Apples, oranges and world records


Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on September 28, 2013

Bert van ManenOnly days after he amazed us all with a new world record general average in Greece, Blomdahl calmly told Kozoom’s Markus Schönhoff that 2.739 was not quite his highest: he had averaged 3.000 in an invitational in Japan in 2011. First of all: WOW. Second: we really need to discuss the rules and formats involved with this particular world record. I don’t see any clarity about it coming from the UMB (they SHOULD acknowledge world records, make those official and publish them on their website), so I feel free to make suggestions.

How many matches do you have to play, to call it a tournament? Three? I say no. There should be (at least) a four match minimum, five would be my strong preference.

Do matches to 30, or two winning sets qualify? Again, no. Matches should be to 40 or more, or three winning sets of 15. (note: we keep records for BEST MATCH from 40 pts and up)

In a knock-out format (such as the World Cups), only the two finalists have completed the tournament, so only they have an average that is eligible.

Here is a list of great tournament averages, most of them recent. Look closely, and you’ll see that only 9) is perfectly comparable to 8), and 10) to 5). All others differ in some way. Yes, we are constantly comparing apples and oranges.

10) 2.324 – 1995 – Blomdahl – Crystal Kelly tournament. The format was round robin, TB played 7 matches to 50, winning 6 and losing 1 (to Sang Lee). He made 344 points in 148 innings, against Jaspers, Ceulemans, Zanetti, Dielis, Sang Lee, Bitalis and Gieskens. Jaspers averaged 1.9, Ceulemans 1.6, all others were below 1.5. In 1995, this tournament average was unheard of, it was a Beamonesque leap forward.

9) 2.370 – 2012 – Blomdahl – WC Suwon. This was a UMB World Cup, the format was sets to 15. Blomdahl played 5 matches, won all 5, made 237 points in 100 innings. His opponents were Nguyen Quoc Nguyen, Ma Xuan Cuong, Raimond Burgman and Marco Zanetti. Of his opponents, only Zanetti averaged over 1.5.

8) 2.420 – 2011 – Caudron – WC Vienna. Also a UMB World Cup, same format. Caudron played and won 5 matches, made 242 points in 100 innings. His opponents were Ruben Legazpi, Sung Won Choi, Daniel Sanchez, Lütfi Cenet and Torbjörn Blomdahl. SWC averaged 1.9, DS had 1.85, Cenet 1.5 and TB 1.85.  Frédéric’s 2.420 is (still) the highest tournament average ever played in the 15-pt. set system.

7) 2.424 – 2012 – Merckx – VES, St. Niklaas. A Belgian Grand Prix tournament, knock-out and 40 pts. Merckx played and won 6 matches, making 240 pts in 99 innings. His opponents were Roger Roefs, Frank de Groof, Henk Blauwblomme, Francis Forton, Eddy Leppens and Peter Ceulemans, all averaging under 1.5.

6) 2.500 – 2013 – Zanetti – EC Brandenburg. The European championship was played to 40 points from start to finish, without equalizing inning. Zanetti played and won 5 matches, made 200 points in 80 innings. His opponents were Radek Novak, Martin Horn, Dick Jaspers, Frédéric Caudron and Christian Rudolph. Horn averaged 1.5, DJ 1.8, FC 1.9 and Rudolph 1.5.

5) 2.536 – 2002 – Jaspers – Crystal Kelly tournament. Same format as 10), Jaspers won 5 of his 7 matches, losing only to van Kuyk and drawing against Caudron. He made 345 points in 136 innings. His opponents were Caudron, Sayginer, Burgman, van Kuyk, Blomdahl, Ceulemans and Nelin. Caudron averaged 2.15 that year, the rest of the field was between 1.8 and 1.4.

4) 2.571 – 2005 – Blomdahl – Swedish team championship in Malmö. TB won two flight matches to 40 pts in 12 and 20 innings, then won two matches to 50 in 21 and 17 innings, giving him a total of 180 pts in 70 innings. I have no information about his opponents and their averages, unfortunately.

3) 2.622 – 2011 – Jaspers – Crystal Kelly tournament. A slightly different format: 2 flights of 5 players, round robin followed by knock-out. Jaspers played 6 matches, won 5, losing 49-50 to Kasidokostas. He made 299 points in 114 innings. His opponents were Peter Ceulemans, Blomdahl, Sanchez, Sayginer in the group stage, Kasidokostas and again Blomdahl in the knock-out stage.  Tournament winner Kasido averaged 2.2, Zanetti had 2.0, Blomdahl 1.9, Sayginer 1.7, Caudron 2.0.  Had Merckx (1.5) and Sanchez (1.3) been at their normal level, this would have been the strongest tournament in history, by a country mile.

2) 2.666 – 2005 – Jaspers – Dutch GP in Veldhoven. This was a knock-out tournament, matches to 50. Jaspers started off with a bye, then played and won 4, making 200 points in 75 innings. His opponents were Jos Bongers, Tom Beemsterboer, Raimond Burgman and Jean van Erp.

1) 2.739 – 2013 – Blomdahl – World Cup Peloponnese, Greece. A UMB World Cup, but with the new format: no sets, but matches to 40 with equalizing inning. Blomdahl played and won 5 matches, one of them on a shoot-out (3-2), making 200 points in 73 innings. Or, you might even argue that he made 203 in 74, giving him 2.743. His opponents were Roland Forthomme, Jung Han Heo, Quyet Chien Tran, Filipos Kasidokostas and Ruben Legazpi.

0) 3.000 – 2011 – Blomdahl – Tokyo invitational. We normally don’t even keep records when matches are to 30 (or two winning sets), but this one is rather special. Blomdahl beat Umeda 30 in 16, Funaki and Cho, both in 6, and Sanchez in 12 innings, giving him 120 in 40.

Here and there I have given you the averages of the opponents, which of course does not affect a “record”. It does make a difference in our appreciation of the performance though: compare the fields from 3) and 2).

And then there is a more serious difference, which SHOULD affect the record-keeping: sets. In that format, the player is a) punished, because after the 15th point, a new inning is added although he has not missed, and b) rewarded with an (additional) comfortable starting position (the break-off). The second factor is  minimal and can’t be calculated: how much easier than the average shot is the break? But the first one can. The percentage of shots made in Vienna by Caudron was 74,0% (242/327), Blomdahl made 74,6% (200/268) in Greece. So the set disadvantage makes a chunk of the difference between 2.420 and 2.739 disappear.

With all this in mind, Jaspers’ brilliant play in Veldhoven (2) and Blomdahl’s peak performances in Malmö (4) and Tokyo (0) can obviously not be candidates for “the world record”.  Speaking for myself, that is what a column is for, I think the general average record should be SPLIT, as we have done with match average. 50 in 6: Merckx, 40 in 6: Caudron (twice), 45 in 8 (sets): Jaspers.

There you have it. Caudron, 2.420 (sets), world record. Blomdahl, 2.739 (40 pts), world record.  Jaspers, 2.622 (50 pts), world record. Fair is fair.