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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Grand Prix - Rosmalen (NED)

Jean Bessems (76), come-back of great champion

Posted by on October 18, 2021

Jean Bessems (76), come-back of great champion

© Jean Bessems archive
Jean Bessems in 1988 (left) and in 2015

ROSMALEN - The former world and European champion artistic billiards, Jean Bessems from Holland, returns to the billiard arena of the Grand Prix in Rosmalen today. That surely is a quite special return to the table for the 76-year-old Limburg player, who dominated the world of artistic billiards between 1980 and 1990. He was twice world champion and four times European champion in these years. With that record, Bessems still belongs to the absolute top players in artistic billiards, following players like Raymond Steylaerts (six world titles), Leo Corin (four), Jean Reverchon and Joaquin Domingo (three).

His former trainer René Vingerhoedt once said that Bessems was a player with a perfect stroke. Sander Jonen, one of his successors in the Netherlands also with two world titles, says that Bessems was one of the best artistic billiard players ever. After his last world title in 1988, the Limburg player did not really come back again as an artistic player. There was a long fight in those days between the KNBB federation and the three-cushion players. Jean: ''If you wanted to play three-cushion as an artistic player, you were suspended for artistic tournaments. And the other way round, you were suspended for three-cushion. Then I stopped playing, because I didn't want to go through that again.''

For the younger generations of billiard players, the name of Jean Bessems does not sound familiar anymore. The great successes in the artistic field are usually overshadowed by championships in three cushion and one cushion. The then still young Limburg playerer, born and raised in Cadier en Keer, made his international breakthrough, however, when he was twenty on the European Youth Championship. Six years later, Bessems won his first medal: silver at the European Championships balk-line 47/2 in Nice.

He won his first world artistic title in 1985 in Sluis, Zeeland, beating Francis Connesson, Maurice Coyret, Raymond Steylaerts and Leo Corin. Three years later, a second world title followed in Stockerau, Austria, where he stood on the highest stage with Leo Corin and Jan Brunnekreef. The European successes followed each other in even quicker succession. Jean Bessems was the best of Europe in 1986 (Bruay, France), 1987 (Gorssel, Netherlands), 1988 (Dongen, Netherlands) and 1989 (Wilrijk, Belgium). From 1981 onwards, Bessems was Dutch champion eight times in a row in the artistic and five times in the balk-line disciplines 47/2, 47/1 and 71/2.

Jean Bessems, born on January 4, 1945, came from a family of which the father was a farmer, a pigeon fancier and later a cafe owner. At the age of 14, young Jean started playing billiards, he also played football until he was 19. ''In my early career, at the end of the eighties, I played a three cushion Grand Prix final against Arie Weijenburg once'', he says. ''After that, I only played a few times.'' In daily life, Jean was a machine bench worker at Hilton Engineering in Maastricht, where he took early retirement at the age of 61. He lives in Maastricht since 15 years now with his wife Bep, to whom he has been married for almost 50 years.

''When I stopped working, I slowly started playing again, first on the small table, the last four, five years on the match table. I play matches and do some practice occasionally in the Village Centre in Gronfeld, where the bowling alley has disappeared and billiards have replaced it.'' Bessems plays three cushion for a team in the third division, VK3 Windex, with among others Johan Ekkerink, Hub Vereggen and Cor de Ree.

The come-back in a Grand Prix, Jean Bessems makes today (Monday) in Rosmalen in a group with two former artistic players: Ger Holka and Fred Groen. Bessem's current average in the league is 0,825 with a best run of 9.

Jean Bessems in his very young years playing for KNBB federation

Jean Bessems won two world titles and four European titles




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