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Vietnamese triumph: Tran wins Ho Chi Minh

Posted by on May 27, 2018

Vietnamese triumph: Tran wins Ho Chi Minh

© Kozoom Studio
Quyet Chien Tran with his wife and two daughters

HO CHI MINH CITY - The podium of new Vietnamese stars in the World Cup has captured the hearts of the billiard crowd. Quyet Chien Tran (33) became the first Vietnamese WC winner in history, this Sunday afternoon. He and his countrymen  Ngo and Nguyen added a new dimension to the World Cup cycle. The emotions and joy of the players and the enthusiasm of the crowd in the Nguyen Stadium have instantly given Vietnam the status of a top 3-cushion country. The final, played in front of some 1500 spectators, was a showpiece, won by Tran 40-39 in 15 innings. The winner lives in Ho Chi Minh City, he is married and has two children: Pham Thien Kim is six and Pham Thien Y is two years old.

Quyet Chien Tran performed a minor miracle on the closing day. He beat Frédéric Caudron in the semifinal (40-39) and had an incredible finish against Ngo in the final: 40-39 in 15. Ngo died, just inches away from the finish line. He had started the match with a run of 5, then made 9, 4 and 11, giving him a 29-15 lead after just four innings. The match turned upside down after the interval, with a strong comeback by Tran and seven open innings from Ngo when it was 33-23. The climax of the match? Ngo recovered with a run of six and made it 39-38. Tran grabbed his last chance and won the match, his final point a spectacular bank shot. The winner was ecstatic, the loser deserves a lot of respect. Both Vietnamese players contributed to this very memorable World Cup.

The World Cup cycle has now seen the irreversible breakthrough of the Nguyen's Tran's, Duong's and Ma's. They have outperformed even the feared Koreans, who were thought to take over the reign from Europe. In Ho Chi Minh City, Frédéric Caudron was the last of the established players who could keep up with the Vietnamese elite. The Belgian bowed only in the semifinals, and left the main prize to be contested by the two best Vietnamese players: Dinh Nai Ngo and Quyet Chien Tran.

Three times a Vietnamese player had been in the final of a World Cup. Quyet Chien Tran was the first, in Seoul 2007, where he was beaten by Dani Sánchez. Tran also played the final in Guri 2016, losing to Jérémy Bury. Nguyen Quoc Nguyen was in the final in Porto last year. He got beaten by Haeng Jik Kim. The other finalist of today, Ngo can only boast a third place, in the Guri World Cup of 2013.

The first World Cup victory by Quyet Chien Tran, playing with his own model Molinari cue, was loudly cheered in a country with thousands of players and clubs. This could be first of a string of successes for the new generation. Tran climbs to tenth place on the world ranking, and Nguyen Quoc Nguyen, thanks to his semifinal, has pushed Nikos Polychronopoulos out of the coveted to-14. Ngo climbs into the top-20, as a result of being runner-up.

The last non-Vietnamese fell on the final day. Frédéric Caudron, like Merckx, Jaspers, Blomdahl and Sánchez was not at his very best in Ho Chi Minh, but he soldiered on past his first opponents: Dong-Koong Kang, Sung-Won Choi and Robinson Morales. Vietnamese Tran stopped the run of the world champion in an exciting match that ended 40-39 to the home player.

The match went back and forth, all the way to the end. Tran had had the better start with 14-8 after five, Caudron turned it around to 27-15 in 15. The home player suffered several kisses and looked like giving up, but then found some rhythm with his first run over 5 in the match. A seven in the 24th inning made it 36-36. Caudron ran a three but missed his final point. Trant ook the chance, made four to win and was cheered by the crowd. The penultimate point was a lucky one, but Caudron always says that good and bad luck are not decisive in top 3-cushion. The Belgian world champion still holds on to his big lead on the world ranking.

Dinh Nai Ngo came from anonimity and rose to World Cup stardom after his comfortable semifinal win over Nguyen Quoc Nguyen. The Asian champion of 2017 was not a shadow of himself. He lost the plot after the tenth inning (from 11-8), tried so hard to score but was outplayed by Ngo. The score went to 17-9 (11th inning) followed by a run of six, 34-13 (17th inning) and a decisive run of eight leading to 40-17 in 19 innings. It made Ngo a favorite for the final.

The tournament in the Nguyen Du Stadium lost a favorite in the last qualifying round when Jae Ho Cho got eliminated. Dinh Nai Ngo was the best in that round, ahead of Anh Vu Duong, which was a sign of things to come. Three Koreans had impressed with high averages a day earlier: Kwang Yeol Park and Young Hoon Lee met 2.727, Jin Pyo Hong with 2.400.

Torbjörn Blomdahl, back after four small surgeries, started the main tournament with a most entertaining match: a win over Tonny Carlsen by 40 points to 39 in 16 innings (2.500/2.437). Hyung Kon Kim eliminated Dick Jaspers, Dani Sánchez was sent home by Birol Uymaz. Dinh Nai Ngo made the high run of the tournament with an 18.

Myung-Woo Cho played a draw, 40-40 against Jung-Han Heo, then won the shootout 2-1. Dinh Nai Ngo showed his class against Blomdahl: 40-27 in 23, and Marco Zanetti's run was stopped by another Vietnamese, Nguyen Quoc Nguyen (40-26 in 13, 3.076 to the winner. Robinson Morales (wildcard) made it to the last 8 by beating Tasdemir, Eddy Merckx did the same when he got past his countryman Leppens. Caudron (against Morales), Tran (against Cho), Nguyen (against Uymaz) and Ngo (against Merckx) booked their ticket for the final day. It would be a Vietnamese party all the way.

Frédéric Caudron is still the number one on the world ranking. His win in Antalya and third place in Ho Chi Minh means he is also in the lead fort he overall World Cup win.

Quyet Chien Tran, the first Vietnamese WC winner


A smile and a check for 16.000 Euro


Vietnam has established itself as a top country in billiards

Final ranking of the Ho Chi Minh World Cup:

1 Quyet Chien Tran 2.000

2 Dinh Nai Ngo 2.072

3 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 1.876

3 Frédéric Caudron 1.709

5 Myung-Woo Cho 1.854

6 Eddy Merckx 1.745

7 Birol Uymaz 1.657

8 Robinson Morales 1.306

9 Eddy Leppens 2.000

10 Hyung Kon Kim 1.891

11 Marco Zanetti 1.783

12 Jung-Han Heo 1.777

13 Torbjörn Blomdahl 1.717

14 Sung-Won Choi 1.461

15 Anh Vu Duong 1.372

16 Tayfun Tasdemir 1.301

17 Tonny Carlsen 2.437

18 Dick Jaspers 1.842

19 Jae-Guen Kim 1.833

20 Sameh Sidhom 1.666.

Best average: Carlsen 2.437, high run Ngo: 18.

Ngo: 29 points in his first 4 innings

Tran: two miraculous 40-39 wins


Nguyen sent Zanetti home in a 13-inning match

The new top of the world ranking: the top 20 has 10 Europeans, 9 Asians and one African.

1 Frédéric Caudron, 450 points

2 Eddy Merckx 369

3 Marco Zanetti 335

4 HaengJik Kim 322

5 Dani Sánchez 291

6 Torbjörn Blomdahl 266

7 Murat Naci Coklu 260

8 Jae-Ho Cho 254

9 Dick Jaspers 246

10 Quyet Chien Tran 227

11 Sameh Sidhom 220

12 Jung-Han Heo 216

13 Sung-Won Choi 214

14 Nguyen Quoc Nguyen 196

15 Nikos Polychronopoulos 184

16 Myung-Woo Cho 161

17 Eddy Leppens 158

18 Jérémy Bury 157

19 Minh Cam Ma 155

20 Dinh Nai Ngo 154.


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