Archive Page

Rodriguez and Paradowski earn DPT Wins

Chris Paradowski

The G Cue Billiard Store Diamond Pool Tour made its only trip to Tucson this season, with a stop at Pockets on July 15th – 16th. Once again, two new champions were crowned at these events, with El Paso’s Ramon Rodriguez winning the amateur event, and Tucson’s Chris Paradowski winning a marathon final match to capture the open division crown.
 
Things got underway on Saturday, with 25 players competing in the amateur division. By the luck of the draw, Tucson’s Mike Hamman drew his wife Tracie in the first round of play. Mike won that match going away, but it would be far from the last time fans in attendance would hear from the fairer of the Hammans. Mike Hamman’s trek through the winner’s side included a hill-hill nail biter over Tommy Dilorenzo and wins over Chris Campbell and John Alteri.
 
Hamman’s opponent for the hot-seat was Ramon Rodriguez. This was Rodriguez’s first DCT tour stop, and he had to play at the top of the Fargo scale, meaning he was giving weight to almost every opponent all weekend long. Rodriguez’s run through the right side of the board consisted of wins over James Bentley, Dakota Conroy, Joe Guerra and Johnny Dearmore.
 
It appeared that Rodriguez saved his best for last, as he sent Hamman to the one loss side by a convincing 9-3 margin.
 
On the one loss side, Mike Hamman found a familiar opponent in the form of wife Tracie. After the first round loss to Mike, Tracie put together a 6 match winning streak to challenge Mike in the semi-finals. Unfortunately for Tracie, the rematch with Mike was similar to their first match, with Mike winning 9-1.
 
The semi-final wasn’t the only rematch with a similar outcome, as Rodriguez scored another 9-3 win over Mike Hamman in the first and only round of the finals.
 
Sunday’s open division drew a field made up of 16 top players. Stop 1 winner, Gus Briseno, found himself in unfamiliar territory after a first round hill-hill loss to Bret Huth, but he would be back again.
 
Huth dropped his next match to AJ Jones, who then went on to challenge Chris Paradowski for the hot-seat. That match was fairly lopsided, with Paradowski scoring a 10-3 win.
 
Meanwhile, Briseno was putting on a 9-ball clinic on the one loss side of the board. Briseno notched wins over Ben Hrabina, Tonee Allin, Tim Christopher and Ruben Silva, by a combined score of 44-9. Briseno then took advantage of a forfeit by Rudy Alameda and then continued his winning ways with an 11-3 win over Jones in the semi-finals.
 
The finals saw Briseno facing Paradowski in an 11-9 race. The late hour meant nothing to these players as they battled to hill-hill in the first set before Briseno pocketed the final 9-ball. That meant a second set would have to be played to determine the final winner. Again, the match went to hill-hill, but this time it was Paradowski pocketing the final 9-ball and earning the tournament win.
 
The G Cue Billiard Store Diamond Pool Tour will travel to Las Vegas next month for a stop at Griff’s on August 5th – 6th.
 
The G Cue Billiard Store Diamond Pool Tour is proudly sponsored by…
 
G Cue Billiard Store
Diamond Billiards
Casino Del Sol
Aramith Billiard Balls
Iwan Simonis Cloth
JB Cases
Hanshew Custom Cues
Kamui Billiard Products
Slikster Apparel
Your Way Logistics
Big Time Threads

Davis comes from the loss side to win 7th Annual Ginky Memorial

Junior Singh, Ramon Rodriguez, Amy Yu and Phil Davis

Phil Davis became the 7th different player to win the Amateur event of the Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament, held this past weekend – May 27-29 – at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Held under the combined auspices of the Predator Pro Am, Tri-State and Mezz Tours, the event featured its usual array of amateur-status talent. Last year's winner, Tony Liang, was out of this one early, leaving the door open for Davis to go undefeated and follow (in order) Raj Vannala, Daniel Dagotdot, Mike Yednak, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, Rhys Chen and Liang into the Ginky Memorial history book.
 
Attendance at this annual event has grown steadily over the years, although the numbers did drop a little this year; from 190 to 165 in the $2,000-added Amateur event, and from 54 to 44 in the $2,000-added Pro event, which, by the way, was won by Jayson Shaw (see separate story). Last year's winner, Zion Zvi, like Tony Liang in the Amateur event, was knocked out early. 
 
Both events were streamed live throughout the weekend by AZBTv, sponsored by Blatt Billiards, and featuring the commentary of Upstate Al and a host of guest commentators.
 
The 165-entrant Amateur tournament divided the players up into two separate brackets of A players and B-D players. They did not meet until the very end. Amy Yu won the B-D bracket, while Ramon Rodriguez won the A bracket. Davis, defeated early by Rodriguez, came back on the loss side to defeat him and advance to the finals against Yu.
 
As the event moved into the 9/12 matches, only one previous Ginky Memorial champion remained, Rhys Chen, who, after a 7-5 victory over James Conn, was knocked out by Koka Davladze 8-6. Davladze, who'd previously eliminated James Stevens 9-6 advanced to meet Davis in the 5/6 matches. Junior Singh, in the meantime, having defeated Neven Lipovac 7-4, and Benny Rosado 7-5, picked up Gary Bozigian.
 
Davis and Singh advanced to the quarterfinals; Davis 7-1 over Davladze, and Singh 7-5 over Bozigian. Davis took the quarterfinal match over Singh 9-5, and then, in a re-match against Rodriguez, downed him 7-5 for a shot at Amy Yu. 
 
He took full advantage. Giving six racks to Yu in a race to 13, Davis completed his loss side run with a 13-8 victory to claim  the 7th George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial title.
 
Event director Tony Robles, as he is every year at this time, was demonstrably appreciative of the effort put forth by representatives from the Tri-State and Mezz Tours, as well as the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards. In addition to thanks offered to Blatt Billiards (BlattBilliards.com) for their sponsorship of the live stream, Robles also thanked sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), and the DeVito team. 
 

Four Men Qualify for AGIPI Billiards Masters Championship Rounds

Roland Forthomme

Our last day at the AGIPI Billiard Masters dawned snowy and chilly but the action in the arena was just beginning to find its heat. On table one Kyung-Roul Kim had to have a win against Roland Forthomme to keep his chances alive. On table two Jean-Christophe Roux knew that his chances were already gone but still he wished a good show against Nikos Polychronopoulos.

As is usually always the case, the early innings were spent adjusting to the rails. Runs of 1, 2 and 3 get the arms accustomed to the conditions of the day and prepare for grander things to come. Kim was the first to show comfort. In inning 3 he presented a run of 10 points to set the early mark and claim the first bonus of the day. At this point he led Forthomme 12-4 with an average of 4.0.

Roux had not shown his true form this week and today things also were not going his way. By the fifth inning he trailed 18-5. He was not off much. His caroms were just barely missing the mark time and again. His frustration showed more with each return to the chair. Sometimes the gods ignore your pleas. It is a terrible feeling, as being lonely in a crowd. The audience so wanted his points to make, but the balls refused all offers.

Roland Forthomme is a very tenacious player. He is a kamikaze who refuses to surrender to anyone. While his early efforts produced nothing spectacular, he was consistently running one or two or three per inning and after 6 innings was still in the hunt trailing Kim only by the margin of 13-10.  Kim tried to stretch out a bit in the last half of that inning by putting down a 5 to lead 18-10 but Forthomme showed no concern, only determination. He is a scary competitor. He is the kind of guy you would want on your side in a fight. If you broke his arms he would fight with his feet. If you broke his legs he would no doubt fight with his head. He would never lie down and certainly never give up.

That kind of determination usually pays off, but the brilliance of Kim kept breaking through the clouds. A run of 8 increased his lead to 26-15. Forthomme needed to develop the table into a position where he could close the gap.  But the balls he faced each time were not prone to development. He had to travel long distances each time and he rarely had his choice of speeds.

On table two the tragedy continued for Roux and in inning 14 he trailed Polychronopoulos 33-20. Again and again he could not generate more than a single point while the Greek was making twos and threes. Not the exciting performance of a hare, but the faster turtle will still win the race. By the end of the 17th inning the score had worsened to 46-27. A single inning later found Polychronopoulos on the hill at 49 with Roux requiring a miracle. The miracle avoided him and Polychronopoulos pounded the final coffin nail in inning 21 to bury the match 50-35. His average was an admirable 2.381 compared to the 1.667 of Roux.

Table one contained the true drama of the moment. In inning 15 Forthomme took the lead at 31-30 with a run of 4 points, a run that matched his best performance of the day. And Kim had cooled. He was having a great deal of trouble with the layouts that he was given and the zeros continued to fall his way. Now trailing in averages by 1.824 to 1.765, Kim needed to return to the form with which he had begun the day.

Forthomme continued to just grind away with short but consistent runs. He kept coming with great opening shots that positioned the balls for more points. After 21 innings he led Kim 39-32. Certainly not a comfortable margin, but a lead is a valuable asset as the finish line draws near. Kim seriously needed a run, but desperation and a smooth arm are not often found in the company of one another. Time and again the zeros drove him to the sidelines. Forthomme's small runs were like Chinese water torture. No single serious blows but the drops were wearing a hole in Kim's armor. And Forthomme can come with long runs at any moment. He had already given us a 15 and a 14 this week. In inning 23 he came with his best effort of the match thus far and posted a run of 5 on the back of a marvelous masse shot that brought the hands of the crowd together in earnest applause. At 44-33 Forthomme had the odds in his corner while Kim sat alone.

Finally, in inning 25, Kim found a table that he could work with. He massaged the balls around the baize and found point after point. He would not retire his cue until he had made 10 points and brought he match close at 44-43. Forthomme needed to put him away, not allow any more opportunities. A single point was not enough. Kim came back with the chance to win the match but another zero found his cue. That same zero crashed the effort of Forthomme, however, and so the match could have gone either way. By inning 28 the match was tied at 45, so the cruel brevity of a race to 5 points would determine this critical match.  

Forthomme reached the 50-point mark first, but Kim (playing the yellow ball) still had an opportunity to tie. And he only needed a run of five to do so. He fell short by two and Forthomme won 50-48 with an average of 1.613 to the 1.548 posted by Kim in a match of 31 innings.

The second set of matches on the final day featured Semih Sayginer VS Frederic Caudron and Ramon Rodriguez VS Martin Horn. Sayginer needed a win with a high average to have a chance at getting through. Caudron, with three victories already under his belt, was in a more comfortable situation. Rodriguez fate was in the hands of others, as he needed to beat Horn as well as have some other players lose. Horn was also on the cusp, but his chances were still good.

Horn began his charge early, coming straight out of the box with a run of 8 to begin the second inning. Sayginer and Caudron traded minor runs until Caudron found a run of 6 points in the second half of the 3rd inning to lead 11-6. The first man on either table to reach the halfway point was Frederic Caudron who, with a run of 6 in the tenth inning led Sayginer 30-15. Within moment Martin Horn also reached halfway on table two as he led Rodriguez 25-8.

Caudron was giving Sayginer very little air. In inning eleven he came with yet another run of 8 points to lead 38-17 and carry his average onto high ground at 3.167. Sayginer languished at 1.417.  Horn was delivering a similar message to Rodriguez as with the score at 27-11 his average of 2.455 towered above the 1.000 of the Peruvian.

Caudron never let up the pressure. In inning 13 he finished with an 8 to destroy Sayginer 50-13. His average was 3.846 compared to 1.308 for Sayginer. Caudron thus qualified for the finals in March.

This left us with still the match between Horn and Rodriguez to finish. After fifteen innings Horn had a nice lead at 36-16 and his average of 2.25 was dominating the 1.00 of Rodriguez. But Rodriguez made a nice run of 9 to keep hope alive at 36-25. He repeated that run of 9 performance in the very next inning to bring it very close at 36-34 and firm the arm of Horn with his 18 unanswered points. Horn then made a 3 to get to 39. Both men slowed their pace of play.  Neither wanted to make that first big mistake. They traded off short runs of 1 and 2 points that allowed Rodriguez to stay within reach without earning the lead.  

Trailing by 45-39, Rodriguez came to the table with a rudimentary opening shot. He capitalized on that and then made a stunning rail-first shot to lift his confidence. But he barely missed his fourth point and had to take his seat still trailing 45-42. He had by now lifted his average to 1.826 compared to 1.957 for Horn and knew that the match was well within his reach.  Again, neither man could grab momentum for a while. The innings drew short and disappointing.  

Then Rodriguez got hot and, at 46-43, he began a run of 7 points to reach 50 points first. A remarkable come-from-behind story. Horn, with the yellow ball, had the opportunity to tie with a run of 4 points.  He made the run and tied the score for our only tie math thus far of the week. Horn finished with an average of 1.923 and Rodriguez matched that with a 1.923 as well. The match required 26 innings. This result allowed Horn to also qualify for the March event.

Our final set for the week was Roland Forthomme VS Eddy Merckx and Nikos Polychronopoulos VS Kyung-Roul Kim. All four of the men in the room had a shot at qualifying for the finals in March. So this was a round of great import as the finals of the AGIPI Masters is the highest-paying event in the world of three-cushion. Kim, with a run of 9 points, took the early lead in his match 15-7 while Mercks led Forthomme 15-9.

Thirty minutes into the matches Eddy Mercks led Roland Forthomme 16-14 and Kim led Nikos Polychronopoulos 23-17.  Play on both tables was as studious as one can be under the stress of a 40-second shot clock.   

At the halfway point Merckx led Forthomme 25-20 while Kim had stretched out to a 34-19 margin over Polychronopoulos. The room was still noted by cautious play. No one seemed to be able to get on a roll. The play was certainly of a high caliber, but the tables just were not setting up for long strings. The averages proved the point with Kim, at 2.211, being the only man over 2. Kim was the most consistent player in the room. In inning 19 at his table he led 44-31 while Merckx led Forthomme 35-25 in their inning 24.

In inning 23 Polychronopoulos caught a gear and executed a nifty run of 8 points to bring the score to 49-41. Kim needed a single point to win and just could not find that final collision. Four times he came to the table and four times the rails would not respond to his commands.  Polycronopoulos kept clawing back into the match and drew within sweating range at 49-45. But finally Kim scored the final point and in inning 26 drew us to a close at 50-45. Kim carried an average of 1.923 to 1.731 for Polychronopoulos.

Merckx and Forthomme were still keeping it close. After 32 innings Merckx led 42-39. Forthomme, the man with the high run of the week at 15, just could not get anything going long enough to let his stroke out. Merckx fared no better. Their averages in inning 34 were 1.265 for Merckx and 1.147 for Forthomme.  

Forthomme grabbed a run of 4 points in inning 37 to tie the match at 44. Once again a short race would prove the victor. Merckx scored a 1. Forthomme matched that to tie us again at 45. Again Merckx found but a single point but this time Forthomme came with a 5 to end the match in the 39th inning. Forthomme carried an average of 1.282 to 1.179 for Merckx.

And so we end this leg of the AGIPI Billiard Masters. Four men have qualified for the March finals form the play this week. Those are Nikos Polychronopoulos, Roland Forthomme, Frederic Caudron, and Martin Horn. They will join Dick Jaspers, Filipos Kasidokostas, Marco Zanetti and Jeremy Bury. One of the four will take the title of Billiard Master and the first prize of 20,000 Euros.

AGIPI Billiard Masters, Round One

Day one of the second stage of the AGIPI Billiard Masters began in Schiltigheim, France on Thursday, January 29.   Our first two matches of the day were contests between Semih Sayginer of Turkey facing Ramon Rodriguez of Peru while Martin Horn of Germany went up against Jerome Barbeillon of France.

Sayginer took control of his match early and after 8 innings led Rodriguez 17-6 in the race to 50 points. After being close at the beginning, Martin Horn by the 9th inning had surged to a lead of 17 to 9 over Barbeillon. But a race to 50 is a long race and every competitor here is capable of stringing long series of points together. There is no room to relax, no moment to enjoy a lead that can evaporate as you sit in your chair.  

Nearing the halfway point the pairing of Sayginer and Rodriguez took a short break with Sayginer's lead now extended to 26-10. Rodriguez needed to generate a long run, needed to narrow the gap and get back into the game. At this point Barbeillon was in roughly the same position, trailing 25 to 14 and looking a bit frustrated at the table as many of his missed points were only off by the tiniest of margins.  

A 4-point inning helped the cause of Rodriquez and brought him close enough for hope. But he would need Sayginer to falter, to have a few weak turns. Sayginer would have nothing of it. He came back with a run of 7 points to extend his lead to 32 to 15 and put the heat on Rodriguez at a point where Rodriguez needed comfort and a calm arm.

Meanwhile, Martin Horn had truly been putting on a show. Steady, consistent play built him up to a lead of 38 to 19. Barbeillon must have felt he had a large mountain to climb with no shoes.  His efforts were commendable, but the second ball kept escaping collisions by slim margins while Horn was striking it solidly. The scoring patterns on both tables seemed to settle in to a routine. No matter what the trailing player accomplished it was matched or bettered by our leaders. Finally, Martin Horn won his match 50-24 over Barbeillon with a high run of 6 and an average of 2.174 points per inning compared to 1.043 for Barbeillon. The match lasted 23 innings.  

But then, on the other table, a window opened for Rodriguez and a ray of light found his heart.  A couple of solid innings followed by a magnificent run of 7 points drew him close to Sayginer at 38-34.  He had scored 23 points in the time that Sayginer had only managed 6. Sayginer could not answer with a single point in his next inning and Rodriguez had an opening shot to begin his comeback. He had another good inning at 4 points and, with the match tied at 38 points, the pressure now shifted over to Sayginer. These two men were now in a race to only 12 points!

Sayginer took a deep breath and regrouped for his next inning. He made two points and Rodriguez had no answer for him as he blanked his next turn. Sayginer then ran off 4 more points to lead 44 to 38.  Rodriguez managed only one point his next inning while Sayginer returned another four. The score now stood at 48 to 39 and Sayginer was knocking on victory's door.  Rodriguez again could only manage a single collision. 44 to 40. But Sayginer missed his next point and had to immediately return to his seat.  Rodriguez needed t make it happen now but he, also, failed in his attempt at a point to return Sayginer to the table. Sayginer made his two to stand at 50 but Rodriguez, playing the yellow ball, had one more chance at the table.  

It was not to be. A run of three points left Rodriguez short of the goal and Sayginer could finally relax and enjoy the win 50 to 43. Sayginer had runs of 9 and 7 points while Rodriquez high run was 7. Sayginer's average was 1.724 to 1.483 for Rodriguez and the match was comprised of 29 innings.  

Our second set of matches for Day One found Eddy Merckx of Belgium facing Nikos Polychronopoulos of Greece and Kyung-Roul Kim of Korea against Jean-Christophe Roux of France. The early leads went to Roux (6-1) and Merckx (5-2) but early leads are often meaningless in this game.  Indeed, by just the third inning Polychronopoulos had reduced his deficit to only a single point at 5-4.

The first run of any note came in the fourth inning when Kim cashed 6 points to take the lead 8-6. But all four players were spending the early part of their matches adjusting to the rails that had shortened a bit due to a minor change in the humidity of the room. They were running ones and twos. On table one the first player to get a good feel for the table was Polychronoupolos who managed a run of five to tie his score at 9 points apiece.

By the fifth inning Kim was comfortable and shooting his game. With the score tied at six points he uncorked a run of 7 to lay the challenge down to Roux. Roux, though still early in the match, could not afford to allow Kim too large a margin of comfort and yet he still had to play a controlled and accurate game to avoid any costly mistakes. Mistakes not only allow your opponent an advantage, they also work against your confidence and interfere with the inner workings of mind and arm.  

Forty minutes into the matches the performances on the two tables began to differentiate. On table two Kim was averaging 2.11 points per inning to Roux's 1.22 and led the match 19 to 11 after 9 innings while on table one Merckx was averaging 1.0 and Polychronopoulos was averaging 1.07 and leading 15-14 after 14 innings.  

Merckx then had his first nice run of the match and laid down a 9 to lead 23 to 15. This run brought his average up to a very respectable 1.533. On table two Roux had been picking up the pace and with a run of six had managed to tie, in the 12th inning, with Kim at 19 points apiece. At his next inning he took the lead for the first time, 21-19.  

At the one-hour mark both tables saw players with leads, but leads that could be overtaken. On table one Merckx was leading 33 to 24 and on table two Roux was ahead 30 to 21. Both leads could be wiped out in a single inning.  Roux was doing a good job of playing shots that when he missed did not leave easy beginnings for Kim to capitalize upon. Merckx was just making points. His average of 1.65 was very strong and keeping him in front event though Polychronopoulos had a fine 1.2 average of his own.  Making points would not be enough. Within the next two innings Polychronopoulos drew within one at 33-32. The fight was on.

On table two, Roux was maintaining his lead over the favored Kim 31-23.  But Kim had not come here to lose. He unleashed his arm in inning 18 and ran an 8 to tie the score at 31. Both tables now had tight matches and were closing in on the final efforts that would determine our winners. Polychronopoulos then ran 9 points on table one to lead 41-33 to take his first decent lead of the match. Merckx needed an answer to that run and he had a pretty good one as he ran 6 to keep it all close 41-39.  But Polychronopoulos came back with a 6 to gain an advantage of 47-39 and Merckx was going to have to hustle.  

At the same time Kim was having a small run of his own, 5, to increase his lead to 36-32.  But he was not setting the world on fire. No runs of 10 or more. Still, he was keeping a lead, though small after 23 innings at 38 – 32.  

Polychronopoulos reached 50 on table one and left the yellow ball of Merckx with a slim chance. He would have to run 10 to get the tie.  It would not happen. With a final run of two points Mercks was left nothing but a handshake as Polychronopoulos won the match 50-42 in 28 innings. Polychronopoulos had an average of 1.786 to 1.50 for Merckx.

Kim hit a nice high-water mark in the 23rd inning with a run of 10. This put him in the lead 48-35 and he would not fail from there. Roux could not score in his next inning and Kim closed him out with the required two points to end the match 50-35. Kim finished with an average of 2.083 to Roux's 1.458 and the match took 24 innings.  

Our final set of matches on day one found Frederic Caudron of Belgium playing Jerome Barbeillon of France and Semih Sayginer of Turkey matching up against Martin Horn of Germany. Sayginer and Horn had both already enjoyed victories earlier in the day while Barbeillon needed to overcome an earlier loss and Caudron was making his debut for the week.

Semih Sayginer began by winning the lag but then, very uncharacteristically, missed his opening shot. He left a tough shot however and was back at the table immediately without suffering any wounds. On table two Barbeillon won the lag and got out of the gate with a run of 4 points. Caudron would soon answer with a run of 6 and after 4 innings led their match 7-4.

Sayginer rode a run of 5 and another of 4 points out to a lead of 11-0 over Horn. If the opening miss was bothersome to him he certainly gave no display of that.  It seemed not to matter to Horn, however, as he ran 7 points in inning six to bring the score to 11-7.  After eight innings on table two Caudron was still ahead with a lead of 11-8.

Thirty minutes into the matches we had very close matches, with Sayginer leading 13-12 and Barbeillon leading 14-13.  Barbeillon and Caudron kept it close during the early stages and after 17 innings were tied at 18. On table one Sayginer began inching ahead with consistency, not flash and after 11 innings led Horn by the score of 28-15 and carried an average of 2.545.

After one hour our leaders had not changed but their margins had. Sayginer was leading 33-19 and still keeping a healthy 2.357 average. Caudron then led 28-20 but his average was lower at 1.40. Caudron just was not coming to the table with the type of opportunities that would lead to long runs. But he was persevering and he was slowly inching away.  

In inning 14 Martin Horn began a run that would change the scene for him. He ran 10 straight points to draw it close at 33-29 and the light of hope shone in his eyes. All he needed was a blank inning from Sayginer and he got it. Now was the time to strike. He came with a single point, then another and another still and did not stop until he had taken the lead for the first time at 40-33 with a run of 11 points that brought his average up to 2.50.

That was not the only run going on at that moment. On table two Caudron pulled out a run of 11 points of his own to stretch out to a score line of 44-25 and put the fork close to the flank of Barbeillon.  Caudron appeared very comfortable. He knew that if he could just match modest innings with Barbeillon he would win. And that seemed to be the course. After 26 innings Caudron led 49 to 32 and Barbeillon was looking for a miracle. It would not come. Caudron scored on his next turn and took the victory 50-32 in a match that consisted of 2 innings. His average was 1.852 while his opponent managed a 1.185

Sayginer was in danger. After 17 innings he trailed 42-34 and needed to make a spark. But his innings consisted of ones and twos. Not the type of scoring that mounts come from behind victories. At 45-39 Horn came to the table and ran off three quick points before taking an extension on the 40-second time clock to study a tough layout. He could not study it enough to make the point but still retired to his chair leading 48-39. Sayginer must have felt like he only had one more turn at the table.  He mustered a run of four before Horn returned to play. Horn made the most of it, ran the two points he needed and defeated Sayginer 50-41. The match required 21 innings and Horn carried a 2.381 average at the end compared to 2.048 for Sayginer.

Day Two at AGIPI Billiard Masters

Day two at the AGIPI Billiard Masters began with matchups between Kyung-Roil Kim of Korea and Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Roland Forthomme of  Belgium and Jean-Christophe Roux of France.  

Merckx began his day with a tidy run of 6 points, a good way to begin when you are playing Kim, one of the best in the world. After two innings Kim had three points of his own, but he must generate a string somewhere as Merckx came back right away with a 9 to lead 15-3. A pity, really, as one more point in that inning would have garnered him a 500 Euro bonus.

On table two Forthomme began with three dry innings, then put up a four to lead 4-2 after four innings. But Roux answered right away with a 5 to lead 7-4. Two innings later Roux played a safety that Forthomme could not escape, frustrating an early charge of any sort.  

After four innings on table one Kim had yet to find any traction. His high run of 2 and average of 1.25 paled to the performance of Merckx whose average at that point was an impressive 4.5. The score was 18-5, Merckx. At the same time, table two had completed 9 innings and Roux was leading 7-4 with an average of .778 to the average of Forthomme at .444.

Merckx was really on his game at the halfway point. The world record for a 50 point game is 9 innings with an average of five and Merckx was close to that pace with a 25 after five innings. Kim needed to rally to stay in the match and took a break to regroup. The break helped, as he retuned with a run of 5 to edge the score to 25-10.

On table two Forthomme was beginning to get the feel of the table and after 17 innings led Roux 12-8 with a high run of 4. Still, both players had averages that were below par. Roux at 0.471 and Forthomme at 0.706. Finally, in inning 23, Forthomme came to life and ran a very impressive 15 points to earn a lead of 35-13 and, (perhaps more importantly in this format where ties are settled by averages) lifted his average up to 1.458.

One hour into the match table one had settled into an endurance run of low innings. Merckx was maintaining his lead at 32-18 but neither man was generating any electricity at the table. Kim had yet to run more than the five he posted earlier while Mercks was posting 2's and 3's and 4's to creep towards the goal of 50. Then, in inning 15 Merckx rose again with a run of 7 to increase his lead to 39-18 and Kim needed a good inning to come soon or face an impossible task. His next turn netted him a zero and he returned to his chair as a prisoner mounting the gallows. At his next turn he miscued on his second shot. The fates were raining on him hard.

Roux was having a bad day of his own. Trailing 40-13 after 26 innings his average languished then at 0.500. Again and again his first attempts came up shy of the mark. The chair was giving him bedsores and his arm was developing a chill. One can only imagine how a poor performance from someone of his skill level must eat upon the mind. He held his composure, but sometimes in his chair his head would shake, the disbelief rising to the surface of his face.  One never wishes to be the recipient of empathy from the audience. Admiration is the goal.  

Forthomme was humane enough to finish the suffering quickly. He came with a 9 in inning 28 to settle at 50 and Roux needed a 34 to tie. He managed a two and then a handshake, as the final score of 50-18 will not be one he wishes to remember. The match required 29 innings and Roux had an average of 0.621 to the 1.724 of Forthomme.

By now table one was in the 23rd inning and Merckx was still in command. His inning began with a lead of 40-22 and he did not step away until he had marked up 7 more points to lead 47-22. Kim made a bit of a charge in the 27th inning with a run of 6 to bring the score to 49-30 but the match was decided with a single point from Merckx in inning 28 to end the match in his favor at 50-30. The match required 28 innings and Merckx retired with an average of 1.786 compared to the 1.071 of Kim.

Day one of the second stage of the AGIPI Billiard Masters began in Schiltigheim, France on Thursday, January 29.   Our first two matches of the day were contests between Semih Sayginer of Turkey facing Ramon Rodriguez of Peru while Martin Horn of Germany went up against Jerome Barbeillon of France.

Sayginer took control of his match early and after 8 innings led Rodriguez 17-6 in the race to 50 points. After being close at the beginning, Martin Horn by the 9th inning had surged to a lead of 17 to 9 over Barbeillon. But a race to 50 is a long race and every competitor here is capable of stringing long series of points together. There is no room to relax, no moment to enjoy a lead that can evaporate as you sit in your chair.  

Nearing the halfway point the pairing of Sayginer and Rodriguez took a short break with Sayginer's lead now extended to 26-10. Rodriguez needed to generate a long run, needed to narrow the gap and get back into the game. At this point Barbeillon was in roughly the same position, trailing 25 to 14 and looking a bit frustrated at the table as many of his missed points were only off by the tiniest of margins.  

A 4-point inning helped the cause of Rodriquez and brought him close enough for hope. But he would need Sayginer to falter, to have a few weak turns. Sayginer would have nothing of it. He came back with a run of 7 points to extend his lead to 32 to 15 and put the heat on Rodriguez at a point where Rodriguez needed comfort and a calm arm.

Meanwhile, Martin Horn had truly been putting on a show. Steady, consistent play built him up to a lead of 38 to 19. Barbeillon must have felt he had a large mountain to climb with no shoes.  His efforts were commendable, but the second ball kept escaping collisions by slim margins while Horn was striking it solidly. The scoring patterns on both tables seemed to settle in to a routine. No matter what the trailing player accomplished it was matched or bettered by our leaders.  Finally, Martin Horn won his match 50-24 over Barbeillon with a high run of 6 and an average of 2.174 points per inning compared to 1.043 for Barbeillon. The match lasted 23 innings.  

But then, on the other table, a window opened for Rodriguez and a ray of light found his heart.  A couple of solid innings followed by a magnificent run of 7 points drew him close to Sayginer at 38-34.  He had scored 23 points in the time that Sayginer had only managed 6. Sayginer could not answer with a single point in his next inning and Rodriguez had an opening shot to begin his comeback. He had another good inning at 4 points and, with the match tied at 38 points, the pressure now shifted over to Sayginer. These two men were now in a race to only 12 points!

Sayginer took a deep breath and regrouped for his next inning. He made two points and Rodriguez had no answer for him as he blanked his next turn. Sayginer then ran off 4 more points to lead 44 to 38.  Rodriguez managed only one point his next inning while Sayginer returned another four. The score now stood at 48 to 39 and Sayginer was knocking on victory's door.  Rodriguez again could only manage a single collision. 44 to 40. But Sayginer missed his next point and had to immediately return to his seat.  Rodriguez needed t make it happen now but he, also, failed in his attempt at a point to return Sayginer to the table. Sayginer made his two to stand at 50 but Rodriguez, playing the yellow ball, had one more chance at the table.  

It was not to be. A run of three points left Rodriguez short of the goal and Sayginer could finally relax and enjoy the win 50 to 43. Sayginer had runs of 9 and 7 points while Rodriquez high run was 7. Sayginer's average was 1.724 to 1.483 for Rodriguez and the match was comprised of 29 innings.  

Our second set of matches for Day One found Eddy Merckx of Belgium facing Nikos Polychronopoulos of Greece and Kyung-Roul Kim of Korea against Jean-Christophe Roux of France. The early leads went to Roux (6-1) and Merckx (5-2) but early leads are often meaningless in this game.  Indeed, by just the third inning Polychronopoulos had reduced his deficit to only a single point at 5-4.

The first run of any note came in the fourth inning when Kim cashed 6 points to take the lead 8-6. But all four players were spending the early part of their matches adjusting to the rails that had shortened a bit due to a minor change in the humidity of the room. They were running ones and twos. On table one the first player to get a good feel for the table was Polychronoupolos who managed a run of five to tie his score at 9 points apiece.

By the fifth inning Kim was comfortable and shooting his game. With the score tied at six points he uncorked a run of 7 to lay the challenge down to Roux. Roux, though still early in the match, could not afford to allow Kim too large a margin of comfort and yet he still had to play a controlled and accurate game to avoid any costly mistakes. Mistakes not only allow your opponent an advantage, they also work against your confidence and interfere with the inner workings of mind and arm.  

Forty minutes into the matches the performances on the two tables began to differentiate. On table two Kim was averaging 2.11 points per inning to Roux's 1.22 and led the match 19 to 11 after 9 innings while on table one Merckx was averaging 1.0 and Polychronopoulos was averaging 1.07 and leading 15-14 after 14 innings.  

Merckx then had his first nice run of the match and laid down a 9 to lead 23 to 15. This run brought his average up to a very respectable 1.533. On table two Roux had been picking up the pace and with a run of six had managed to tie, in the 12th inning, with Kim at 19 points apiece. At his next inning he took the lead for the first time, 21-19.  

At the one-hour mark both tables saw players with leads, but leads that could be overtaken. On table one Merckx was leading 33 to 24 and on table two Roux was ahead 30 to 21. Both leads could be wiped out in a single inning.  Roux was doing a good job of playing shots that when he missed did not leave easy beginnings for Kim to capitalize upon. Merckx was just making points. His average of 1.65 was very strong and keeping him in front event though Polychronopoulos had a fine 1.2 average of his own.  Making points would not be enough. Within the next two innings Polychronopoulos drew within one at 33-32. The fight was on.

On table two, Roux was maintaining his lead over the favored Kim 31-23.  But Kim had not come here to lose. He unleashed his arm in inning 18 and ran an 8 to tie the score at 31. Both tables now had tight matches and were closing in on the final efforts that would determine our winners. Polychronopoulos then ran 9 points on table one to lead 41-33 to take his first decent lead of the match. Merckx needed an answer to that run and he had a pretty good one as he ran 6 to keep it all close 41-39.  But Polychronopoulos came back with a 6 to gain an advantage of 47-39 and Merckx was going to have to hustle.  

At the same time Kim was having a small run of his own, 5, to increase his lead to 36-32.  But he was not setting the world on fire. No runs of 10 or more. Still, he was keeping a lead, though small after 23 innings at 38 – 32.  

Polychronopoulos reached 50 on table one and left the yellow ball of Merckx with a slim chance. He would have to run 10 to get the tie.  It would not happen. With a final run of two points Mercks was left nothing but a handshake as Polychronopoulos won the match 50-42 in 28 innings. Polychronopoulos had an average of 1.786 to 1.50 for Merckx.

Kim hit a nice high-water mark in the 23rd inning with a run of 10. This put him in the lead 48-35 and he would not fail from there. Roux could not score in his next inning and Kim closed him out with the required two points to end the match 50-35. Kim finished with an average of 2.083 to Roux's 1.458 and the match took 24 innings.  

Our final set of matches on day one found Frederic Caudron of Belgium playing Jerome Barbeillon of France and Semih Sayginer of Turkey matching up against Martin Horn of Germany. Sayginer and Horn had both already enjoyed victories earlier in the day while Barbeillon needed to overcome an earlier loss and Caudron was making his debut for the week.

Semih Sayginer began by winning the lag but then, very uncharacteristically, missed his opening shot. He left a tough shot however and was back at the table immediately without suffering any wounds. On table two Barbeillon won the lag and got out of the gate with a run of 4 points. Caudron would soon answer with a run of 6 and after 4 innings led their match 7-4.

Sayginer rode a run of 5 and another of 4 points out to a lead of 11-0 over Horn. If the opening miss was bothersome to him he certainly gave no display of that.  It seemed not to matter to Horn, however, as he ran 7 points in inning six to bring the score to 11-7.  After eight innings on table two Caudron was still ahead with a lead of 11-8.

Thirty minutes into the matches we had very close matches, with Sayginer leading 13-12 and Barbeillon leading 14-13.  Barbeillon and Caudron kept it close during the early stages and after 17 innings were tied at 18. On table one Sayginer began inching ahead with consistency, not flash and after 11 innings led Horn by the score of 28-15 and carried an average of 2.545.

After one hour our leaders had not changed but their margins had. Sayginer was leading 33-19 and still keeping a healthy 2.357 average. Caudron then led 28-20 but his average was lower at 1.40. Caudron just was not coming to the table with the type of opportunities that would lead to long runs. But he was persevering and he was slowly inching away.  

In inning 14 Martin Horn began a run that would change the scene for him. He ran 10 straight points to draw it close at 33-29 and the light of hope shone in his eyes. All he needed was a blank inning from Sayginer and he got it. Now was the time to strike. He came with a single point, then another and another still and did not stop until he had taken the lead for the first time at 40-33 with a run of 11 points that brought his average up to 2.50.

That was not the only run going on at that moment. On table two Caudron pulled out a run of 11 points of his own to stretch out to a score line of 44-25 and put the fork close to the flank of Barbeillon.  Caudron appeared very comfortable. He knew that if he could just match modest innings with Barbeillon he would win. And that seemed to be the course. After 26 innings Caudron led 49 to 32 and Barbeillon was looking for a miracle. It would not come. Caudron scored on his next turn and took the victory 50-32 in a match that consisted of 2 innings. His average was 1.852 while his opponent managed a 1.185

Sayginer was in danger. After 17 innings he trailed 42-34 and needed to make a spark. But his innings consisted of ones and twos. Not the type of scoring that mounts come from behind victories. At 45-39 Horn came to the table and ran off three quick points before taking an extension on the 40-second time clock to study a tough layout. He could not study it enough to make the point but still retired to his chair leading 48-39. Sayginer must have felt like he only had one more turn at the table.  He mustered a run of four before Horn returned to play. Horn made the most of it, ran the two points he needed and defeated Sayginer 50-41. The match required 21 innings and Horn carried a 2.381 average at the end compared to 2.048 for Sayginer.  

The third set of the day had Roland Forthomme of Germany VS Nikos Polychronopoulos of Greece and Jean-Christophe Roux of France VS Eddy Merckx of Belgium. Only Polychronopoulos had the feel of the tables early, an advantage he exploited with a run of 6 and after five innings he led Forthomme (who just yesterday had a run of 15) 11-6. On table two both Merckx and Roux struggled to find their arms and after eight innings had only managed a score line of 7-2 in favor of Merckx. Roux, in particular, was having a hard time with the table. After 9 innings he had managed only two points and those came in separate innings.  

His opponent, Merkx, took full advantage of the weakness. Without ever scoring a run higher than 6 he managed, by Inning 15, to lead 25-5. Table one was more dramatic. In inning 14 the two contestants were tied at 19 points apiece. Polychronopoulos then scored a 7 and Forthomme took a break. The break did not manage to inspire him. After two more innings and a run of 7 by the Greek the margin had worsened for him to 34-22.  

On table two Merckx was having his way with Roux. Not that he was lighting up the stars with runs, but he was outscoring Roux and after 18 innings led 33-10 with an average of 1.833 to only 0.556 for Roux. After a combined 36 innings on the two tables no one had as yet managed a bonus run of 10 or more and no average had topped the mark of two.

Forthomme finally found a piece of his arm in inning 20 and made a 5 to draw close at 34-30. He appeared determined to make a match of it and looked stronger after the run. A glimmer of his confidence had returned. Then, after Polychronopoulos managed a two Forthomme came right back at him with a run of 14 points to take the lead 44-36. This run also served to lift his average to 1.913 compared to the 1.739 of Polychronopoulos. Both men then scored twos, but that score of 46-40 meant Forthomme only needed a four to win the match. That four would prove elusive. Two blank innings left Forthomme with an opponent only two points behind him. Then, in inning 26, Forthomme, with a seven-rail shot that put him on the hill took final control. Polychronopoulos needed a 6 point inning but came with nil. Forthomme made the point he needed then to close out the match 50-44 with an average of 1.852 over 27innings. Polychronopoulos managed an average of 1.630.  

On table two Eddy Merckx had a nice run of 7 points to finish his task and defeat Roux 50-20 with an average of 1.515 over 33 innings compared to the 0.606 of Roux.  

Our final matches on day two featured Frederic Caudron VS Martin Horn and Ramon Rodriguez VS Jerome Barbeillon. Caudron is always the favorite and he did not disappoint. While the match stayed close through the first 13 innings with the score at that point 26-24, Caudron then let loose with one of his patented runs of 8 points to lead 34-24 and he would then never again surrender the lead.  

In inning number 20 he led 40-28 and came with a final run of ten to clam both the match as well as the 500 Euro bonus. A nice way to end the day.  Caudron finished the match with an average of 2.50 to 1.40 for Horn.  

Table two was considerably closer. As of inning number 28 neither man had executed runs of more than five points and the score stood at 43 for Rodriquez and 36 for Barbeillon who had missed many points by the width of a single sheet of paper.  

At the start of inning 30 Rodriguez ran another 3 points to extend his lead to 46-36. Close enough to the finish line but Barbeillon still was within reach.  A run of two for Barbeillon moved him to 38 points, but the pressure was now on him badly. Rodriguez was in his comfort zone in inning 31 and nearly got home with a run of three to get him to 49. Barbeillon needed a run of 12. Instead he blanked. But Rodriguez also came dry and so the opportunity was still alive.  

Barbeillon calmed himself and approached the table. He ran three points before another narrow miss sent him to the chair. Rodriguez, now leading 49-41, needed an extension for the final shot but stretched and made the point to reach 50 points. Barbeillon, on the yellow ball, still had one final chance at tying the match. He made one, then two points but did not like the position he left himself.  His attempt was not close and the match ended 50-43 with Rodriguez carrying an average of 1.47 to 1.265 for Barbeillon in a match that lasted 34 innings.

AGIPI Billiard Masters 2009

Ever since the first edition of this prestigious event, AGIPI mixed all the ingredients to bring 3 cushion billiards to the level of any other professional sport: great champions, outstanding performances, fast-paced matches, a never before seen media coverage and a record prize money.

So how was it possible to improve on the second edition? Claude Fath, president of AGIPI and founder of the event, brings several answers:

The players' roster grows from 16 to 20, with the arrival of talents from all continents : World Champion Ryuuji Umeda from Japan, Peruvian hotshot Ramon Rodriguez and South Korea's star Kim Kyung Roul.

The event format is simplified with four groups of five qualifying eight players into the quarters, a total of 47 matches will be played (39 last season).

Pan-European channel Eurosport 2 is again the main broadcaster of the event and ups the ante on 3 cushion this year, offering Live and Prime Time shows for the last 4 days of the event (12 to 15 march, 2009). All 7 matches (1/4 finals, semis and the final) will be aired live across Europe, reaching more than 33 million households. A first in carom history.

Last but not least, the audience on-site will be pleased to experience a revamped and raised AGIPI auditorium which will offer a better angle of view from the back seats. Also, a new restaurant welcomes the public on the ground floor to grab something to eat between two matches!

In charge of TV and Web production, the Kozoom team will put everything into play to make everybody feel the AGIPI experience. agipibilliardmasters.com will offer Live video and scores, interviews, matches highlights, photos…

The first session of play with 20 matches from groups A and B will be staged on friday 7, saturday 8 and sunday 9 of november. Don't miss it!