Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on March 29, 2023
Remember what happened 15 years ago?
The European Championships (in many disciplines) are about to kick off, in Antalya, Turkey (8-16 April). Most billiard fans will have their eye on the 3-cushion individual, the most prestigious title to be won in this mega-event that had its home in Brandenburg, Germany in the recent past.
Yes, World Cups and World Championships are the summit of our sport. But two of the greatest 3-cushion matches in history were played in European Championships. One was the amazing semifinal between Zanetti and Caudron in 2013, the most-watched match in the Kozoom archive. The other, not as famous but just as exceptional, was the 2008 final played in Florange, France, between Blomdahl and Jaspers. Here’s the story:
Blomdahl wins the lag and starts the first set. Jaspers hits the ground running: a 2 in the first inning, a 13 in the second. You can’t play any better than that, can you? Well, in fact, you can. Jaspers has the break in set 2, and he runs 15. Twice he is in trouble, loses position. Twice he saves himself with his signature short-long-short precision. A perfect set! Is Blomdahl playing poorly? Not at all. But Jaspers is walking on water. He finishes the third set in 5 innings, scoring 45 points in 8 innings (5.625). The Swede has 18 in 6.
Shortly after the match, Blomdahl calls his dad, Lennart.
LB: How did you do?
“Not bad at all, I had 3.000 average exactly”.
LB: Brilliant! So, yet another European title for you.
“No, I lost the final 3-0”.
The most interesting aspect of this historic match is Jaspers’ extended high run of 34. He had the benefit of the break only once, running out with 13, then running 15, and making 6 in his first inning of set 3. In strict quality of play, I think it should be rated as high as the famous four runs of 28 that we consider our world record (Komori 1993, Ceulemans 1998, Forthomme 2012 and Caudron 2013). In all the years we were competing in 15-point sets, nothing even comes close to this performance by Jaspers. I have the match on DVD, and it’s a thing of absolute beauty. Not a fluke anywhere. Just intense focus, total commitment, flawless technique.
I’ve discussed the match with DJ, a few years ago. This is one of the things he remembered.
“When I missed after 6 in the third set, I realized I could still lose the match. I’m playing Blomdahl, I need to stay sharp.”
Need I remind you, at that moment in time, he had made 36 points in 4 innings?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how the mind of a champion works.