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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Verhoeven Open Tournament - New York (USA)

Eddy Merckx, killer in Seoul, killer in New York

Posted by on July 30, 2018

Eddy Merckx, killer in Seoul, killer in New York

© Kozoom Studio
Eddy Merckx, anothger great victory after Seoul: winner in New York of the Verhoeven Open

NEW YORK - The killer of Seoul, with a victory in the first 3CC World Masters, had landed in New York this week for another big deal. The Belgian Eddy Merckx triumphed this Sunday, two weeks after his victory in South Korea, also in the Verhoeven Open, the famous tournament in Flushing's Carom Café. The world's number two behind Frédéric Caudron took 40.000 dollar in Seoul, the top prize in New York was 9.000 dollar. The world's best in three cushion has been warned for the next top event. Next week, on Sunday, the first McCreery Champions of Champions is launched in New York. The main prize there, never shown in billiards: 150.000 dollar.

Eddy Merckx seems to be in the best form of his life and is on his best when it's not only about honor, but even more about big prize money. He is a hard man to beat in finals, like in Seoul on the final day against Tayfun Tasdemir and Eddy Leppens. In the Carom Café, the stoic Belgian showed again what makes him so feared at the world top: cold-blooded and effective scoring under pressure, unafraid, a cannibal at the billiard, like the cycling champion he was named after.

Dani Sánchez, the other finalist in New York, was a silent witness in that final, which seemed to turn into a one-man show for a long time (24-1 in 5 innings), but thanks to a short come-back from the Spaniard, from 27-3 to 31-23, seemed to get a fascinating end. The final shot then again was for Merckx, who finished with six and three for 40-27 in 13/12 innings.

The Belgian winner was unstoppable for a strong Sánchez on the final day. With three 40-point matches in 16, 16 and 13 innings, Merckx averaged 2.666 (!) in his last performances. Sánchez was overwhelmed by Merckx' fantastic start with 2-9-4-0-9 and could only strike back with 12 in the 12th inning. It was too late to threaten the superior Belgian.

The two finalists grew to the climax on the last day with high level matches. Eddy Merckx, who also was on his best on the final day winning the 3CC World Masters two weeks ago, first won the clash with Forthomme in the quarters in 16 (2.500) and in then went along Horn in the semi-final also in only 16 innings. Dani Sánchez needed 16 innings to beat Sayginer in the quarters and against Leppens, last year's finalist, 19 in the semi-finals.

The Spaniard faced Leppens in a match in which the Belgian couldn't find his rhythm and score three and four as his best runs. Still, until the break it the match levelled (21-19), but with 'a 10' in the 13th inning, Sánchez made the gap for a 40-23 victory. Eddy Merckx ran into a better Horn, who led 11-7 after six innings, but in the next, Merckx launched the attack with 15. The German countered in the same inning with ten (22-21), remained in the shadow of Merckx, but had no answer to the 3 and 4 of the Belgian in the last two innings (40-35).
Quarter finals

Two of the four Belgians made it to a place in the semi-finals. Eddy Leppens by defeating Nguyen Quoc Nguyen, Eddy Merckx by a victory over his fellow countryman Roland Forthomme. Frédéric Caudron was eliminated by Martin Horn, Dani Sánchez defeated Semih Sayginer. The four matches were played on a very high level: Sánchez (40 in 16), Merckx (40 in 16) and Horn (40 in 17) scored well over two average, Leppens won in 27 innings.

Dani Sánchez-Semih Sayginer 40-23 in 16

With a rocket start (13-1), the Spaniard set the tone for a match in which he later with a 6 and 7 ran out to 28-7. The only revival of Sayginer, with a nice 12 in the 9th inning, brought the score back to 28-19. Sayginer closed with four misses and was finally beaten by Sánchez with 6, 4 and 1.

Eddy Merckx-Roland Forthomme 40-37 in 16

The final part of Merckx was once again extremely strong. His opponent took advantage with regular, small runs in the first part (19-10). Merckx first came into the match with a 7 (to 19-17), but after two 'fours', Forthomme was leading 33-18. Then, Merckx attacked with 12 in the 13th inning (34-33) and reached the finish line with 5 and 2, when Forthomme coud hardly score in his last six innings.

Martin Horn-Frédéric Caudron 40-29 in 17

The German dominated almost the whole match and was not threatened by Caudron in the final phase. The Belgian only had a slightly better start with a 9 in the fourth inning (10-5 in 5), then Horn showed himself the better, led 24-15, 30-22 and went out with 8 and 2.
Eddy Leppens-Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 40-33 in 27

The light went out to the Vietnamese, who played such a strong pre-round, but lost his way in the first knock-out. Leppens also was not at his best (best runs: 5 for Nguyen, 4 for Leppens), but scored slightly better in the crucial final part. The scoreboard showed 20-16 after 14 innings, then the Belgian came back from 27-21 down to 38-33 and after five misses of Nguyen in the last seven innings to 40-33.

In the fight for the places behind the four finalists, Forthomme first won 40-38 in 21 against Caudron and Sayginer 40-37 in 30 against Nguyen. Semih Sayginer won the match for fifth place against Roland Forthomme 40-39 in 24.

The future of the tournament, which had not the line-up of previous years, was discussed by players and the tournament director during the final days. The question that arose the most was: should the organizer start thinking about a different set-up and format now that the international calendar is so well filled and the prize money is rising? Those who didn't show up now, many of whom are Koreans, Vietnamese and Turks, react that participating in New York is too expensive compared to what can be won. The flight to New York, the stay in this summer period (around 2000 dollar), the high fee (375 dollars), the relatively low prize money and most of all: no ranking points to win. That was the most important reason not to travel to the Verhoeven Open.

Charles Brown, the tournament director at Carom Cafe, already indicated that he is open to improvements and new formats of play. He remembers the time, 15, 20 years ago, that the USBA organized World Cup tournaments. ,,I hope we can do that again in the future, but it's very hard to find sponsors.''

Tayfun Tasdemir, who took a two weeks holiday in Turkey: ,,I would have liked to go there with my wife, but the costs are so high, that I need to win the tournament to gain some money. Michael Kang is a good friend, but he has to give us more guarantees to get more top players in his tournament.''

Martin Horn: ,,The formula is still great in my view. Many matches to play every day, it's a format for all players who love the game. Without problems with the KBF and when all Vietnamese had a visa, there would have been 140 players again. The atmosphere is great in the Carom Cafe, perfect table conditions and with Charles Brown a super sports leader. I really appreciate it. Thanks also to Michael Kang, who takes care of everyone. Thanks New York.''

Eddy Merckx: ,,For the players who also play at Long Island, it is a long stay of three weeks. I decided to come to the Verhoeven. My wife is traveling to New York between the two tournaments. So, together, we can discover a bit of New York.''

Dani Sánchez, who returned to the tournament last year after a few years missing, likes the formula. ,,I really don't know how they have to change it. This is good for all players, playing a lot of matches.''

Peter Ceulemans plays once every two or three years. ,,In the summer, I want to spend my time with my family to recharge my billiard battery. Yet, I always like to visit the Verhoeven, because New York is a magical city to visit.''

Dutchman Bert van Manen, a yearly guest in the Carom Cafe and a billiard analyst: ,,The line-up in the quarter finals could easily happen in a World Cup. The tournament is still that good. But can it stay that way? I don't think so with all the big events. I am a spectator, not a top player hunting for ranking points. That is one of the weaknesses of this wonderful event. The time may be right to rethink a few aspects of this annual New York feast of billiards.''

The four final players: Eddy Leppens, the winner Eddy Merckx, Dani Sánchez and Martin Horn

Eddy Merckx, in full concentration on his way to victory in New York

Dani Sánchez, strong until the final match, then knocked down by super Merckx

Eddy Merckx after his win in the semi final against another star player in New York: Martin Horn

Eddy Leppens, last year's finalist, beaten by Dani Sánchez in the semi-finals


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My Comments

Great tournament
I attended the Verhoeven several years ago at the Carom Cafe, the year Pedro won it. Have not attended or watched until this year but the venue, competition and production values of the Kozoo stream were exceptional, all very much better than when I attended in person. It was my first time watching Martin Horn play, what a great player and I was surprised to see that he doesn't have a top 20 ranking.

Message 1/2 - Publish at July 30, 2018 12:00 PM

beneath the surface
beneath the surface
martin horn
is a 1 cushion world champion ;)

Publish at August 1, 2018 12:30 AM

Martin Horn
He was a World Cup winner and one of the world top 15 ranking in the past. After many years not competing in big tournaments, he just recently came back in 2018 to compete in 3C. An excellent player indeed.

Message 2/2 - Publish at August 4, 2018 9:41 AM

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