This was the fourteenth 'WOB' and second year in which it was held with heats and in aid of charity. Eight heats were held and each sent their winner to the championship with a free entry. The additional direct entries ensured that both the 'Cryptorchid' Handicap event, on the Saturday, and the 'Monorchid' Advanced level event, on the Sunday, were oversubscribed.
All entries, whether by heats or direct, included a donation to charity and £325 was raised in aid of Cancer Research UK.
This year's Advanced Level championship was the strongest ever, with five previous champions in the field. Played as a best-of-three knock-out, four of those past champions reached the semi-finals. Stephen Mulliner swept aside David 'Black Boy' Nicholson 2-0 in 40-odd minutes but Rutger Beijderwellen was given more of a battle when dividing the honours with Kevin Carter over the first two, long tactical games.
However, he scored an all-round break in the decider (his third of the
weekend) and the scene was set for the hoped-for Mulliner/Bodgerwelly final.
We were treated to what was quite probably the highest quality one-ball match ever played, between two of its leading exponents. Twenty yard roquets, four-yard hoops run hard to the next hoop or far boundary and breaks of six or more hoops became almost routine (the hoops were set firmly and to 1/16th"). Rutger won the first and Stephen the second. In a nail-biting decider Stephen failed four-back and Rutger scraped home.
The Saturday handicap event was its usual hectic swiss, with 28-players.
It resulted in a three-way tie between Rutger Beijderwellen (playing off an adjusted handicap of -6), Benson Spiers (9) and Richard Stevens (8).
After applying the 'quality of opponents' tie-breaking formula it was resolved in the order shown, but all three played exceptionally well to finish with 7 wins from 8 games.
So, for the second year in a row Rutger won both events and now has four engraved decanters on his mantelpiece. He is threatening to take one-ball skills and tactics to a new level.
Many of the heat winners played with distinction, including teenager Benson Spiers (Blewbury), who was a whisker away from winning the Cryptorchid, James Tuttiett (Winchester), who won the Monorchid consolation event, Hilary Billimore (Littleton), a novice playing in her first tournament off 22 and Gareth Bushall, a most promising player from Enfield.
Jonathan Lamb (ex-Belgium) over from his new home in Uruguay found his croquet to be somewhat rusty. However, he did win a pot of jam for running two hoops in one stroke. Off court, in a Gina-esque moment, he also managed to lose the keys to his hire car.
Winner: Rutger Beijderwellen
Runner-up: Stephen Mulliner
Consolation event: James Tuttiett
1st: Rutger Beijderwellen (-6) 7/8
2nd: Benson Spiers (9) 7/8
3rd: Richard Stevens (8) 7/8