Day 41: Aurora, CO
Forty one days on the road,
and forty one days left until the US Amateur tournament.
Seems like some sort of turning point.
Last night was another trip to Rack 'em Billiards,
and this time I got lucky.
"Georgia Boy" CJ Carlton Hines was there,
and I got his attention with a discussion about
how to practice.
I challenged him with The Sorto String,
and told him I have only seen two people on the
planet do it successfully (El Maestro and me!),
and although I set it up for him at least
a dozen times, and although he got close,
he joined the ranks of all the others who
have tried and missed.
But I have to say that his stroke is so pure
that it was a real pleasure to watch him try
and I felt sure that he would be able to do it
if he bore down and gave it a few more tries.
Then I gave him the toughest one I know,
an exercise with only six balls,
with the 1, 3, and 5 on the lower long rail
and the 2, 4, and 6 on the foot rail,
all placed at the diamonds.
The object is to run them all into the corner
without touching any rail
except the one on which they are frozen.
"Georgia Boy" gave it a few tries,
and did quite well,
but the shape from the 5 to the 6
at first gave him trouble,
then he became fascinated with this shot,
and then he fell in love with the shot,
and after a few more tries he succeeded
with running all six balls, as required.
I have never seen anyone do this!
He liked that shot on the 5 so much,
with its very difficult position on the
short side of the 6 ball,
that he kept shooting it several more times,
just for the fun of it.
It felt good to be able to show him something
that he got so much enjoyment out of.
Next he showed me an exercise he does,
which is set up a lot like The Sorto String,
except that the 1-ball is off the foot rail,
and the object is the same, but using draw
instead of following to the rail.
I tried it and instantly saw the challenge.
He said he has done it once or twice.
We went on to play some nine ball,
not as a real challenge to him,
but as a learning exercise for me.
When I would miss, or have a question,
we would stop and play the shot different ways,
or play alternate shots for different shape.
It was in the middle of one of these games
that I had an epiphany regarding reverse english draw
to get precision position.
I have used only outside english, if any,
on my draw shots, almost never inside english,
but once the situation arose in our game
that absolutely required it, and he made me do it,
did I see the beauty of this obscure shot.
Now I'll be looking for opportunities to use it,
so that I burn it into my brain so well
that maybe I remember it when/if I need it.
I talked with El Maestro about this shot this morning
and he reminded me that he has shown me this shot
in the past, (but my feeble brain can only hold so
much wisdom at once), and that this one shot could
easily be the difference between winning and losing
an entire match.
I am humbled again by the prodigious knowledge
of my instructor, El Maestro.
And I am reminded of these eternal words of Lao Tsu:
The greater the island of knowledge,
the greater the shoreline of wondering.
Posted by Michael McCafferty