Volume 3 of “What Would the Pros Do?” is in honor of the recent 36th annual U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships in Chesapeake, Virginia. The event concluded October 22 last month and England’s Darren Appleton claimed his second consecutive title using smart, simple patterns coupled with a consistent, effective break. All this made his run outs look effortless. The following two shots illustrate a pattern in how this winning pro likes to run out.
In the semifinals against Alex Pagulayan, Darren runs these final three balls to move ahead 7-6. The most natural path for the cue ball, using some helping right-hand spin, sends it around the table three rails for position on the 8. The option that Darren has is to decide which pocket he wants to shoot the 8 ball.
Option A plays position to shoot the 8 ball in the corner pocket. If he’s able to get perfect on this ball, it’s not a bad choice. However, if he comes up short he could be left with a difficult shot. If he overruns position he will be flirting with the side pocket. Option A leaves a pretty small window for position.
Option B plays position to shoot the 8 ball in the side pocket. This was the option Darren chose. Opting to play the 8 ball in the side pocket affords a much bigger window to still have a good shot. If he comes up short he will send the cue ball around the 9 three rails for position. If he overruns position he can easily go around the table three rails the other direction for the 9 ball. It’s pretty difficult to foil this run out by choosing to play the 8 ball in the side pocket.
In this next example, Darren runs these three balls to advance 4-0 in the finals against Shawn Putnam. Darren is almost straight in on the 6 ball and again, has to decide which pocket he wants to play the 8 ball. I’ve seen many players in this instance just stop the cue ball guaranteeing they will have a shot on the 8. This may be the easier shot but perhaps not the most effective. Take a look at what a professional does.
Option A plays position for the 8 ball in the corner pocket by shooting a stop shot. The benefit to this option is the easier shot on the 6 ball but on the other hand, the position of the 8 ball can make the nearby side pocket seem awfully big if you end up with too much angle.
Option B plays position for the 8 ball in the side pocket by drawing straight back. This was the option Darren chose. The advantage to getting the cue ball to the center of the table is that, again, he has a much bigger window for position on the 8 ball. If he comes up short, he can go around the 9, if he’s straight in he shoots a stop shot, and if he goes too far he goes around the other end of the table; similar to the other example.
There are a couple different schools of thought on this second shot. Some may say the draw shot carries a higher risk of miscuing, which is true. Depending on your style of play, you may prefer less movement on the cue ball. Then, there’s also the rule of “don’t play position when you already have position” which, in this case, could easily apply.
There is one important thing to remember when faced with a situation like this. Of course you always want to select the shot you’re most comfortable shooting but remember, with three balls left on the table you want to be comfortable with all three of them, not just the one. Win more games and have more fun, the way the pros do it!