Second Place is the First Loser- Adventures in Sydney
Before I begin this blog, let me disclose how competitive I am.
I never thought of myself, personally, as a competitive person. I thought I was just supporting a competitive husband and daughter. However, now that I am no longer married and my daughter is grown and gone, I have come to realize that I don’t like to lose, and that I consider most circumstances to be competitions. I hope I have learned to lose gracefully, and take each loss in stride, but I still don’t like it.
While on the Brisbane layover leg of our Sydney excursion, I wandered down to the basement bar/restaurant in our hostel with the promise of a $10.00 two for one meal. I ordered a drink and walked over to order food, only to be told that the kitchen was overwhelmed and food would take an hour. I spotted a pool table in the corner and found a space on the neighboring bench to watch the players.
I was immediately impressed with the level of play and decided that watching would be better than making a fool of myself by challenging the table. However, a young man soon came over and asked if I wanted to join the competition. There was no entry fee to the tournament and the prize was $100.00, so I threw caution to the wind.
I guess I should interject at this point that I know a thing or two about playing pool. My ex-husband was a very good player, but didn’t have the temperament to be a serious competitor. We discovered that our daughter Juliette had an excellent competitive temperament when she picked up a pool stick at the age of nine. In her first tournament she placed fourth, then she won her second. She started shooting with juniors on the national level at age ten. By 14, she was a national champion. I spent at least four nights a week watching pool and coaching my daughter.
I lucked out my first round when my competition vanished. I got the privilege of watching all the other players and judging their skills. I played a very good player my first game, and acted like leaving him without a shot was just dumb luck. At that point, I started chatting with a guy named Justin, who became my cheerleader. I won the next several rounds the same way, by playing smart but acting dumb. Before I knew it, I was in the finals!
I was impressed by my German opponents’ skill, and knew he would probably win. The game came down to the final few balls. I was told earlier about the two shot rule; that fouls resulted in the opposing player getting two shots, even if they missed. They never said that sinking the other player’s ball, even if it was the result of a legal shot, was a foul. My opponent’s ball was sitting in the corner pocket, blocking the path of the eight ball, so I shot my ball into it and left it sitting in the pocket. This is a legal strategic play in America, but a foul in Australia.
He then went on to pocket the rest of the balls on the table, but left the eight ball sitting in the side pocket. I didn’t have a great shot on my only remaining ball, so I played a perfect defensive shot that left my ball between the eight ball and the cue ball. The German boy made a very good kick shot into the end rail and smoothly pocketed the eight.
I hope I left graciously. I gave him a good hand shake with a smile plastered on my face and quickly retreated to my room. I could have used that $100.00, but at least I can say I competed in Australia.