Shane Slays Little Monster

Shane Van Boening

Shane Van Boening does his homework. Scheduled to face Kuo Po-Cheng (many-time top-eight World Championship finisher known as “The Little Monster”) on the television table in Manila, he sat in the stands and watched the match on that table between Mark Gray and Thorsten Hohmann. He watched as both players struggled with the break shot. Gray and Hohmann just couldn't find a break that worked. They both continuously lost the cue ball back to the head rail and had no opening shots. In fact, neither of the two champions could find a way to coax an entire rack away until game thirteen in their 2 ½ hour marathon match that found Gray victorious by a single frame.

Van Boening made a plan. He used just enough topspin on his break shot so that he was able to crush the rack and when the cue ball rebounded from the pack the topspin caught and sent the cue ball right back to the center of the table. In fact, everything about his break worked. He made the ten ball on two breaks and had shots on the one ball the majority of the time. This allowed him to totally dominate the match and to control the table throughout. The result was a 9-0 whitewash of the formidable Taiwanese player.

What Van Boening could not do for himself Kuo did for him. Late in the match Kuo threatened to claim a rack only to drop dead on an easy eight ball. Kuo had a simple task. All he had to do was to sink a short, straight-in shot in the side pocket and stop the cue ball for the easy shots left on the nine and ten ball. Instead he drove the eight ball into the nose of the pocket where it never threatened gravity and jawed back out onto the playing surface. It was an easy cleanup for Van Boening. Van Boening also converted two caroms on the ten ball with one of these demanding a jump shot over an intervening ball before contacting the one.

This performance sent a signal through the arena. Van Boening is back in the form that earned him the US Open championship last year. The slump is over. Any competitor that faces him now must overcome the aura of this performance. For the remainder of this week Van Boening will have three huge arrows in his quiver – confidence, intimidation and the obvious ability to control any rack that he faces. Anyone wishing to win this championship now must first be able to survive the trip through the South Dakota Kid.