoying opponents a lot.  I realize every match is a great mental test, but if I'm not looking forward to the matches, I don't think I should play.

I DO plan on playing a race to 125 at least four times a month against my boyfriend on a 9 foot table (the pool room for league only has 8 foot tables).  I notice when I play him I still get frustrated and/or happy and I go through the same emotions as I would in my matches for league (that's how brutal straight pool is, lol).  So, I will still be playing the game.

If I have any inkling that my game goes down in the Fall b/c I am not in that straight pool league anymore, I will reevaluate playing in it for the following season.  But I think I will be okay.  :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Communication 101

As I have alluded to a few times in my blog, I ran into some integrity issues back in April.  I said I would share them with you, and I suppose now is the time to do so.

Back in April I played in the BCAPL Texas State 8Ball Tourney.  One of my FAV tourneys!
My b/f and I placed 2nd in the Scotch Doubles, I placed 4th in singles and my women's team placed 2nd!  It was a fantastic weekend for me.  I placed very well in all three events and was a very happy camper!  :)

I came home that Sunday night, extremely exhausted from five days of play, but very full of happiness and self worth.

Then, it all went to $hit by Monday morning.  :(

On Monday, I start to receive questions about my "actions" over the weekend and that people were talking about several incidences that occurred.  I was astonished!  About what people were saying; how they thought.  I was mortified how things are taken out of proportion; how people assume the worst in others; and that all of this drama was all around me.  And I had no idea! 

I had a FANTASTIC weekend of playing good pool and being around great friends so I couldn't believe my ears! The happiness of the weekend immediately went away and was replacement with horror and disappointment.

Here is what happened:

Right before the finals of the Women's Team event, one of my teammates asked my how a female player could play in both the women's team event and the open teams event.  I told her I didn't think it was possible, but she said she saw one our opponents (I'll call her Ford) play on a men's team in the open division on Friday night.

I asked several times if she was sure it was the same girl we were about to play in the finals.  She was sure.

I had been asked to play on a guy's team and presumed I could not play in both events.  Being the curious person that I am, I went to the TD desk and asked them about it.

They told me that no, in fact you cannot play in both.  She asked me who it was and I said I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, I was just curious for future reference for myself.  She said she wanted to check the rosters in case there was a mistake, so I gave her Ford's name and expressed again I didn't want to get anyone in trouble.  Ford was only listed on the women's singles and women's teams, and the TDs didn't seem to be concerned about the questions at all.  The TDs even joked and told stories that this is an issue with guys all the time at Nationals, playing on more than one team.

Turns out, I found out on Monday morning, that the 3rd TD that wasn't at the desk when I inquired about the rule, had told Ford she could sub for two rounds because one of the guys from her hometown was running late due to an emergency, but would be there asap.  I'm not sure why the other TDs didn't know this, though.  Or, why they allowed this exception.

However, for some reason, the TDs told Ford right before the finals that I tried to forfeit her!


All I did was try to get clarification on the rule, and in return the TDs told her I was trying to forfeit her so they wouldn't have to play us in the finals.


I had NO IDEA they told her that! 

I mean, during the finals I noticed our opponents were feisty and competing tough, but they are great competitors so I didn't really think too much about it.  Little did I know that the reason they were so feisty was because they heard I tried to forfeit them!  They were pissed!

The teammates were actually pretty hurt.  They had fought their way to the finals with hard work and to hear we were trying to forfeit them really bothered them.  I don't blame them.  I would have felt the same way.

Luckily, one of the teammates knows me well, and she expressed that it had to be a miscommunication of some kind.

Now, I could go on and on as to WHY the TD told Ford I tried to forfeit her.  IMO, they should not have told her anything at all.  BUT.... for all I know, THAT info was a miscommunication.  For all I know, they simply asked her about the situation, and then she assumed I tried to forfeit her.  Or, they really used the word "forfeit" for some reason.

Either way, the WHOLE thing was a very unfortunate miscommunication. ;-(

To make matters worse.... omg.....

About 5-6 years ago I called a foul on a friend during a team event.  I'll call her Kandy, because she is a super sweet girl.  Turns out I was COMPLETELY wrong about the foul!  I incorrectly thought that the new rule was you had to call all 8 ball shots, even if obvious.

I called a foul on her for it and felt super bad, but I really thought it was the new rule.  We called a ref over and the first ref said I was right, but Kandy knew that wasn't the rule and so she wanted a ruling from the head ref.

Of course the rule is you do NOT have to call an obvious 8 ball shot.  The head ref verified it.

I felt SO badly for screwing up the rule and for calling a foul on it.  I walked over to the entire team and apologized to all of them and said I was sorry. I was SO FREAKING embarrassed.  Mortified that I had been so stupid and called a foul.  The team didn't really reply back to me, but one guy in the crowd yelled, "You're a bitch for trying to shark her!"

What??  WTF was that?  I snapped, "I didn't shark her, I thought it was the rule!"

I was PISSED he said that to me, in front of everyone like that, and accused me of doing that deliberately!?!  Who the hell thinks these things up??

It was just a miscommunication taken WAY out of proportion.  But, Kandy was very upset about it, all the while I was very embarrassed about it.  I couldn't believe I messed up that rule like that!

A couple of tourneys later, Kandy and I are in a 9ball match and I scratch on the 7ball.  I grab the cueball out of the pocket, hand it to her, and proclaim, "Merry Christmas" because I was so upset at myself and I knew she was about to run out.  After that game, she told me not to talk to her anymore during the matches.  Eeek.  :(  I obliged, felt super bad, and then simply played pool against her and tried my best not to speak while we played for the next few years.

I noticed we were never the same.  We used to smile when we saw each other, said our hellos and gave hugs throughout the years we played competitively.  However, we hardly ever said hello anymore when we saw each other and she kinda avoided me after these two incidences.  I felt bad, but didn't do anything about it, I admit.

Fast forward 5-6 years and here we are competing in the singles event of the BCAPL Texas State Tourney.  We have played each other at least 20-35 times since that first incident. Kandy is a very tough, strong competitor and she is very tough to beat.

I scratch on the first game and as I'm moving chairs to use them as blockers to get people to stop walking by our table, she takes ball in hand and runs out. She racks for the second game and my b/f asks me if I scratched.  I said yes and he said he didn't see it.  I told him, "well, she wouldn't pick up the cue ball unless I scratched."

"Well, I can't recall, which pocket did it scratch in?" He asks me.

I don't remember so I ask her while she's racking.

"I scratched right?"  Not thinking AT ALL how my words are coming out.  "Yea," as she replied slowly as she looked up at me.

"Which pocket did I scratch in?"

She thought for a moment and guessed the side pocket.  I then sit down and tell my b/f.  She finishes racking and comes over and says to me, "I remember now, it was the other side."

"Oh okay, thanks," I say.  And then she adds, "I wouldn't be able to focus without remembering that."

I thought that was a weird comment, but didn't think more about it.

We went hill-hill and she ended up winning, but it was a FANTASTIC match!  We both played great in front of an amazing crowd.  I was very happy for her because I knew she would place well and we had such a great, memorable match.  

Well... turns out Kandy thought I was trying to shark her, deliberately!  AND.... turns out, she shared that info with Ford - who is the same person who heard I tried to forfeit her in the finals!

So, once Ford heard I tried to forfeit her later that weekend, it just fell right into place with how she had perceived me from the rumors.  All it did was justify my "actions."  :(

When I hear all this Monday morning, I'm so mortified, I am literally shaking.  I am SO extremely disappointed, angry, hurt, and shocked all at once.  I can NOT believe that this all was going on over the weekend.  I had no idea!  And anyone that knows me knows I am very honest and hold integrity close to my heart.  Further, I HATE drama.

I had no idea people thought this way about me!

Here I am in my own little world, thinking I am this nice, thoughtful person and a good representative of the sport, and yet.... other don't see me that way.

I was severely hurt and offended people thought this way of me.  I am very strong in my belief in the honor system.  I call fouls on myself; I don't cheat; I do NOT shark; I love competing and want the best out of everyone's game.

I went to a very dark and low place on that Monday.  I walked around work so disjointed and upset.  My feelings went from shock to hurt to anger to confusion.  I can't explain exactly how I felt, but to think you are a good, decent, nice person, and then you find out people think you are a b1tch (for lack of a better word), it's very heartbreaking.  :(

I was disturbed about it all.

After many depressing, long hours for the entire day, something weird happened.  I guess I finally saw things for what they were:  just miscommunication.  Things got twisted, like situations do sometimes in life.  And for the most part, everything that I heard was due to miscommunications and misinterpretations.  The scratch, that stupid 8ball foul, the forfeit.  Everything.

I made a decision to call Kandy.  Although we weren't close, I wanted to apologize and to explain my side of things, give her a chance to tell her side, and discuss this as adults.  IF she would even talk to me.

I got her number from a teammate, and called her.  She didn't answer.  I stumbled along in my voice mail and told her I thought we should talk and mentioned the weekend and the past.  I honestly wasn't sure if she would call me back.

She did!

It wasn't the easiest conversation of my life, for sure, but I told her I had heard some things and realized it was really a miscommunication and wanted to try and clear the air. 

She did indeed thought I was sharking her all three times (recent and in the past) and I tried to explain to her WHY I did those things.

She had no idea how embarrassed I was when I called that 8ball foul - she thought I was trying to shark her.

She didn't know why I said "Merry Christmas" in that one match after I scratched, but I explained I was mad at myself.  She was very honest and told me as a Board Member of the Ladies Tour back then, I should have known not to talk in my matches - and she was spot on!  I apologized to her and acknowledge she was indeed correct.

As for the scratch just the previous weekend, she said when I asked her about it, she just assumed I was up to my same old sharking tricks.  And to be honest, she had nothing else to go by so of course she would think that.  In hindsight, I expressed to her that I never should have asked - it wasn't that important.

I tried to explain from my heart that I don't deliberately shark.  I think she believed me, too.  I also told her we are more mature now and should be able to talk about these things.

It was a very difficult but FANTASTIC talk.  We actually both cried at one time because it wasn't an easy discussion.  While hearing the rumors about me hurt me deeply, in return it gave me the opportunity to address with her the root of our past issues.  It was a blessing in disguise.

I told her several times that pool is already so very mental and she didn't need any extra distractions when she played me.  I wanted her to focus on pool, not worry if I'm going to pull an antic or something when I play her.

While it took me a lot to make the call, it was well worth it and needed.  I really wanted to ease her mind about miscommunications and hope I accomplished that.  She helped me also, as I saw her side of things as well.

I completely understand why she felt this way all these years, but I'm sad that it happened at all.  Very sad and disappointed anyone would be upset over things that get so twisted and misinterpreted.

I was still very disturbed about the other issue from the weekend and reached out to Ford, also.  She accepted my apology and explanation, and said she figured after a few days that it had to be a miscommunication about the forfeit, also.

While I had a VERY rough time reviewing myself internally, wondering if I really was a good person, in the end, I wanted to try and express to these two women I'm really not that way.  :(  Sometimes we can't change peoples perceptions and in the future I can only try to prove myself with my actions.

While it was very tough on me, it allowed me the opportunity to try and make things right.  I was told the phone call in itself showed my true character.  That meant a lot to hear, as my self esteem had been kicked to the ground.

I'm very lucky to have such great, understanding friends and competitors in the world.  Competition can bring out a side of us we don't like to see, but in the end, we are human beings with heart, feelings, and tenderness.

I have written in my personal blog about the importance and differences in the interpretation of events.  I honestly don't know if I would have been able to see the other side of things had I not had some good leadership classes.  I was in so much pain, I'm not sure how I was able see or understand anything else, to be honest.  But I'm glad I did.

Kandy and Ford are truly great competitors and they deserve a good match, not distractions.

I hope reaching out to them was helpful to them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Integrity Accusation

Last night I was at the pool room watching my boyfriend gamble.  He played a guy he hadn't played before, but we knew of him and several of our friends knew him.

I'll call the guy he played, "Rick James," because Eddie Murphy's song played on the jukebox last night and we all made fun of the actor trying to sing "Party All the Time," in collaboration with Rick James.  lol.

I hadn't seen Rick James in a while.  But I knew he played pretty decent but also traveled a lot for work.  He's also a man of God now, so he is pretty tame compared to his past.

On the fourth set, my boyfriend shoots a jump shot.  He jumps over the 7 ball and hits the 3 ball nicely, altho it doesn't fall, at least he made a good hit.

Up until this point, there have been no issues, no words, nothing - just pool playing.

Rick James asks my b/f if it was a good hit.

He replies, yes.

Rick James looks deflated, can't believe his ears.

"Really?  You think it was a good hit?  Well, why don't you ask your wife about the shot, she saw it."  Referring to me, since I was watching the match.

My boyfriend knows that's a conflict of interest, so instead of asking me, he asks the two guys next to me who are also watching.  One of the guys (I'll call him Greg), is already chomping in my ear behind me, "That was a good hit, what is Rick James talking about?"

So, Greg answers, "that was a good hit, man."

Rick James still can't believe it!

"Really?" he asks dumbfounded as he shakes his head in disbelief.

"Yes, he jumped over the 7ball cleanly."

The other guy sitting near us, Tanker, is a friend of both the players, and he doesn't want to answer.

Rick James asks me directly and I say the same thing, "Yea, I thought it was a good hit, also."

By now Rick James and my boyfriend are arguing about the shot and having some choice words.  Eventually, my boyfriend gets so upset with him because he's being accused of not telling the truth and doesn't want to deal with it anymore, he tells Rick James, "Just take ball in hand if you think it was a foul.  I didn't foul, but I'm tried of arguing and want to play pool."

Rick James tells him, "no, no, that's fine, whatever."

While they were exchanging words, Tanker says softly to Greg and I, "I didn't see the 7ball move, either.  I thought it was a good hit."

So, 4 people say it didn't move, but the guy truly believes the 7 moved.  Which is fine, that's not the issue.

Here is the issue:

Rick James walks over to Tanker after he misses and starts to ask him what he saw.  I don't know what the Tanker told him, but he tells him right in front of me that the 7ball moved.  I simply state to him, "it didn't move."

He then looks at me glaringly, "Of course you are going to say that.  He's your man."

Immediately, my blood boils.  Immediately. 

"What?"  I say loudly, "You say I'm cheating??"

"I didn't say that," he tried to explain. 

"Yes you did, you said I would say it was a good hit just because he's my b/f."

"Well, you would," he says, standing by his opinion.  Then he adds, "hey, you involved yourself, I'm having a conversation over here."

By now I'm really pissed.

I raise my voice even more, "Seriously dude?  You asked me my opinion!"

I continue, "and you obviously don't know anything about me, because if I thought it was a bad hit, I wouldn't even hesitate to tell the truth!"

Question MY integrity?  Really?

Who the hell does he think he is accusing me that I would LIE?!

I then spout off, "Even Tanker said it was a good hit."

He quickly tells me, "He said he didn't see it."

"Really??  Well, he just told us he DID see it and that it was a good hit."

As he walks away from us to shoot he mumbles, "This is why I don't play anymore."

WTFever gonna accuse me of something like that.  If it was a bad hit, I'd freaking say it.  In a heart beat!  I'm not here to try to win money by cheating.  I believe in being a good ambassador of the game foremost.

It puzzles me even MORE because his first instinct was to ask ME about the shot.  Then he tells me I wouldn't tell the truth anyway.  O M G!

Boy did he rile me up at lightning speed!

I can understand if he really thought it was a good hit, and he wanted to make his case.  But don't assume NOR tell me I would lie.

Oh and it also reminds me I never did share the integrity issues I ran into in April that deeply hurt me.  I will try and write about that soon.  Especially since I'm riled up again just typing this out!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Killer Instinct Tips

Last week someone posed on AZBilliards.com forums a great question about the killer instinct.

"For those that weren't killers, how did you develop your Killer Instinct?"

I submitted the below tips and thought I should share them in my blog, too.  If any one of these helps one person, I'll be happy!  

This is a compilation of things that have helped me over the year.  I definitely did NOT have the killer instinct, and of course I still work on that aspect as I have my moments of letting up still.

1. Always keep learning. Read books and articles, listen to advice, watch videos, practice. Don't just read about pool, read about mental toughness, read some tennis books, listen to the golf announcers, etc.

2. Play in as many tournaments as you can. And the real tough ones, too. The more you play, the more experience you gain. Every single time you compete in a tournament, you learn something new. Every time! Whether you get more experience about pressure, or test your composure, or more experiences how to fight back when you're down, whatever.

3. Attitude about your opponents is key. I asked Liz Ford once about a comment she made in Billiards Digest. She shared with me that Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert (a tennis player) helped her, and suggested I read it, too. After I read the book, I swear my I gained a killer instinct. I never had it before. I want to win more than ever after reading that book. And I reread it all the time. :)  I posted her longer response here in my blog. I found her comments very enlightening!

4. Again attitude is important. There are two women on the OB Cues Ladies Tour that exude major confidence during their matches, and they are extremely successful players on the tour. I recently interviewed them because I wanted to learn about their killer instinct and their attitude during competition. If I emulate them while competing, I play better. If I reread the blog entry before my tourneys, I play better. It's a great reminder for me to refresh myself about how mentally strong competitor think.

5. Fundamentals are KEY. Mental toughness is most of the part of competition, but fundamentals are the most important part of the physical game. At least, it has been for me.

Many other pool enthusiasts replied to his question, also.  Check out all the other suggestions here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Private Pool Club in Switzerland

As I mentioned before, I visited Switzerland in Oct, shortly after my Mom passed, to help fellow pool player and friend Crisitna De La Garza move her and her 8-month old son there.

Her boyfriend, professional pool player Marco Tshudi, kept mentioning we would visit "the Pool Club."

I figured it was their pool hall, just called a "Pool Club."

Nope, I was wrong again, lol.

A private pool club is what the name implies:  a place that a certain number of people belong to for a monthly fee.

They are all across the country and they usually have no more than 25 members.  The fee varies, but because the pool rooms are very expensive to play by the hour, many private pool clubs are established for economical reasons.

Everything in Switzerland is expensive - it goes hand in hand with the minimum wage being so high.  Waiters and Waitresses have to study and get degrees, so tips are not the norm because they already get paid a lot to work.  Hence, the price to play pool and eat at a pool room establishment is also expensive.  So, the private clubs save the players a lot of money.

This particular private pool room club, that Marco is a member of and we visited, has their own little kitchen area with a fridge and pantry, a laptop with internet access, and even some cues (if you bring a friend and they don't have a cue to play with).

It had 6 good nine-foot tables with lots of space around them, some couches, a stereo system, and good lightning  Very nice, cozy, comfortable, and simple.  It is housed in an office building with other different types of companies, so it's basically a large room in the office building.  Every member has a key, so you can play there whenever you want, no matter what time of day. But it's not open to the public and it's not advertised. 

They have tournaments on the weekends, so that is pretty cool.

At this club, everyone's picture was on the wall and I was impressed with how many women were a member of the club. 

It's nice not to be bothered by the weekend warriors if you want to get some good practice time in or maybe get/give lessons.  Because members have access 24 hours a day, you get a lot of freedom when you want to play and it's normally not packed all the time.  And of course, the equipment is taken care of, which is another nice treat for those of us who are at the mercy of ball bangers who abuse the equipment at the pool rooms in the U.S.

Here are some pics.  I hope they encapsulate the atmosphere of the "private pool club."  I was impressed by the room, and the idea.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Honor System in Switzerland

As I wrote in my personal blog, I helped my friend and fellow pool player Cristina De La Garza move to Switzerland last October.  Little Marco and her needed a travel companion because of the long flights and layovers, as Cristina gets motion sickness and would be traveling with her 8-month son and a lot of luggage.  Since it wasn't just a "trip" (she was moving from Texas to Switzerland) she had her hands full.  If you wish, you can read about my amazing venture (get your hanky).

While I was in Switzerland, Cristina's fiance', pro player Marco Tshudi, showed us around the city and we ventured to pool rooms (you can view my video tour of the pool room Billiardino) and I also went to a private pool club which I will explain soon.

But what fascinated me most was the culture of Switzerland.

Cristina recently wrote about this in her blog, and it reminded me I had written a similar blog entry about the differences between the U.S. and Switzerland, but had not published it yet.  After you read her well-written thoughts, here are my startling revelations:

Basically, I had NO idea about the culture.  The country, and it's surrounding neighbors, are EXTREMELY very honest people.  Honest to the point that when you visit after growing up in the States, you are alarmed and shocked!

As we drove around one day, Marco pointed to a large strawberry field, where people could just take strawberries and leave however much money they seemed appropriate.


Or, the acre of flowers, people could just pick fresh flowers and then deposit cash in a box - all on the side of the road, unmanned.


I noticed that people would leave out candles on their porches, and maybe flower pots or other personal important things. 


I had my bicycle stolen from the THIRD floor on a BALCONY in Fort Worth, Texas in a GATED apartment complex, and over there people were leaving all sorts of things on their first floor porches - where others could just walk right up and touch/grab/take.  But, people just wouldn't do that in Switzerland.

In this extremely clean city (Zurich), it's very common to take the buss/train to get around the city - and you pay by the honor system.  No one is there to take your money to ride the train.  Or to ensure you paid your money.

Honor System.

Something that is nonexistent in America, IMHO.

Marco then shared something very intriguing to me about pool and honesty.  And now it makes sense, b/c I have seen how true the honor system is in their country.  This is how everyone is raised.  It's their belief system.

So, imagine when Marco came to America for a spell a few years ago and he ran into the U.S. road players.  He was shocked at their demeanor and rudeness.  He even wrote about one of his tournaments in the US and you can read his frustration here in his blog entry from about a year ago.

But it's because of his upbringing and his surroundings that make some of the U.S. players seem very rude.

Marco shared that in Switzerland (and the surrounding countries) that if a person racks and accidentally gives a bad rack, the player feels very embarrassed about it.

Why?  Because of their unwritten honor system, it's not proper to give a bad rack.  So, they genuinely feel bad about it, even if it's an accident.

Then he comes to America and runs into players that deliberately put "the rack" on their opponents.  He is seeing a side of pool he had only heard of.  And because these actions go against the way he was raised, it upsets him.

I can only appreciate, truly, how he felt because I understand now about the honor system over in Europe and how everyone is raised.

If I hadn't any knowledge of just how much honor and honesty is engrained in their culture, I would not begin to understand why a bad rack could be embarrassing, or why a deliberate bad rack would upset him so much.

We (in the U.S.) run into dishonest people all the time.  We see bad racks, sharking, intentional fouls, theft, cheating, etc.  Of course we do.  We live in a society that locks their bicycles up on the third floor\balconies, wont leave anything on their porches, and holds our purses tight against our bodies as we walk in the daylight.

I am still so very impressed about their culture!  It was an eye opener for sure.  Glad I was able to experience it, too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Scotch With a Twist

Last weekend there was another Scotch Doubles tourney in the area that I played in, but this one was very different.

I'm really enjoying getting out and playing in these type of tourneys.  Gets me out of the house among friends and allows me to test my skills on the table.  And being 8ball, I love it even more!

This time we played at a new place, and the tourney was strictly held for a purpose:  to raise money for a league team.  I liked the idea, actually.  They took money out of each entry and also sold food to raise money for the team.  And yummmm - the tostadas were EXCELLENT!

We arrived at 11:30 but I don't think play started til about 1pm.  Next time we will show up at noon, the designated time, and not be so early.  As we waited for the tourney to start, I noticed that I didn't recognize a lot of the players.  So, I thought it was possible my boyfriend and I would place well.   But I also know in a race to 2, ANYTHING can happen.

Turns out it was APA rules (and that made more sense why we didn't know most of the players, b/c we don't play APA).  Besides slop counts, the rules were only slightly different than what I'm used to, but not much.  My main worry was scratching on the 8ball - that was a "loss of game" whether making the 8ball on the break or if missing the 8ball last and scratching. This rule made me a little nervous!

Only ten teams played.  We didn't know how much money they were taking out of each $30 entry to raise money for the team, but they were paying two spots.

Our first match went 2-1.  CLOSE!  The next match almost went 2-1.  A race to 2 was pretty tough!  We got our groove though as we normally do and found ourselves in the hotseat.  :)  We barely won that 2-1 and waited for the finals.

As we waited, one of the girls asked us if we "came to hustle their tournament."  My b/f and I just laughed and replied, "no, no."  I shared that we played in a scotch doubles tourney just last weekend and only placed 4th (implying there was no guarantee we would win).  She was a really sweet lady and told us we were welcome back.  I was happy she said that and explained to her I like to help teams raise money, and we like to test our scotch doubles skills, so it was great she would like to see us again.

As we walked back to our table to wait for the finals, I really did wonder if most of the people wanted us back, tho.  My b/f and I play pretty sporty together and they may not want us back again.  I know *I* wouldn't want us back again.

I know how I feel when I walk into a tourney and the best players in the city showed up, also.  I figured I had a chance til I saw them, lol. 

However, I also feel that we can help these players.  We will give them motivation to strive for better play and to practice, I'm hoping.  If we win some more, they will want to beat us even more.  That means they will work on their game and that will help them in the long run.

We ended up winning the tournament and I had to come with a long rail kick on the 8ball and the whole place went crazy!  It was so sweet and awesome.  They really seemed very enamored with our play and sincerely meant it when they said we played good.

(click to enlarge)

We found out they took out $10 PER entry to raise money, so that only left $200 for the payouts.  But, the bar added $75!  That was an awesome surprise!  We made $165 for First Place  :)

I hope they let us play again - it was a lot of fun meeting genuine people and playing the game we love. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Video CLip: Daz, World Champion

My friend Darren Appleton (Daz) from England just won the World 9Ball Championship in Qatar last week.  In the finals, he was up 11-3, then 12-6 in a race to 13.  Slowly, China’s Lee He Wen (Daz's opponent in the finals) came back and tied it 12-12!

Sometimes a close match will make you savor the love of a win even more!

If you haven't seen the video yet of the final rack, I offer you the link below so you can see what a tough out it really was under that pressure!  And Daz's emotional reaction afterwards if priceless!

Rumor is, pool is boring to watch.  Not with this crowd.  Not with this excitement!  Who wouldn't be joining Daz in celebration from their couches if this was on tv!?

Congrat's Darren!