Good morning from Cheltenham.
Sunday 15 July
Order of Play
Lawn 8: Open Championship Final: Reg Bamford v Robert Fulford (best of 5)
Lawn 10: Plate: Draw Final: Stephen Mulliner v Miranda Chapman
Lawn 11: Plate: Process Final: Mark Ormerod v Robert Wilkinson
Lawn 1: Y Doubles Final: C.Carter & Higgins v Foulser & Mundy (best of 3)
Lawn 2: Z: Death v Giraud
Z: Kibble v P.Trimmer
Lawn 7: Z: Sharpe v C.Williams
Z: Hopgood v Hector
Fulford has been practising since half past nine. Bamford now also on lawn.
I believe I shall refer to the players as Reg and Rob - bit informal, but shorter to type.
I am ensconced in the corner of the tea-room, about 8 yards from 4th corner on lawn 8. View pretty much IV to II.
I have an analyst with me. Based on Reg's practice routine, he estimates speed at 9 Plummers. He also reckons Reg will be practising after 10.00
So most pundits seem to be favouring Reg. If he does win, he catches up with Rob's 9 Open Championships. Or Rob will equal John Solomon's 10 wins.
Reg v Rob at the Opens
1993 Reg wins QuarterFinal 2-1
1995 Reg wins Final 3-2
1999 Reg wins Final 3-2
2001 Reg wins Final 3-2
2003 Rob wins Final 3-0
2006 Rob wins Final 3-2 (+1 in the 5th)
2007 Rob wins Final 3-1
2008 Rob wins Semi 3-0
2011 Reg wins Final 3-1
G1T1 Reg Blue 10yN of IV
G1T2 Rob Red maybe 1y SE of II
G1T3 Reg Black shoots at Blue from A-baulk, misses on Southside. Comes on 3"N of Blue.
G1T4 Rob Yellow shoots from A-baulk. Misses double target. Comes on North of Black, close if not touching.
G1T5 Reg Blue
At the moment the sun is almost out, a lot of cloud cover, rain forecast for afternoon.
G1T5 Reg Blue makes 1 off Yellow, too far for ideal rush but good cut sets up good chance for a break. Yellow to 3, rushes Black to end of B-baulk, takes off behind Red, which is probably a bit more in-lawn than I thought. He's now pausing. My analyst reckons 6 hoops and a POP.
Keith Aiton comes to visit me. "So we have gods of the game on lawn 1." I'm sorry? "GODs of the game. Grumpy Old Daves."
Mulliner is round to 4-back against Miranda, with a spread. Probably not superAdvanced then. Other game more interactive.
G1T5 Reg Blue POPs Red through 1 before 4.
My analyst has gone off to do his sextuple. Which is odd because at last night's dinner he said he'd have another go at the nontuple. Didn't get the leave I guess.
G1T5 Reg Blue doesn't like his hoop 6 pioneer, seems to be 1" North of hoop. He'll be trying to POP Yellow after 5.
G1T5 Reg Blue fails to rush Yellow to POPping posi after 5. Looks like my analyst called it right. After 6 rushes Red to W bdry, takes off to Yellow, which is about 8y from peg. After rush it's about 7' from peg. Still attempting to put it in Spread position. I'm assuming he's done so; better pop out to check.
Yellow (at peg) is not perfectly wired from Red, can maybe just hit it centre-ball. No, Rob's not interested.
G1T6 Rob lifts Red to near III, shoots at Black (19y) missing into IV.
G1T7 Reg Black will attempt the sextuple.
G1T7 Reg Black makes 1 off Yellow, rushes it back to end of A-baulk. Croquets Yellow near peg. Hits Red. Big roll ("Hogan roll"), Red to 3, Black close enough to Blue to hit, but doesn't get required cut. Dare say he'll cope. Attempting 1-back peel after 2. Blue goes through to 4' SE of 2-back.
G1T7 Reg Black peels Blue through 2-back before 4.
I've found 2 more matches in the Majors:
2001 Men's Final, Reg wins 3-2
2005 World Final, Reg wins 3-0
G1T7 Reg Black peels Blue through 3-back before 6, Blue finishes 4' in front of 4-back!
Mulliner beat Miranda +26tp
Death beat Giraud +26sxp
The other Plate game seems to be superAdvanced. Wilkinson to 1-back with B spread, Ormerod hits in.
G1T7 Reg Black peels Blue through 4-back before 1-back.
Just popped out for a coffee. Crowd about 25 strong at the moment.
G1T7 Reg Black peels Blue through penult before 3-back.
My analyst is explaining how Reg should attempt to collect all 4 clips.
2008 Rob wins Semi 3-0
"How can refuse the opportunity to slag off the seeding committee???"
G1T7 Reg Balck just has the straight rover peel to finish with balls ideally placed.
Statto informs me that the Fulfords stayed with him and Liz last night,and Rob slept in the room above the rankings computer. "Might be the only way for him to top the rankings" quips the analyst.
G1T7 Reg Black wins Game 1 +25sxp.
G2T1 Rob Black 10yN of IV.
G2T2 Reg Red just S of II.
G2T3 Rob Blue hits Black from A-baulk. Goes to look exactly where Red is. Rob in quandary. Decides to roll-approach 1! 5' hoop, slightly angled, fails to West boundary.
I've acquired another analyst who has uttered the word "bonkers".
G2T4 Reg Yellow hits Blue (6y).
Wilkinson has most of the play on lawn 11.
G2T4 Reg Yellow rushes Black to 1, finishes in back of hoop. Where is it exactly? Calls on ref. Looks like Black is just in jaws. Yep, he's OK. Has 4-ball break.
Check out the Nottingham board for Chris Clarke's Final Preview. I don't think many bookies would accept bets on Reg at the moment.
G2T4 Reg Yellow POPs Blue through 1 before 4.
G2T4 Reg Yellow POPs Black through 1 before 6.
G2T4 Reg Yellow has made 6 hoops and POPped Rob to 2 & 2. Spread coming up. Black is glued to peg, won't rush to 2, Reg inspecting how close to 1 it will go. Blue is 2y in from West boundary. 4' rush for Red from 14yN of IV.
G2T5 Rob lifts Blue to just out of III, shoots at Black, hits!
G2T5 Rob Blue picks up break.
My analyst thinks an SXPO would be fun. More realistically he votes for going to 1-back with as many POPs as possible on Red.
Williams has beaten Sharpe in the Z knock-out.
G2T5 Rob Blue tries and fails to POP Red through 1 before 4.
G2T5 Rob Blue POPs Red through 1 before 5.
Ormerod has break on lawn 11.
G2T5 Rob Blue has long POP attempt before 6, missing hoop entirely. He'll be making 1-back this turn.
Kibble has beaten Trimmer in the Z knock-out.
G2T5 Rob Blue POPs Red through 2 after 1-back.
G2T5 Rob Blue makes 3-back. Cuts Black near IV, leaves Black 18" N of IV. Cuts Yellow short of Red, which is behind 2. Croquets Yellow within yard of II. Rushes Red 10yS of III. Blue into first corner.
Clips: Reg: Red 3, Yellow 1-back; Rob: Blue 4-back, Black 2.
Earlier in the week Reg has settled for just leaving a dolly rush for Yellow to 1-back from this sort of position.
G2T6 Reg lifts Red into contact with Black (near IV). Rolls Black to 10yS of III (and in 1'). Roquets Yellow. Looking for rush wired from Black. Body language suggests he hasn't got wire. Leaves rush pointing East for Red from 6yS of II.
Wilkinson has beaten Ormerod and will play Mulliner in the Plate play-off.
Hopgood has beaten Hector.
G2T7 Rob Black shoots at Yellow (25y). Misses.
Which ball will Reg play?
Black is South of Red, so is rush into I an option? (for cannon). Reg is thinking. Now squinting to check Red and Black not misplaced.
G2T8 Reg Red rushes Black, doesn't get cannon. Black very close to Blue on S bdry. Now Wyliesque manouevre. Rolls Red and Black into corner area. Black replaced on S bdry touching Blue. Rushes Blue off lawn 4yE of II. Black is only adjusted 2 or 3 yards East. Rolls to get rush on Yellow, good stroke.
G2T8 Reg Red makes 3 off Yellow. Can he rush it back into peeling position? Yes, maybe 7' in front of 1-back. Yellow goes through to 7yN of 1. Rushes Blue to 6" ESE of Black. Makes 4 off Black.
Hopgood is back in the World's top 50!
G2T8 Reg Red attempting 2-back peel while getting rush on Blue to 5, Blue is 3y out of I. Peel looks to be parked on wire (?), Red is short on Blue. Rushes Blue within 6 yards of 5. Runs hoop 5 by 6y. Blue is 1y N peg, Black 4y NNE 1. Reg misses Blue (2y)!
Red is in B-baulk, Rob has lift (4 is a lift hoop, remember)
Clips: Reg: Red 6, Yellow 2-back; Black 2, Blue 4-back
G2T9 Rob lifts Black to B-baulk, makes 2 off Red.
G2T9 Rob picks up standard TP. Jawses 4-back peel after 3.
G2T9 Rob rush-peels 4-back after 4, peels penult after 6.
Y Doubles (game 1): Carter 4-back and Higgins peg, oppos 6 and 4-back.
G2T9 Rob peels rover before 3-back.
Rob wins Game 2 +14tp. Match score 1-1.
My analyst is doing a superb job. He's bought me a drink, now he's fetching my pudding.
G3T1 Reg Blue 10yN of IV
G3T2 Rob Yellow 3yE, 1'S of II
G3T3 Reg Black misses Yellow to left (from B-baulk).
G3T4 Rob Red from B-baulk. Misses.
Red and Black in contact.
G3T5 Reg Black croquets Red to 2, rushes Yellow to Blue. Makes 1 off Blue, and he's away.
G3T5 Reg Black tries POP of Red after 2, fails. POPs Red through 1 before 4.
G3T5 Reg Black trying longish POP of Yellow after 4. Yellow on wire, not rush-POPpable. Yellow is POPped before 6.
With the latish POP, Reg has some work to get his standard Spread. Red is croqueted maybe 3y in from West boundary. Rushes Yellow 3yS of peg. Looking at position 3y from peg, cross-pegged from Red. Not sure he's got it. Rushes Blue into IV. Leaves Black 1yN of Blue in IV.
I've had an email from Samir: "When I played Reg I noticed that he was playing much faster than I've seen him before. Not fast, you understand, but faster. I had assumed that was just because it was a low-pressure second round of the Swiss game, but he seemed to be keeping up the pace against Dave yesterday. Any comments/timing from today?"
Well, Samir, there's certainly been some thinking time in this match. From both players (eg G2T3)
Red and yellow obviously not cross-pegged, since...
G3T6 Rob plays Red as it lies, hits Yellow (12y). Takes off to Blue Black, rushes Black to 1. But he's been POPped! Red fails 4' hoop 1, now realizes his mistake. Probably glad he failed it!?
Reg has 3-yarder for break and sextuple attempt.
G3T7 Reg Blue hits 3-yarder. Makes 1 off Red, Black and Yellow both about 5y SSE of 2. Peels Black through 1-back after 2, Black reaches 1ySE of 2-back.
G3T7 Reg Blue lining up 4y peel of 2-back before 4 (his hoop 4 pioneer being insufficiently South for a shorter attempt). Peel goes through.
G3T7 Reg Blue peels Black through 3-back before 6. Black goes past 4-back.
G3T7 Reg Blue peels Black through 4-back before 2-back. Tries penult peel with death roll to 3-back,peel doesn't go through.
I've just wandered over to Y doubles final. At 12.42 I reported: Y Doubles (game 1): Carter 4-back and Higgins peg, oppos 6 and 4-back.
The clips are still in exactly the same position. And no they haven't had lunch. About 15 minutes to Time.
G3T7 Reg Blue peels Black through penult before 4-back. Black finishes 3yN of rover.
Reg completes straight rover peel. Reg wins Game 3 +24sxp and leads match 2-1.
Not sure which way toss went, but Reg is going first again. Black and Blue have won each game so far.
G4T1 Reg Red 10yN of IV
G4T2 Rob Blue 8'E, 1'S of II
G4T3 Reg Yellow at Red from A-baulk. Centre ball. Takes off to Blue, rushes it into II. Rolls Blue 1y peg, cheekilyapproaching 1 with Yellow. Yellow 2y short of 1. Leaves 7' rush for Red.
G4T4 Rob Black shoots at Yellow from A-baulk. Misses.
Thanks for an email from William Ormerod (no relation of Mark)
Dear Andrew et al, Absolutely fabulous up to date commentary and spiced with humour too. Many congrats. from an Open Finalist in 1962-50 years ago!!-- at Hurlingham beaten by Pat Cotter. Pat was one of the greatest and how I would love to see Rob and Reg take on Pat or Keith Wylie. Keep it up, Just William
G4T5 Reg Red going for POP of Blue after 1. POP fails.
The Plate best-of-3 play-off between Wilkinson and Mulliner is in play on lawn 7.
G4T5 Reg Red was able to rush-POP Blue before 3.
Still in play on lawn 1, they must have started late. Or forgotten Time.
G4T5 Reg: After 3 Red rushes Black ino 8' POPping position. Jawses POP. With these early POPs should get a good leave.
Y doubles: Carter & Higgins win Game 1 by a well-known croquet book title. And I don't mean "Expert Croquet Tactics".
G4T5 Reg Red makes almost horizontal spread, with rush for Yellow of course.
Story of Y doubles final: Foulser is in play when Time called. Oppos' clips penult and peg, Mundy's on 4-back. Foulser fails 1 attempt at 4-back peel, peels it after making rover to 6" through hoop (lift due). Pegs himself out.
G4T6 Rob lifts Black to near III, shoots at Blue (beside peg).
Story of Y doubles final continued: Carter hits 17' lift shot, takes off, makes penult off partner, ... , misapproaches rover. Retires to III near partner. Scores level.
Foulser comes on, decides Carter's rush to rover not very good, tells Mundy to go to East boundary to menace rover. Imagine his surprise when Higgins plays and scores the peg point to win.
G4T7 Reg Yellow croquets Red to 2, rushes Blue to Black (3yW of I), getting cannon after having ref to adjudicate. Handy cannon, now has 4 balls. Will this be the match-winning turn?
G4T7 Reg Yellow peels Red through 1-back after 2. Red is 6yN of 2-back.
G4T7 Reg Yellow sending out hoop 4 pioneer (to 2-back, natch), well short, next to hoop 5. So 2-back peel will have to be long - 5 yards. Peel fails.
Wilkinson appears to be on standard TP in first game of Plate final.
G4T7 Reg Yellow peels Red through 2-back before 5.
G4T7 Reg Yellow doesn't like rush after 5, overcut so Blue is close to Red. Black (hoop 6 pioneer) is 2y SW peg (not by choice!). Decides to abandon attempt of 3-back peel before 6. Rush of Black to 6 not good, still 5 yards from hoop. Leaves 5' hoop, runs it to boundary. Blue (1-back pioneer) is 6yS of 1-back, so may get chance of 3-back peel before 1-back.
G4T7 Reg Yellow peels Red through 3-back going to 1-back pioneer. Stroke goes very well. 2-back pioneer is near 5, so he'll have to set up for 4-back peel before 3-back.
Plate Final: Wilkinson needs straight rover peel to complete TP. Sorry I've been misinforming you. Mulliner won the first game 26sxp while i wasn't paying attention. It's superAdvanced.
G4T7 Reg Yellow peels Red through 4-back before 3-back.
G4T7 Reg Yellow has 8' peel of penult before 4-back. He can hit it straight. It goes through by a yard.
Wilkinson finishes TP to equalize.
G4T7 Reg Yellow is croqueting Red to rover from 18y. Finishes 2' NW of hoop. I fear Rob may be unable to find his stopping bisque.
G4T7 Reg Yellow has Red 1' in front of rover. Irish peel sends Red almost to yard-line. The fat lady is on the pitch.
G4T7 Reg Yellow rushes Red 4' from peg.
Reg Bamford wins Game 4 +24sxp, match 3-1.
Three extraordinary happenings in final:
Rob's decision to approach 1 from East boundary in G2T3;
Reg missing 2-yarder (G2T8);
Rob forgetting he'd been POPped (G3T6).
The fact that 3 sextuples isn't extraordinary just shows how far the game has progressed in the last 20 years, thanks mainly to our 2 finalists here.
Well played, Reg!
So I'm staying in Cheltenham tonight, so if you want more croquet stay tuned. The Plate final is still going on 7, and there'll be a Z final. I'm not promising to give blow-by-blow on the Y doubles, though I know some of you find lesser mortals' games more interesting.
Z semifinals: Kibble beat Death +26tp; Hopgood beat Williams +17tp
Final has just started on lawn 8, Hopgood has first break.
Y Doubles, Game 2 clips: Foulser 4-back, Mundy 3; Carter 4, Higgins 1.
Plate decider: Mulliner has chance of first break.
Tea now being served before everyone goes home.
Mulliner now 2 and 1-back (v 1 and 1), spread.
Hopgood to 4-back, spread. Kibble hits lift.
Kibble has stuck in 1 with the TPO there if he'd wanted. Hopgood misses 20-yarder.
Wilkinson missed lift, Mulliner failed to get going, Wilkinson misses long shot.
Mulliner sensibly making 3 hoops with forward ball.
Mundy has just made 6 without a break.
Mundy's done well to get 3-ball break.
In response to Mulliner's spread, Wilkinson shoots at ball by peg from B-baulk. Disaster: hits peg, stays there.
Kibble having NSL with oppo's 4-back ball at 4.
Hopgood takes "short shot" with hoop 1 ball. Hits.
Mulliner has standard TP in front of him.
Mundy's got all 4 balls now, should get to peg (and 4-back).
Hopgood underhits big stop shot out of IV. OK cut rush to 5y from hoop. Approach short, fails angled hoop.
Mulliner has had one peel, in good shape.
Mundy having cross-peg leave.
Kibble misses long shot, Hopgood has to play with forward ball.
Mulliner has peeled penult after 6.
Hopgood leave, Kibble misses 18-yarder. Hopgood has second try at finishing turn.
I's a nice day here, no sign of promised rain.
Mulliner's had all 3 peels.
Not had presentation yet, probably waiting for Mulliner to finish.
Carter misses "last shot".
Mulliner wins Plate.
Hopgood has chance of standard TP.
Foulser's made 4-back.
Foulser finishes to make match score 1-1.
Hopgood has peeled 4-back after 3.
Hopgood has jawsed penult peel after 6. Maybe we're waiting for thisgame to finish before presentation.
Chris C is sending the bailiffs round to collect his 10k.
Hopgood needs straight rover peel to win the Z.
Hopgood beats Kibble +17tp to win the Z. Consolation for an unhappy week!
Presentation: In a disappointing breach with tradition, no-one dropped a trophy. There was a special award of 2 bottles of four kings ale for Death's octuple (and for keeping the bar in profit). James joins an exclusive club - he is the fifth player to complete an octuple.
During the presentation Christian Carter went round to 4-back, finishing the turn just in time to be awarded the Apps Bowl for the most improved player of 2011.
Gabrielle had chance of standard TP, failed peel after 3.
Gabrielle had chance of delayed TP, failed peel after 6.
Gabrielle should settle for ball to peg, missed return roquet after 6 to reach dreaded "clips of death" (1-back and 4-back). Oppos still for 1 and 1.
Gabrielle is back on the lawn with a break. Looks like we might have to vacate tea-room, so I'll see if i can get signal near bar. If not, so long and thanks for all the fish, i mean, emails.
Testing, testing. Hey, i'm still here!
Gabrielle has reached the peg (partner on 4-back). Partner on lawn. Should be able to get cross-peg or spread leave. Oppos' clips still 1 & 1.
The chosen leave is a reverse spread.
Mundy wanders onto lawn. He lifts Blue, the ball by the peg, to near I, misses into II.
Carter runs 8' 4-back, lines up 7' penult, doesn't fancy it, joins up.
Foulser takes lift, missing into IV.
Carter makes penult, rolling up to rover from 10 yards, makes it without rush to peg. Lining up peg-out from 3yNW of hoop 1. He can't believe it's missed. Sensibly joins up rather than pegging one off.
Foulser shoots Black from IV to Blue which must be just outside II. Close but no hit.
Carter's rush to peg rather long. Rushes to 7y ESE of peg. Takes off to Blue / Black. Hits Blue, has second corner cannon. Leaves Blue near II. Rushes Black rather short of I, stops it close. Is he going to join in middle of lawn? I would. No, he puts himself 1yN of 5. I don't understand. Maybe he hit hoop?
Foulser shoots Black at Blue, missing.