Martin Stephenson perplexed with what response to make to Peter Wilson's leave. (Photo: Abdul Ahmed)by Ian Lines
14 players gathered in glorious sunshine at the newly established Pendle and Craven Croquet club, in the hills north of Manchester, UK, to compete for the David Openshaw Trophy.
The revelation of the weekend was the astonishing improvement in the quality of the lawns (5 lawns - 1 currently being rested). At the beginning of last year it was almost impossible to play a 4 ball break on the best lawn (as David Maugham will testify), but this weekend all the lawns would have to be described as very easy. The lawns are relatively flat and evenly paced (guessing 9 Plummers), and although there are still some patches of clover, I don't recall anyone this weekend claiming that they were ever robbed by the lawn. It was generally agreed that the lawns are significantly better than Southport, and were probably about as easy as lawns 9 and 10 at Cheltenham.
The field included 3 minus players: Ian Lines (-2), Dave Nick (-1.5) and Bob Burnett (-1), who all decided that the lawns were so improved that peels were de rigueur. Bob had 1 TP, Dave had 2 TPs, a TPO and a quad, and Ian had 6 TPs in 9 games. Dave also had the first 4 peels of an SXP, just failing 3 back trying to get a forward rush for the delayed double. James Hopgood (3) also came close to completing his first triple, just over-hitting the rush on peelee before the straight rover peel.
The tournament was run as a draw and process. Curiously, only Ian and Bob were seeded, and the process half had to be redrawn once it was realised that Ian and Dave were meeting in the semis of both draw and process. There was some debate on the best way to seed such a draw and process - perhaps someone can advise?
The most interesting game was probably the semi-final of the draw half between Dave and Ian. Ian went to 4 back 4th turn with a spread, Dave hit the peg ball from corner 1, and did an immaculate TPO. Ian rolled off 1 but failed miserably to roll out of corner 2. There was then some tactical play, during which Ian stole a few more hoops, until Dave did a 2 ball break round to 2 back. Dave then decided to peg out his forward ball, leaving him on 2 back v 4 (and with a more familiar tactical situation). Ian hit in and rolled off 4 from 20 yards, and did a 2 ball break to 4 back. Dave then lived up to his name and nicked a long shot (bouncing off 4 back first!). Dave made 2 back, Ian made 4 back taking position at penult, Dave failed 3 back into the jaws, Ian failed a 3 foot angled penult, bouncing to 2 inches dead in front (blunder - should have just jawsed it!), Dave finished +3tpo.
Dave then proceeded to beat Bob in the final of the draw half +26 in 35 minutes to win the Chris Hudson Trophy for the fastest game.
On Sunday, in the process half, Bob beat Dave in a slightly scrappy semi, and Ian beat Bob 6th turn +17tp in the process final.
In the overall final, Ian went to 4 back 6th turn with a spread. Dave (again) hit the peg ball, but only got as far as hoop 2 with a good leave. Ian cornered and Dave went to 4 back with a failed MSL giving Ian a 9 yarder with the 4 back ball. Ian had a leave, Dave missed the 20 yarder and Ian had a standard TP. The only excitement was when Ian apparently blobbed penult with yellow from 6 inches - Dave jumped out of his chair, and was ever so slightly disappointed to find that yellow was firmly wedged, so Ian had a simple replay to win +17tp.
The hoops were originally set on Saturday to about 1/16", but as it was realised how easy the lawns were, these were tightened on Sunday to 1/32". However, playing with Barlow GTs in the heat, this inevitably led to half a dozen occasions when balls jammed. There was some debate as to whether a player always has the option of a replay if any ball jams in any hoop (e.g. on a croquet stroke inadvertently jam oppo in a random hoop and end up wired from everything). What happens if the striker's ball goes off lawn?
All the games were also part of a consolation Egyptian, the A-class (Chris Clarke Trophy) of which was won by Bob, and the B-class (Jeremy Dyer Trophy) by Ian Parkinson. Ian had qualified for the B-class final against Derek Watts by beating Liz Wilson in a tie breaking shoot out at the peg. This practice was obviously useful in the final as Ian had to hit the peg from 10 yards to beat Derek +1(t).
The ladies of Pendle & Craven again provided truly delicious lunches and teas - as always - and 16 of us enjoyed the tournament dinner at the Tempest Arms.
Many thanks should also be recorded to Abdul Ahmad for all the work he put in mowing lawns, setting hoops and managing the whole event, and for the good natured way in which he coped with all the good humoured flak and banter to which he was subjected!
In conclusion, it seems that Pendle & Craven has now established itself as an excellent tournament venue, and players are encouraged to take advantage of the first-class facilities. I understand there are still spaces available for the midweek 50+ tournament (17-20 July).
On the legal point, Dave Maugham adds:
Law 35b covers this pretty comprehensively:
BALL JAMMED IN A HOOP If a ball jams in a hoop the equipment must be adjusted or replaced. If a ball remains jammed in a hoop at the end of a stroke then, provided that the turn has not otherwise ended and that no further stroke has been played, the striker may elect to replay the stroke.
Disappointingly it doesn't cover the scenario of a ball that will wedge but for whatever reason doesn't. In that case the referee appears to have the option of awarding a replay under law 55, but is not forced to do so.
On the seeding point, Martin Murray adds:
"Had to be redrawn". Why? And how? There's only one way to generate the process from the draw. I can see an argument for reseeding, but given that Dave was not seeded, what possible reason could there be for redrawing because Ian and Dave were meeting in semis in both halves?
There are 11 other unseeded players, any two of whom who may meet even earlier in both halves. It seems that someone has no idea what the purpose of a draw and process is.
As for the "best way to seed a draw and process", this similarly seems to show a misunderstanding of draw and process. If the draw is seeded to keep players A and B in opposite halves, there is quite a high probability that they will meet in the first round of the process.
Draw and process was popular in the days when seeding was unpopular, and its main purpose is to separate in the process players who meet early in the draw, thus compensating for an uneven draw. Trying to seed it rather removes the point.