Last weekend, I headed up to the City of Inverness for the latest event on the SAPPA (Scottish American Pool Players Association) 9-Ball Tour, which took place at Scotland’s newest Riley’s American Pool and Snooker Club. This was the 4th Tour Event, but only the 3rd to be played, after the Glasgow event due for March was cancelled due to snow.
I arrived on the Saturday afternoon and after checking into my hotel and getting a few bits and pieces done, made my way up to the Club to find that some of the Glasgow players had already arrived and were getting a ton of practice on one of the tables. I was soon to find that these tables were still very new and that the pockets were very tight. You had to be very accurate in pocketing balls – if the ball touched the side of the pocket on the way in, it would get spat back out at you.
After heading dinner with 3 of the guys from Aberdeen at a great Indian Restaurant called “Cinamon” (the walk to which involved Jim (n)O’Hare complaining that it was too far away – “we’re in Nairn!” was his comment) we returned to the club to play in a wee flyer that was taking place. My first match – against Edinburgh’s Simon Dixon – was a taste of what was to come over the weekend as I was not able to play any decent shots and played truly rubbish pool. Suffice to say, Simon beat my by6 racks to 2. After that, the maddest Ring Game (multiple players – usually 6 – playing the same game of pool at the same time) I have ever played in took place and was concluded by SAPPA Tournament Director pocketing balls whilst singing “I Am The Music Man” as he walked (staggered, more like!) around the table!
Sunday morning, and after breakfast I made my way to the club. You know you’re arriving at a pool hall early if the cleaners are still there – and still working, which they were! After a wee while, the place started filling up with players from all parts of Scotland, some of whom had driven up that morning to play. Davy Jack from Arbroath had even been in Manchester to watch Liverpool dump Chelsea out of the FA Cup Semi Final (WOO HOO!) at Old Trafford, then made his way to Inverness to play! Now, that’s devotion for you!
My first tournament match was against Edinburgh’s Chris Fraser, a young lad who came from nowhere (in a pool sense) at the end of last year with a string of brilliant results. Well, it turned out that I was just going to be another name on his list of victims as he destroyed me and played me off the table with his new cue. As I mentioned before, the pockets were spitting balls back out at me all over the place (suppose I should become more accurate, eh?). The final score was 6-3 to Chris. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.
After waiting for a bit, due to all the byes in the Losers’ Bracket, I had to play Dave Tait from Glasgow. You go all the way to Inverness and end up playing someone from home! Geez-oh! Again, same thing happened to me – I try to play a shot I know I can make and the pocket spits the ball out at me. Three run-outs were spoiled because of this and my confidence was knocked for 6, with Dave beating me 6 racks to 2.
After that, it was time to relax. For a while. As other the matches in the later stages of the tournament were being played, I played a friend from Edinburgh (via Greece) called Achilles at a discipline called One Pocket, a discipline that we both really enjoy. By this time, my brain was starting to turn to mush and my play was starting to get even worse still (if that really was possible!). Fortunately, I was able to finish playing as I was asked to referee the final of the tournament between Falkirk’s Michael Valentine and Clark Smith of Glasgow. It was a very tight, if somewhat scrappy, final with Michael taking the spoils by 9 racks to 8.
The Cardman 🙂