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

On a personal note

Posted by on August 28, 2016

On a personal note

© Kozoom

A few days ago, I turned 59. You could say that I'm a kid in the eyes of Raymond Ceulemans, and a senior citizen from Haeng Jik Kim's point of view. Just days before my birthday, I had a TIA (transient ischemic attack), which is like a mini-stroke. The unpleasant effects wore off quickly; my neurologist has me on medication, and I feel fine now. 

Makes you feel very mortal, I can tell you. You take so many things for granted: the ability to speak, for instance. Take that away for just a day, and you'll appreciate it for what it's worth.  If only one or two of the 640 muscles in your body malfunction, you can forget about enunciation.

Or about billiards, for that matter. I'll confess that I had that thought on my mind for most of the day. Can I play billiards tomorrow, next week, this season?  It looks like I can, but that's not the only reason I should consider myself lucky.   

Most senior players will recognize this, and it has little or nothing to do with our playing strength. We are over the hill, and we are discovering that life is not so bad on the other side. It has its perks. We can relax a bit. For many years, each of us on our own level, we have tried to become the best player we could be. We kept setting  the bar higher, until we simply couldn't jump it anymore.  And now the pressure is off.

We have not won World Cups, maybe we've never even competed in one. But in our finest hour, we played inspired, magical 3-cushion. That hour lasted only twelve minutes, but boy, did it feel good.  We were never more alive than with a cue in our hands. It was our paint brush, our racket, our camera, our bat, our pencil, our 3-iron, our guitar, our gun.

That is really what a cue is: destiny in your own hands.   

And now we are 50, or 60 or 70. We are still pedaling on a bike, and the race is all around us. But we know we are not going to win it, and that's okay. We have time to look around us, and see the beauty of the land. We still fit on that saddle. The mountain does not scare us, we've climbed it so many times. And we love the road, probably more than when we were young and our eyes were firmly on the prize.   

I am one of those guys who is not going to win races anymore (not that I won that many in the past, mind you). And frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. My average will go south in the upcoming years: fine with me.  I will be giving handshakes, far more often than receiving them. And - as much as I dislike losing - I intend to love every minute of it.

Why is that? Because at some point, winning matches stops being your motivation to play billiards. How well or how poorly the other guy plays, seems to lose much of its relevance. You find reasons to play, deeper inside of you. You against the other guy: that will fade. You against the balls and the table: that stays. The game has nestled itself into your bloodstream and nervous system, it has become part of who you are. You need the endorphins from your good shots so bad, you'll put up with the aggravation from your muck-ups. You have the incurable disease called billiarditis, and it causes an itch you can't stop scratching.     

Some good players say goodbye to the game, at a certain age. They don't want to see their level go down, they think that playing poorly is more painful than to not play at all. I understand and respect that, but my choice will be different.

I am going to play until I can't lift the cue anymore. If I stop playing 3-cushion, I'll still write about it. If I'm all done writing, I'll still watch it. And others will create the magic for me.   

 

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My Comments

G Earl
G Earl
Bert. Don't you dare check out early!
Bert, you are the most amazing man. It was great to see you in NYC although our encounter was brief.

Your most recent column "On a personal note" is to me the most articulate overview ever written or verbalized regarding what drives the true billiard player.

Personally, we have a few different points of view but that's o.k. I have tried unsuccessfully to understand your logic but I do appreciate your having given me the opportunity to think about the world from a different perspective.

Your column strikes very close to home at the moment. As I believe you know George Ashby and I have been conducting the Professor Q-Ball sponsored Rushville IL billiard tournaments for a couple years now. This event seems to be keeping 3-Cushion Billiards alive in the Midwest of America. Most of the players are in the 50 to 70 year old age bracket and they just love to play. Unfortunately , two of the entrants in the upcoming Rushville Fall Event have passed away in the past 60 days.

George Theobald and John Langhoff were both severely afflicted with as you say "Billiarditis". Both were equally popular personalities in the Midwest billiard community and Theobald was known and loved globally.

Much to my surprise their respective passing's grieved me deeply. Perhaps because of the realization this is a coming trend I will have to endure assuming I am not among the first trendees.

In pondering their passing I also came to the following conclusion regarding cue sports and this is in no way intended to be detrimental to either group. I have concluded that, in general, Pool Players ARE characters! Billiard Players HAVE character! And that is what I love about the people of billiards and the game.

So thank you for your articles and opinions. Perhaps your skills on the table may not have matched your expectations but know that your writing is absolutely among the most impressive in the business.

And don't you dare exit early. We need your exceptional insight and wisdom on both sides of the pond.

Message 1/6 - Publish at August 29, 2016 4:24 AM

RuudBoelens
RuudBoelens
Feeling at home
Bert,
Thanks so much for this article. Better than I ever could have done, you gave words to what I deeply feel. Actually, until I read your article I only half new I had exactly these feelings.
As far as I remember your recent activities, your 3-Cushion abilities do not seem to be affected by the TIA, given that you won your first came in the Dutch 'eredivisie' with an avarage over 1.500.

Message 2/6 - Publish at August 29, 2016 2:56 PM

Mike
 Mike
Nice
Bert,
You are a very exciting person-as I can conclude-.You are a billiard philosophrer...also a billiard
lover.Please keep this style even when lift the cue.

Message 3/6 - Publish at August 29, 2016 8:17 PM

avol67
avol67
Billard wisdom champ
Hi Bert,
this was more than clever. A happy smile was in my face when I read what you wrote.
Nobody can write about the secrets just under our personal surface better than you do.
You write and think around 2.99 average or is it 8.33?
You always manage easily to make me laugh about getting caught ... even being identified and perfectly described as the - a bit ridiculous in his ambitions - professor type of players.
One day I hope to meet you ... then let' 's talk about systems and how our brain works ... at the table or at the bar.. enjoying the ability to hold a cue and lift a glass.
Thanks, Bert and go on making us look in the mirror
merciless and in your specific polite style.
See ya
Andreas

Message 4/6 - Publish at August 31, 2016 2:29 PM

Francis007
Francis007
Excellent
Hi Bert,

Thank you for this excellent and philosophical article.
I really enjoyed to read it with many trues and wisdom.
If the occasion will be given to me to meet you, it will be with a great pleasure either around the table or a drink, and to discuss with you.

Hope to see you

Francis

Message 5/6 - Publish at September 3, 2016 12:17 PM

Litz
Litz
A noble disease
Yes, billarditis is a very noble disease, addictive as reading your columns.

Message 6/6 - Publish at September 4, 2016 12:20 AM

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