Los 36 Billares - Iconic Billiards Café in Buenos Aires
Filip Steurs, September 2014
Few people know that in the decades of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, Argentina was home to some of the best carom billiards players in the world.
Some of the great Argentinian carom billiards players
-Pedro Leopoldo Carrera, five-time carom billiards World Champion
-The professional Navarra brothers, Ezequiel, Juan and Enrique;
-Their cousin Enrique Navarra, two-time three-cushion World Champion;
-José Bonomo, Marcelo López, Manuel Girves, Enrique Miró;
-Carlos Friedenthal, Felipe Canitrot, Antonio Piscitello;
-Augusto Vérgez, three-cushion World Champion;
-Osvaldo Berardi, balkline 71/2 World Champion;
It was also a pivotal era in the history of carom billiards as the quality of play of the amateurs had risen to the level of the professionals. The boundaries between these two distinct worlds started to erode. Strictly speaking, Carrera was an amateur player although at the peak of his career, in 1954 when he won the Pentathlon World Championship title, he probably was the best all-round player on the face of the planet.
83-year old Osvaldo Berardi still active in Los 36 Billares. Luis Alberto Venosa is preparing a book about Osvaldo.
As a collector of billiards books and magazines, my interest in these Argentinean players was sparked by the hard fought matches they played against the top players of my home province Antwerp in Belgium: René Gabriels, Jos Vervest, Clement Van Hassel, René Vingerhoedt and the younger Raymond Ceulemans. Thanks to the help of my Argentinean friend, Luís Alberto Venosa, I was able to expand the collection considerably with Argentinian billiards books, magazines and photos.
Just as in Belgium billiard play in Argentina is strongly linked to bars and cafés, which are a part of our cultural heritage. The exponent of this heritage in Argentina is "Los 36 Billares" founded in 1894 and based in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. "Los 36 Billares" recently reopened after being thoroughly renovated. Courtesy to Luis Alberto Venosa for sharing the video and photo's.
The photo below shows Spanish player Isodro Ribas making a phantasy shot. The photo holding a stamp of "Los 36 Billares" is dedicated to the Belgian World Champion straight rail, Clement Van Hassel, who was in Buenos Aires at the time for the WC-ship balkline 47/2. As the Championship ended on 27/10/1951 Van Hassel probably stayed for more than a month in Buenos Aires.