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Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practice!

Postby Dan-cat

Those that are paying attention or give a Tom will have noticed that I decamped to Spain since mid-Sept 2019, I’ve been here nearly 4 months at the time of this post.

I've made a great new friend in Ryan, another son on the bum, English boys on the run from failed relationships. I say boys, but I'm 46, and he's 29, and we share some common loves. Girls. Sweet MJ. House music. Pool. Trippy drugs.

We've been playing pool almost every day, for at least an hour. We play in a variety of places around the area, and switch between American style and English 8 ball tables.

A couple of weeks ago we traveled an hour to the resort of Xabia in search of pastures new. It's quite upscale compared to the other places we hang out, reminds me of the Ibizan resort Portinax. For me this feels a bit like the world I'm used to, rather than the sleepy backwater two-horse town of Villalonga which is the nearest place to the mountain retreat where I currently reside. It feels more like my kind of stomping ground, there is a lot of English spoken here, settlers from Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and the UK. I had a lousy date in Xabia a few weeks ago, but noticed there was a few pool tables.

We walk into Gemi Bar, having been recommended it by a barman on the promenade, and there it is - a beautifully kept Sam Leisure table, in the centre of the bar. There is something about the placement of the pool table - center stage - that makes me think that we have stumbled into the right place. A bar that appreciates pool. It's an afterthought in most of the places we play at.

During our first game the owner walks over to us and asks us if we are playing Spanish rules. No, I reply, but happy to if you explain?

I'd played Spanish rules a few years ago in a bar in Mercia, while getting smashed on tequila with my sister. Once I’d figured out the rules, I started to rule. I’d won about 8 games in succession until these rough looking guys just took over the table and played each other. I’d protested, and had been hastily taken aside by one of the regulars of the bar saying ‘Leave it. They are gypsies. They will stab you in the street without a thought.’ But since then I hadn’t played and I couldn’t remember the quirky rules.

The owner lays it out. It turns out his first wife had been English, so he had a great command of the language.

‘You pot the black in the opposite pocket to where you pot your last ball. Two shots never carry. If you are on the black, you don’t get two shots, and neither does your opponent. If your opponent pots the white, you can’t use the middle pockets, or hit any balls above the line of the middle pocket, and you can’t shoot back. No free balls.’

- What, even after a foul, and I'm snookered?

- Yup. No free balls.

The rules of 8 ball had been tweaked to make the game last as long as possible. This was Spain after all, where everything took a little longer, and everything was cheap.

The pot-the-black-in-the-opposite-pocket-to-your-last-ball, which is the main tweak, provides a fascinating end game. As you get down to your last couple of balls, you have to think about where you are gonna play the black, and there’s little point potting your last ball in the routine pocket if you don’t have a shot on the black. What you can do, if your opponent has several balls left, is if you can’t make a clear shot happen then send the black towards the intended pocket, and hope the other guy doesn’t clear up before you have a chance to pot it.

Here’s another key point - once you have been assigned your black pocket, your opponent can’t have the same one. So even if he pots in the pocket that would make your black pocket his, it can’t be, so he takes the last pocket he pocketed in. Got it?

The tweaked rules are open to abuse. I found myself at a disadvantage following my opponents fouls, and I’ve grown to love this, begrudgingly. Why? Because it makes you practise shots you just don't usually play.

The idea is that you play in good spirit. In one game my opponent had covered my black pocket, the middle bag, with one of his balls, so I just planted the black onto his ball, his ball went in, and left the black over the bag. It was a risk, but because I was on the black he didn’t get two shots from the foul, and I knew he wasn’t gonna clear up. Sure enough he left me with a dolly shot on the black, but he didn’t look happy.

Look, I’m thinking, if you are gonna add these hair-brained rules then I will take advantage! This was a fair shot!

The owner is paying attention and sees I’m running some games. These players are competent, but they hit the balls so hard! It’s so idiotic. I’ll leave my turn with my balls nicely placed, with a fairly routine check out set up, but by the time I come back to the table, everything has changed. They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace - Christopher Robin went down with Alice. All the balls have moved. What is it? They like the sound of the balls going in hard? Well so do I, but not to the detriment of my position. As I (comparatively) gracefully clear up using slow controlled shots I feel like Willo in comparison. Move the white as little as possible! It’s not rocket science!

He challenges me to a best of three, for beers. Gulp. I’m about to take the owner of the bar on, on his own table, that he must know inside out. He disappears into the back and brings out a very expensive cue. ‘This was 400 Euros,’ he boasts.

But he has the same game as the others. He pots some outrageous balls. But there’s no finesse, no subtlety, and he pots the black accidentally in the wrong pocket after I’d purposefully left him a tricky lie. I easily win two nil, he brings the beers over, and others are queue
ing up to play me. Bring it on. For a few hours there, in that back street bar, I feel a little bit like a star.

The only player who comes close to my game is a young English guy who has lived in the area since he was eleven. There are quite a few like him around - parents who moved from the UK when they were young and they grew up here. He’s a great player and we have an epic battle on the black for 15 minutes.

Since we started playing three months ago Ryan is getting better, and is starting to take the odd game off me. I'm coaching him, and it's a pleasure. When you teach you learn. It's making me re-examine every aspect from my game, from my stance, bridging, to finer subtleties of spin and side, and advanced tactical play.

There is a problem though for him, and that is: I'm getting better. Way, way better. We play everyday. When you do something everyday your skills leap. Long pots seem a cinch, and when I'm down on the shot the feathering and action has become second nature. Muscle memory. I've imparted some hideous defeats on him.

...and as I write this, he's just beaten me 4 nil. Ok, two games he won because I fouled the black (Spanish rules remember) and yes - I play loose sometimes with him. I have to strike the right balance between motivating - playing ace, and not demoralising - not playing like a demon.

I'm proud as buck.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Johnny Bravo

I have played this type of 8 ball game. The tough part consists of the fact that you have to work out which ball you're gonna play last, by taking into account the black's position on the table. As you said, it makes an interesting frame ending if both reach the point where only the 8 ball is left on the table. Sometimes you have to bank it using multiple cushions/rails. I once potted a black of 5 rails.

It is a fun game, but I mostly prefer 9 ball or 10 ball if I play pool, the reason being that these are rotation games that require you to pot the balls in order. Therefore they don't require as much think as 8 ball (especially with Spanish rules), and since I'm a fast player, it's my cup of tea.

Btw Dan, how's the book writing going ?

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Johnny Bravo wrote:I have played this type of 8 ball game. The tough part consists of the fact that you have to work out which ball you're gonna play last, by taking into account the black's position on the table. As you said, it makes an interesting frame ending if both reach the point where only the 8 ball is left on the table. Sometimes you have to bank it using multiple cushions/rails. I once potted a black of 5 rails.

It is a fun game, but I mostly prefer 9 ball or 10 ball if I play pool, the reason being that these are rotation games that require you to pot the balls in order. Therefore they don't require as much think as 8 ball (especially with Spanish rules), and since I'm a fast player, it's my cup of tea.

Btw Dan, how's the book writing going ?


Hello mate. Yeah I've played some outrageous shots to check out... there's a shot off three cushions I can get nearly everytime if the black is over the corner bag. Your five cushion pot sounds epic.

It can be like chess at the end, and I've really grown to love it. When in Rome!

Well I passed my target for the book, have written 77,000 words, but it isn't finished and I've had a few weeks off... that was in early December, I've had some friends over, have been on some adventures, and now I'm writing essays about Spanish pool to get the juices flowing again :-D

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Johnny Bravo

Dan-cat wrote:If anything, this game trains you to think a few shots ahead. You simply can't win unless you can get a shot on the black in the right pocket. So it's actually making me think more about this earlier in the rack.


Yes, I've noticed the same. Btw, I've posted the templates for the Masters. Good luck.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Johnny Bravo

Holden Chinaski wrote:We play this kind of pool in Belgium as well. Very similar rules. I play it a lot but I don't really like it, I prefer the official rules. But most people here like to play what you call Spanish rules. We call it 'café rules' or 'pub rules'...


I also prefer the official rules, but pub rules can also be fun at times.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Holden Chinaski wrote:We play this kind of pool in Belgium as well. Very similar rules. I play it a lot but I don't really like it, I prefer the official rules. But most people here like to play what you call Spanish rules. We call it 'café rules' or 'pub rules'...


Some of the so-called 'official' rules are tweaked to make the games go quicker, so league nights don't go late.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Andre147 wrote:buck sake...

Seems complicated... guess I would need to try it.


Is fun, and tricky, and worthwhile. I've grown to love it.

I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. But it makes you think very carefully about how to check out and I love that. I find myself having to play quite sophisticated shots with side to get on the black in the right pocket, shots I simply wouldn't attempt usually... and when it works... there is nothing more rewarding.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Andre147

Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:[
I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. .

That's why I don't like those rules. They seem created to give bad players a chance of winning against a better player.


Me too.

Play it by the official rules or dont play it at all.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Johnny Bravo

Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:[
I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. .

That's why I don't like those rules. They seem created to give bad players a chance of winning against a better player.


They do level they playing field.
I have a few friends that I demolish if we are playing by official rules. When we play this type of pool, they are almost my equals.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Johnny Bravo wrote:
Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:[
I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. .

That's why I don't like those rules. They seem created to give bad players a chance of winning against a better player.


They do level they playing field.
I have a few friends that I demolish if we are playing by official rules. When we play this type of pool, they are almost my equals.


If you played it enough, you would get better at it.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Andre147 wrote:
Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:[
I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. .

That's why I don't like those rules. They seem created to give bad players a chance of winning against a better player.


Me too.

Play it by the official rules or dont play it at all.


Whose official rules are you talking about?

They are playing official Spanish rules.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Iranu

Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:[
I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. .

That's why I don't like those rules. They seem created to give bad players a chance of winning against a better player.

The Blue Shell of pool.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby SnookerFan

Andre147 wrote:buck sake...

Seems complicated... guess I would need to try it.


Snooker probably sounds complicated to people who don't understand the rules.

The amount of people who ask me the difference between pool and think that the only difference is the size of the table.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby SnookerFan

Dan-cat wrote:
Andre147 wrote:
Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:[
I read Pinkie saying he hates these 'pub' rule tweaks in Ireland as it levels the playing field. It's true, it does. .

That's why I don't like those rules. They seem created to give bad players a chance of winning against a better player.


Me too.

Play it by the official rules or dont play it at all.


Whose official rules are you talking about?

They are playing official Spanish rules.


The thing with pool you play in a pub is that you often come across people who have been taught slightly different rules to you.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Well yes SF each pub, person, region will have variations. Key thing is to establish what rules you are playing before you start.

Yes, if pushed I prefer league UK rules. It defo favours the better player. But here in Spain, where there is more time, for everything, I'm happy to play these rules. It's improving other aspects of my game.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Holden Chinaski

Dan-cat wrote:Well yes SF each pub, person, region will have variations. Key thing is to establish what rules you are playing before you start.

Yes, if pushed I prefer league UK rules. It defo favours the better player. But here in Spain, where there is more time, for everything, I'm happy to play these rules. It's improving other aspects of my game.

I love Spain. I like flamenco music as well. El Niño Miguel was my favourite guitar player. He lived in Huelva. Struggled with schizophrenia and drug addiction. But he was a genius on the guitar.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby rekoons

Dan-cat wrote: I find myself having to play quite sophisticated shots with side to get on the black in the right pocket, shots I simply wouldn't attempt usually... and when it works... there is nothing more rewarding.


Playing with side is so tricky... I know how it works (how to compensate for the new potting angle) and how to apply it, but it's so bucking difficult to judge the amount of side, the weight/speed, and the potting angle that I only use side when the object ball is nearly over the pocket and I can't miss :-D



Dan-cat wrote:Those that are paying attention or give a Tom will have noticed that I decamped to Spain since mid-Sept 2018, I’ve been here nearly 4 months at the time of this post.


Shouldn't that be mid-Sept 2019?

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

rekoons wrote:
Dan-cat wrote: I find myself having to play quite sophisticated shots with side to get on the black in the right pocket, shots I simply wouldn't attempt usually... and when it works... there is nothing more rewarding.


Playing with side is so tricky... I know how it works (how to compensate for the new potting angle) and how to apply it, but it's so bucking difficult to judge the amount of side, the weight/speed, and the potting angle that I only use side when the object ball is nearly over the pocket and I can't miss :-D



My pool coach Rico Dix completely changed the way I play with side. I had this habit of playing to the very extreme right or left, and I think was striking across the white, thinking you had to do this to get a decent amount of side, a bit like how to play a really good screw shot you have to play very low on the cueball. He said to me one day 'just a tip of side' and so I adjusted, and just hit literally one tip's worth across. The white doesn't bend as much, and you have much more control, and they go in more. You still get plenty of action on the white.

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Dan-cat

Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:Well yes SF each pub, person, region will have variations. Key thing is to establish what rules you are playing before you start.

Yes, if pushed I prefer league UK rules. It defo favours the better player. But here in Spain, where there is more time, for everything, I'm happy to play these rules. It's improving other aspects of my game.

I love Spain. I like flamenco music as well. El Niño Miguel was my favourite guitar player. He lived in Huelva. Struggled with schizophrenia and drug addiction. But he was a genius on the guitar.


I'm very fond of the place, yes :-D

...and now watching videos of El Niño

Re: Spanish Rules 8 Ball - so much fun and great for practic

Postby Holden Chinaski

Dan-cat wrote:
Holden Chinaski wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:Well yes SF each pub, person, region will have variations. Key thing is to establish what rules you are playing before you start.

Yes, if pushed I prefer league UK rules. It defo favours the better player. But here in Spain, where there is more time, for everything, I'm happy to play these rules. It's improving other aspects of my game.

I love Spain. I like flamenco music as well. El Niño Miguel was my favourite guitar player. He lived in Huelva. Struggled with schizophrenia and drug addiction. But he was a genius on the guitar.


I'm very fond of the place, yes :-D

...and now watching videos of El Niño

This one is great:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwQQQFarw0Y

There are also videos of him playing guitars with only 2 or 3 strings, because he was poor... Still played great with two strings. But one time he had it all. Success was there.. Paco De Lucia said he was a genius... But he had mental problems and struggled with drug addiction...