Playing the "ghost" is a great way to keep solo practice interesting and competitive, and you can use it for 9-ball or 10-ball - and even the game of rotation, where you have a full rack and try to sink the balls in numerical order.
Here are the basic rules. You break the rack and then get "ball in hand" for your first shot, meaning that you can place the cue ball anywhere on the table. From there, your goal is to run the whole rack (or, as in 8-ball, the solids or stripes, plus the 8). You must win the game during this turn at the pool table. If you miss or scratch, it's considered a win for the "ghost," your imaginary opponent who automatically runs the table whenever he gets the chance. As far as the endpoint, you can play to a certain number of games (say, 10, for example, so the final score might be 8-2 or 6-4, etc.), or you can play until you or the ghost reaches a certain number of games (called a "race," as in "race to 7").
Professional players win games against the ghost in excess of 80 percent of the time, and a beginner will struggle to win 10 percent. If you are a beginner, your immediate goal with ball in hand should be to sink three balls every opportunity. You'll quickly get a feel for planning your cue ball position for the next shot.
June 13, 2014