|Turning Stone Champion Mika Immonen with runner up Erik Hjorleifson January 2016.|
By: Erik Hjorleifson
Hello everyone I have been on a bit of a hiatus from my instructional column. I can assure you that my instructional mind has not been on break and I hope to bring you some great new content in the next few months. Today I would like to talk about a new skill which mainly applies to professional events, but for amateurs at the very least I hope they will be able to take away some viewing knowledge from this article. Up until recently playing 9 ball with the 9 ball racked on the spot was something that was only seen in Matchroom Sport events. As of 2016 the U.S. open and the World 9 ball Championships have also chosen to adopt this rule change.
The spirit of the rule is to stop the corner ball in the rack (wing ball) from going straight in the pocket. Logically it would make sense because the rack is much higher so you would assume the corner ball would tend to hit the side rail rather than going in the corner pocket. Before I go forward lets remind ourselves that the goal of breaking in any pool game is to hit the rack in a way the same balls in the rack are consistently being pocketed.
What has been seen since the implementation of this rule is that it is still possible to make the corner ball in the rack but you must cut the break. In other words send the cue ball to the side rail in order to make the corner ball. Here's where it differs from having the 1 ball on the spot, assuming using a magic rack or the balls are racked perfectly you can almost hit the rack in any way and the wing ball will still go in. Conversely with the 9 on the spot the contact point on the 1 ball becomes very specific, here are some things that are imperatively important to achieve consistent results when breaking with the 9 on the spot.
#1 You must cut the rack in order to make the corner ball
# 2 In order to achieve maximum separation after hitting the rack the cue ball must hit
between the middle diamond of the side rail and the diamond closest to the side pocket
#3 at this previous contact point the one ball also tends to go in the side pocket most consistently
#4 the contact point on the one ball is at about a half ball angle, angling towards the rail
#5 if you cut the rack to much or in other words the cue ball is going towards the corner pocket to much the balls on the same side of the rack that you are breaking from can jam in the corner pocket on the same side and negative results will occur.
#6 this is all assuming using a magic rack or the balls are racked perfectly.
Here is an example of a well executed break on the 9 on the spot.
First break is at 3:12, watch the replays to see exactly how the cue ball moves in the seconds following. Looks easy but it is definitely not, very contact point specific. I will say it again if you hit this break square like you would with the 1 on the spot nothing like this will ever happen.
As a side note, when Matchroom Sport first started racking with the 9 on the spot they implemented the "three balls past the head-string" rule. In the past few years they have gone back to 9 on the spot without the 3 balls rule because they found that players were having a hard time achieving the a legal break. To the best of my knowledge the W.P.A (World Pool Association) will be using the 3 balls past the head-string rule at the world championships this year, the difference is they will be using magic racks where as Matchroom racks the balls by hand.
Overall breaking with the 9 on the spot is relatively uncharted territory. However for your interest if you have a chance to try the things I have talked about, you will be able to get a feel for what the pro players will be trying to achieve at this years world championships. One final note, I have not seen a player be able to consistently control the one ball off this break which I think is a good thing for the game.