The Las Vegas tournament was a 12-man round-robin of champions from
every continent except Australia and Antarctica, and was played
over a grueling six days. On opening day, a Mexican dance band was
scheduled to appear in the ballroom next door. A billiard fan
phoned the Sahara management and threatened to turn a fire hose on
the musicians if they played a single note. The band moved. The
billiard players all wore the requisite black slacks and sweaters
bearing emblems of their home federations. In his first match
Ceulemans won the lag against Larry Johnson of the U.S., scored 19
points in an early four-inning spree and cruised to a 60-point win
in just 26 innings. He then wiped out Frank Torres of Hollywood by
46 points in 27 innings, setting a 2-game world record of 2.264
points an inning.
After seven rounds, the only unbeaten competitors were Ceulemans
and Nobuaki Kobayashi of Japan, a shrewd defensive player who had
won the title in 1974, the only one since 1963 that Ceulemans has
lost. At the tournament in Tokyo in 1969, the Japanese had filmed
Ceulemans so that they could study everything the Belgian
does–from stance and grip to stroke to the movement of his eyes
before he shoots.The films are practically a required course for
members of the Japanese Federation, and Kobayashi admits that he’s
watched them many hours. In the eighth round Ceulemans had no
trouble handling Peru’s Humberto Suguimizu, but Ludo Dielis of
Belgium suddenly got a hot hand and upset Kobayashi.
Two rounds later, with two rounds to go, Ceulemans (9-0) faced the runner-up in the Japanese championship, Junichi Komori (7-2),needing a win to clinch the title. Leading 7-6 in the 13th inning,
Ceulemans moistened the tip of his cue with spit, chalked up–and
made a peacock. The shot is called a “ticky,” which means that the
cue ball went rail, ball, same rail, new rail, ball. Ceulemans ran
six more as Komori sat watching leaning forward for a better view.
Ceulemans ran fives in the 18th and 25th innings to open a 40-18 gap and then coasted home by 27.It was Ceulemans’ 100th championship. In winning it, he also set 10 world records, including a remarkable 1.679 per inning average.Koen Ceulemans, 16, dashed out of the stands and kissed his father on the cheek. Dad merely sipped a glass of water and bowed and bowed. And the next night, as a final touch, he finished up his triumphant visit by waxing Kobayashi by 33 in 25 innings.
Ceulemans is a squat man with tiny feet and stubby hands, whose
appearance belies the grace with which he moves. His stroke varies
from a compact punch to a long-bridged stroke, depending on the
shot in question. At the table he often nods and smiles before
selecting a shot. Sometimes after poking the cueball, he shuffles
backward, like an artist stepping away from his easel to admire his
work. Occasionally he leans and sways while watching the balls
skittering around the table. “I think always I am to make the
ball,” he says.Like Hoppe, Ceulemans built his three-cushion talents from the bottom up, learning first to master games such as balkline and straight rail.He first picked up a cue at age 14.A year later he won a balkline championship on a 4′ x 8′ table. Two years later he won a Belgian title at three-cushion. It was in his early years that he developed a special feeling for billiards, he says.
Ceulemans interview 2014.Greek subs