WHEN TO RUN THE ALLEY!!
Ever notice how when some one runs the alley and is successful it seems to turn the momentum of the game around! Dale Williams was so good at it in his prime that players still block the alley on him in respect. It can be the difference between winning a Championship and not winning. Last year I won the Summer National Singles by using it in a critical situation in the deciding game. Don Clovis had played a great tournament and we were playing under the lights before a big crowd. He cleared my hide and rolled a St Pete hide for himself, I needed an extra block to have a chance to win so I saved his St Pete for later use by going out on the board and forcing him to clear. On my last shot I ran the alley and made it, it was the key shot leading to the Championship. I wish I could say that it always works but let me tell you the other side. A few years ago I was playing Mel Erb for the Florida State Singles Championship and I had the same situation only when I went on the board to save the St Pete for later use, wouldn’t you know it, he shot me in the kitchen and I couldn’t get out. Mel’s not known as a kitchen player but he was that time and won the Championship, I never got to run the alley! You do need to learn to run the alley because you will need it and it my give you your only chance when you most need it.
Never give up! Games and matches have a way of turning around. When you win it’s important to remember you may not be as good as you looked and your opponent may not be as bad as he looked. Sometimes only a shot here or a shot there makes a game look lopsided, if you get a big head and get careless that big lead my disappear and you’ll be the one going home. Last season a team had my partner, Stan Williamson and myself down 52 to 93 in the hole, they drew a big crowd because they were in the process of punishing one of the games most successful teams and everyone wanted to see it. Well they saw it all right. They wouldn’t stop playing kitchen, even when they had 68 and the hammer, wouldn’t you know it we got two of their’s in the kitchen and the crowd saw it all right, we came back and won the game, you could have heard a pin drop. It can happen!!
Have you ever seen a great player who changed his game and all of a sudden they become just average? Lofty Haskim was an outstanding amateur when I started to play the game. I used to think if only I could be as good as Lofty, I’d win some tournaments. He was a great board clearer and then one season Skip McCoy moved to Winter Haven where Lofty was playing. Now Skip was one of the all-time great shot makers, spent a good deal of his life as a pool hustler, and carried it over to Shuffleboard. Lofty played with him a lot and really wanted to play the same type of game; he still tries but never reached that great potential. I see the same thing in Rich Dwelley, a new pro from Clearwater; I wonder what will happen. The point is, if you are good at some part of the game “stick with it” and add the other parts. Earl Ball 2006 08 09.