Another year, another One-ball Championship, another new star
The annual CA One-ball Championship, help at Winchester, seems have a good capacity for revealing new stars. Last year Chris Daniels turned up, with handicap of eight and sky-high confidence. He eliminated top seed Don Gaunt in the first round of the best-of-three advanced level knock-out; then went on to contest the final against Paul Castell, only going down 2-1.
So what happens in 2004? Chris Daniels enters again, his handicap down to 0.5 after blitzkrieg progress in the previous twelve months. He has learnt a lot since, including caution. Crash - out in the first round to James Tuttiett.
Meanwhile, first seed again, Don Gaunt, has a second round draw against local pub owner David Nicholson. It should be a push-over. Crash - David eliminates Don and beats fourth seed Tom Weston in the semi to face - guess who - ace shot Paul Castell in the final. However, this time Paul's peerless shooting is countered by rather erratic hooping and the calm, all round skills of David take him to a 2-0 victory before an appreciative crowd.
His engraved decanter will no doubt join the eccentric collection of objects in the Black Boy (a great pub if you ever find yourself in Winchester). David plans to enter more tournaments this year, and this is another name to watch for. He now shares one championship title with Fulford, Mulliner and Openshaw; it might not be the last.
As the sixteen players in the Championship were whittled away, the jetsam was washed into a consolation flexible swiss, which went to James Tuttiett.
The previous day's warm up for the championship was the usual, rather chaotic swiss handicap. It is traditional to end up with a tie between at least four players, then the manager emerges with sheets of calculations to announce a winner. Something went wrong this year, courtesy of Gina Lewis, who played almost flawlessly, within the confines of her generous seven handicap, to emerge as clear victor. John Spiers, entering his first one-ball tournament, played well to take the runner-up spot.
The highlight of the weekend was the tournament dinner, along with a few beers, at an excellent Nepalese restaurant on Saturday evening. Come to think of it though, nobody who attended performed at all well on Sunday. Strange .....