The pool man cometh

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By Shane Dingman

Look once, look twice, slide the cue, jerk it twice for certainty and let fly. 

He marks his shot by scanning the table and calculating the angles.  He discerns the success of his stroke by sound and feel.  His rakish pompadour of grey hair marks him as a player, a hustler, a pool shark wearing a suit not out of place on a car dealership floor.  Gold and diamonds glitter on his right hand pinkie and left hand ring finger.  He switches between a “power” cue for breaking or hard contact shots to his finesse cue, all cream coloured flexible wood with ebony inlaid on the fat handle, for everything else.

Gerry Watson, pool player and showman, laid a little razzle dazzle on the games room crowd Monday afternoon.  On a fifth visit to the campus, (he previously headlined the now defunct Edge pub), Watson showed off trick shots, gave a few style tips and even took on Ryerson’s pool champ.  Watson displayed his rapid fire precision by nailing difficult bank shots 16 times in a row in under a minute, sinking six balls with one shot.

Watson has a book and two videos that inform the casual reader of the intricacies of competitive pool.  Watson, a three-time Canadian 8-ball champ, was $400 for the two-hour show at the Games Room.  Michael Durrant, RyeSAC communications and services director, says he booked Watson after Oakham House management turned him down.  Oakham decided his fee wouldn’t result in seriously increased sales.  Durrant says the show was to get people interested in the game and give a little publicity for the Games Room.

Watson 47, has struggled to make the angles work on the much abused seven foot pay tables, missing about one shot in 10.  Granted, the average neighbourhood shark would miss nine times before getting a blind luck 10th shot.

Watson is used to a slightly higher caliber table after coming back from the world championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The Cornwall native lived in Tulsa several years ago so during the course of the 96-man five-day tourney he found himself as the Okie favourite.  He placed fourth in the world, for a prize of $10,000.

In tournaments Watson plays fast and sure, putting his full confidence behind whatever shot strikes him as a good idea.  “In life you’ve got to trust your instincts,” he says.  “It took me a few years to learn that.”

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