By Megan Delaire
[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4J-_oh1Rz8&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]
Canadian 8-ball champion Gerry Watson brought his mastery of ball and cue to Algonquin’s Observatory bar to challenge and entertain students on Oct. 11.
Watson first performed an array of pool tricks, making pool balls skip, bounce and ricochet into the pockets in ways that had a crowd of students gasping and clapping.
“They’re pretty spectacular,” said electrical engineering student Daren Redhead. “I don’t know how he did them. He lined up every single ball and was able to hit one ball to ricochet all of them to come back and hit one into a pocket.”
Watson’s finale involved a ball, a stick and a student’s open, vulnerable face. Watson called for volunteers to help him with the shot, and up stepped computer programming student Kayvon Hassani.
Hassani was told to lie width-way across the end of the table, with his head resting on its velvety green surface. Then, with a cue-ball resting on his mouth, Hassani held his breath as Watson took aim at a ball resting on the edge of the table and, hitting that ball, shot the ball off of Hassani’s mouth, and across the table.
Hassani was calm about his brush with facial danger.
“No one seemed to be trying it so I just figured I should go up and do it. Why not?” said Hassani. “I had nothing to lose so I just went up and did it. I saw him do some tricks so I kind of gained trust for him, watching him play. So I guess I was kind of comfortable at the same time.”
Having warmed up with trick shots, Watson challenged students to play against him in a round of pool. One-by-one they stepped up to the table and each tested their skills in front of their peers. Some close games had observers on the edge of their seats, but ultimately Watson won each game.
One student who challenged Watson noticed a pattern.
“Definitely at the start he’s being easy, but then he knows how to clean up for sure,” said Parker Samec, the third student to play Watson. “So at the end he can really step it up.”
Watson takes his act to campuses across Canada and had performed at Saint Lawrence College and Petawawa prior to his appearance at Algonquin. He said the competition was getting tougher with each campus visit.
“They’re improving all the time,” he said. “They’re making me more nervous as the days go by. They’re playing well.”