Hi folks

It feels like it, but my latest Germany trip was only 4 weeks ago and is now but a memory. Visiting Sonja for a few days as well as watching the World Team Pool Championships and doing a magic lecture in Hannover made for a busy, and fun, week.

First thing I should mention is the weather. It was COLD! Not quite as cold as it was here from mid-December to mid-January but still cold enough for there to be about an inch of ice on the ground the whole time. Luckily, the German attitude towards snow and ice is “if there is snow and ice on the pavement outside your front door, clear it!” (I just wish more people in this country would take that attitude!) so the conditions underfoot were not that bad.

A distant view of the venue of the World Team
Championships – with at least an inch of ice on the pavements!

Sonja had to work most of the days that I was there and when she was not away at work, she was working hard to prepare lessons for the following few days. I knew that she worked hard at what she did, I don’t think I realised just how hard and how much she works at home too. No wonder she’s so good at her job!

The Friday saw me travel to Hannover to watch the World Team Pool Championships at the huge exhibition area in the Hannover suburb of Laatzen. The tournament was taking place in Hall 25, alongside the ABF, a huge motor show, food and drink, leisure and camping show that takes place every year. Actually, that’s not all that was on show there but was all that I could get a chance to see!

A display of Harley Davidson motorcycles with a little bit of
the motorshow on view in the background

The 16 tables that were used for both the World Team
Championships and Bundesliga matches

The tournament itself saw some 48 4 to 6 player teams from 40-odd countries taking part in matches involving Scotch Double 8 Ball (where the players play alternate shots) and singles 9 Ball and Ten Ball. Matches would consist of 2 sets in each discipline with the winner of each match being the team that reached 4 wins. In the event of a 3-3 draw, pool’s equivalent of a penalty shoot-out would be used to decide who went through, but more on that in a bit.

The matches of the World Team Championships did not start until 6pm but that allowed the Bundesliga to use the 16 tournament tables in the playing arena for some of their matches on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These involved 4 player teams playing 8 Ball, 9 Ball, 10 Ball and Straight Pool and this gave me a chance to see one of my favourite players playing, in my opinion, his best discipline – Oliver Ortmann playing Straight Pool, at which he is a former US Open and World Champion. Great stuff.

One of the Bundesliga matches – from left to right:
Straight Pool, 9 Ball, 8 Ball and Ten Ball

As for the World Team Championships itself, I had a team to support – Great Britain 1, made up of Mark Gray, Imran Majid, Karl Boyes, Daryl Peach and team captain Darren Appleton. Britain had 2 teams in the event but the GB2 team, which contained 2 SAPPA players, had been eliminated by Greece a couple of days before I arrived in Hannover while GB1 seemed to be playing pretty well and winning their matches without too much bother. Their quarter final match, and the first that I would see live, was against China who are turning into a real power house of pool talent. The Scotch Doubles 8 Ball sets were shared but the Chinese won both 9 Ball sets, meaning that GB1 had to win both Ten Ball sets to force a shoot-out. 2007 World 9 Ball Champion, Daryl Peach, managed to win his leaving 2008 World Ten Ball Champion Darren Appleton to have to win his. This he did in a very tight set that had all the spectators at the edges of their seats.

Daryl Peach studies another shot in his
Ten Ball set against China

This forced the shoot-out. Pool’s answer to a penalty shoot-out in football. The cueball is placed on the spot at the end where the players break from and the black is placed in a position similar to the black spot on a snooker table. The idea of the shoot-out is for 4 players from each team to take it in turns to try to cut the black directly into one of the corner pockets at that end of the table (see the image below for a better idea of both the set up and the shot). The first team to do so 6 times, with a 2 clear point margin, would progress.

The set up for the shoot-out used in the World Team Championships

The GB1 v China shoot-out ended up being one of the most exciting pool events I have seen in many, many years. In what felt like 20 minutes, an hour and a half had flown by and after some 40 attempts by each team, GB1 finally came out on top as winners in an epic that ended 27-25. What a match!

The next day, and GB1 were facing the surprise package of the event – Greece. They had eliminated GB2 in the last round before the single elimination phase started, then proceeded to eliminate the USA in the last 16 in a shoot-out, then Switzerland in the Quarter Finals. This put them up against GB1 who were still on a high from the previous evening’s adventure against China.

Mark Gray and Daryl Peach watch their Greek opponent
break off at 8 Ball while Markus Hofstaetter takes
more pictures for Touch Magazine

The Greek team were tough opponents keeping things tight right through the match and it went down to the final Ten Ball set, once again involving Darren Appleton, but this time he knew that if he won then his side were in the final. And win he did, putting GB1 into the first World Team Championship final against the might of The Philippines.

Imran Majid pockets the winning 9-Ball in his set against Greece

Darren Appleton pockets the winning Ten Ball to
send GB1 through to the World Team final…

…and is more than a little relieved at the outcome.

The Great Britain 1 team at the World Team Championships:
(from left to right) Imran Majid, Karl Boyes, Mark Gray,
Darren Appleton (capt.) and Daryl Peach

Sadly, I had to miss the final but this was due to a prior engagement. I had been booked to present my card magic lecture to Magischen Zirkels Hannover (Hannover Magic Circle). Around 20 magicians turned up to listen to me talk – and without a translator! For nearly 3 hours! Now, first of all, I did not present the lecture in German! I presented it in English and they were able to understand what I was saying! I was really impressed that I was able to do it! And, they all seemed to enjoy what they saw and heard. I certainly had a good time!

A collage of images from my lecture in Hannover
(picture created by, and courtesy of, Juergen Meyer

The journey home was, to say the least, entertaining. Heavy snow started to fall on the Tuesday and by Wednesday there was a good couple of inches lying around with more falling all the time. As it was, my flight home was delayed by over an hour due to the snow at Bremen Airport but such is life and it was just another part of what had been a fun adventure.

The scene on Sonja’s balcony after a little snow!

And so another trip to Germany is consigned to memory. Another trip with filled with fun and enjoyment. It was great to be able to watch the pool tournament, be able to present my lecture and, of course, be able to see Sonja for a wee while but as always, these visits always come to an end far too quickly and this one was no different. Still, there’s plenty of time this year to go back a couple times more. I just hope I am able to do it!

Speak soon.

The Cardman 🙂

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