European top gathers for bi-annual marathon

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European top gathers for bi-annual marathon
BRANDENBURG AN DER HAVEL – The balcony surrounding the billiard arena in Brandenburg creates the feel of a football stadium. Many hundreds of spectators to the European Championships will be treated to billiards in all its beauty, from 28 April to 7 May in the Stahlpalast. Would you like to watch Dick Jaspers, Torbjörn Blomdahl, Dani Sánchez, Frédéric Caudron and other stars play 3-cushion? Or are you enchanted by the subtlety of balkline, the magic of artistic billiards? Maybe you like something new: the 5-pins game can be fascinating. The European Championship, held every other year, is a mega-event that showcases all the disciplines of billiards. The European chairman Bennie Deegens, sports director Jean-Pierre Guiraud and their knowledgeable staff will welcome 500 players to the Stahlpalast this week, from 20 different countries. Together they will play more than 800 matches, for which 20 tables have been set up. The total prize money is 100.000 Euro. The program has twelve individual championships and four team championships. The matches will be overseen by sixty referees with international credentials. The European confederation (CEB), despite the rise of Korean and Vietnamese billiards, is still the largest of the four confederations that together make up global billiards. The European Championship is a bi-annual event where the best carom players compete for gold, silver and bronze. The individual 3-cushion event, which is the most popular discipline, will be played from 28 to 30 April. Torbjörn Blomdahl from Sweden is the defending champion. The countdown is on: for the next ten days, all eyes will be on Brandenburg. This is the third time (following 2013 and 2015, that the EC will be held in Brandenburg. The idea was, to bring the other disciplines in with the popular 3-cushion, because it became more and more difficult to organize the international championships in the classic games. This initiative came from the chairman at that time, Wolfgang Rittmann. He has since passed away, but is still admired for his idea. It is also important that in six of the sixteen championships, the juniors get a European podium. In the last edition of Brandenburg, especially the youngsters from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Turkey and France have caught the spotlight. The Dutch team, with Germany, Belgium and France the largest, was on top of the medal table two years ago. Holland won four golds, three silvers and three bronzes, for a total of ten medals. Germany came in second, ahead of Italy, Turkey and Belgium. Torbjörn Blomdahl, who would also win the World Championship later that year, triumphed in the 3-cushion event, beating Eddy Merckx in the final. The (then) 52-year old Swede became the nr. 1 on the world ranking, thanks to Brandenburg. Dick Jaspers and Raimond Burgman won the team event in 3-cushion, which will be played in the Scotch Double format this year. Frédéric Caudron, already the world champion in 1-cushion, also won the European title in 2015.  Xavier Gretillat and Raymund Swertz captured the titles in balkline. The ladies event was held for the last time in 2015. For this edition, the nrs 1 and 2 on the women's ranking, Therese Klompenhouwer and Gülsen Degener, were given a wild card for the open 3-cushion event.