Mr. Wizard Part 6: Mr. Wizard Rules

One-Pocket is usually played by serious players in serious places for serious money. But we’d managed to cultivate a small group of enthusiasts who weren’t too serious, and decided to hold a tournament just for fun. 

I was asked to set up the rules and run the thing. I agreed.

When consulting the official rules at one-pocket.org, I found that we had been doing a few things not ‘by the book.’ The rule modifications were: rack your own balls, touching a ball is a foul, and a ball made on the break is a re-rack. 

Those changes reduced the chances for drama and since our tournament was for fun, and since those rules were what everyone was used to, I decided to go with them and went down to the pool hall to get things started.

Mr. Wizard was already there. He had entered the handicap system I designed into the pool hall’s computer. That was very helpful. And I thanked him for it. But Mr. Wizard seemed to be under the impression that he was playing a management role in this tournament. He wasn’t. He had signed up as a player and his responsibilities ended there.

He asked me what the rules were. I showed him the paper I’d printed out and said, “The official rules from one-pocket.org with a few modifications.”

‘What modifications?”

I told him what they were, though I didn’t go into detail because, one, Mr. Wizard had never played the game before so what would he know, and two, I was trying to get the tournament started and appeasing Mr. Wizard was not a step in that direction.

I announced the rules at the players meeting. No objections. I posted them on the wall for future reference if needed, and play started. 

I don’t remember who Mr. Wizard was matched up with, but I do remember his first shot. It was his break. But instead of shooting the cue ball toward the rack like a normal human being, he banked it off a side rail and made a mess of it. His first shot ever playing One-Pocket. 

When asked why he had broken that way, he said he had seen it in an advanced One-Pocket video on YouTube. I guess that shot was now part of Mr. Wizard’s vast knowledge of pool. Just goes to show, a little learning is a dangerous thing.

Anyways, Mr. Wizard lost his first match, lost his second, and was the first to be eliminated from the tournament. No shame in that, particularly since he hadn’t played the game before, and had played it in a rather silly manner. On the bright side, it meant that he wouldn’t have to return for day two of the tournament. 

But he did. 

He marched in and handed me two laminated sheets of paper. Across the top in bold letters they read, “Official Rules of One-Pocket.”

He said, “These are the Official Rules of One-Pocket.”

“Yeah I can read. But in case you hadn’t heard, we’re using the rules posted up on the wall over there. It’s been announced, agreed to, and played under already.”

“But these are the real rules. I got them from one-pocket.org.”

I wanted to say, “Who gives a fuck? Where do you think the rules we’re playing under came from? Do you have any fucking idea which rules have been changed? Or why? Are you even remotely aware that your input has been neither requested nor desired? You have no say in this matter you little fuck.”

I wanted to say that, but I settled for, “Thanks,” and took the pages from his hands. I couldn’t believe he’d had them laminated. What was up with that? 

I soon realized that just the presence of this extra set of rules was a potential problem. In the unlikely event that there was a dispute, we wouldn’t want one guy pointing to one set of rules and the other guy pointing at a different set. 

Rules only work if they are one. But now there were two. One posted on the wall, and now these laminated ones on the scoring table. Not a problem yet, but the potential for conflict had been introduced.

By whom?

I really had to wonder, was Mr. Wizard truly trying to be helpful, or was this just the latest episode in his ongoing quest to prove me wrong at something? To assert the authority that he so desired?

I mean, why else print, laminate, and deliver a conflicting set of rules to a tournament he was no longer a part of? Was his dream scenario an actual  dispute, where he would swoop in with his super-official laminated rules to finally prove that he “knew a lot about pool.”

Maybe. 

Maybe I should tear them up? Oh wait, I can’t, they’ve been laminated. So I turned them over and put them under my elbow as I sat watching the games. I too had been eliminated and was just spectating at that point, though ready to officiate if needed. 

By the time the finals arrived I was bored. It had been a long two days and I wasn’t particularly interested in who ended up winning, so I left the prize money with the bartender and went to get some dinner with a friend. 

As I got up to leave I thought, “I’d better take these laminated rules with me, just to make sure there is no dispute in my absence.” 

So I picked them up and off we went. The restaurant was on the corner with two sides open to the street. About halfway through dinner, Mr. Wizard pulled up on his moto-scooter next to our table and said, “Hey, do you have those rules I had laminated?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I have them back?”

Mr. Wizard seemed a bit miffed, like I had stolen his property, which in a sense I suppose I had. He’d printed them. He’d laminated them. And though he had handed them over to me, I didn’t really want them. 

But why did he want them? For a game he did not play? For a tournament that was almost over? What was he going to do with them? Hang them on his wall? Who knows? Who cares? 

So I said, “Yeah sure,” and handed them over. 

With his laminated stamp of authority back in safe keeping, Mr. Wizard sped off into the night like he was Batman or something. Another crisis averted. Once again Mr. Wizard had thwarted my super-villain plot to spread fake news, or fake rules, or whatever.. Muhahaha!

I wondered if he took his rules back to the pool hall, to lay in wait for his big chance to pounce? Could be. But when I checked back in, the tournament over, no word of any drama, rules or otherwise. So I guess Mr. Wizard’s dream had not come true. 

Which could only mean one thing. 

My nightmare would continue…

Continued in Part 7 >

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