Pool (not the swimming kind): The club with an endless daily meeting
At almost any hour of the day, you can find students of various grades crowded around the pool table. The game may look simple, but it requires mental focus and a keen understanding of geometry for utmost success.
The pool table is located on the second floor of the Danforth University Center (DUC) in the fun room. An open leisure space, students often hang out with friends or do work on the comfortable surrounding seats. Over the years, the pool table has become increasingly popular, though it was closed during COVID-19. The table is seemingly always in use, and many would agree that the recognizable faces have become part of the DUC scenery.
Senior Arvind Thirumala describes the pool community as “welcoming, informal, and friendly.” There are different versions of pool, with the most popular being eight-ball or nine-ball. The students use the standard professional rules as opposed to house rules. Most of the pool players are part of the WashU Pool Club, which consists of about 30-40 members. The club hosts an annual tournament, which will likely take place in December of this year.
The club includes players of various skill levels. Mustafa Mohammad-Amin, a senior, picked up the game a little less than a year ago. Others — such as senior Jonathan Feehan, who has been playing for seven years — have more experience. Over the span of four years, the club has become increasingly popular, especially with members of other varsity sports teams — often football and basketball.
Thirumala is the pool club president and a regular at the DUC table. He played a few times in high school, but started to play seriously when he came to WashU as a freshman, influenced by upperclassmen. Since then, he has improved rapidly, and plays whenever he is free. He enjoys the second floor of the DUC and describes it as a “chill hangout spot” to play pool, see friends, and study in the neighboring rooms.
The pool games are informal, and students can count on a handful of others to be ready to play at any time. “The most crowded time is around lunch, but people are always present,” Thirumala said. Other club members also enjoy the chill, easygoing nature of the club.
Feehan started a kind of “elo” scoring system, commonly used in chess, which serves as a way to calculate relative skill levels. The goal of pool is to hit the balls into the pockets as quickly as possible. Each time a person misses, five seconds are added to their time. If players get what is called a scratch — when the cue ball goes into the pocket — 20 seconds are added to their time. The time leader is Thirumala, who clocks in at 1:19:47. The chalkboard near the pool table has a list of the 34 regulars and their respective times. The games are recorded, and the difference in times can offer insight on good matchups and serve as a winner-predictor. Players can receive more points if they are an underdog and beat players with a higher ranking.
If you want to check out or join a lively community of students exuding enthusiasm for the game of pool, the 2nd floor of the DUC is the spot.