Wrest Park advanced tournament 4-6 July
Roger Tribe won the top block, the second block going to George Collins and third block was won by Gordon Weir.
There were 26 players with a wide range of handicaps, so manager Eric Audsley allocated them into three blocks. Players doing well might find themselves promoted and those doing less well could be relegated. The managerial laptop was working overtime.
The winners were decided on net index points, and the prize for the top block went to Roger Tribe, who won all his eight games. He only allowed his opponent a single point in four of these, two of which were finished with TPs. Andrew Winn (6/8) and Cliff Jones (5/8) led the chase. Nick Parish was the only other player to record a TP in his game against Charles Askew. He also renewed an old acquaintance, playing George Woolhouse for the first time in nine years (in which time, they recalled, they had lost nearly 30 bisques between them). The game was virtually error-free: three of the four lift shots were hit with Nick missing the last one to lose -5.
The second block went to George Collin, who earned a handicap reduction with six wins from seven games, his only loss being a narrow -2 against Cliff. His game against George Woolhouse featured a spectacular finish: with both balls for the peg George pegged one out from near corner three with George W laid up near corner 1 and on his next turn repeated the feat from the reversed position to win +22. Behind George came Peter McDermott (5/6) and George W (5/8). The third block was won by Gordon Weir (5/7) from Mark Homan (6/8).
A 1pm finish time was imposed on the first round and three and quarter hour limits applied thereafter. Nineteen of the 98 games went to time (Ian Parkinson and Tom Anderson being responsible for half of these) and few games lasted less than three hours, which added to the difficulties of the manager. Sylvia Steer's game against John Lonsdale started after lunch on Friday and lasted until 8pm when John won +1 shortly after Sylvia rushed her ball onto the peg from the third corner. They had either not noticed or forgotten the time limit, and by the time Eric realised what had happened it was too late to put on another game so they were allowed to continue to the bitter end - the last game of the day to finish, in fact.
The length of many of the games leads to the question of how tightly the hoops should be set for an advanced rules event open to a wide range of handicaps. Measurements of hoop width taken four days after the tournament indicated an overall mean clearance (assuming a standard 3 5/8" ball) of 1.12 sixteenths with a range of 0.86 to 1.41, so on the day they were probably a bit on the tight side. One theory is that if players try to play breaks and then give the innings away because they fail hoops, they then try to retrieve the situation by using more defensive tactics, resulting in more drawn-out games.
The weather started brightly on Friday but deteriorated over the weekend, with Sunday morning's games played in continuous light rain and a fresh breeze which thankfully cleared up during the afternoon. Our thanks as always go to all those who got the lawns ready and those who prepared and served the lunches and teas.