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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Bert's column (NED)

An evening in the Ceulemans nest

Posted by on March 28, 2018

An evening in the Ceulemans nest

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It was Raymond's wish for many years, to have an all-Ceulemans 3-cushion team in the Belgian league. "Bompa", as they call him (grandpa) usually gets what he wants, and for the past few seasons their room in Lier has been host to the Mister 100 team: Peter, Kurt, Raymond and Bart Ceulemans. Koen (who is Kurt's older brother, Peter and Bart's father) is their substitute.  

It's a pretty good foursome, but not good enough to play for the team title. Mister 100 is currently in a share of 4th, 5th and 6th place, of 12 teams. The Deurne team (Hofman, Philipoom, van Erp, van Havere) have already secured the championship, with a round still to play. De Goeie Queue (Caudron, de Bruijn, de Jaeger, Hermans) will end in second place.  

I drove to Lier for two reasons: to watch some top notch 3-cushion, and to have a chat with Kurt about this summer's World Cup in Blankenberge. Kurt initiated that event and is the main organizer. It will be the first World Cup on Belgian soil since 2004, which is remarkable, given that Belgium is such a prime 3-cushion country.

This evening, Mister 100 played the Quality team from Zele. They lack a strong player on board four, but the other spots are filled by rather formidable guys: Merckx, de Backer and Jorissen. So, in the first of the two sessions, the easy win by Bart Ceulemans was taken for granted and most eyes were on the confrontation between the 33-year-old Dutchman and the 80-year-old Belgian legend.

With the aging Raymond now averaging just over 1.100 in the league, and Jorissen just under 1.300, the advantage was firmly to the Dutchman. It turned out to be a difficult match for both, with balls finding awkward spots and neither player showing much rhythm. Jorissen is a point away from the finish, makes a mistake. Raymond needs seven and has a good position: you can almost predict what is coming. One, two, three, four, five, six... Then, an unexpected miss. An inning later, he wins after all: 42-41. Raymond may be 80 and have nothing left to prove; but he is still hungry to win and angry at himself when he makes an avoidable mistake. He even has a comment (aloud) after the final point: "If that one had missed, I'd have broken my cue."   

In the second session, Kurt locked horns with Peter de Backer, and I was almost surprised at the relaxed atmosphere of that match. Two alpha-male billiard players, both known to be a bit intimidating around the table, especially on their good days. Show them where your weakness is, and they'll run you over. But no ego-clashes this evening: they joked around and threw in the occasional crowd-pleasing exhibition point. Kurt was a little more effective: 50-44 in 40.   

The other table had the best quality match of the evening: Peter Ceulemans was obviously not going to lose to Eddy Merckx without putting up a fight. The strongest of the four Ceulemans players built up a big lead: 23-10 and 43-26. Then came the fightback, with Merckx running an 8 and a 7. Peter no longer hit the ball with the authority he had in the first 10 innings. The finish line was so near and yet so far. Merckx got out of trouble twice, with one of his signature long-long-long-solutions (warp speed), and he won it 50-49 in 28.  Believe it or not, his 43d point was actually long-long-long-long-long-long. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best in the world, at this type of shot.    

 

EM shot lll

 

Now what can be more interesting than to hear some match analysis from Raymond Ceulemans himself? He is ever so proud of his grandsons, but he does not make excuses for them.

"Peter lost the momentum in the 22nd inning (and he puts the position on the table). He's fearful of the kiss, so what does he do? He hits the second ball very full. Yes, there's no longer a kiss, but he misses the point. Sometimes you need to avoid a kiss by half an inch, not by three inches. If he makes this one, he'll almost certainly have position for a few more. Eddy ran an eight after that miss."  

And then there's a following remark, which I found completely hilarious.

"I know Peter played a lot better than I did this evening. But I have the right to make a comment, don't I? I did win one or two tournaments you know, back in the old days..."   

Yes Raymond, you can make a comment. And you've just won first prize in the category: understatement of the year. 

 

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