John Beech Memorial Tournament (Pendle Easter Handicap
The Bury Bandit, Matt Holmes, won the Pendle Easter Handicap for a
second season in a row, clearly playing above his handicap with solid
break-play and some occasional flamboyant cockiness just to rub it in.
The manager was tempted to "rigge" a final round to give some close
runner-ups a chance of pipping Matt in the Egyptian system (see later in
the report). However, the grape-vine suggests that Paul Rigge might come
out of handicap-tournament-retirement next Easter to prevent Matt
winning the trophy three years in a row, thereby breaking
consecutive-win record jointly held by Riggee and the Beast.
Ten players, five from Scotland, played in this years tournament, with
two local club members playing at the start and end of the tournament to
bump up numbers. The Pendle lawns have improved dramatically over the
past few years, and more so over the past year; they are now definitely
a very good surface to play on. Even so, conditions were reasonably
easy, evenly paced, and I am guessing at around 10 Plummets or so
(although I never measured it). The hoops were firmish but generous in
width; nevertheless, some truly awful hoop strokes were seen to spin
through (including one by the reporter) -- see the recent discussion on
the Nottingham board.
There were several players, in addition to Matt, obviously playing
better than their handicap, including Terry Vernazza, who earned himself
the Silver Merit Award badge for an all-round break without bisques
against David Turner, and Peter Dewhurst, who had some canny tactical
battles with his opponents. However, as Peter only played for part of
the weekend, he did not qualify for any trophies in the tournament as he
played fewer than five games.
Alice Fleck entertained us on and off the lawns, with two amusing
on-lawn incidents. First, after a long-break, Terry (9) narrowly missed
his peg-out against Alice (10) and decided to peg strikers ball-out;
Alice, now substantially behind, came onto the lawn somewhat deflated
and asked Terry why he didn't just use his bisque to finish the game.
Terry duly pointed out the bisque was Alice's! Second, in her game
against Joe Lennon (Glasgow), Alice was Rover and Rover versus Peg and
Box, and Alice laid up with a tight rush behind rover with Joe having a
long shot on the peg. After Joe failed to peg out, Alice set up for a
perfect peel which went through cleanly with strikers ball able to get a
rush on partner. After the continuation stoke, Joe correctly pointed out
it was the end of turn since she had peeled and run hoop five, not
rover. Joe hit in to win.
James mopped up after some early season jitters by his opponents who
failed to beat him in the sixth or seventh turns, and the only games he
lost where no croquet when giving five bisques to the Bury Bandit (who
also won the toss), and 8.5 bisques to David Turner. There are few
opponents of handicap 7 who can still win 9th turn despite trying to run
hoop three twice thinking it was hoop one (once first turn to peg-high
from B-baulk, and again fifth turn thereby wasting 3.5 bisques), set a
tea-lady with no bisques, play the backward ball seventh turn and get
away with a decent leave, and still win with a bisque standing!
At lunchtime on Monday, Matt had lost to Peter, but hadn't yet played
Terry who was clearly also playing well, leaving James and Matt on equal
points in the Egyptian system with the same number of wins. James had
played Terry, and so the natural final round was that James played
Peter, and Matt played Terry, the latter being a battle of the bandits.
If Peter beat James, and Terry beat Matt, Terry would have been the
overall winner of the tournament. If James beat Peter then independent
of the Matt and Terry result, James would have won the trophy.
Otherwise, if James lost and Matt won, Matt goes home winner. Good
tournament management, eh?
In the end, no one could be bothered and we wanted to go home. So since
Matt, with his unnecessary field of bisques, beat James, Matt took the
trophy for a second year in a row. Bandit. Those North-West folk really
should get their handicapping sorted out ... ;-)
As usual, Pendle is a superb club to visit thanks to the overwhelming
hospitality of the club members. Pendle not only has high quality
catering, but also high quality lawns. Two reasons to sign up to their
tournaments this season.
Overall Winner, Pendle Easter Handicap Trophy: Mathew Holmes
10 or over Handicap Trophy: Joe Lennon
Under 10 Handicap Trophy: James Hopgood
Croquet for Leisure Trophy for the most games played: Roger Staples (11
Fastest Game Cup: Terry Vernazza (50 mins 40 sec, Alice Fleck runner up
just 57 seconds slower)