Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - AGIPI Masters Finals - Schiltigheim (FRA)
Billiard players are inscrutable for psychologists
© Didier Fioramonti
The trophee in the Agipi Masters
SCHILTIGHEIM - Two top players, both triple world champion three-cushion, made a nice analysis about billiards and topsport, independently of each other on the last day of the Agipi Masters. Dick Jaspers spoke in a brief consideration about some facets of the game, that disorder the concentration of a player.
The Dutch world and European champion, who won 50-42 in 23 innings for the fifth and sixth place against Eddy Merckx this afternoon (runs of nine in the 18th and 19th inning), concluded: ,,We have to play always to different points, then it is 50, then it is 40, with a timeframe of 50, another time to 40, with or without a signal, to the full points or in set, with or without an equalizing inning. That makes it even more difficult than it already is. Why isn't it possible, as in all sports, to play according to international rules?''
Dani Sánchez, who defeated Filipos Kasidokostas 50-31 in 17 innings in the match for the seventh and eighth place, likes to talk about the psychological side of his sport. ,,I once worked with a sports psychologist, when I became world champion in 2005 in Lugo. She had a great reputation with many other famous athletes, but she said, billiards is for me the most inscrutable of all sports.''
The Spaniard plays so many matches in which he has a perfect control over the balls and the table, he often shows his world class. ,,The elusiveness of three cushion is that one match later, you feel very bad, you have the feeling that everything fails, with your stroke and in your mind. Sometimes it even feels like I play with a strange cue. Here, in Agipi on Friday, I made 25 points in 25 innings against Kim. That's an average to be ashamed of, I can play it with my left hand. The next day the feeling suddenly is back and you play three average or more. That is what the sports psychologist means. She couldn't understand, she didn't find an explanation, like she could physical sports. The difference between top form and a minor day is bigger than in any other sport. Just look at the 100 meters in athletics. When Usain Bolt is in a top shape, he runs around 9.50, on a bad day he still can run the 100 in ten seconds, but never in twelve seconds.''
Dick Jaspers: ,,What is fascinating in our sport, is that there are so many different playing styles and characters in three cushion. Caudron, Sánchez and maybe also Blomdahl are players on intuition and feeling. I myself, but for instance also Eddy Merckx and Martin and Horn, are more calculated players. My strength, I may say, is my focus on the table. I estimate my chances before I try to make the point, I overlook the position from all sides and want to be sure that I can not miss. That makes it so difficult, in my concentration, that I also have to consider the timeframe.''
,,I have periods that I'm in a topform and minor periods, of course,'' says Jaspers, who was not in a really world class form in the Agipi Masters, but still played an average around two. Dani Sánchez: ,,The difference between Jaspers and me is: if he is in a bad day, he plays 1.800. If I have a bad day, like on Friday, I play one average, even while I felt one week ago, after many training-sessions in Korea, that I could be in my form here.''
So freakish and elusive is form in billiards. Torbjörn Blomdahl, for instance, had that wonderful feeling in the weeks before the Agipi Masters. ,,I played in training as I did in my very best days.''
The Swede, tonight finalist against Kyung-Roul Kim, seemed reborn indeed in the two previous games against Kasidokostas and Choi.
Without a psychologist in his neighbourhood, just by feeling and intuition.
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