Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on March 18, 2016
The German Bundesliga is currently the strongest league in Europe, but the Dutch division of honor still produces great matches from time to time. Last weekend, two recent World Cup winners met: Murat Naci Coklu and Frédéric Caudron. It turned into a feast of heavy scoring. Murat ran ten in his first inning, Frédéric caught up with a ten of his own, later even running a thirteen. Final score: 50-47 in 15, to Caudron.
In this case – sorry Fred – the loser’s average is even more remarkable than the winner’s average. We are getting used to 3+ matches, you’ll see a handful of those every month now. But to average over 3.000 and not win, that only happens once in a blue moon.
I have fourteen such matches on record, and I will give you the list, in ascending order of combined average.
3.077. Shin Dae Kwon, a Korean player without any international experience, managed to hold Jaspers to a draw in the first round of the 2015 Ho Chi Minh city World Cup: 40 – 40 in 13. The Korean proceeded to win the shootout, so Dick left Vietnam as a first-round loser, with the highest average of all 32 players. Technically, Jaspers played a world record (tournament average), but of course it will not be recognized it as such.
3.167. This was in the 2008 edition of the Crystal Kelly tournament. Jaspers beat Frans van Kuyk: 50-45 in 15. The Crystal Kelly (at least from 1994 – 2009) had an eight player field that was so strong, that Zanetti, Caudron, Blomdahl, Ceulemans and Sayginer all ended in 7th place once!
3.233. The aforementioned match between Coklu and Caudron: 50-47 in 15.
3.233. An identical score came up in 2006, when Caudron beat Leppens 50 – 47 in 15, in the Dutch league. Kurt Ceulemans called it the “Caudron-law”: If you play poorly, you lose. If you play well, you also lose.
3.348. One of the best and craziest matches in the history of our sport. Zanetti beats Caudron in the semifinal of the 2013 European Championship in Brandenburg. Final score: 40-37, 12 innings for Marco, 11 for Fred, as there was no equalizing inning. The winner of this match averages 3.333, the loser 3.364! It was in this match, that Caudron made his run of 28, which is a share of the world record.
3.364. Blomdahl beats his “Viersen” buddy Michael Nilsson in 2014, in the European Team Cup: 40-34 in 11 innings.
3.423. This was the first time ever, that a player lost with a 3.000 average, and it was in a match between two of the all-time greats: Raymond Ceulemans beats Torbjörn Blomdahl 50-39 in 13 innings. Once again, this was in the Crystal Kelly tournament in Monaco (1999).
3.577. Again TB is involved, but he comes up short. In 2012 in the French league, Jaspers beats him 50-43 in 13 innings. The Swede had a 43-32 lead, but had to watch as DJ ran 18 and out.
3.625. This match was played in the Agipi tournament of 2010, between Filipos Kasidokostas and Daniel Sanchez. The Greek won it 50-37 in 12 innings. I certainly hope Filipos will return to that form soon.
3.667. Almost the identical score came up in 2002, when Caudron beat Raymond Ceulemans 50-38 in 12, in the Belgian league. How the crown prince became the King.
3.769. Here’s a match you can watch on YouTube, and it’s certainly worth your time. French league, 2011, Caudron beats Jaspers 50-48 in 13 innings. Maybe the most remarkable thing about the score sheet, is the fact that Caudron has no run of 10 or over, with DJ producing a 10 and a 22, no less. This is an iconic match, best watched with the sound turned off. Free jazz and billiards, I guess you have to be French to understand that.
3.864. Same year, same players. And the same winner: Caudron (see Kurt’s law). This time he beats Jaspers in the Dutch league, 50-35 in 11.
4.056. Yes, we have matches with a combined average over 4.000! If you had told me that in 1985, I would have questioned your mental health. This one is from Guri 2015, where Sanchez beats Jaspers 40-33 in 9 innings. Remember Dick going out in Ho Chi Minh with 3 average? A few weeks later, he averaged 2.942 in the Guri World Cup (but not winning it). Sanchez did, with a world record equaling tournament average of 2.739.
4.500. At the top of the list is a match that was – as far as I know – not captured on video. And what a shame that is, because it is one of the best ever played. Jaspers faces Blomdahl in the 2008 final of the European Championship, in Florange, France. The format is sets, and Dick wins the first set in two innings: 2, 13. Blomdahl starts the 2nd set with a 2, and Jaspers runs out: 15! He runs 6 in the first inning of the third set, to score 34 points without a miss. That may have been with a little help (one start from the spots), but it is certainly the best scoring stretch ever. Jaspers wins 3-0 in sets, making 45 points in 8 innings (5.625). Blomdahl had 6 innings and made 18: 3.000.
What is the highest combined average on record, you may ask? It is almost a solo-performance by Eddy Merckx. In 2011, he beat In Won Kang in the Bundesliga, 50-6 in 6 innings, for a combined 4.667. The 50 in 6, in my view, will prove to be the toughest record to break, in billiards.