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

Too new. Too long. Too bad.

Posted by on November 21, 2017

Too new. Too long. Too bad.

© Kozoom

The Korean Billiard Federation organized a tournament for senior players, 60 years of age and older, in Seoul last week.  A fine initiative, and I was honored to be amongst the invited players. It was my first trip to Korea, and an experience I will never forget.

There is not that much to tell about the event itself, because it was a bit of a disappointment from a billiard fan's point of view. The three "major" names on the guest list (Ceulemans, Dielis and Bitalis) all cancelled, for various reasons. Tatsuo Arai from Japan looked like the favorite to win, in the absence of the bigger guns, and he did.

Two players from the American continent participated: Roberto Rojas (Mexico) and Jaime Bedoya (Colombia). Two Europeans: Paulo Andrade (Portugal) and Bert van Manen (Netherlands). Of these four, only Rojas made it to the quarterfinals, where he was beaten by Arai.

The best non-Asian player in the field was Mohsen Fouda from Egypt, who shared third/fourth place. The twenty-seven other players were all from Korea or Japan.

If the KBF wants to host this event again in 2018 or 2019 (which I would applaud), they could also think of players like Connesson (Fra), Theriaga (Por), Kühl (Ger), Habraken (Net), Hallon (USA), Laursen (Den), Lieberkind (Den), Menheer (Bel), Müller (Ger) and Stroobants (Bel). Those are just suggestions, brought on by the fact that these gentlemen have some fine performances in World Cups on their resume.  No doubt you could think of others, I make no claim to be complete.  

This "World Legend" event was played in a beautiful hotel / conference / library complex, on six Korean Min tables fitted with Gorina cloth, new (Diamond) balls. As grateful as I am to the organization (Korean hospitality was fantastic), I must be critical for a moment. If you've been in billiards as long as I have, you've seen this mistake being made over and over: they fit the cloth the evening before the first day of play. What do you get? Ultra-slippery conditions, low tournament averages. 

First of all: I am not saying that Min and Gorina make a bad product. On the contrary! That Min table with that Gorina cloth, after a week of use, will play like a dream. But unused rubbers and cloth that has never been played on, produce conditions that are simply too difficult for the average player. I'll go so far as to say that even world class players will struggle to produce 80 % of their regular average, if the rails react like this. It was not just "new" in Paju Book City, it was insane. It was Holiday on Ice, and balls moved with the predictability of an Irishman on St. Paddy's Day.

Everything you think you know about diamond systems can go out the window. Calculate a bank shot, and you'll miss it by 20 points. Every easy shot becomes a difficult shot, a medium-difficulty position becomes a guessing game, and a difficult shot is now an impossible one.  How do you control a cue ball if it simply refuses to roll, but just slides and slides?  

Two additional observations: 1) Tables like these may be brand new, but they are not fast at all. They will only get to their optimal speed once they've been played in properly. 2) Balls tend to nestle under the rails all the time, once they come to a stop. This adds to the degree of difficulty of every shot.

I understand there is a logistics problem here, with a cost aspect. Take the WC in Bordeaux 2015 for instance (Gabriels tables, also Gorina cloth), where conditions on the first day were comparable to the Seoul event. You can't just say: "Well, let's rent the Palais des Congres for three more days and set up the tables early." Or: "Let's set up the tables elsewhere, play them in properly, then disassemble them and build them up again in the actual arena." It's just too expensive.

In World Cups, the ppppq and pppq and ppq rounds act as a natural solution for this problem. The players in the earliest rounds do the necessary work to normalize playing conditions. They suffer on Monday and Tuesday, so that the big guns can shine on Friday and Saturday. I empathize with the qualifiers (having been one quite often), but that's a situation I can live with. On the other hand, if you have no field of 128, if there is no Monday and no Tuesday, you're going to embarrass the players. Your event will not be the propaganda for the sport, to the degree you hoped for.  

I would urge organizers to always get in touch with our industry's leading manufacturers as early as they can. Not only do the table, balls and cloth brands have a wealth of knowledge, they are also interested in more than just making a sale. They will always try hard to make a billiard event a success, and good averages are a crucial part of that. For players, spectators and commerce. 


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My Comments

possible solution. open up the tables to responsible players at low rates 24 hours a day the first days of the tournment. The cloth could be broken in quickly. Would require a few attendants

Message 1/2 - Publish at January 27, 2018 11:47 PM

beneath the surface
beneath the surface
Sounds like a great event to look forward to

Message 2/2 - Publish at January 28, 2018 4:28 PM

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