Weather very similar to yesterday here at Cheltenham - mainly sunny with no sign of rain, but noticeably cooler when the clouds come across. Not quite so many spectators, but still a good number, and plenty of lunch for everyone today.
Each day of block play half the field is playing at Cheltenham and half at the three satellite venues of Nailsea, Edgbaston and Bristol. Everyone has either one or two "away days". Today is the day when players need to get going or be knocked out, but it's possible not to get through even with six wins, so probably very few people are can be assured of qualifying after today. I haven't been keeping up to date with the results, but you can find them already on the WCF site.
The most entertaining game of the tournament so far was Mark McInerney against Jerry Guest, on Cheltenham's lawn 7. Jerry had almost all of the play for the first two hours, but gave Mark a large number of shots, almost all of which he missed, most uncharacteristically. Eventually after nearly two and a half hours Jerry reached 4b and peg, with Mark on about 3 and 2b. By this time Mark was running for each shot, trying to give himself every chance to catch up before time was called after three hours, eventually hitting but only getting to hoop 4 - the lawn was quite fast and in his haste Mark over-approached the hoop. Jerry now got in with the peg ball and made the surprising decision to peg it out, with 18 minutes left. From this point he cornered repeatedly, while Mark attempted to play a two ball break - sometimes just one hoop at a time - with the backward ball. He did manage to get this all the way to rover, all on the run and showing very good control on the fast lawn, but then forgot that he wasn't conceding a lift and separated, giving Jerry a shot from corner 2 through a ball halfway up the West boundary. Jerry missed, Mark joined up, and Jerry cornered again. By now we were down to about four minutes. Mark rushed to 4b, made it and penult, then separated again for rover and rover, with Jerry still 4b and box and the scores level. Jerry hit, approached 4b but failed it, wired from Mark's ball behind the hoop. Mark joined up near corner 1, and Jerry failed the hoop again to unrunable position just SE of 4b. Mark managed to rush near rover, make rover and rush near corner three. At this point it was clear that time could be called in the turn, so the crowd expected him to run to the large area near corner two, wired from Jerry's ball. However, still rushing and so not thinking carefully about the options, he instead stopped partner near corner one going to black, left it near 4b, and tried to get near the peg to peg out. He got about 5 yards past the peg, and declined to shoot at it as a miss would have left him near Jerry's ball, so went off in corner two. Time had been called in that turn, and Jerry missed the 25 yard shot to lose by 1 on time.
That leaves Mark on 4/6 and Jerry on 3/6, so was a big game for both players. It's likely now that Mark will qualify and Jerry won't.
As I've been typing this, Fulford, Bamford and Mulliner have all been practising, and the other players enjoying the food and drink available in the clubhouse. Bamford has been doing shooting routines yesterday and today. Yesterday he was repeatedly shooting eight balls at hoop 1 from seven yards, and getting 7/8 most times. Today he was shooting at the peg from the East boundary and I saw him hit the left half of the peg eight times in a row. I haven't seen him play much so don't know if this level of shooting is transferring to his games, although he's on 6/6 and his break play is looking as good as ever.