Cueist Chiến aims to be world No 1

July 30, 2023 - 08:35
Trần Quyết Chiến is the only Vietnamese athlete to have lifted the World Cup trophy twice, earning admiration from some of the world's top players
Trần Quyết Chiến holds the trophy of the Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup 2023. — Photo courtesy of Chiến


By Thanh Nga

Trần Quyết Chiến is the only Vietnamese athlete to have lifted the World Cup trophy twice, earning admiration from some of the world's top players.

The billiards player has won numerous titles in the World Cup, Asia, and SEA Games, with the only title missing being the crown at the world championship. The recent World Cup trophy win in Portugal could serve as an inspiring milestone for Vietnamese players, motivating him on his journey to conquer the missing title when the world championship takes place in Việt Nam in 2024.

“I am thrilled to have been able to sing the national anthem at this year’s World Cup. I will continue to practise and hone my skills so that I can become the world No 1 player,” Chiến told Việt Nam News.

Chiến made history for Vietnamese sports when he won the Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup in 2018 for the first time. However, he worried fans when he repeatedly failed in the following tournaments.

The highest achievement he had during the past five years was only the runner-up of the 2022 Ankara World Cup, when he lost to the world No 1 Dick Jaspers of the Netherlands in the final.

Trần Quyết Chiến (2nd left) and his teammates are welcomed home from the Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup 2023 in Portugal. — Photo courtesy of Chiến

At the Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup 2023, Chiến did not have many expectations after failing in the final of the national championship. In the group stage of the World Cup, Chiến didn't compete outstandingly. He beat Catano of Colombia in the opening match and then came from behind to beat Sameh Sidhom of Egypt, world No 8. However, in the last group match, he lost to Karakurt Berkay of Turkey.

Chiến began to assert his level when defeating the 2023 Las Vegas World Cup winner Tasdemir Tayfun of Turkey in the knock-out round, and the former South Korean prodigy Kim Haeng-jik in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-finals, Chiến continued to beat his young teammate Chiêm Hồng Thái to reach the final, where he faced Sidhom of Egypt again and won overwhelmingly, taking the throne in an emotional moment in front of Vietnamese fans.

Trần Quyết Chiến (2nd left) and the winners of Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup 2023. — Photo courtesy of Chiến

The double World Cup winner is certainly not satisfied and will not stop with what he has achieved, and is setting a big goal for himself.

"I am ranked 10th in the world now, and I will aim to be the world No 1 someday. That is my goal, and I will strive every day. I don't know when I will achieve it, but I will try my best," Chiến said.

Currently, players with a higher ranking than Chiến, such as Dick Jaspers of the Netherlands, Torbjörn Blomdahl of Sweden, and Eddy Merckx of Belgium, are in great form. However, the Vietnamese player has the advantage of youth. He is only 39 years old, while Dick Jaspers is 58, and Marco Zanetti is 61.

According to Chiến, his biggest opponent is not the world's No 1 or No 2 players, but himself.

“I have been playing professionally for about 15 years, and I have also gone through difficult periods with several failed tournaments in a row. But think that I must be ready to accept failure, I must know how to get up after failure and move forward,” Chiến said.

“In matches, my biggest opponent is myself. If I play well, I won't say anything, but if I lose, I will go back to train, re-examine why I failed so that I can learn from that. I have to work harder to improve myself because the road ahead is still long.”

Trần Quyết Chiến is the only Vietnamese athlete to have lifted the World Cup trophy twice. — Photo courtesy of Chiến

Great efforts

Chiến grew up in a poor farming family in Hà Tĩnh Province. Instead of following the family's tradition, he went to HCM City alone to work and fell in love with billiards.

Chiến had to do many jobs to make a living in HCM City, and sometimes he had to borrow money to buy cues.

When he got married, his family's financial situation became more and more difficult, and he struggled to pay the rent and take care of his wife and children.

Chiến's hard past is one of the factors that created such a brave, tough player in competitions.

In 2006, Chiến decided to practise three-cushion carom billiards and has stuck with this category until now. He started competing internationally in 2012, making an impression with a bronze medal at the Asian Championships.

Chiến made a big splash when he overcame a series of fierce opponents to reach the final of the Three-Cushion Carom Billiards World Cup in 2016, where he lost to Jeremy Bury.

Two years later, Chiến became the first Vietnamese player to win the World Cup when the tournament was held in HCM City. Chiến overcame his compatriot Ngô Đình Nại with a close score of 40-39 in the final match.

By early 2022, Chiến had entered the top three best players in the world, ranked by the World Billiard Federation.

Chiến has attended more than 60 world championships or equivalent and has reached the world's top three eight times, winning the World Cup twice. He has had a total of nearly 250 professional matches, according to Kozoom, the world's leading billiards website,

Trần Quyết Chiến and his family. — Photo courtesy of Chiến

Alongside his successful career, Chiến lives happily with his wife and two daughters.

Chiến has opened a billiards club on Thân Văn Nhiếp Street, An Phú Ward, District 2, HCM City to satisfy his passion and connect with young people who love the sport.— VNS VNS