I am one who believes that the harder the practice routine is during practice time, the more likely one is to show extreme results and the ability to overcome and outplay a stronger opponent. So, if you do not like to be pushed to your limits during practice time—like going two or three and out in tournaments—and enjoy giving your money to others… then read no further. This practice is not for you.
I have been reading many pocket billiard forums in the last year, looking for questions that people need the most correct answers to, or questions that open the door for new questions with no available answers.
The most common question I have come across is “What is the best practice game to improve my 9-Ball game?” The most common answer is by far has been “To play the Ghost!” Everyone knows how to play the Ghost, or should if you want to improve your game, and not just 9-Ball. The rules are very easy.
Rack and break the balls just like regular 9-Ball. After the break, you get ball in hand. Any balls pocketed stay down. If you can run the rack out you win. If you miss, scratch, or foul… you lose. Race to nine.
This was a regular practice game for me for many years. Then I reached a level of play where I was beating the Ghost every time I played it, so I started giving the Ghost a handicap. Every time I beat the Ghost two out of three matches, I raised it’s handicap. Each handicap level was the number of games I spotted the Ghost at the beginning of each new match.
I was playing the Ghost every day while getting ready for a big tournament. During this practice time I had raised the Ghost to a six! I was playing great… or so I thought.
Tournament day came, and I found out that running out the table was not a problem… but getting on the first object ball after the break was. My safety game was not good enough—the jump cue was proof of that—and I was not beating my opponents as easily as I should.
I needed a better practice game that covered these areas. I needed a game that was as hard to beat as are the top players in the world. So I created one. A game where every mistake will cost you a game, just like it would against a top player. I call it, “The Banshee.”
If you run across a situation that is not covered in the rules, use your best judgment call, as this is all new and something may have been overlooked.
You are The Player. You are playing against the Banshee. It is always the Player’s shot at the table.
The game is 9-Ball. Race to 11. No three foul rule.
Each game is played until the 9-Ball is the last ball pocketed. If the 9-Ball is made out of turn, it is spotted up. If the 9-Ball is pocketed out of turn during a legal combination or carom shot, the Player is awarded one game.
If the 9-Ball is pocketed out of turn or during a foul shot, the Banshee is awarded one game
If the Player scratches on the break or any time during the game, the Banshee is awarded one game. The Player receives ball in hand and continues shooting.
If the Player does not pocket a ball on the break, the Banshee is awarded one game. The cue ball stays where it comes to rest on the table and the Player continues shooting.
If the Player is “hooked” after the break and does not have a straight shot at the object ball, the Player must play a “push” or “roll out.” After the “push” or “roll out,” the Player must shoot a safety or bank shot. Rules to the safety or bank shot apply.
If the Player misses a shot, the Banshee is awarded one game. The Player continues shooting where the cue ball comes to rest.
If the Player scratches during a shot, the Banshee is awarded one game. The Player receives ball in hand and continues shooting. Any balls pocketed stay down.
If the Player calls and shoots a blocking safety and leaves a clear straight shot to any contact point on the object ball, the Banshee is awarded one game. The Player continues shooting where the cue ball comes to rest.
If the Player shoots a blocking safety and does not leave a clear straight shot to any contact point on the object ball, then the Player shoots a kick out, jump, or masse. If the Player pockets the object ball during the kick out, jump, or masse, the Player is awarded one game and continues shooting where the cue ball comes to rest.
If the Player fouls shooting the kick out, jump, or masse on the object ball, the Player, on the next shot, must play a safety on the object ball, as a penalty for fouling. A game is NOT awarded to the Banshee under these circumstances due to the fact that the Player is shooting a safety against himself
The Bank Shot
If the Player calls and shoots a banking safety, and leaves a bank shot rather than a blocking safety, due to lack of balls on the table, the Player can choose to shoot another safety shot or shoot the bank shot. If the Player makes the bank shot, no game is awarded to the Player. If the Player misses the bank shot, the Banshee is awarded one game. The Player continues to shoot where the cue ball comes to rest.
“Hooking” yourself is NOT the same as playing a safety. It is a mistake on your part during play leaving you with a kick, jump, or masse shot. Shooting out of a hook is the same as a regular shot.
If the Player pockets the object ball there is no penalty.
If the Player does not pocket the object ball, The Banshee is awarded one game
You are a zero.
If you are fortunate enough to survive and beat the Banshee, you are awarded one ranking point for each time you beat the Banshee.
As a ranking of one, The Banshee would be spotted one game at the beginning of each new match. As a Ranking of two, the Banshee would be spotted two games at the beginning of each new match, and so forth up to the highest ranking of ten.
But, like the Banshee said… you are a zero…