I took up croquet shortly before I retired in 2016 and have become quite hooked on it. I prefer playing AC, but I am quite happy to join in with GC as well. I practice as often as I can, which is showing up as a steady reduction in my handicap.
Professionally, I am an astronomer and space scientist.
On the blustery morning of 22nd August, five members of Harwell croquet club contested the 2020 One-Ball competition. One-ball is essentially a fun game with each game typically lasting around 30 minutes. It is always played as singles, and each player only has one ball instead of the usual two. The rules are those of AC, but the play is more similar to GC, since big breaks rarely happen.
The competitors were Peter Allan, Judy Gold, Tom Griffin, Sarah Roycroft, and Mary Elizabeth Shewry. We played an ‘all plays all’ round robin with each player sitting out for one round. Everyone enjoyed the variety of a different type of game and we all needed to think what tactics were best, since they differ from both AC and GC. Of course you still need to get your ball through the hoops!
The winner, by the narrowest of margins, was Tom Griffin.
The SCF AC Champion of Champions 2018 tournament took place on 30th March 2019 at Hamptworth Croquet Club. The 14 players had either won their internal AC competition, or it had been agreed that they would represent their club. (Perhaps they had come second and the winner was not available). Harwell did not complete the Founders’ Cup in 2018, but the final will be between Tom Griffin and myself. Tom and I agreed that I should be the one to take part in the tournament. This turned out to be a good decision, since I won the tournament! The main tournament was a knock-out, with the losers of the semi-finals playing for 3rd place and others going into a Swiss competition. Each game was 14 points / 1.5 hours.
I won the first three rounds with steady play against players of similar handicaps. They were 10, 18 and 18; I am 16.) The final was against Roger Barnacle who is handicap 3. I felt quite confident since my game plan against low handicappers stood me in good stead last year. I took my first ball round 6 hoops before Roger got going. Then he scored 3 hoops. I decided to use some bisques to set up a 4-ball break and all was going well until I ran black through hoop 1, only to discover as I bent over to pick up the clip that black was the ball I had already taken round to peg. Disaster! I had not done anything illegal, but I had wasted the opportunity and some bisques. I was 6-3 ahead against a 3 handicapper with only one bisque left. Things did not look promising. However, by careful defensive play, I won 8-6. The moral being – don’t panic. Harwell holds the trophy for this year.