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VIERSEN - The gold victory went to the Netherlands, the silver to Turkey and the Belgians lost their title at the World championship for national teams in Viersen, having won there for four straight years. The German tournament arena held some 500 spectators, quite a few of them dressed in orange. The climax of the event unfolded at the table where Dick Jaspers and Semih Sayginer battled for the tournament win.

The Dutch number two, Jean van Erp, had already done his part, by beating Lütfi Cenet in a quality match by a surprising margin (40 - 12 in 16 innings), and all eyes were now on the two superstars stil at play. Dick Jaspers had the much better start (21-9 in 10), then collapsed for several innings and allowed Sayginer to get back to 32-25. Jaspers' final point sent an explosion through the arena and brought Jean van Erp to tears. Again his fist went up, this time to 

greet the Dutch fans that had carried the Dutch team all the way.

The 42-year old Jean van Erp, the Dutch champion of 2015, reached another and even higher peak in his career. ,,I know that the individual world title is out of my reach, I just don't have that level. It makes this world title the highest I could possibly reach, it was a dream and it has come true. There is nothing left to wish for. It is fantastic to win here and stand on the highest step of the podium in the most wonderful billiard arena in the world. And then to hear the Dutch national anthem, side by side with Dick Jaspers, and to enjoy it with all the wonderful fans.''

The Dutch accomplishment, after previous wins in 1998 and 1999 (both times Jaspers - Burgman), is not a complete surprise. Netherlands is also the current European team champion (Jaspers - Burgman). Remarkable about that, is the fact that quite a few countries have a better potential in terms of top players.

Dick Jaspers, the long-time figurehead of 3-cushion in his country, has the quality to perform always and anywhere, be it individually or in a team. ,,I prefer individual achievements, but to win a gold medal is always special. I will give it my all, and I am very happy to win this world title with my country.''

The Turkish team was basically outplayed in the final. That was unexpected, after their majestic semifinal against the favorite Belgians. Semih Sayginer and Lütfi Cenet had apparently given their all in that encounter, with a 3.636 average for Semih and 2.500 for Lütfi. It was quite a contrast with the final, where Sayginer averaged 0.812 and Cenet 0.750.

For the first time in four years, the Belgians were not in the final, which was a bit of a shock. The royal tandem of Eddy Merckx and Frédéric Caudron had dominated the event for four years. This time, the Turks rained on their parade, and the return of Semih Sayginer - who had been missing from this world championship for ten years - was given a silver shine.

The Turkish magician played a brilliant match against Eddy Merckx. He put the pressure on from the first inning (ran a nine), made it 22-5 after four innings and later 30-7. Merckx later said: ,,I was hoping for a chance, but he didn't give me an opening. He was solid all the way and deserved to win.'' (40-19 in 11 beurten).

Frédéric Caudron ran into a an excellent Lütfi Cenet, another match that was decided early by a run of fifteen from the Turk in the seventh inning (28-16). Caudron later said: ,,I have left one or two chances unused, and he punished me for it. He kept scoring, all match long. I missed a harmonica shot because of a kiss, and it opened the door for his run of fifteen.''

,,This could happen of course, you can't keep on winning forever. Especially with this Scotch Double format, which is great for the spectators but a disadvantage for the stronger teams. Eddy Merckx: ,,The Turks are a strong team to begin with, and if they have an especially good day, you can lose.'' His last remark about it was typical Merckx: ,,We're young, there will be other chances.''

The WC for national teams started off with 24 teams of two players, and had no shortage of highlights. Dani Sánchez was one of the stars who could not make it to the rostrum. The Spaniard was the best player of them all, in the group stage. His country did not advance, because Rubén Legazpi lost twice.

Torbjörn Blomdahl, nine time winner of this event, twice with his father Lennart, seven times with Michael Nilsson, went out in the first round. Marco Zanetti also could not survive, and neither could the Koreans. HaengJik Kim and Jae Guen Kim, as well as the quality French team with  Jérémy Bury and Jérôme Barbeillon were eliminated by Greece, with Nikos Polychronopoulos as the star player.

The final table of the WC in Viersen:

1 Netherlands (Jaspers/Van Erp) 1.675

2 Turkey (Sayginer/Cenet) 1.491

3 Belgium A (Merckx/Caudron) 1.700

4 Austria (Kahofer/Efler) 1.287

5 Greece (Polychronopoulos/Kokkoris) 1.753

6 Germany A (Horn, Galla) 1.055

7 Turkey B (Capak, Incekara) 1.124

8 Belgium B (Leppens/Philipoom)

9 Peru (Torreblanca/Rodriguez) 0.967

10 France (Bury/Barbeillon) 1.845.


The individual ranking:

1 Dick Jaspers 5-10-2.040-12

2 Semih Sayginer 5-8-1.524-12

3 Lütfi Cenet 5-8-1.457-15

4 Jean van Erp 5-8-1.411-8

5 Nikos Polychronopoulos 3-6-2.000-17

6 Frédéric Caudron 4-6-1.948-10

7 Eddy Merckx 4-6-1.494-8

8 Andreas Efler 4-6-1.353-10

9 Dani Sánchez 2-4-2.051-11

10 Marco Zanetti 2-4-1.632-11.


(c) 2019 Union Mondiale de Billard