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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - World Cup - Antalya (TUR)

Jae Ho Cho rises to the top in Antalya

Posted by on April 28, 2018

Jae Ho Cho rises to the top in Antalya

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Jae Ho Cho, averaging 2.608, is at his brilliant best in the Turkish World Cup

ANTALYA - Korean billiards has two Cho's, both world class 3-cushion players. The youngest, Myung Woo Cho, is not even twenty yet, a short fellow, and he was junior world champion in 2016. The older one, Jae Ho Cho, is 38, also short of stature, and he is one of the major threats to the top Europeans in the sport. His resume still needs some building up, but he did win a World Cup (Istanbul), the Verhoeven Open in New York and he is the current Asian champion, which makes him the flag bearer of his generation. In the Antalya World Cup this week, he is showing us the best billiards he has ever played.

Cho's average after three rounds of play is not far from the world record. He first beat Jean Paul de Bruijn from the Netherlands, then his illustrious countryman Haeng Jik Kim, and today he eased past Lütfi Cenet. Having used 16, 17 and 13 innings, his pace is an impressive 2.608. His performance in the Turkish resort has now brought Cho into the semifinal, in the company of three of the best Europeans: the Belgian reigning world champion Caudron, the Spanish four-time world champion Sánchez and the best Turk on the ranking: Coklu.

Jae-Ho Cho, married and father to a daughter, is a diminutive but perky guy with genius in his stroke, a creative mind and an un-Korean mentality. The new world from the East competes with the Europeans in the major tournaments, but usually the players from the "old" world are on the podium. Jae Ho Cho is a cool customer, who teaches in fitness work-outs and freelances as a billiards game show host, is the one who can break that spell. Tomorrow at 14.00, he will face the last Turk in the tournament in the semifinal: Murat Naci Coklu. The other finalist will be known by then, because at 12.00 Caudron and Sánchez will play their semi.

Saturday's encounters in the Bosphorus hotel were not especially close, but they were quick. Four of the eight matches were finished in 17 innings, but none of the losers made more than 30 points. This trend continued in the quarterfinals, where it was only the Turkish clash between Sayginer and Coklu that went the distance. Sayginer came back in the middle of the match with two runs of 6, making it 29-27, then 36-34. He had a 39-38 lead but missed due to a foreseeable kiss, and Coklu ran two and out, the last point played ultra-thin: 40-39 in 29.

Frédéric Caudron kept Vietnamese Ngo at a comfortable distance: 40-18 in 18 innings. Jae-Ho Cho ran away from Cenet early in the match with a 9 (14-2), then from the 8th inning on produced 7-4-4-4-5 to finish at 40-12 in 13. Dani Sánchez dominated against Marco Zanetti, who lost hope from 20-10. Sánchez closed the door on him with a run of 4 in the 20th inning, Zanetti said goodbye to the World Cup with a classy run of 10 in the equalizer, making it 40-32 in 20.

The first session of the day (last 16) was mostly a feast for the Turks. Murat Naci Coklu, Semiy Sayginer and Lütfi Cenet were victorious in their matches against  Dong-Koong Kang, Javier Palazón and Nguyen Quoc Nguyen. The Asian contingent was reduced to just one: Jae-Ho Cho, who won his match against Haeng-Jik Kim.

That Korean clash, between the current Asian champion and the Asian champion of two years ago, had two faces: before and after the break. Haeng-Jik Kim had the much better start and built up a 22-6 lead after 7 innings. Jae-Ho Cho, like he did against de Bruijn yesterday, came back from the interval a changed man. Not a 21 run this time, but a rapid succession of 7-3-5-5-2-5 was too much for Kim, who completely froze. Cho ended matters at 40-30 in 17.

Two other matches had a similarly decisive ending. Dinh Nai Ngo had Eddy Leppens under pressure at 23-19 and 33-20, the Belgian broke free in the 18th inning with a run of 8, but after his miss Ngo ran 7 and out: 40-28 in 17. Murat Naci Coklu was never really in danger against Dong-Koong Kang, who has had better days. From 33-26 it was Coklu who made his fans cheer, when he ran a 7:  40-26 in 17 innings.

The other Turkish winner in the round was Lütfi Cenet. His opponent Nguyen Quoc Nguyen was not a shadow of the dangerous player he can be. Cenet made the difference between the 10th and 20th inning, got to 32-19 and finished it off at 40-20 in 23. Equally simple was Sayginer's victory over Javier Palazón, who was dominated at 21-6 in 4 and sent home at 40-20 in 18 innings.

Frédéric Caudron and Marco Zanetti booked their place in the quarterfinals with quick wins over Jung-Han Heo and Nikos Polychronopoulos. The Belgian encountered an unusually tame Heo, and went from 28-13 and 34-15 to an easy 40-19 in 18. Zanetti was not challenged either, because Polychronopoulos stayed well below the level he demonstrated yesterday: 40-26 in 21. Dani Sánchez sneaked into the last eight, under the radar but never in trouble: 40-21 in 25 against Quyet Chien Tran.

Sunday's matches in the semifinal:

12.00: Caudron-Sánchez
14.00: Cho-Coklu.

Dani Sánchez, solid win against Marco Zanetti

Frédéric Caudron outplayed Vietnamese Ngo

Murat Naci Coklu, the last Turkish player in the tournament

Jae-Ho Cho with his wife and little daughter

Semih Sayginer lost the match against Murat Naci Coklu lacking only one point

Marco Zanetti, farewell with a run of 10

Ding Nai Ngo, the best of the Vietnamese in Antalya

Lütfi Cenet ran into an excellent Cho

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