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Dick Jaspers Victorious in Las Vegas World Cup

Final awards ceremony

Dick Jaspers continued his march of devastation through the three-cushion world by securing a 50 to 43 victory over Sameh Sidhom of Egypt in the finals of the 2022 Las Vegas World Cup. With the win, the Dutch master notched his third consecutive victory on the world stage. Having won the World Championship in December 2021 in Egypt and the Ankara World Cup in January 2022, Jaspers secured his position as the number one ranked player in the world. Jaspers, a few months shy of his 57th birthday, also exorcized a demon of his past. In 2003, the last time the World Cup was held in the United States, also in Las Vegas, Jaspers lost in the final to Samih Sayginer of Turkey. This time, he would not be denied the trophy.

Sponsored by Predator, the Las Vegas World Cup was held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Resort from March 27 to April 2. It is one of 6 World Cup tournaments to be played in 2022 under the auspices of the Union Mondiale de Billard (UMB), the world governing body for carom billiards. The first World Cup was held in Ankara, Turkey in January, and the next one will be held in Vietnam in May, followed by tournaments in Korea, the Netherlands, and Egypt. Each World Cup has 149 players. Seventeen players are seeded in the final 32 players: the 14-highest ranked players, 2 wild cards from the organizer, and 1 wild card from the UMB. The other 15 players qualify through a series of four qualifying rounds: PPPQ, PPQ, PQ and Q. The final 32 players are placed into 8 groups of 4 (A to H). After a round robin play, the top 2 in each group advance to a knockout (single elimination) bracket of 16 players. The winner in each world cup receives 16000€ and 80 ranking points. Second place takes home 10000€ and earns 54 ranking points. A total of 106,500€ is awarded in prize money.

Jaspers reached the finals without a blemish on his record, winning three games in Group A. In the first round of the knockout phase, Jaspers squeaked out a win over Murat Coklu of Turkey, 50 to 48. The game was mere prelude. Having found his stroke, the Dutch wizard dispatched Marco Zanetti of Italy 50 to 17 in 17 innings for a 2.941 average, the best game in the main draw. In the semi-finals, Jaspers scored 38 billiards in 10 middle innings and topped Haeng Jik Kim of Korea 50 to 31 in 26 (1.923). 

Sidhom’s run to the finals was equally impressive. He emerged from Group F with victories over Belgians Eddy Merckx and Roland Forthomme, and a tie with Huberney Catano of Colombia. In his game against Merckx, Sidhom made 40 in 18 innings for a 2.222 average. He made 40 in 20 innings for a 2.000 average in a victory over the other Belgian, and defeated Quyet Chien Tran of Vietnam 50 to 38 in 34 innings. In the quarter finals, Sidhom battled with Pedro Piedrabuena of the United States, securing a 50 to 43 victory in a strategic game. In the semi-finals, Sidhom, with a high runoff 11, bested Jeremy Bury of France, 50 to 39 in 29 innings for a 1.724 average. 

In the finals, Sidhom jumped to a 13 to 3 lead, but then stalled, the points becoming harder to get. He limped for several innings, and Jaspers caught up at 14 after a run of 9. The players traded billiards for several innings. After 15 innings, they were notched at 21, each player showing some nerves. Jaspers was able to calm himself and pushed ahead, building a steady lead through the middle innings. The Egyptian cueist tried to cling to his opponent, but Jaspers continued to build his lead. At 44 to 36, Jaspers made 3, putting victory in sight. Sidhom responded with creative shot making and a run of 6, before missing a short-short-short from an impossible diagonal position. After the run, it was clear that Sidhom’s perseverance, creativity, and mental toughness had won over the crowd, but bad-to-impossible leaves of the balls eventually proved too much for the young dentist from Cairo. 

Jaspers stepped to the table, his white ball in the corner and balls 2 and 3 at the opposite end of the table. He pondered the position as the shot clock ticked down. With 4 seconds left, he played an up and down—short, short, long—clipping both balls after the third rail. After a missed double the rail, the balls rested in another impossible position. Sidhom played the shot of the game, a bounce-back five cushion for his 43rd point, but the balls would not cooperate. After Sidhom missed from a difficult leave, Jaspers closed out with a run of 2, securing his 27th World Cup victory. The crowd erupted into applause for the victor, but the audience also showed its appreciation for the second-place winner with a long ovation, and the 35-year-old Egyptian was emotionally moved by the acknowledgment.

America had 34 players compete in the World Cup, a dozen more than its allotment. America was the recipient of bad luck by the Vietnamese contingent, who could not secure Visas for all their players. At the last minute, 10 players from the Asian country dropped out, opening the door for eager American three-cushion enthusiasts. The highest finish of a United States player was accomplished by Pedro Piedrabuena of San Diego. The multiple-time US National champion was selected by Predator as one of its two wild card selections. Seeded into the final 32 players, Piedrabuena won his group with two victories and a tie, thereby advancing to the knockout phase. In the first round, Piedrabuena met an old foe, Torbjörn Blomdahl of Sweden. The American played a marvelous game, leaving the six-time world champion bad position after bad position. With a sprint at the end, Piedrabuena came out on top, 50 to 38 in 30 innings (1.666). In the quarter finals, Piedrabuena played another spirted game, but ended up on the wrong side of the ledger, losing to Sidhom 50 to 43 in 27 innings. For his efforts, Piedrabuena finished 6th in the final rankings, adding 26 points to his world ranking.

Predator’s other wild card selection, Hugo Patiño of New York, failed to get out of his group in the main draw. Drawn into Group C, Patiño struggled in a loss against Blomdahl, losing 40 to 23 in 23 innings. He fared better against Pedro Gonzalez of Colombia, winning 40 to 27 in 29 innings. Patiño’s best game came in a losing effort against Dani Sanchez of Spain, who notched 40 in 20 innings to Patiño’s 30 also in 20 innings. Patiño finished with a very respectable grand average of 1.291 but could do no better than 3rd in the group. Patiño finished 24th in the final rankings. 

Piedrabuena and Patiño were not the only Americas to shine on the Las Vegas stage. Hometown player Frank Torres, now well into his 70s, made a glorious run, advancing from the PPQ round to the Q round before falling short of the main draw. The Silver Fox, who finished 2nd in the 1987 world championship, finished 50th with a grand average of 0.907 and a best-game average of 1.235. Jesus Corona, from Las Angeles, had the high run for the entire tournament, a 16 made in the PPQ round. 

The World Cup will return to Las Vegas the next three years, again sponsored by Predator.

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The Best in The World Meet in New York

The USBA has partnered with Kozoom to broadcast matches live at the Verhoeven Open Tournament to be held at Carom Café in Flushing, New York from July 16 to 20.

Kozoom is the leading live streaming presence on the Internet for billiards. In addition to broadcasting the World Cup tournaments and the World Championship. Kozoom also live streams various European tournaments throughout the year. Its Website ( is the premier Carom site on the web with an extensive library of videos, a latest news section, a store, a chat room and an instructional feature.

According to USBA President Andrew Janquitto, helping Kozoom come to the United States to feature the summer International tournament at Carom Café was a "win-win." The summer tournament at Carom Café, Janquitto explained, is the premier billiard event in America, surpassing in many minds even the USBA National Championship. "The Carom Café tournament brings the best players from around the world," Janquitto said, and "gives US players the chance to play against world ranked opponents. Having Kozoom there to broadcast the event helps promote billiards in the United States and gives Kozoom the opportunity to introduce its product to the American market."

The Verhoeven Open will feature the likes of Torbjörn Blomdahl and Frederic Caudron, currently ranked 1st and 2nd in the world, respectively. They will be joined by Eddie Merckx (No. 5), Roland Forthomme (No. 20) and Eddie Leppens (No. 21) as well as many other players from Europe and America. Returning for the United States will be six time and current US National Champion Pedro Piedrabuena who triumphed against Torbjörn Blomdahl in this same event in 2012. Expect to see some well-fought battles as the top US players including former champions Mazin Shooni and Hugo Patino vie to make their mark on this International group.

Immediately before the Verhoeven Open, a women's tournament will be held featuring, among others, current world champ Natsumi Higashiuchi, former world champ Orie Hida, Therese Klompenhouwer (whom many consider the best player), and always dangerous Karina Jetten. Some of these players may also play in the men's open tournament as well.

For more information about the Verhoeven Open Tournament and many other three cushion events here in the US, check out the USBA Tournament Calendar.

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.

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.

Jaspers And Blomdahl Clash Again in the Final

Dutch Dynamite Dick reaches final once more.

Just as last year Dick Jaspers, the current number one on the world ranking, has made it to the final of the Agipi Masters by defeating Frédéric Caudron in the semifinal.

In the beginning, both players were clearly suffering from the pressure, a combination of respect for the opponent, the live broadcast on Eurosport 2 and the mere fact that the Agipi Masters is the best tournament of the year. The time and place where the champions get the chance to show that they are true champions.

Jaspers, especially, was looking feable at the start of the match. After twelve innings he trailed 18-6 and his body language seemed to tell the tale. Caudron looked like being more in control of his emotions, but neither he brought his A-game. Both players made uncharacteristic errors and the table started to play a part as well. Where the carom seemed to be a certainty, the cueball somehow manouvered behind, around, just past the target-ball. Not five times, not ten times, more like twenty times total during this match, both crowd and player held their breath and looked on in disbelief.

The mark of a champion is to win with his B-game and Jaspers did just that. He recomposed and even though his touch was absent, he started to produce points and taking good care of his positonal play. The turning point, when this refound composure was visible, took place in the thirteenth inning. He made eight points…unresponded, he made two…unresponded, he made three… unresponded. Now he had taken the lead and was not to hand it over to Caudron. All the while Lady Luck was on Jaspers' side, he had three lucky points and he acknowledged his own fortune after making the winning point in thirty-third inning.Dick Jaspers :'Yes i was struggling, but when i made that run of 8 I refound composure. I got lucky in some situations, but I will accept these turns of faith happily'.

Rematch Blomdahl-Jaspers in this year's final

With Blomdahl beating Roland Forthomme in tonight's last semi-final, Jaspers gets the chance to take revenge for his loss against Blomdahl in last year's final. The two icons of three-cushion billiards will clash again this year at 18:00 tomorrow night.

Blomdahl was fully prepared for the encounter with Forthomme : 'I think the win-loss between us to is around 50%. He plays a very committed and powerful game and I knew I had to be ready to perform'.

Even though Blomdahl was in good shape and in phase with the table, he never managed to run away from the Belgian Braveheart. Forthomme stuck to the Swedish Genius making many tough points. Then, it started to affect Blomdahl's game. Now it all came together. The table started to react different, the positions got funny and the arms got rigid.

That's where experience came into play and Blomdahl has plenty of it in these situations. In the thirty-sixth inning Blomdahl threw his fist in the air for sealing Forthomme's faith, who had reached fourty-fourpoints.

Jaspers and Blomdahl will play a rematch of 2008's final tomorrow, with Jaspers eager to change last year's outcome.

Final game is tomorrow at 18:00 on and Eurosport 2 LIVE. Tune in or be connected, but don't miss the end of the best 3-cushion tournament of the year !

AGIPI Billiard Masters 2009 Final Stages Live this Week-End

AGIPI raises the bar again in the world of cue sports, aiming to attain the status of a highly professional sporting event. Twenty of the best players in the world, of which eight world champions, took part in the event. A prize fund of an estimated 130.000€, including an exclusive performance-based bonus system. Three-Cushion Billiard is thus discovering new grounds and fans around the world can witness the marvellous artistry of these eight remaining champions.

2008 Sang Lee Memorial Open Winner Roland Forthomme will first battle with 2008 World Championship Bronze Medallist Jérémy Bury from France.

Center stage action will then follow with record-breaking Dick Jaspers from the Netherlands, who many consider as the favorite of the event, against Eddy Merckx – who played twice 50 points in 17 innings the best performances seen during the qualification.

Friday action will start with the Belgian genius Frédéric Caudron against youngster Filipos Kasidokostas from Greece. It will then be followed by the highlight of these stages: Semih Sayginer against Torbjörn Blomdahl, a Clash of the Titans.
Here is the exciting schedule of the coming days (CET):
Quarter Final 1:  Thursday 12/03 at 18:00 : Forthomme- Bury
Quarter Final 2 : Thursday 12/03 at 21:00 : Merckx- Jaspers
Quarter Final 3 : Friday      13/03 at 17:00 : Caudron- Kasidokostas
Quarter Final 4 : Friday      13/03 at 22:15 : Sayginer- Blomdahl
Semi Final 1:      Saturday  14/03 at 18:30
Semi Final 2:      Saturday  14/03 at 22:30
FINAL:             Sunday    15/03 at 18:00
All matches will be broadcast live on Eurosport 2 and on
Be sure to visit the website for interviews, results, news, pictures, all you need to know about the event of the year. Don't miss the final Live, Sunday at 18:00 (CET).