The Scottish Open Championship was won by Jonathan Kirby, who beat David Openshaw -3, +26tp, +17tp in the final. The 11 competitors also included a number of other minus players including Chris Dent, Dave Nick, Bob Burnett, Ian Lines and Jenny Williams, as well as Jonathan Bowen from Canberra. This was apparently the strongest field of competitors at a Scottish croquet tournament since the Home Internationals were played in Glasgow in 1992.
The event was held at Edinburgh's Meadows Croquet Club, about a mile south of the town centre on the edge of a very pleasant park. The club is also the home of the Scotland's National Croquet Centre. As such it is the Scottish Croquet Association's www.scottishcroquet.org.uk/ centre for the development of the game in Scotland at all levels and hosts major competitions and international events.
As a first time visitor, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the lawns. Meadows was originally a bowls club with 2 lawns with a wide path between, but the path was removed some years ago and now there is ample room for 3 full sized courts, all on the same level. The lawns are remarkably flat and the quality of the grass very good, making them relatively easy, although on the fast side of medium due to the hot and sunny weather which we enjoyed. The lawns are fenced off from the park, and have their own pavilion/park-keeper's lodge, but there is a steady stream of spectators looking over the fence at one end.
The event was run as a knockout with best-of-threes from the quarter finals onwards. Kirby and Openshaw won their quarters in slightly scrappy games; Jenny Williams put her striker's ball hard on the wire when completing the rover peel of a triple to lose -3tp to Dave Nick; and Ian Lines was beaten -14otp in a deciding game by an in form Chris Dent, who finished from a contact leave for hoop 2 with Ian's balls in corners 1 and 4.
In the semis, Jonathan Kirby beat Dave Nick fairly tidily, and David Openshaw came back from 1-0 down to beat Chris Dent. I didn't see much of the final itself - but in the decider, Openshaw went round first with a spread, Jonathan hit the ball at the peg from the North boundary and had an NSL. Openshaw, somewhat to the crowd's surprise, shot from south of hoop 1 at the chunk of partner ball showing on the north side of hoop 4, but missed and Jonathan finished with an easy triple. My overall impression was that both Jonathan and David were playing reasonably well on easy lawns, but that Jonathan's shooting was marginally superior.
The consolation plate event was run as an Egyptian, with the top 2 and losing semi-finalists going into a knockout on the Sunday afternoon. In the Plate final, Jenny Williams beat Bob Burnett +26tp.
The prizes were presented by Brian Murdoch. Jonathan received the Moffat mallet, which is the oldest croquet tournament trophy anywhere in the world, dating from 1870. The peeling prize was awarded to Ian Lines for 4 tps and an otp, although Jonathan also finished with 5 tps (nobody even attempted to win the Champagne on offer for a sextuple). Thanks were also recorded to Fergus McInnes for organising the event and setting the hoops, Chris Dent for managing and arranging a Nepalese meal for 16 on the Saturday night, and to all those who provided the sumptuous tea on Sunday afternoon.
by Jonathan Kirby
The most interesting game of the final was the first.
Openshaw won the toss and went first, Kirby chose RY.
Score -9 (not -3 as reported)
Kirby chooses to go first, Openshaw takes RY
Openshaw goes first, Kirby RY. The opening is very similar to game 1.
Score -9, +26tp, +16tp