The Club Handicap



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Last night was an interesting night for me as after our weekly league match, the team decided to hold an impromptu £5 a man handicap competition.

Earlier in the evening, I had made the decision to drop myself in the team due to the fact that I had lost my previous weeks match and as captain. I feel that it is important not to show bias or favouritism, especially to myself. So I was not in a confident frame of mind, however I decided to enter as it would be good match practise and might build up some much-needed confidence for the rest of the season. 

My first frame was a tense affair, as you are no doubt aware, no one likes to go out in the first match. I played my friend Chris who was expected to beat me even though we were playing off our league handicaps which, theoretically gave everyone an equal chance of winning.

The game came down to the pink, which I landed almost perfect onto positional wise after cutting in an extremely thin blue into a corner pocket, this shot required some positional fortune as the white ball travelled three times across the table, such was the angle on the blue.

Potting the pink, knowing that it was match ball was made significantly easier due to arriving straight on it into the middle pocket.

I was delighted to get through the first round and decided that anything from now on was a bonus, perhaps the ideal frame of mind to approach the final.

It was at this point that I realised that our match was in fact the semi-final as we had secured a bye, by virtue of the fact that their were six of us in the competition.

I had a little time to watch my other friend Marcel as he made progress through the very latter stages of his first round match with another team-mate, Zak. In my opinion, Marcel was second favourite for this game, but produced a good performance, notching up a thirty plus clearance in the bargain.

Marcel then played “Johnny Walker” in the semi-final with the rest of the team standing around watching, at this point I would like to tell you something about “Johnny’s” victory against Jim, but as you might gather, I had my own match to play, so never saw a ball struck.

Returning to the match that I did see. “Johnny” had chances but on the day Marcel managed to scrape home on the pink after some nip and tuck stuff earlier in the frame.

So the final was between myself and Marcel, earlier in the evening Marcel and I had practised together off league handicap as a preliminary to the match which was due to start a couple of hours later. I did quite well in this practise session, but was well aware that Marcel is capable of turning up the heat, especially when money is on the table.

I enjoyed the final very much and if I am honest felt a little surge of adrenaline, which seemed to help me focus.

I was receiving sixteen start as Marcel is a good performer in the league and has steadily improved his handicap over the past couple of seasons.

I got in first and made a sixteen break and then ran for cover in true “old man” style. The game followed this pattern until I found myself fifty in front. I thought at this point “If you lose now, you have only yourself to blame”, it was due to this thought that I first felt a little pressure.

Marcel picked up the tempo at this point and knocked in a nice, seventeen break. The break was better than it sounds, due to me having deliberately sent the big colours away from their spots; He had to manoeuvre the cue ball from one end of the table to make the break.

Inevitably this frame was a frame dominated by safety play as many one frame matches are. But I feel that we both attacked the game in a positive manner when chances did present them selves.

I held on nursing my lead, by making sure of potting a red into a centre pocket and potting a black that had been missed by one of us, that now rested over a corner pocket, adding additional pressure to the red by being so inviting where it sat. I potted another red, which was the last but one and then played safe yet again. At this point Marcel needed a Snooker to win, he gallantly tried but I managed to scrape home and claim the prize after a slice of luck Snookering him on the green while attempting a pot into the left hand black pocket.

I collected my cash, while the team discussed in stage whispers, what a shock result it had been and how the captain should lead by example and other choice comments.

It’s a funny thing but playing friends for money is a mixed feeling situation, of course, I was pleased to win, but having watched them play countless frames over the years can honestly say that I would have enjoyed the evening just as much If one of them had won.

You know that I would never lie to you, don’t you, gentle reader.

David Smith
Top Spot Handicap Snooker Champion 2001

With all the appropriate, modesty that I can muster!

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