We have finally finished the 2020 GC handicap competition.
After a late start last year due to what we now know as Lockdown 1, we made good progress with the block stages, where all of the players in a block played against each other to determine which two players from each block should go into the semi-final matches.
However, before we could play either of the semi-final matches, Lockdown 2 was declared. Once that was over, Mary Elizabeth Shewry and Peter Allan played their semi-final. Peter winning 7-4, 7-4.
Then along came bad weather in the run up to Christmas and Lockdown 3, which prevented play for a further 12 weeks.
Finally, Lockdown 3 was over, we had some decent weather, and hopefully we could still remember how to play. Tom Griffin and Judy Goodall contested the second semi-final on 1st April and Tom won 7-3, 7-5. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Tom and Peter played the final. It was a close match that swung one way and then the other, but in a nail-biting finish, Peter just won, 7-5, 1-7, 7-6.
According to government plans, it will be possible to restart playing outdoor sports such as croquet and golf on Monday 29th March 2021. We are intending to re-open the lawns on that Monday morning.
The restrictions that we were operating under last year – no more than six players on a lawn at any one time, you must sign up on the booking system before playing – will still apply for the next few months.
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.
Report by Peter Allan of the Blewbury AC weekend handicap tournament on 11th and 12th August. Six players (Richard Peperell, Jonathan Lambton, Bruce Gallop, Steve Fisher, Kevin Colton, and myself) arrived on Saturday morning looking forward to some enjoyable croquet, but fearing a rather wet weekend as the forecast was not good. Fortunately, there was little rain and none of it was heavy. Everyone would play everyone else, three games on Saturday and two on Sunday, with a pub lunch on Sunday between the two games. At the end of Saturday, I was happy, feeling that I had played well and won all my three matches, but it was still anyone’s tournament. Sunday had two particularly exciting games. Steve Fisher and Kevin Colton were playing. Kevin was ahead by three hoops with 10 minute to go, but Steve was in and looked as though he was likely to catch Kevin. Steve ran 2-back with black to take the lead as time ran out. He then tried for 3-back, but just failed to run the hoop by about 2mm. Kevin now had a last chance to run rover, which he did. The match was tied! On to the golden hoop. At this point we all realised that it was Steve to play and all he needed to do to win was to hit black those last 2mm. He did it! The result of the tournament rested on the outcome of the last match still being played. If Jonathan Lambton beat Steve Fisher, then Jonathan would win the tournament. However if Steve won the game, then I would win the tournament. When I started watching, Steve was well ahead and Jonathan’s black was still for hoop 1. However, Jonathan had shown that he is perfectly capable of taking a ball all the way round in a single turn. Jonathan was making progress, but as time started to run out, thing got tense. It could still go either way. Fortunately for me, Steve won the game, so I won the trophy. Thanks go to Paul Wolff and Nick Butler for organising the weekend. Everyone had a good time and I definitely plan to play next year. Peter Allan
Report by Peter Allan of the local heat of the All-England AC Handicap competition held at Blewbury on 9th June. There were six competitors in this local heat. We played three 18-point matches each and the handicap was calculated to a base of 6. This was the first time that I had come across this method of calculating bisques. Essentially the number of bisques that you get is your handicap, minus 6, but then reduced as the game was 18 points rather than the full 26 points. The idea is to get the game moving quickly since both players (mostly) received bisques. It was not simple to find the winner, since four out of the six player won two matches. Fortunately, I had scored more hoops than anyone else, so I will progress onward to the area final in September. Peter Allan
Over the weekend of 19-20 May 2018, I played in an AC doubles competition at Roehampton with Kevin Carter, who is a member at Surbiton. The weather was just right – blue sky and not too hot. The lawns were in good condition and were much faster than our lawns at Harwell. Fortunately, I got used to them pretty quickly. Kevin and I won all of our five matches and hence we won the competition, which has a silver trophy as the prize. Unfortunately, the club requires that trophy stays in the club house, but it will have our names engraved on it. As a result of the win, my handicap has been cut from 24 to 18, which seems fair to me. Peter Allan
The semi-finals and final of the Harwell GC Competition were held today. In the semis Ivo defeated ME in two games and Pat defeated Steve in three. Ivo then went on to beat Pat in a final which also had three games. Steve Fisher