Sang Lee International 3-Cushion Open – The Final Round has Started

Raymond Ceulemans

84 players from all over the world in the qualification round robin format. 12 groups of 7 players each played to 25 points with a total of 35 players advanced past the preliminary rounds: the top 2 from each of 12 flights as well as 6 of the 3rd place finishers with the best record advanced in addition to 5 wildcards. They joined the 5 seeded players Torbjorn Blomdahl of Sweden, Semih Sayginer from Turkey, Frederic Caudron the defending champion, Daniel Sanchez from Spain and the uncomparable Raymond Ceulemans - for a total of 40 players in a semi final round robin arranged in 5 flights of 8 players each.

The top 2 finishers in each flight would advance to a 10 man "A" final round robin to determine 1st place through 10th place - while the 3rd and 4th place finishers played in a "B" consolation round robin to determine places 11 through 20.

On Wednesday, August 15th, the semi-final round robins began - continuing through Friday, August 17th. There were no major upsets for the first two days but heading into the last day and into the final round of the semis, there was a lot to be decided.

In group A 4 players had a record of 5 wins and 1 loss. Raymond Ceulemans had to play Michael Kang while Kyung Ryoul Kim faced off with O Takeshima. In each of the 2 matches, the winner would advance to the "A" finals and the loser would play the consolation "B" finals.

In an upset match, Michael Kang surprised Ceulemans while averaging 1.4 and beating the master by only one point. This earned himself a spot in the A finals. O Takashima averaged 1.438 against the masterful Kyung Ryoul Kim, but that was not enough to take him down as Kim averaged over 2.0 winning the match against the talented young Japanese player 35-23.

Going into the final day in Group B the results were already decided - as the two Belgian balkline champions Frederic Caudron and Peter Debacker easily locked in their final positions with 1.842 and 1.436 averages respectively. Luis Avila from Mexico and Javier Teran from Equador both finished with 4/3 records qualifying them for the B round.

In Group C, it was all Semih Sayginer as the 3-cushion Grandmaster went undefeated in his flight with a 1.725 overall performance average easily advancing to the "A" final along with Luis Aveiga who lost only 2 matches. Raymond Ceulemans grandson, Peter Ceulemans and Japan star Tsuyoshi Suzuki made the B finals.

In group "D" the situation was the same as in group "A" with four players with a 5/1 W/L record. Roland Forthomme faced-off against Murat Naci Coklu and managed to finish in 17 innings securing his spot in the "A" group. The other match-up would pit Torbjorn Blomdahl against Sung-Won Choi. Blomdahl had been the strongest player in the semifinals averaging over 2.00 up to this point. He started with 1-4-5 and 3 for 13 points in 4 innings while Choi only scored 4 points. In the twentieth inning Blomdahl had a 28 to 20 advantage and Choi unleashed a run of 10 tp put himself in the lead 30 to 28. Choi never looked back and 3 innings later it was Choi advancing to the "A" finals sending Blomdahl to the "B" finals!

In Group "E", former World Champion Daniel Sanchez of Spain easily grabbed the first spot with an undefeated record and an awesome performance of 1.828 and a high run of 10. Turkey's Tayfun Tasdemir averaged 1.660 and took the 2nd place spot with a 5/2 record. New York's own Hugo Patino (Mr. 31) and Korean player Jae Hyung Cho qualified for the consolation B final.

Today will be the last day of the tournament. As the points are very close, we shall see some very exciting matches on Sunday afternoon!

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