November 20, 2009

Playing down

Posted in 8-ball - pool not narcotics, Nerdiness, The How, The Why, The WTF at 10:08 am by Dagny Taggart

Not that I have the opportunity all that often, given that I’m of Fairly Low Ranking myself, but last night, both of my matches were played against the same player – who is ranked one level lower than me.

I much, much prefer playing higher-ranked players.  I’d rather play someone in the top two rankings than someone closer to my own level.  And for a while, I thought the reason I tended to play well during such matches was because I wasn’t expected to win, there was less pressure, so I could relax and enjoy myself.

Playing a highly ranked player, I could get on the 8 in 3-4 turns at the table – the downside being that they could normally get on the 8 in 1-2 turns at the table.  But last night, the number of turns it took me to get on the 8 was a multiple of that estimate, and the number of tries it took to actually sink the 8 was laughably high.

So clearly, this is an aspect of my mental game that I need to work on – I should be playing my best game regardless of how my opponent is playing. 

This situation got me thinking about other aspects of my life, too.  Do I subconsciously alter the way I do things depending on context?  And if so, is this a bad thing?



  1. Brian said,

    I think we all do, to one degree or another. We’re adaptive creatures, for whom context holds a great deal of importance. You don’t dress (or likely behave) in exactly the same manner at home or with your friends as you do at work, right? It’s because of context. Even the most consistent person on the planet will shift, even slightly, depending on the environment. Cocktail party vs. dive bar, etc.

    It’s not a bad thing, it’s a survival skill. I pity the people who don’t, really.

  2. Lisa said,

    I agree. I think we all do better when we’re challenged, whether we realize it or not.

  3. Having played competitive pool for way too many years, I am absolutely certain that I play to the level of my opponents. I wish that I didn’t but it is something of an immutable fact of my game… and something that keeps my number artificially lower than most of my higher ranked opponents think it should be.

    If you identify the solution for this, please bottle it for me. I will pay handsomely for the magic elixir.

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