US Amateur Pool Championship, football pool, storylines

To donate to the Andrew Wolf Memorial Bursary Fund, please go here: http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=9420

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Where do I start? Well, let’s start with Saturday. So last Friday, my good friend Lai played in the U.S. Amateur Pool Championship out at Galaxy Billiards in Silver Spring. Now, I’ve always been around the area of Silver Spring, but I never got around to playing at Galaxy Billiards, so I was really looking forward to seeing how the place is. I left my house around 10 so I could head up there, ran into a little bit of volume on 495, but otherwise, it wasn’t too tough getting there. As soon as I made it to Galaxy Billiards, Lai came in through the other door. Now, this was the first time I’ve seen her since I graduated from college, so it was obviously a big thing for me. We went around the pool hall, with Lai introducing me to some of the random nomadic pool sharks in the room, and then she wanted to play a few games to warm up. I was going to let her go practice for the tournament, but at one point, I was at the table facing one of the regulars in a game. Now, I haven’t been seriously playing pool for a couple of months now, and I don’t think I’ve played against anyone in pool in about half a year, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But somehow, I managed to get enough strategic and technical wherewithal to win the game. It felt good, but it also felt surreal that I was even able to compete after being away so long, a few more warm up games for Lai, and then she went to a player’s meeting, where the rules and tournament structure was explained to them.

Then the tournament began. Being that Lai was one of the favorites in the pool hall (strictly based on her level of skill and her passion for the game), she played in one of the three feature tables in every round of the tournament she was in. In the first round, she played against a woman from New Jersey who was very talented and very deliberately with her shots. However, she couldn’t find the momentum, and Lai won the match 5 games to 2. It’s also worth noting that every match in the women’s draw is a race to 5 – a player must win 5 games out of 9 to advance. In the second round, Lai was playing against a player that she was very familiar with, and identified her as a strong league player. However, in their match, her opponent just didn’t seem comfortable with the tournament atmosphere, and Lai took that match, 5 games to 1. The third round was where things started getting challenging for Lai, and she was defeated by her opponent. Since it was a double elimination tournament, she did play a match later that night, but by that time, fatigue started to set in. She was clearly frustrated with the way she played, but I thought that for the first big tournament experience, she did well. There were parts where she was in noticeable jams and still managed to win the games. But I know that winning the tournament and a trip to the national championship would be a dream come true for Lai as well, given how much she loves the game. I think that now that she has experience with the big tournament, she can come back better and readier next time. It’s never easy telling someone to wait for next year, but I really think that with this experience, she’ll be able to handle the pressure, especially the feature table pressure, a lot better.

During the match, multiple guests appeared for Lai. Her boyfriend Matt (also a league player) showed up a little toward the end of the second match, and Lai’s friend Nicole from Virginia showed up during match 3. After the tournament, we were all pretty much starving. We had been on our feet and scavenging around Galaxy Billiards for about 10-11 hours by that point, and we really needed something to eat. Given that I knew the area like the back of my hand from all the meetings I had with Stephanie, I knew just about every food place in the area. We ended up going to a place called Thai at Silver Spring, which had some really great food when our stomachs were just about aching for it. We talked about anything and everything at the dinner table (a lot of which I’m probably not at liberty to mention here on my blog), and it was a great way to end the night. I really want to do it again sometime, but hopefully not taking a year and a half to do it like this time.

Ever since that Saturday, I really haven’t been in the mood to play pool. Usually, when someone says that, it means that they’re fed up with whatever it is; it usually denotes something negative. But in my case, I just feel like I’ve had my fill of pool after a 10-hour excursion, and playing some high-level pool on such little time at the table. I felt so out of practice, but somehow, just the challenge of playing good players like Lai and Matt really helped me bring my game from the depths. So it was fun, but I think I’ll stay away from the table for a little while and take the time to focus on other things.

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The next day, I woke up (deservingly late), had some breakfast, and got myself ready for the upcoming Redskins game, where I was playing in a company football pool. For those who aren’t aware of it, a football pool is that like 10 x 10 grid that you see some football crazy people pass around sometime with names inside of the boxes on the grid. The idea behind it is that people choose squares from the 10 x 10 grid and place money on them, and when the grid is full, numbers from 1-10 are placed at random at the beginning of each row and column. So each square will have two numbers attached to them: one from the column (in this case, the column representing the Houston Texans) and one from the row (representing the Redskins). If the last numbers in the score match up to the numbers in your square on the grid by the end of a quarter, you win 1/4 of the total pot. I had great position in this pool (Redskins: 0, Texans: 7), and at the end of the second quarter, the score was Redskins – 20, Texans – 7, and I raked in the second quarter pot. Of course, as I mentioned in the previous entry, a lot of the winnings will go toward the Andrew Wolf Memorial Bursary Fund, as a gesture of solidarity to those who knew him, including my sister and her co-workers.

But overall, it was a great weekend, and I hope that more great weekends are coming now that golf weather is slowly rolling in =]

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I’m putting together a new playlist, maybe even to make a story out of it, but this one seems even darker than the playlist from season two of the Song of the Week (for those who knew about the Song of the Week). I was basically picking the most discordant songs I had in my library, and I’m trying to make a really complex character out of it. If anything, I’ll write a story for it, but I don’t believe I’ll use it for the third season. I have another thing in mind for that, but I’ll have to think of a really good plotline! It’s crazy because the two stories are polar opposites of each other. One’s really lighthearted and uses many different sounds, and the other is probably one hour where the listener feels on edge the entire time without any relief and even multiple endings.

Well, that’s all the updating I have for now. I’m gonna go take a shower, and probably head for bed once I dry off. I hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

– Danny

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