Cheqio. Is it EPO for billiard players?


Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on January 10, 2015

Bert van ManenCan’t tell you anything about the meaning or origin of the name, I have no clue. Cheqio is a new product on the market, it’s a food supplement aimed at players of all concentration and precision sports. Dutchmen Rudy Loontjens (Loontjens Biljarts, known for Gabriels tables and Molinari cues) and his friend Nico Smeets came up with it, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. They invested for a few years, sank a hefty sum of money into research and product development, and are now convinced they have a winning formula.

The answer to the EPO question is: no. Cheqio has only natural ingredients, it contains no substances that are on the WADA list. It has magnesium, ashwaganda (popularly known as ginseng), virtiva (a.k.a. ginkgo biloba), lactium, saffron and vitamins B1, 5,6, 9 and 12. What is it supposed to do with you? Relieve stress, provide energy.

Will you play better billiards, in other words: does it work? I am a natural-born skeptic, but I’m withholding judgment for now. Of course the early “testresults” are amazing. The European pool team won the 2014 Mosconi Cup, and they used Cheqio. So did Jean Paul de Bruijn during the recent World Championships in Seoul, and he beat Jaspers there, made it to the semifinals. Very impressive.

But then…Europe also won the Mosconi Cup in 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. De Bruijn has beaten Jaspers many times, he was in the world’s elite top 12 for a few years, fifth in the world for a while. If Cheqio wants to make its case, it will have to come up with something better. Still, there is a good chance I will try the product, if only for this reason: I will be able to report to you all about it.

Cue sports and substance use (or abuse) have always gone hand in hand. We are forever wondering why our aim is so accurate one day, so erratic the next. And our focus! If only our minds did not wander so often. If only we were “in the zone” all the time. Maybe if we felt  physically comfortable, we would think and stroke straight. Our brain would obey our will and use all its computing capacity to get the cue ball in the right trajectory.

So we try to feel good inside. We NEED to feel good inside. What’s our plan? A good night’s sleep and a fiber-rich breakfast, followed by some light jogging? Nah… that’s for sissies in leotards (and for DJ). We are billiard players and proud of it, we stick to the holy trinity: caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

Sadly, they all work – a little bit, for a limited time – before they become counterproductive. Caffeine makes you more alert, nicotine calms your nerves and alcohol reduces fears and inhibitions. The combination of  alcohol and nicotine is especially wonderful, they are a dream team. One widens the blood vessels, the other narrows them. “I’ll have another beer” and “I’ll have another cigarette” are like your feet when you are on a bicycle. Up, down. Up, down. Only when it comes to billiards, it’s more like up, down, up, down, down, down, down.  (There’s a Status Quo song somewhere in there.) Many people have played sensational billiards DESPITE their drinking and smoking. Nobody has ever played great BECAUSE OF alcohol and nicotine (believe me, I’ve tried).

A former teammate of mine used to drink six or seven bottles of coke during a two hour match. He never won more than 3 or 4 of his 22 matches in a season, and often complained that billiards gave him a headache. “I need to play well today. I’ll put 63 sugar cubes in my stomach”.  Yep, billiard players are experts in self-medication.

Talking about meds, of course the beta-blockers come to mind. They have been scientifically tested, and they DO work. Your heart rate will get lower, you will no longer shake or tremble. To my knowledge, BB are the only substance that will actually make you perform better at the 3-cushion table. Don’t get excited: they are forbidden. The extremely talented but perennially nervous French champion Richard Bitalis was tested positive for BB more than once, and so were a few lesser known Belgian players in the late eighties. Back then, Bitalis got out of trouble with a notice from his doctor. Those days are over: betablockers are now considered doping.

A quick last question to you all, before I go to the website and order my test package of Cheqio:  do you think it is fair that many types of sleep medication and pain killers are forbidden for billiard players, even though they will not do anything to give you an advantage in competition?  I am assuming none of us want to allow the top players to use synthetic drugs, cocaine or opiates, but where should the line be drawn? Is cannabis okay, in your view? (WADA says it’s not).

I’ll report on Cheqio, a few months from now. But don’t take my findings too seriously: I’m 57 and a recreational player now. Who needs his coffee. WADA, please don’t take away my coffee.