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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - AGIPI Masters Finals - Schiltigheim (FRA)

Billiard players are inscrutable for psychologists

Posted by on March 25, 2012

Billiard players are inscrutable for psychologists

© Didier Fioramonti
The trophee in the Agipi Masters

SCHILTIGHEIM - Two top players, both triple world champion three-cushion, made a nice analysis about billiards and topsport, independently of each other on the last day of the Agipi Masters. Dick Jaspers spoke in a brief consideration about some facets of the game, that disorder the concentration of a player.

The Dutch world and European champion, who won 50-42 in 23 innings for the fifth and sixth place against Eddy Merckx this afternoon (runs of nine in the 18th and 19th inning), concluded: ,,We have to play always to different points, then it is 50, then it is 40, with a timeframe of 50, another time to 40, with or without a signal, to the full points or in set, with or without an equalizing inning. That makes it even more difficult than it already is. Why isn't it possible, as in all sports, to play according to international rules?''

Dani Sánchez, who defeated Filipos Kasidokostas 50-31 in 17 innings in the match for the seventh and eighth place, likes to talk about the psychological side of his sport. ,,I once worked with a sports psychologist, when I became world champion in 2005 in Lugo. She had a great reputation with many other famous athletes, but she said, billiards is for me the most inscrutable of all sports.''

The Spaniard plays so many matches in which he has a perfect control over the balls and the table, he often shows his world class. ,,The elusiveness of three cushion is that one match later, you feel very bad, you have the feeling that everything fails, with your stroke and in your mind. Sometimes it even feels like I play with a strange cue. Here, in Agipi on Friday, I made 25 points in 25 innings against Kim. That's an average to be ashamed of, I can play it with my left hand. The next day the feeling suddenly is back and you play three average or more. That is what the sports psychologist means. She couldn't understand, she didn't find an explanation, like she could physical sports. The difference between top form and a minor day is bigger than in any other sport. Just look at the 100 meters in athletics. When Usain Bolt is in a top shape, he runs around 9.50, on a bad day he still can run the 100 in ten seconds, but never in twelve seconds.''

Dick Jaspers: ,,What is fascinating in our sport, is that there are so many different playing styles and characters in three cushion. Caudron, Sánchez and maybe also Blomdahl are players on intuition and feeling. I myself, but for instance also Eddy Merckx and Martin and Horn, are more calculated players. My strength, I may say, is my focus on the table. I estimate my chances before I try to make the point, I overlook the position from all sides and want to be sure that I can not miss. That makes it so difficult, in my concentration, that I also have to consider the timeframe.''

,,I have periods that I'm in a topform and minor periods, of course,'' says Jaspers, who was not in a really world class form in the Agipi Masters, but still played an average around two. Dani Sánchez: ,,The difference between Jaspers and me is: if he is in a bad day, he plays 1.800. If I have a bad day, like on Friday, I play one average, even while I felt one week ago, after many training-sessions in Korea, that I could be in my form here.''

So freakish and elusive is form in billiards. Torbjörn Blomdahl, for instance, had that wonderful feeling in the weeks before the Agipi Masters. ,,I played in training as I did in my very best days.''

The Swede, tonight finalist against Kyung-Roul Kim, seemed reborn indeed in the two previous games against Kasidokostas and Choi.

Without a psychologist in his neighbourhood, just by feeling and intuition.

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My Comments

Time as opponent number two ...
Perhaps they were an idea that instead of having the time "over the neck" for each shot, but instead introduced a chess clock. A player could then for example. have 10-12 minutes at the table (consideration and stroke) per 15 points. A violation could be punished with "exceeded time X 2 " less time in the next set, or otherwise.
This might mean that the players would be very cautious in the set before any decisive set ...

Played to a distance could be made another calculation and way to get "punish". But I do not think that a chess clock is a bad idea. Will give the players a little freer rein.

Message 1/13 - Publish at March 25, 2012 8:01 PM

what about luck and chances?
It seems to be human that we are almost unable to accept the meaning of random/luck.
The difference between 1.0 average and 1.0 is plus 80 percent.
But the difference in sussessful trys and missed shots is 50% to 66%, so the difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is only 33% ... but 80% sounds a lot more impressive and strange as well.
For a better understanding look at Caudrons book with the about statistcs by Jean-Michel Fray and read "Thinking, slow and fast" by Daniel Kahnemann.
The latter is about all these questions about looking for a reasonable explanations ... and their limits, depending on random and luck and our misunderstanding of their influence.
... but no doubt this as well contributes to a psychological outcome: if you think about being out of form because you think it cannot be coincidence, what happens on the table, then you will definitely end up out of form.
I think watching Daniel Sanchez you can almost see it how he seems to be unable to accept randomly being unlucky. And couldn´t it be possible that this is BECAUSE he is such a wonderfull controlling player ?
Even the best should accept luck as well as misfortune.

Not written as a verdict but what about thinking about it?

Thanks for the comments of the players and their wonderful play at this tournament.


Message 2/13 - Publish at March 26, 2012 3:06 AM

sorry.. misleading error in my comment
I wanted to write:
The difference between 1.0 average and 2.0 seems to be plus 100% .
But the difference in sussessful trys and missed shots is 50% to 66%, so the difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is only 33% ... but 100% sounds a lot more impressive and strange as well.

Message 3/13 - Publish at March 26, 2012 4:53 AM

The difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is twice the points scored per inning........100%.

Message 4/13 - Publish at March 30, 2012 3:32 AM

tse tse
Sorry mate: NO NO NO. look: after every inning - except the last one the player has one miss. And that try you forgot in your calculation.
In a 100 innings and 100 points the player with 1.0 average has made 200 tries.
The 2.0 player has made 200 points in 100 innings, but has made 300 tries.

So PER TRY - not per inning - he is not double as successful.

Message 5/13 - Publish at April 2, 2012 6:11 AM

Time pressure...
Avol67, you are absolutely right.

Immediately no one will comment on my post about time pressure at each stroke, and a possible solution.

Message 6/13 - Publish at April 2, 2012 12:57 PM

time pressure
In Germany we played sometimes with a chess clock. - same rules like in a game of chess relating to time of course -
Works great.
Transparent and even the slowest players have a choice in their preparation, got enough time ..sometimes.
Nice and entertaining for spectators as well, when time pressure builts up.
Time for a tournament is exactly to be calculated.
Did you try it in Denmark?

Message 7/13 - Publish at April 3, 2012 1:29 AM

Time pressure
No it has not tried in Denmark after what I know. But I may be wrong!
Nor do I think that one uses a limited time in Denmark.

Message 8/13 - Publish at April 9, 2012 6:31 AM

Time pressure
What do you do if you exceed the time? Do you then just lost the match?
You can also risk having played 2 or 4 sets and missing the deciding set and only have one minute left!

Message 9/13 - Publish at April 9, 2012 6:36 AM

time pressure
Same rules as in chess: set lost in case the time is for one set ... which would make more sense, I´d think.
Big advantage as well that it is not the referee has to do the work.
The player presses the timebutton even if the balls are still rolling. Time of his opponent starts and if the point is still made after that it doesn´t count. So more interesting tactical decisions possible, using a bit of your opponents time.
Wasn´t this first played in Mexico?

Message 10/13 - Publish at April 9, 2012 2:21 PM

Time pressure
I must admit that I do not quite understand that a player stops the clock while the balls are still rolling! This means that the opponents' time begins even before he or she knows what position the balls are going to have.
I do not know how the game was settled in Mexico!
But I mean that the idea of using a chess clock is better than the current time system. How time and penalty must be calculated is another question.

If playing with set, so I think that you "just" must lose the set where you exceeds the time.

Avol67, what is your real name?

Message 11/13 - Publish at April 9, 2012 6:49 PM

chess clock
alring you are right. If the player stops his clock and the other one´s time start, than he surely uses time of his opponent. It works quite good - maximum would be not more than 10 seconds - and it keeps it simple. You should try it and gather some experience. People always think, it wouldn´t be fair, but both players can do the same.
(My name is andreas volbracht ... system-freak ... living in 3cushion-nowhereland Australia, but return to Berlin next month.) . Who´re you?

Message 12/13 - Publish at April 10, 2012 2:01 AM

Time pressure
Ok, I'll try it when I move back to Denmark, Sweden is also a no man's land in terms of 3-cushion billiards. Jiri Novak moved recently to Australia and found a carom club in Melbourne.

My name is Paul Alring and I have a group on Facebook called "billard". The purpose of the group is that it should try to gather ideas / suggestions on how billiards sport maybe can reversing the decline that almost all countries have and what one might do better.

And most ideer are about to get children to begin playing billiards. It requires that the clubs have someone to take care of the children and that you have child friendly games that are easy to learn, so kids think it's fun and exciting and that they feel they are successful. And also that time of the day is the afternoon and early evening hours.

The first document is, after my translation is been checked for serious errors and then release it in approx. 1-2 weeks. When the group then approved it, it's supposed to be sent to all national and international federations. What they are doing with the ideas is up to them to decide.

Message 13/13 - Publish at April 10, 2012 3:45 PM

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