Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on January 26, 2021

A few joyful billiard memories 2/3

If you are a top player, your words matter. They carry weight, get remembered and repeated, days or years later. Which is why most of the 3-cushion superstars have developed diplomatic talents. They don’t use harsh language often, when discussing matches. And they usually have respectful things to say about their colleagues. The “trash talking” that is common in some sports (even in our “cousin” pool) may be exciting and colorful, but it has no place in 3-cushion billiards.

Say you’re a 0.750 player who has just lost his match 17 – 40 in 43 innings. You hate yourself so badly, you are about to stick your head in the toilet bowl and flush. Then you run into Leppens or Horn or Carlsen, who were among the spectators. If a guy of that caliber says: “Man, you had so many shitty positions in that match! I know how it feels, it happens to us all”, he has put you on the road to recovery in a matter of seconds. They have that power.

If you are lucky enough to have a world class player in your circle of friends, you can take it to the next level. You complain about your horrible luck in a match, and they will explain to you how most of it was the result of your own poor decisions. Cherish these moments! They can be pivotal in your career.

A short conversation with TB I’ll never forget, is this one from 1998:
I’m in a World Cup first round, playing an opponent who is much stronger. Two – zero down in sets, but I win an excellent third set in three innings: 1-10-4. There’s a five-minute break, and Blomdahl says:
“That was a very good run.”
Thank you, I say. In my mind, I’m already preparing to tell him about the positional shots I was most proud of.
“I am talking about the 4, of course. Stevie Wonder could have made that 10, the way the balls rolled. But the 4 was classy.”

Maybe you’re a 1.300 player, or an 0.800, or a 0.500. But there are always players around you who don’t have your knowledge, your skill or your experience. We are all somebody’s Blomdahl. Think before you speak.