World Cup of Pool – Team Taiwan Show Their Class

Chia-Ching Wu

TEAM TAIWAN fired out a warning to their rivals in the 2007 World Cup of Pool as the put on the best show of the tournament to date as they blitzed Denmark 8-3.

The third seeds, consisting of Chia-Ching Wu and Ching-Shun Yang, didn't put a foot wrong throughout and their all-round fluency will be hard to beat.

There was another shock to the tournament in the final game of the evening session as the Dutch B team consisting of Rico Diks and Alex Lely took an 8-2 pounding at the hands of unfancied Belgium, a late substitute for no-shows Malaysia.

Germany, represented by Oliver Ortmann and Christian Reimering, also fell at the first as they were well beaten by the Singapore pair of Chan Keng Kwang and Toh Lian Han.

But it was the Taiwanese who stole the show and the only surprise was that Denmark managed to claim three racks as Taiwan eased to their 8-3 success.

The Danish team of Kasper Kristoffersen and Bahram Lotfy took an early lead but it didn't last long as Kristoffersen gave the Taiwan pair ball-in-hand when he jumped over the 9-ball to sink the 2-ball but had no control over the white, which ended up on the carpet.

The Asian duo ran out the next rack to move 2-1 ahead and looked in the mood to run up a big lead. But that didn't happen as Yang missed his shot at the 7-ball, before Wu missed a double-bank attempt on the same ball as Denmark stole the rack to make it 2-2.

Denmark fouled in the next and Taiwan ruthlessly and quickly moved through the rack for a 3-2 advantage. The Taiwanese pair now looked in stroke and produced a flawless sixth rack as they broke and ran for a two-rack lead for the first time this match.

A failed safety effort from Yang in the seventh brought the Danes back in action and they continued to make a game of it by claiming this rack as they now only trailed by one rack at 3-4.

Chia-ching Wu, the former 8-ball and 9-ball World Champion, made a rare gaff as he missed with a thin cut when trying to roll the 5-ball down the left-side rail but Denmark could not capitalise as the score ticked over to 5-3.

It soon became 6-3 as Taiwan ran through the next and were closing in on their target of eight.

A jump shot from Yang to down the 1-ball was so impressive that even the Danish players were applauding the effort but they had nothing of their own to cheer about as it moved on to 7-3 with Taiwan on the hill.

They completed their task with apparent ease and reinforced their backing as one of the pre-tournament favourites.

BELGIUM, who only secured a spot in the 2007 World Cup of Pool due to the withdrawal of Malaysia, produced a magnificent performance to eliminate Holland B.

Malaysia had been due to play the Dutch B team but dropped out and that gave Belgium, the first reserves, the opportunity to play in this prestigious event.

They grasped their opportunity as Serge Das and Noel Bruynooghe dumped the 14th seeded pairing of Rico Diks and Alex Lely out of the tournament by a convincing 8-2 scoreline.

The Holland B side had been hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Dutch A team who won their first round match on Tuesday.

Niels Feijen and Nick van den Berg are already into the last 16 after beating Indonesia 8-5 on Tuesday and Rico Diks and Alex Lely were aiming to join them in the latter stages of the competition.

Once again a large crowd was in attendance at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam and they were in good voice as the hosts edged a scrappy opening frame.

However, an error from Diks, who had made a nervous start in front of his home fans, gifted Belgium ball-in-hand with only two balls remaining on the table to make it 1-1.

With the winner-break format, the match could easily swing in another direction and Belgium quickly secured the next two racks for a 3-1 lead. The Belgians though, seemed to have mastered the break shot as time and again they downed a ball and left the 1 ball on.

The Dutch players were rooted to their chairs and waiting for another chance. It did not come in the fifth as Belgium broke and ran out the rack for a 4-1 lead.

In the first 11 matches of the tournament, five seeded sides had been eliminated, including Germany and Vietnam, the fourth and sixth seeds respectively, and Holland B were hoping they were not another early big name casualty.

When Bruynooghe missed a long-range 1-ball it brought the Dutch side back in the game. But it was proving to be a day to forget for Rico Diks as he firstly missed an attempt to roll the 6-ball along the left-hand rail and then failed with a pot on the 9-ball that would have reduced the deficit to two.

Instead, Belgium sunk the 9-ball to win the rack and moved 5-1 in front. Another Diks error was not costly as he once more gave Belgium another opportunity in the seventh but they themselves then ran out of position.

But when Diks then failed to convert another attempt, this time on the 5-ball, it was punished as his side fell 6-1 behind and looked to be heading out at the first hurdle.

Belgium then moved to the hill by winning the next and with a shot on the one it looked like being just a formality as they were only three balls away from winning the match.

Then Das failed to sink the brown 7 to give Holland B one last chance. They did the rest in the rack to cling on to their tournament hopes for at least one more rack.

Any hope of this triggering a stunning fightback was quickly ended as Lely scratched into the right side pocket and Belgium, with ball-in-hand, sealed the victory by an 8-2 scoreline.

SINGAPORE produced another big upset with a stunning 8-4 victory against fourth seeds Germany.

The Singapore team of Toh Lian Han and Chan Keng Kwang benefited from a number of errors from the German duo of Christian Reimering and former World 9 Ball Champion Oliver Ortmann.

Germany reached the semi-finals last year when they lost to eventual winners Philippines and had been confident of performing better this year.

Both of the German side are currently ranked inside the top ten in Europe and the fourth seeds were expected to be too strong for their opponents Singapore.

However, at 3-0 down following some uncharacteristic errors that confidence was slowly evaporating and the Europeans had a big fight on their hands.

Singapore had shown their pedigree in last year's event by nearly defeating eventual runners-up USA and were causing another of the top seeds a number of problems here in Rotterdam.

Germany clawed their first rack of the match by taking the fourth when they profited following two failed attempts on the 1-ball from Singapore. But the momentum was soon back with Singapore as Reimering dogged an effort at the brown 7 that remained hanging over the pocket.

It was a similar story in the next rack as Reimering again missed with a shot at the brown 7 and again it was punished fully with Singapore 5-1 ahead.

Germany stayed in touch though by winning the next two, although they were fortunate in the eighth rack as Chan could not pot the 5-ball and the disappointment was clear to see on his face.

In the ninth, Ortmann tried unsuccessfully to cut the blue 2 in and that might have been the last shot of the tournament for the Germans.

But they were thrown a lifeline when Chan downed the 4-ball but then watched in horror as the cue ball bounced off two rails and into the top left pocket.

That made it 4-5 to Singapore before Reimering produced only the third dry break of the tournament so far. The Germans were soon back at the table but Ortmann scratched to give ball-in-hand to the Singapore side.

The German duo had hardly said a word to each other throughout the match and sat in stone-faced silence as Singapore ran through the balls for 6-4 and then downed four balls off the break in the next before a straight-forward run-out made it 7-4.

With a shot at the 1-ball on the break, Singapore knew they were a few shots from glory and Toh Lian Han pocketed the 9-ball for a memorable win.