‘I’M CONSTANTLY FIGHTING OFF THIS DEMON INSIDE ME’
For Karl Boyes, winning the World 8-ball title in 2010 fulfilled a lifelong dream for the talented Englishman. The 29 year old from Blackpool began his billiard career when he was 14 years old playing English 8-ball, a game similar to American 8-ball but played on smaller tables and with red and yellow balls. He played the sport for nearly 10 years and became one of the top players.
Boyes turned to American pool when International Pool Tour came along in 2004, offering huge prize funds and 8-ball as the game of choice. When the IPT folded a few years later, Boyes decided to stick with the American game of pool, and quickly became an elite player in the pro ranks.
In 2007 he made it all the way to the semi-finals of the World 9-ball Championship in Manila. 2010 was Boyes’ breakout year. He won the World 8-ball title with a nail biting 13-12 victory over Holland’s Feijen. Boyes was a member of Team England which won the World Team Championship in Germany. Later that same year, he made it to European Mosconi Cup team, and played brilliantly in helping Team Europe capture the prestigious team cup.
From that high he saw his game slip in 2011, falling to 32nd in the WPA world rankings. Boyes says his focus shifted after he and his girlfriend had their first child. He also said he’s been grappling lately with a ‘pool demon,’ that intangible nagging voice that many pros in this brutally tough sport often have to deal with.
WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner recently caught with the personable Boyes and got his views on his career, that persistent pool demon, what it’s like to play 8-ball at the elite level, and his chances at next week’s World 8-ball championship in Fujairah, UAE.
TL: How did being an English 8-ball player help you adjust to playing American 8-ball?
KB: Well with me growing up playing 8-ball it is obviously my best game so it was just a case of learning how the cues, balls, and table play as it’s all different sizes.
TL: What did it feel like when you won the World 8-ball championship?
KB: It felt like a relief to be honest. People through your life tell you you’re going to be a world champion so when you finally do this it’s a great sense of achievement. Also to win the 8-ball world championship is even more special as it’s the game I grew up playing.
TL: What’s the most pressure you’ve ever felt at the pool table or in a tournament?
KB: There’s a few occasions really but the ones that stand out are at 12-12 in the World 8-ball final(vs. Niels Feijen) because I sort of threw a great chance away at 12-10 so I thought I had blown it. Also the World Team Championships final where I played Lee Van Corteza and it was hill-hill and it was a massive point for the team. And probably the biggest of them all was the Mosconi Cup in London as its live TV and your part of a team.
TL: You had a really great year in 2010, but not quite as successful in 2011. What changed in your game last year? How will you turn things around this year?
KB: Well in 2010 I was 80% focused on pool and showed exactly what Karl Boyes is capable of. And this was still with a little demon inside me that hates what pool is about. In 2011 Me and my girlfriend had our first child and pool took a big back step and that little demon really took over my head. Now in 2012 it will again be a difficult year but with the help of my family and sponsors I hope to do better but again I’m constantly fighting off this demon inside me, Other pool players seem to handle all the crap better than I do. Whether that’s good on them or good for me who knows? We shall see what the future holds for Karl Boyes the pool player.
TL: How do you think you’ll do in this year’s World 8-ball championship?
KB: Last year I felt really confident and was playing good pool. Then in the last 64 I had one shot so who knows? Maybe you could tell me?(he laughs) I have practiced hard for this but it’s(the World 8-ball Championship) such a toss of the coin tournament like most pool tournaments.
TL: Millions of people around the world play 8-ball in bars and pubs and pool halls for fun. Of course the rules are the same but as a game, what’s the difference between recreational 8-ball and professional 8-ball?
KB: Well it’s all down to taking out the rack/clearance the best possible way. Most amateurs will just try pot the balls as where in 8-ball you should try work back from the 8-ball to work out your best pattern.
TL: What’s the hardest thing about 8-ball at the pro level?
KB: The hardest thing about 8-ball at the pro level is it’s a little too easy on the equipment we play on. The pockets should be 4 inches maybe slightly smaller. Then the patterns would really show up etc. and I’d win it every year then.(He laughs).
TL: What do you love about 8-ball?
KB:My main love of 8-ball is when your opponent makes a mistake you should win a large percentage of the racks as opposed to in rotation games(9-ball and 10-ball) where a lot of luck can still help the weaker player.
*The 2012 World 8-ball Championship begins in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates on Monday, February 13th and runs through to February 17th. The WPA will be providing up to the minute coverage of all the happenings on its website, www.wpa-pool.com. WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner will be on hand in Fujairah bringing you all the action with live scoring of all matches, in depth articles on the goings on posted several times a day, as well as blow by blow coverage of big matches via the WPA’s Twitter page, @poolwpa.
**The World Pool and Billiard Association(WPA) is the world governing body of the sport of pool. The WPA is also the member organization for pool of the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS), the international umbrella organization encompassing all the major cue sports.