I don’t know many sports as universally enjoyed, when played, as pool.
Played in pubs and sports halls up and down the country, whether you’re a beginner, a novice or an expert, it’s fun.
But while it’s largely agreed pool is great to play, what goes under appreciated is how great pool can be to watch.
For whatever reason, snooker’s viewership far outweighs that of it’s faster paced, and frankly more exciting cousin in Britain, to this day.
Perhaps this comes from day’s gone by and the legendary characters associated with the scene – Jimmy White, Dennis Taylor, Steve Davis. There’s a romance to it all.
But with their snooker careers are long since over, these legendary figures can still occasionally be found in the pool scene – and they draw a crowd.
Even in 2020, who doesn’t love to see a bespectacled Dennis Taylor leading an Irish jig after clearing the table.
But that’s eight-ball pool – likely the game you’re familiar with and have almost certainly played.
Over in America, its slightly different. Nine-ball pool is king – and it’s massive over there.
To explain, nine-ball pool, as you could probably guess, is played with just nine balls.
Where it’s different is you have to run out in numerical order.
First you pot the one, then the two and so on. Hit the wrong ball, it’s a foul.
And to win, its quite simple. Be the person that pots the nine ball.
If eight-ball is snookers more exciting cousin, nine-ball is eight-balls big brother. Better looking, more complex, more skill full – and perhaps even more exciting again.
And the home of world class nine-ball pool is the annual Mosconi Cup.
The cup has often been compared to golf’s Ryder Cup, as it see’s the United States of America compete against Europe over a couple of days.
Some games are played in pairs, whereas others are played by individuals and winning a game equals a point for your team.
Many people that don’t regularly watch golf make an exception for the Ryder Cup because it’s so exciting.
The characters, the villains, playing what is usually an individual sport as a team, the crowds.
In short, what i’m trying to say is if you like the Ryder Cup, you’d enjoy the Mosconi Cup.
But what’s the history of it?
Well, the first Mosconi Cup was held in 1994, and the competition was named after legendary American pool player, Willie Mosconi.
Initially the event was created by Sky Sports and featured many recognisable names from the UK snooker scene.
Names like Steve Davis and Alex Higgins among others competed against alongside European nine-ball experts against America’s finest.
The competition captured the imagination of it’s audience and what was once an exhibition event is now very serious and extremely competitive.
Overall, USA have won 13 Mosconi cups to Europe’s 12, with one draw in 2006.
In the competition’s early days America were dominant, winning ten of the first twelve championships.
In the mid-noughties though, Europe changed the tide.
Led by the likes of Niels Feijen, Chris Melling and Joshua Filler, Europe won 10 of the 11 Mosconi cup’s between 2007 and 2018.
In the last two years, America have regained their mojo and have won the last two cups.
Like the Ryder Cup, the Mosconi alternates being held in America and Europe. And this year the event is being held at Alexandra Palace between December 1st-4th.
So assuming the world is back to normal by then, why not give it a chance?
In fact, no world-class pool players have come from Merseyside yet – so why not go and play?
I guarantee, at the very least, you’ll have fun.
Pic by Christian Werner – Creative Commons License.