"Thorne at first did not seem to realise the magnitude of his mistake; Davis played like a man released from prison."
I would beat Clyde 70% of the time in a race to 5, I'd say. He's very solid but I'm that little bit better at getting myself out of trouble. But this was a really high pressure night. We were 2-2 on matches; we needed a tie-break to get into the second round of the playoffs and a shot at $250 or more each. I'd struggled through my first match, won hill-hill (which was 6-3 due to the handicapping system) having been 3-2 down, but really pulled it out when it counted. But against Clyde: straight on my last ball before the 8 in the first frame: missed. Complicated but makeable cut on my last ball in the second game: made it but scratched in the far corner pocket. 3-0 down. At 3-2, just off straight -- a perfect angle -- on the 1 into the side to roll onto the long rail and off for straight on the 8; missed the 1. At 4-3, who knows what happened, but he ended up with four plain-ball shots for the run-out, and that was our playoffs adventure over for the year.
Oh, the clutch gene, where do I go to get you grafted on?
There are always the two same answers. Do drills. Play for money. Playing for money gives experience with pressure. Doing drills tells you what it feels like when you're doing it right. But you can't just get the clutch gene grafted in. You have to build up muscle memory so deeply that you can't get it wrong, and pattern spotting so instinctive that when the run-out's there it seems natural.
Shouts out to Michael Reddick, whose Angle of Reflection blog chronicles his attempt to be a pro player and all the tools, drills and thought processes he's bringing to the task. Unlike snooker, being a pro at pool means "being that good" rather than "making a living at it". There are very few livings in pool, but Michael and I and others are driven to get as much better at it as we can. I will be doing a lot of Michael's drills before the next league season starts.