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trans9x9.gif (820 bytes) We will cover many topics here, so if you have ideas about what you would like to see, please drop us an email.
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Yet another fun game to get away from the norm. This month we discuss two really fun and interesting multiple player pool games. The conclusion to last months feature, quite funny.
Special interview with Women's Amateur Pool League operator.

Backyard Pool: The Official Rules


Most of you have seen the Wednesday night ABC offering "The Drew Carey Show." Many of you know all the words to "Moon Over Parma." Heck, a few of you even know where Parma is. However, it has come to my attention that the game of pool that is played by the Cleveland gang in the backyard is an unstructured melee, with no sense of comfortable order as is provided by a set of official rules. Therefore, I am hereby offering a set of regulations for the game henceforth known as Backyard Pool.


Backyard Pool--Definition: Backyard pool is categorized as any billiards contest played on a table located in an area where the players are likely to be pelted with hail, rain, snow, sleet, or UV rays. (Note: there is a bar in Amarillo, Texas that has a table where all of these conditions are likely to occur, often within the same hour. The roof has a big enough hole in it that a player known as Panhandle Jack was once sucked out by a passing tornado. However, in the interest of preserving the game’s integrity, we will refrain from designating this unusual circumstance as Backyard Pool.)


Number of players: BP may be played by an indefinite number of participants at any one time. The actual number is limited only by the amount of beer on hand. When the beer runs out, the game is generally relocated, often to an indoor site with access to more brewskies. In this case, the rules of conventional billiards will apply.


Order of play: The fifteen balls are racked in a triangle shape, with the apex of the triangle on the foot spot. The players lag for break, with the remaining competitors shooting in descending order depending on ascending blood alcohol level.


Object of game: The goal of the game is to sink as many balls as possible during an infrequent spate of good Cleveland weather. When precipitation begins to fall, play may be continued at the shooter’s option. If a shooter elects to stop play, he or she has conceded the game. Shots are called, of course. No slop here!


Fouls: (1) Scratches [Hey, just because you’re outside, you can’t just be scratching yourself. There may be ladies present]. (2) Shooting out of order. (3) Drinking the last beer. (4) Deliberately dropping leaves, sticks, rocks, concrete blocks, or boards onto the table during the course of an opponent’s run. (5) Complaining about anything not related to the game at hand. (6) Making derogatory statements about Cleveland, the Indians, the Cuyahoga River, Lake Erie, bowling, or rock and roll. (7) Failing to make at least one derogatory statement per hour about Art Modell.

If, in the course of play, a bird defecates upon the table surface, play may be suspended while cleanup measures are taken. If a flock of blackbirds is in the trees overhead, it is suggested that a tarp be temporarily installed over the players.

If a player notices that the beer is running low and fails to take appropriate action, he or she is obligated to call a foul upon him or herself. If he or she calls this foul, the other players are to chip in to buy some more, and the offending player is to go get it. He or she alone is to pay for the pretzels.

If a player breaks, sustains a run, and manages to clear the table, then he or she is declared the winner, being forced to restock the beer alone. It is suggested that fellow competitors shower the victor with lavish, insincere praise, as this may lessen the pain of having to purchase more beer.

Players are required to keep at least one foot on the ground at all times. If there is a lot of mud present, this rule may be amended to read one foot IN the ground.

Shots which are blown off course by gale-force winds may be spotted, if the players are silly enough to continue play amidst gale-force winds.

If a player breaks into a verse of "Cleveland Rocks!" and any fellow competitors fail to join in (as co-leads or as harmonious backup), then said player is allowed ball-in-hand behind the head line. However, if all fellow competitors DO join in, said player is penalized with a scratch.

A special circumstance exists in case any competitor dares to break into the notorious Randy Newman refrain. In case this heinous event occurs, the other competitors are allowed to pelt the offending player with chalk cubes until he or she apologizes. The offending player is then banned from the game for the rest of the night.

Note: Regarding the above, in case the reader doesn’t know, the offensive Randy Newman song is NOT "Short People." It is "Burn On," about the one (I repeat, ONLY one) time that the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. Yeesh, talk about stereotyping . . .


Tip of the Month—Stay loose. If you feel yourself tightening up with nervousness or adrenaline during competition, take a break. Run to the john and try the old splash-cold-water-in-the-face trick. Slip outside and get some fresh air. Do whatever you need to do in five minutes to get yourself relaxed and back in form.

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Baseball and Golf


Pool is the ultimate diversion, right? "Of course!" you cry. I mean, why would anyone want to do anything else (tongue firmly in cheek)?

Well, the fact is that some folks prefer playing baseball or golf. In case you’ve never given these particular distractions a try, here’s how they go:



It takes a special rack of balls to play this game. You need 21 balls numbered 1-21 in a triangle shaped rack. The balls are arranged with the one at the apex and the two and three at the left and right corners respectively. The rest of the balls can be racked randomly.

The rack is placed with the one at the foot spot ("home plate"). One player breaks and counts the total point score of all pocketed balls. The higher the value of the pocketed ball, the more "runs" are scored. If a player pockets any balls on the break, he keeps shooting. Subsequent shots are called. Any additional balls pocketed on a shot are counted as long as the called ball is pocketed.

The player continues to shoot until he misses or scratches. This constitutes his first "inning." His opponent then takes his first "at bat." When nine innings are played, the higher score wins. Each inning’s total runs are marked down.

If a player runs out, the balls are reracked. If he scratches (never a good idea!), then that inning is marked as zero runs scored. If he scratches and has not yet pocketed a ball, then his next called shot (in the next inning) is spotted at home plate and not figured into that inning’s score. Any ball sunk on a scratch is immediately spotted.

As you can see, the score can mount quickly. The best strategy is to sink the highest pointed balls. Just don’t end a 44 run inning with a scratch!

The official rules state that the nine ball should be placed near the center of the rack. It is called the "pitcher." However, it has no further significance during the course of play. If you like, though, you could assign a special point value to it, say 25, just to juice up the game. After all, the biggest problem with baseball is its boring pace, right?



Golf is actually a snooker game. It is played with two or more opponents, with four being a good number. It is played on a snooker table with the yellow through black balls, but there’s no reason why it could not also be played on a standard "American" table with actual numbered balls.

In case you don’t know, and if you missed my column on snooker (Aargh! How could you?), here is the order of the numbered balls:







Players draw numbers out of a shake bottle to determine order of play. The lowest numbered player is first to play, and his object ball is the yellow "two" ball. The next player gets the green "three," and so on. The object is to place your object ball in each of the six pockets in numerical order. The pockets are numbered (looking from the head of the table) as the one pocket at the near right corner, the two being the near left corner, and the rest proceeding around the table in clockwise motion.

The two ball is spotted on the foot spot, and player #1 shoots from the "D" (or from the near center of the head line on an American table). He attempts to pocket the ball in "hole" number one. If he makes it, the ball is respotted and he attempts to put it in hole #2 from where the cueball comes to rest. If he misses, player #2 spots his object ball on the foot spot and shoots from the D. Once all players have entered the game, the cueball is shot from wherever it comes to rest.

Adding to the game’s mystique is the threat of receiving "hickeys" from your opponents. Those British terms are great, aren’t they?

A hickey is picked up by committing a foul. Fouls include pocketing your object ball in the wrong pocket, scratching, hitting another player’s object ball, or touching the cueball or object balls with anything other than the cue tip. If a player scratches and "snookers" his opponent with any other object balls (prevents a clear shot at his own object ball), then (and only then) the blocking ball or balls may be marked and removed from the table until the shot is completed.

After a player successfully sinks his object ball in all six holes, he is then declared the winner. The losing players owe the winner the point values of their hickeys. If you’re playing for a nickel per hickey, for example, then player B’s ten hickeys will net the winner fifty cents. The winner’s hickeys are not counted.

If a player follows an opponent who scratches, he can shoot in any direction from the D.

This game seems a little complicated, but it’s lots of fun, especially when played by four or more. Just make sure that if you’re playing in a rough looking bar, you don’t holler too loudly "I’m giving you a hickey!"

So, the next time that your date insists upon spending an evening out doing something besides shooting pool, why not suggest a little baseball or golf?

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Lem and the Stick, Part 2


Last month: Seventy-something Memphis Lem, while whipping the pants off of me in nine-ball, is telling me the story of his homemade stick that he cracked while making a hard break. He discovered that the stick, which now made a sick "twang" with every shot, was a potent weapon that, while still shooting true, was a major distraction to his opponents. One day, however, his hustle backfired. The story follows . . .

"Yeah, me and that stick made a nice living for a while. Everybody wanted a shot at me, figgerin’ that I was gonna end up with a splintered piece of maple in the middle of a money match. Thing is, that ole stick was so well made that I coulda shot it forever.

"I’m playin’ a fella name of Fat Ricky in Brooklyn one night, and I’m stringin’ him along just fine. Meantime, that twangin’ stick is gettin’ on everybody’s nerves.

"Well, I finally send Ricky home, minus about 50 bucks. I take a little break at this point, to ‘take care of business,’ so to speak. When I get back, there’s this tall skinny guy givin’ my stick the once-over. He ain’t touchin’ it, mind you, just eyeballin’ it laying there.

" ‘Name’s Memphis Lem’ I sez. ‘They call me Stoney’ he tells me. ‘I hear you play a mean game of pool with that homemade stick.’

" ‘Well, I make a shot every now and then. Wanna shoot a game?’

" ‘Sure. Want to make it interesting?’

" ‘What you got in mind?’

" ‘How about I put up a thousand bucks?’

" ‘Well, Buddy, I can’t cover that right now.’ This guy was makin’ me a little nervous, the way he looked right at me when I talked.

" ‘You don’t need cash. It’s my grand against your stick.’

"I had to think for a minute. But only for a minute. ‘Make it two outa three nine-ball and you’re on.’ Even if he surprised me, I could take anybody two outa three.

" ‘Done. You break.’

"I watched him rack the balls nice and tight. At least I thought he did. I smacked the diamond, but the nine stayed put. I sank the five, though, and went to work.

"The one was on the rail, two feet from the corner. I nailed it, and left shape for a two-nine combo. I went for it and missed. It was a good miss, though, nine in the middle of the end rail.

"Well, Stoney proceeded to kiss in the two, run the three into the eight, and clean the table. Now I’m down one game to none. Oh well, I’d just hafta make sure he didn’t shoot again after his next miss.

"I racked the balls and managed to drop my stick against the table right as he’s linin’ up. Man, it just echoed like a pistol shot. Stoney, though, he just calmly broke and pocketed the one and the seven.

"Stoney tried a shot that took real guts. He lined up on the two by the far rail and tried to bank it back into the nine sitting tight on the head rail. Only a fool would try it. Well, he pops that two just right, and it comes back and hits that nine head on. The nine heads away towards the far pocket. Derned if it didn’t stop about a half inch away from the hole.

"The two was touching the eight near the middle of the table. I didn’t really have a clean shot. So, I figger I kill two birds with one stone. I reared back and slammed into that two with stop spin. The cueball hit the brakes, but that eight and two caromed off wild and ended up knocking nearly every ball on the table around. The nine fell in, of course.

"The other bird that I tried to kill was to make a louder twang than that poolroom was used to hearing. Sure enough, the whole place ground to a halt for a second while I was gettin’ these mean looks from all the pigeons that I’d already skinned.

"Stoney just smiled and set em up again. I popped the rack and did a ladies break.

"He started a run and got down to the seven ball. He had a decent shot at a combo to nail the nine. I looked at my ole stick that I’m about to lose and decide that it’s time to get serious. While he’s linin’ up that combo, I bumped a rack full of cues and send it tumblin’. Man, it sounded like World War III.

"It scared the crap out of everybody in the joint except Stoney. He nailed the shot, and I lost my cue.

"I ran into him a couple of weeks later. He offered to sell me the stick back for a hundred bucks. I looked it over, it was still cherry.

" ‘That’s a great stick’ I sez. ‘How come you don’t want it?’

" ‘I liked the feel. Nobody could stand for me to use it, though. It had a crack in the wood that made a horrible noise every time I shot. I had it fixed, but it lost its feel.’

"I was strokin’ practice shots, and I liked the new feel even better. ‘You mean you didn’t notice that sound while we was playin’?

" ‘I guess you didn’t know. They call me Stoney because I’m stone deaf.’

"So there ya go. I can’t lose with that stick against anyone who can hear that twang. I get killed by a lip reader who can’t hear a blessed noise."


Tip of the Month—Keep plenty of spare tips in your case. If you need a new one during a big match, you’ll be glad you did.

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I'm speaking with Donna Bonfrancesco the operator and founder of the new "Women's Amateur Pool League". Donna sent MABN an email and I felt the new league would be of interest to our female audience, so I set up this interview.

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MABN: What prompted the idea of a new and all female league?
DB: It was simply an idea that came out of an APA City Tournament. Some women pool shooters got together and something magical happened. We were all tired of the politics of other leagues, paying $20 a year, paying $5 a week, and at the end of the year getting nothing. Not to mention the discrimination towards the women pool shooters by using the 19 rule.
MABN: What do you mean the 19 rule?
DB: The all women's teams aren't like the mixed teams. The mixed teams have a Maximum handicap of 23 but the all women teams are maxed out at 19.
MABN: What's the result?
DB: It hold's the women back or splits the teams up as they improve, encouraging sandbagging.
MABN: So how does your league prevent sandbagging?
DB: There are no handicaps, it's a scratch league.
MABN: There must be some terrific players there. What about the ladies that are not as skilled or are just starting out?
DB: We do have some of the most skilled women shooters in the area on the league but we are teaching the new ladies how to shoot. Our goal is to encourage women to shoot to their highest abilities. I even coach players on the other team if they need it. We would like the league to grow and expand and we need ladies of all skill levels to make that happen. There are women in our league that where skill levels 3 and 4 in the APA.
MABN: Do you have any affiliations?
DB: The WAPL is sanctioned by the Billiard Congress of America (BCA). They have been supporting the sport since 1948. They have a national tournament in Las Vegas the month of May, membership is $15 a year.
MABN: So how does it all work?
DB: The teams consist of 5-8 players. We play 15 matches a night and it will cost a team $25 a week to shoot ($5 per person), this money goes towards the Las Vegas fund and other prizes (trophies, t-shirts, giveaways, etc…). Each player plays a different player on the opposing team each round. Each player (5 per night) will play 3 games. In scoring, each player receives one point for each of her group of balls pocketed, plus 3 points for the 8-ball. Thus, a win is always worth 10 points, while a loss can never be worth more than 7 points to the opponent. If a player prematurely pockets the 8-ball or scratches while pocketing the 8-ball, the opponent receives 10 points automatically. The losing player receives one point for each ball that she pocketed during the game. At the conclusion of all three rounds, you will total the columns to get a final score.
MABN: How will the power structure work? Is it a democracy, monarchy or dictatorship?
DB: Ha ha . It's non-of the above. There will be a committee made up of one member from every team to promote fairness. This team is crucial to the league. Ideas, grievances, rule change suggestions, and an overall attempt to make improvements are what will come out of the committee meetings. The WAPL is our league, so we can make it anyway we want. Involving everyone is the only way we can succeed.
MABN: Donna it's been a pleasure and we at MABN wish you the best of luck. How do ladies that are interested in your league contact you?
DB: Maybe you can give me a link to my email address?
MABN: OK, surfers interested in the WAPL can send Donna an email at
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