Married, armed and dangerous


Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on August 23, 2015

Bert van ManenWhen I first saw Glenn Hofman play in the Dutch league, he was 14 years old. He was never fascinated by the classic disciplines, did not spend much time on the 1.15 x2.30 tables, which are popular in Holland. No, Glenn played 3-cushion on the match table right off the bat. He already had a stroke, but little knowledge  about choice of shot. The difference in our averages was then considerable, but I took nothing for granted and played like I would have against anybody, defense and all, and won by a big margin.

Still, it did not take young Mr. Hofman very long to make an impression on me. Two minutes after the match:

– It’s nice to see such a young guy in the league. And you hit the ball well.

“Thank you.”

– You’re obviously not going to beat any of the 1 average players this season, but in a couple of years…

” You mean a couple of weeks.”

Yes, he has a sense of humor. And just a hint of arrogance, but in a good way. Glenn is as congenial as the next guy, but he does not shy away from confrontation.

The high school part of his education was supervised by Christ van der Smissen, former Dutch youth coach and a very accomplished player himself. Christ had Glenn Hofman under his wing for five years, and it is still visible. The v.d. Smissen game is all about control, it is very technical, subtle and beautiful, but ultimately it is old school 3-cushion.

Hofman moved past that, when he went to (billiards) college: the Dallinga room where he was brought in as fourth player for the FB/Dallinga team. His new teachers: teammates JP de Bruijn, Eddy Leppens and Frédéric Caudron. His game quickly matured in that wonderful environment, and 1 average rapidly changed into 1.2, then 1.4. People began to take notice, certainly after his European youth title, a third place at the Dutch Masters and a surprise win over Jaspers in Holland, all in 2009. Had the Netherlands finally found a player to take the baton from DJ?

Hofman kept Holland waiting for a while, but the breakthrough came a few years later, in 2013. You need international success to get anywhere as a 3-cushion player, and Glenn rose to the occasion when he was sent to the European Championship in Brandenburg, (yes, that’s where Caudron ran his 28 against Zanetti who would win the title). Hofman got past Tasdemir (40-26 in 25), then Manuel Rui Costa(40-31 in 41), then Kasidokostas (40-37 in 28, finally losing in the semi to Christian Rudolph (23-40 in 41). His tournament average in Brandenburg was nothing special, but victories over Tasdemir and Kasidokostas are meaningful to say the least.

Only months later, there was another bronze medal. At the World Games. In Cali, Colombia, he beat O Takeshima (40-26 in 25), then Jaspers (40-34 in 20), lost the semifinal against Merckx (22-40 in 22), but won the battle for 3d/4th place in impressive style, beating K.R. Kim 40-15 in 13 innings. The two third place finishes instantly changed him from a talented kid into a serious contender.

Here’s Glenn, talking about two more encounters with Jaspers:

“Belgian league, I had a really good start to the season. In the first few weeks I had beaten van Kuyk, Kurt Ceulemans, Caudron, then played Jaspers. I had the lead all through the match and missed in the 21st inning at 48-37, but I defended well. Dick makes a fluke and runs out with 13, no equalizing inning for me. I could not get that match out of my head for days.

But then there was also the match in Amsterdam, in a Dutch Grand Prix. I lost 40-35 but equalized with 5, so we had to play a shootout. Dick runs only 1, and I hit the break just perfectly. In the bag? No, I manage to miss the second one. In the chair, I am now convinced I can never win this match, not after that. Then Dick misses the break, in the 2nd shootout. I score 1, and I’m in the final. It was a great reminder, that every single point counts, and that every 3-cushion player is human.”

He’s around the 1.500 mark these days, and that is not yet enough to give Blomdahl or Caudron sleepless nights. There are other players in the Netherlands, who are in his category: van Beers, Christiani, van Erp. But to put some emphasis on the obvious: Glenn is 25! We all know what an unpredictable game this is: in five years he could be on 1.800, or he could still be on 1.500. Personally, I don’t think he’s as outrageously talented as Haeng Jik Kim, who could be world champion in a few years. But I do think that with the right strategy he can be top 20, because he has the character. Loses without blinking, doesn’t whine, feet firmly on the ground. He has a big city (The Hague) background and all the street smarts that go with it, but he’s now a citizen of the world, as every classy 3-cushion player should be. Did I mention he got married to a lovely young woman from Colombia last week? Andrea, tell your guy to keep playing World Cups, okay?