What a great time to be in New York City for pool and Billiards!  I got to play in the World 14.1 championships at Steinway Billiards in Queens and want to thank Manny and his crew and all the sponsors, web casters, players, and sponsors.  In particular Charlie Williams for putting on this great event!  Thank you one and all!

The next week I got to see Raymond Ceulemans senior and other great 3 cushion players at Carom Cafe in Flushing, NY.  Wow!  Some games averaged a shade under 3 billiards per inning, and runs of 10 billiards or more were common.  Here is Raymond Ceulemans getting ready to score a billiard:

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Let's look at two really simple things you can practice in pool that don't seem very important at first blush, but add up when you are in competition. 

Practice the Lag: The lag is the only time you go head to head against your opponent executing a shot to see who has the choice of break or not.  After that pool is a solo show, you shoot until you miss or play safe, and then your opponent shoots.  Winning the lag starts you off on the right foot psychologically, gives you the first shot, and sends a message to your opponent that you came to play.

Stack Shots:  These come up a lot more in straight pool and one pocket, but they happen in 8 ball and to a much lesser degree in 9/10 ball.  Spending time learning how the balls react will be time well spent.  It is amazing to me how many rotation game players overlook stack shots that would pull them out of a tough spot.

Let's look at a shot that Corey Deuel made in a close match that bailed him out of a jam:

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Here is a shot Corey Deuel made in the World 14.1 Championships. By hitting the 5 ball first, the 2 and 3 are pushed away. The cue ball then hits the one sending it to the pocket. Genius!

What a great shot!  Corey spent quite a while studying the rack before he pulled the trigger. Try it yourself and see exactly how the balls react and what you have to do to make the shot. 

Finally, one thing I noticed while watching other matches is that most great players stay really close to the middle of the cue ball.  Very rarely do they use excessive English on long, tough shots.  They don't try to do too much with tough shots.  In fact I've heard more than once during late night pool room conversations how trying to get too much out of a shot caused a miss and a lost game or set.  Sometimes just making the shot and taking what the table gives you is the smart play.

I just finished this article in the plane heading to the BCA Convention in Las Vegas and then off to Atlanta for 5 days of a pool seminar at Johnny Archer's room in Marietta!  I think I'm in pool heaven.

Good luck and see you on the road!