SEOUL - The Korean billiards and training centre in Taereung, near the capital Seoul, saw the start of the penultimate World Cup three-cushion on Monday. The tournament is on the calendar between Veghel (Netherlands) and Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), two places widely praised by players for their accommodations, playing venue and atmosphere. The World Cup in South Korea, which is after all the mecca of three-cushion, is a setback according to the first European players who have arrived there. The reactions: ''An poor playing hall, no spectators, no food to be had, no clean bathrooms.'' But fortunately, the match tables are of high quality.
That was demonstrated, among others, by Korean Jin Youl Kim, who started his match against Turk Muharrem Peker with a run of 15. And the day's numbers 1 and 2 were Sung Won Jang with 2.222 average and Raul Cuenca with 2.000.
Raul Cuenca, the Spanish classical player, won all his first four games there with 2,000 on average on the second day. The 43-year-old player, with several European titles to his name, made the comparison with Veghel, last week. ’’For us, the players, Veghel was a perfect place to be and to play: eat what you want, good hotels, supermarket next to the venue, close to the airport, good music during the matches and lots of spectators who came to cheer on their idols. Very nice atmosphere. Here in Seoul, when I came here, it was a big disappointment because there is nothing at all nearby. The arena is a very old pavilion, there are no spectators. I am sure there are much nicer places to play a World Cup in this billiard country. I must say: the Korean people of the organization are pleasant, everything else could be much better.''
Raul Cuenca survived his second day in Seoul on Tuesday, playing his second World Cup in a row. ''I was second in the Spanish ranking behind Ruben Legazpi, that is why the Spanish federation has entered me for the last three World Cups this year. I will not be able to play in Sharm El Sheikh because of work and family.''
The Spaniard still has his work at the hospital in Elda, 100 kilometers from his home. He is married, his wife is studying at university and they have two children: Marc aged 9 and Aran aged 1. ''So I am the only one who has to work, which is why it is a problem financially to participate in all the World Cups.'' Nevertheless, Cuenca, who has his practice two to three times a week, wants to continue playing all disciplines and also improve his level in three-cushion. ''In the Spanish Grand Prix tournaments, I made the semi-finals three times. Spanish PBA players are not allowed to play individual Grand Prix tournaments, but we have many high-level players in Spain. I also want to develop further in three-cushion.''
His victories on Tuesday gave Raul Cuenca a lot of confidence for a good form. He first beat Colombia's Daniel Morales 30-25 in 17 and then devoured Turkey's Gülsen Degener, who only scored twice in the equalizer on on a score of 30-2 (!) in 13.
Song Won Jang was an even better winner with 30 in 14 against Marcos Morales and 30 in 13 against Manolis Minaoglu.
The rankings are dominated by seven Koreans as group winners, four Turks and two Western Europeans, Spaniard Raul Cuenca and Dutchman Jordy Kruijf, who is playing in Korea for the first time after 15 World Cups abroad and won his match against Japanese Kanbara, among others.
Tuesday's daily rankings:
- Sung Won Jang 4-2.200-11
- Raul Cuenca 4-2.000-6
- Van Ly Dao 4-1.764-7
- Tarik Yavuz 4-1.500-8
- Jin Youl Kim 4-1.463-15
- Su Hyun Cho 4-1.363-6
- Muammer Rahmet 4-1.333-6
- Jin Woo Heo 4-1.304-8
- Yong Pyo Lee 4-1.304-6
- Su Yeong Park 4-1.250-6
- Viet Hoang Minh 4-1.200-7
- Ali Gunbay 4-1.071-8
- Jordy de Kruijf 4-0.810-6
- Hyun Il Song 3-1.016-7
- Han Thanh Lam 2-1.500-8
- Ismet Esen 2-1.106-6
Most known players for the Wednesday groups
Poule A: David Pennör, Manuel Rui Costa
Poule C: Jose Juan Garcia, Dong Ryong Kim, Jordy de Krijf
Poule D: Burak Hashas, Robinson Morales
Poule E: Jeffrey Jorissen, Wan Young Choi, Viet Hoang Minh Thon
Poule F: Ryuuji Umeda, Cengiz Karaca
Poule G: Sam van Etten, Han Thanh Lam, Jose Miguel Soares
Poule H: Joey de Kok, Young Pyo Lee, Turgay Orak
Poule I: Tran Thanh Tu Nguyen
Poule J: Gökhan Salman, Muammer Rahmet, Jun Hyuk Son
Poule K: Volkan Cetin, Su Hyun Cho, Omer Karakurt
Poule N: Van Ly Dao, Hoan Tat Nguyen
Poule O: Tatsuo Arai, Raul Cuenca, Kostas Kokkoris
Poule P: Pierre Soumagne, Ahmet Alp, Sung Won Jang.