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Open Championships Commentary Thursday 18th July 2013

[<<] [>>] by Marcus Evans at Hurlingham
18th July 2013 (AC - Championships)

Let's see if this works...


News from lawn five - Jose won the first game +11dp. In answer to a query, all the singles matches are best on five, compulsory super advanced rules all the way through. The manager has bravely not set any time limits yet but he has admitted it is worth thinking about.


At this point I suspect it will be basically impossible to provide a continuous update on the eight matches now in play (even discounting the one I can't see on lawn five) so I'm afraid you'll have to make do with interesting snippets I can pick up on.

Lawn one: Mulliner completed his tpo, Ormerod made progress off the squeeze and is now for five, but Stephen has just run one with one good shot needed to dig out a winning break. They remain single banked.

Lawn two: Kevin completed his three ball break to win +11tpo. Robin Brown is going round against Jeff Dawson with the secondary colours, he has evidently decided to go to 4-back, not sure if this is his first break so conceding contact, or second break so just a lift, we will see in a few minutes.

Lawn three: George completed the tpo but having pegged out missed his final roquet which gave Samir contact and a couple of balls new hoop one. Samir is coping with the three ball break so far. Kibble won the toss against Rob and was about to lay a standard super shot ball when Rob kindly reminded him it was super advanced. Dave honourably decided to ignore this advice and simply went to deem his ball in III (which is what would have happened if he had not hit a hoop or left the lawn with his first stroke). Rob replied by deeming in I, off which Dave approached one and made it, but then missed a long roquet. Rob hit but misapproached one and ran away. Dave missed and Rob tps gone to one back with a tight cross peg leave. Dave shoots at Rob's balls on the W boundary from B baulk, misses.

Lawn four: Maugham won the first +21tp after Eugene took off the lawn next to Dave's hoop one ball from the contact leave. Nigel's third turn break came to grief at hoop four so Reg went to one back with a standard diagonal spread, Nigel missed the short lift.


Lawn one: Mulliner didn't get his break together but may do so now as he has made five with a rush back to partner which is three yards off the W boundary between five and peg.

Lawn two: Robin stopped at three back, I suspect by design, according to his oppo it was "unclear", conceding contact. Jeff made a leave from the contact which Robin hit but he was hampered after one and joined up. Jeff missed a longish shot and Robin makes an angled hoop two to have all the balls, but partner is down by hoop four and he hasn't got a rush. Beard v Rothman has just restarted after lunch, with a duffer from Ben.


Regarding my last, of course Robin wants partner by four as he has to do a quad rather than a triple.

Lawn three: Rob is peeling two back going to four.

Lawn four: Reg has done likewise and has just made four. Any guesses on which sextuple will be first to finish? Rob is taking a lot of time lining up this peel.


Lawn one: Stephen pegs out to win +9tpo. I suspect they will take lunch, so will I shortly. Some players have been heard describing some of the choices as "good value", and to be fair they are right. Not a patch on the likes of Surbiton though, obviously.


Lawn two: Robin's quad is progressing. Rothman has won the opening and made a leave. Kevin shoots K at U from near hoop one to three yards W of six, misses - Ben should go round, I guess he will stick to the same tactic of going to four back in two breaks. Kevin has been shooting very well this week though - in my game against him I decided to just concede contact for that very reason.


Lawn three: Rob's three back peel ends up two yards off N boundary, but he rushes to III after six and then is able to jaws the peel going to one back, two back pioneer is by four back.

Lawn four: Reg jawses the four back peel going to two back, rushes down and crashes through the hoop as is his wont. I'm off to see if the rumours of a plate of sausage and mash for under seven pounds are true, will see if I can eat them from an appropriate vantage point.


Lawn one: lunch.

Lawn two: Robin wins first game +26qp. Lunch. Ben still on first break.

Lawn three: Rob has tight position at Rover, does straight Irish peel and pegs out to win +25sxp. Lunch.

Lawn four: Reg has less tight position at rover, but copes and pegs out five minutes after Rob. Did you get it right? Lunch. Maugham v Chang is just about to resume but for some reason, lunch is on my mind so I'm definitely going to stop for a short while now. No sign of players from lawn five.


Lunch: seems that the only sausage on offer today is the children's option and is actually sausage, chips and beans. So instead I have ordered the "gourmet salad of the week", which this week the some sort of Mediterranean style salmon and comes highly recommended by my fellow players. Jeff had a chicken and ham pie with salad and pronounced it "pretty good". Robin's chicken fricassee was "very pleasant" - Robin's quote this time, not Jeff's. Annoyingly, James has now turned up with the sausage and mash I wanted - next time! Can't see any of the lawns from here so no idea what's going on in the croquet.


Just met a smiling Spaniard on my way back from lunch - he is now 2-0 up, +20tp in second. Salmon was delicious, but disappointingly they have run out of Magnum ice creams. More croquet news in just a moment...


Lawn one: Mulliner has just hit in with balls all over the place, too far away to see any clips and I need power at the moment so will have to go down there later for more detail.

Lawn two: Beard I has just made four back on what looks like it must be another tpo, with all peels done I think. Jeff appear to be on his first break at hoop five, all other clips on one. I believe joins standard play is to go to four back in two turns.

Lawn three: as I was walking back to the manager's tent Samir was peering at his cross peg to see if it was good enough. George obviously decided it was because he took the lift from I, missing into II. Samir is just peeling one back after two, plays it well. Rob is just making his first break against Kibble, third turn after he hit partner following Dave's duffer tice.

Lawn four: Reg is just making his standard diagonal spread having hit fourth turn - he had a duffer tice after putting Nigel in first. Eugene has just hit the long lift against Maugham, catching the in lawn ball first (deliberately - the E boundary on lawn four is still not perfectly flat) and bouncing off this into the other ball. Fortunpartner his partner ball is by four in NSL position, so not a full Skinley error. He is now rushing this to one, partner is already for three back. Maugham went round third turn after hitting a pair of balls on the E boundary, stopping at one back. Eugene hit fourth turn, got going and was hampered after two back, hit the three back pioneer, but then put a ball off the lawn in trying to make a contact leave. Daveplayed his one back ball and made three hoops and an NSL. Eugene has now stuck in one and Dave missed from two to one, so Eugenenow has work to do to dig out a break.


Lawn one: evidently Stephen has had some sort of sextuple attempt as his clips are three and two back. Mark has just made one back with his other clip already on one back, so the furthest he can go without conceding contact is four back.

Lawn two: Jeff stopped at three back intentionally, with a contact leave. His balls were left in III and seven yards N of IV, Robin in II and nine yards N I, for two and one respectively. Robin had a good go at starting off the contact using his hoop two ball, but after making two and three he had to shoot at his hoop four pioneer kiss missed. Jeff missed a long shot so Robin is now going round, presumably stopping at one back.


Lawn two: Kevin completed the tpo and Ben rolled off one from III, but having made one he was unable to make two. After some interaction, Kevin now has croquet in the middle off W boundary, partner in II. Looks like he plans to send Ben's Y to three and lay up in I. Meanwhile, Robin put a ball off the lawn in making his leave which gave Jeff an easy start. He was hampered after one but a clean sweep shot meant he was on his way - until he completely misapproached hoop two and had to run away, joining up partner near hoop four.

Not sure what Kevin did but it wasn't as I thought, he has now made one and is joining up behind two with Ben on the S boundary behind four. Ben goes to III.


Lawn one: Mark gets a single peel on partner and has a reverse diagonal spread, he is two back and four back. Stephen hits the short shot from B baulk using his two back ball, I guess he will be looking to get two hoops and a leave.

Lawn two: Kevin makes two and rushes to four feet from III on the N boundary. Gets a rush to three but undercuts it and goes two yards past. Takes off to four feet straight in front, gets it with rush pointing at middle of B baulk. Takes it, takes off to get a rush on partner near III. Rushes to S boundary behind one and is looking at setting up a rush. Meanwhile, Robin missed Jeff's join and Jeff's quad has started on time, peeling three back after four.


Lawn three: unclear what has happened but it seems George has made an error, his clips were one and four after Samir's sextuple attempt got to four back and peg. Samir finishes from there to win +23 and the match 3-0.


Lawn three: Rob took the first break to one back, Dave hit and took a ball to six, Rob hit and took his one back ball to three back leaving Dave's hoop one ball on the back of one. Dave hit this through the hoop, took the hoop six ball to four back but failed to finish off his NSL properly which left Rob a six yarder with his hoop one ball, which he hit. Rob now has all the balls for his quad, he is at hoop three.


Lawn four: Eugene did well to dig out a break and started his quad but in doing the peel successfully, put striker's ball in the jaws. He ran away to N boundary forgetting about the lift. Dave is now pegging out to win +13tp.


Lawn four: Nigel hit his lift and went to four back. Leave was Reg's hoop one ball in II, Reg's one back ball about 14 yards S of this, and his balls in IV and about 14 yards N of this. Reg took off from IV to the ball on the E boundary getting a rush of some sort, put this towards two back going to the ball in II, and approached one back from there. He ran a good angled hoop and went to four back with another diagonal spread, Nigel has missed the lift and Reg is now potentially on a triple to go 2-0 up, he is just making hoop two.


Lawn one: after fooling us into thinking he might be looking at a straight tpo, Stephen cross wires Mark at four back and retires to I. Mark misses and Stephen finishes, +10tp to make that match one all. On they go and stephen's supershot attempt misses hoop five, so he places it in III.

Lawn three: Rob pegs out to win +17tp, 2-0 in the match.

Lawn four: Reg is peeling penult after six. Chang has just made one on the third turn and has croquet in the middle of the lawn where he can put a ball to three and get a rush to two.


Lawn two: I have risked the battery life to come a bit closer to this feast, Beard has had a lot of play bha only reached hoop six, and Ben is still on three. I guess both have been more defensive than the first game. In the other game, Robin unintentionally cannoned a ball off the lawn around three back meaning his leave was less precise than he wanted. However, Jeff (who got to rover and left with a leave from his quad attempt, which Robin hit) misses the thirteen yard lift and so Robin should be able to dig out a standard tp to win the game and go 2-0 up.


Lawn one: Mulliner had a go at a third turn break but missed after one, I think. Ormerod is having a ball round.

lawn two: Robin misapproached two and failed it which allowed Jeff to hit in with his rover ball, he ended up rushing partner not very close to rover but a good approach and rush afterwards mean he wins +16 to equalise at 1-1.

Kevin made six with Ben lurking on the boundary in front of three, and went to I. Ben ran three cleanly off S boundary - commentary team have facetious debate about whether he should have run it to a few inches off the yardline, or a few inches into the yardline, in order to get a double with kevin's balls in I. Turns out K is slightly off the yardline so he has a trget anyway. He hits K, rushing it into the corner to get a cannon with U. Plays cannon poorly and has to roll to four, he is a yard short but after looking at wired position has decided to go for very angled hoop. Makes it with a hard jump shot - "the hoop moved violently", apparently. He has a rush to somewhere near the middle so one more good croquet stroke should see him finish.


Lawn one: presumably Mulliner hit the lift but he has just failed hoop three. Ormerod hits from S boundary to hoop four with his one back ball.

Lawn two: Ben completes his break to win +8otp and equalise at 1-1. They go straight into the third with Ben having a duffer tice, Kevin missing partner from III, and Ben hitting his tice.

Lawn three: Rob misapproached one back on a sextuple with three peels done and went to II. Dave shot at Rob's ball which was just through three back from A baulk and missed. Rob looked at hitting his seven yarder but may have been slightly hampered by the hoop so instead shot at partner in II, hitting. Now deciding whether to make any hoops or not.


Lawn four: Eugene was on a sextuple with peelee nicely positioned at three back when he misapproached six. Fails what looks like an impossible hoop - he was very close which meant not much room to jump. Dave is still one and one.

Lawn five: Keith fails a sextuple by becoming hampered after penult. Jose completes a delayed tp to win the game +4tp and the match 3-0.


Lawn one: Ormerod took his break from one back to four back and Mulliner has missed the long lift. Mark is making hoop three, looking very solid as he has all day.

Lawn two: Ben seems to be taking his break round to four back, he has left partner in II already in readiness for the leave. Meanwhile Robin has switched balls at some point during his break to four back and no one can remember when. The RoT is busy trying to sort it all out.

Lawn three: Rob decided to have a leave without making any hoops. Dave hit a long shot and is up to four and penult on a standard tpo.

Lawn four: Nigel mishit his long lift and hit the ball he wasn't aiming at. He is playing his hoop one ball and has rushed near one. Partner is for two, Reg is one and one-back. Nigel told me yesterday he is not planning to do any pops. Maugham has made a standard diagonal spread for his one back ball, Eugene misses the long lift into IV.


Lawn one: Mark didn't dig the ball out of IV until before three back, he must have swapped them around at some stage as this was now his partner, he almost put it in the jaws of four back but it finished on the wire and he was subsequently unable to rush it to peeling position, finishing the turn on four back and peg. Mulliner hit the lift with his hoop one ball going has now pegged Mark out.


Lawn two: after a long discussion about the wrong ball incident, the RoT decided to award Robin half the hoops he made, so the clip went on five. He also felt Jeff should still get a contact, but the balls then placed in arbitrary positions to avoid giving too much advantage. Off this, Jeff seems to be going to four back himself. After as one interaction, Kevin is just making two back, seems to be on his third tpo of the day.


Lawn three: as you have probably seen from the scores, Rob has won his match - Dave was doing a tpo when he misapproached one back. He did well to run it and had a fairly easy hampered shot from the jaws which was missed. Rob duly finished. Hopgood and Aiton are now messing about with practising contact turns. One the matches double banked on lawn two may move to three when they have finished their next game.


Lawn four: Eugene missed his last lift against Maugham who is on a standard tp to win the match 3-0. He seems to be playing himself back into form. More interestingly, Nigel went to four back leaving one of Reg's balls in IV, the other near II, and his balls on the E boundary one about level with hoop four and a bit in lawn, the other level with hoop three.

Reg played his hoop one ball and took contact from partner in IV, for one back. He croqueted this to near hoop two going to the ball level with four, getting a rush to the fourth ball. He didn't rush this very near, took off to get a rush to one, and hilled off the lawn. This was Nigel's four back ball so Nigel declined the eighyea redder with his hoop one ball and has cross wired Reg at hoop two with himself joined up on the E boundary about peg high, with a rush pointing nowhere in particular.


Lawn four: Reg has taken a long look at this cross wire. It's very straight - he thinks he can run the hoop and make the roquet. It's with the one back ball though. Takes it on - runs the hoop cleanly but fails to make contact. Strange choice given it meant he was playing the one back ball. Meanwhile, Maugham has a very singled straight rover peel, which bounces out. He is now making a leave for what will surely be Eugene's last, last lift if it misses.


Lawn one: Stephen has control of the three ball ending. He has just made four and rushed to within five yards of oppo, near II, but not near enough to risk going for a rush. Croquets partner to close to maximum distance on W boundary and goes to IVhinself, ignoring oppo, who of course has a lift. So it's five and peg v four back and box.

Lawn two: Kevin completes his tpo. Leavball his ball in III and partner about two yards W of IV. Ben takes off from III, great shot - gets rush on other ball to one, which he plays well. Makes one and two off this, approaches three from near III with all the balls if he makes it. Gets eight foot twenty degree angled hoop - smoothly through and he is now favourite, though he has to hit his hoop four pioneer and leave a ball behind.

Jeff is on a break where peelee has only just got near four back, when he is for four back himself, has a go at the straight triple.

Lawn four: Eugene misses and Maugham finishes to win 3-0. Nigel is still in play so presumably has dug out a break.


Lawn one: Mark hits short lift at stephen's peg ball. Rolls it to near four back going to ball in IV. Hits and takes off to four back, gets three yard straight hoop. Runs it with Murray control to get rush to penult. Slightly overapproaches but goes through, no rush. Good roll up to rover, makes it, hits, and wins +10. That makes it 2-2 in that match - think I missed a game somewhere along the line!


Lawn two: Jeff is having a leave for penult and peg, he ran into peelee when running four back. Match score is currently one all. Ben still going round, has a three ball break under control now and should finish.


Lawn one: Mark goes to E boundary, Stephen lays duffer. Mark hits this gently, croquets it rot near partner leaving a four yard rush, goes to near W boundary.

Lawn four: Reg is back in, will go and see what happened - sitting by lawn one at the moment.


Lawn one: Stephen misses fourth turn, his reaction suggests it was very close and may have got some hill. First opportunity then goes to Mark in this crucial deciding game. With so many other Mac hopefuls having a poor event so far, Stephen must be particularly keen to capitalise.

Lawn two: Robin misses the long lift, Jeff rushes to partner ten yards S of two and should finish.

Lawn four: Nigel failed hoop three setting up for his triple and Reg has now started a sextuple. He is all set to peel two back before 4.


Lawn two: Dawson wins +22 to go 2-1 up. They are now decamping to the vacant lawn three and switching to primary colours, so as not to further delay Rothman and Beard, who started two hours earlier and have also just finished their third. Rothman +14otp to go 2-1 up. He certainly took advantage of that slight imprecision in Kevin's leave.


Lawn one: Ormerod must have failed to get in front of three and retired, Mulliner hit and is going round.

Lawn two: Beard seems to have won the opening and has a good opportunity to go round.

Lawn three: Jeff plays first and fails to make contact with hoop five in laying a supershot, Robin directs him to baulk. Jeff places ball in III, which Robin rolls to E boundary, laying a duffer himself. Jeff misses partner from A baulk, Robin misses duffer.

Lawn four: Reg is running two back with peelee in front of penult and a pioneer one yard due N of three back, almost certain to finish from here and close out the match.


Lawn one: Stephen went to one back and Mark missed the lift. Stephen is now starting a sextuple in this crucial final game. When was the last time he completed a sextuple in a match?

Lawn two: Beard has gone to three back and Ben is looking to make headway off the contact.

Lawn three: Jeff is going round, making one back now.

Lawn four: Reg duly pegs out to win +15sxp and take the match 3-0.


Lawn one: Mulliner has a trademark pressup prior to running two back. Rushes back to four back where he will be peeling going to three back. Incidentally, the answer to the question I posed is: 15 September 2012, in the European Championship main event knockout, against the current world number 544 Juan Bravo-Ferrer,when he was 1-0 up in a best of three at the time. Looks like that run is set to continue as he fails to get the peel, and he must have roqueted the escape ball in the croquet stroke as he had to take off from four back to three back, and he's a little bit short. Goes to II. Mark hits very short lift with hoop three ball.


Lawn two: Ben has got going and tries to pop Kevin through one to make the quad harder. Jawses it going to five.

Lawn three: Robin plays some good strokes to make hoop one off the contact, running it to N boundary. Hits ball near two but over rolls approach to two, goes to III. Jeff hits with three back ball, makes a hoop and a leave meaning you would think Robin must hit to stay in the tournament.


Lawn one: Mark progressed from three to six with a leave, Mulliner missed the lift. Mark doesn't get very good rush to six but makes it anyway. Is now looking to approach one back from II putting Stephen's ball to two back. Gets eight foot straightish hoop, bounces off. Stephen looking at 15 yard shot from 1 to 2.


Lawn two: Ben is making contact leave. He has popped Kevin's black to three, and left it about nine yards S of II. Y is in II, R in I, U in IV. Kevin lifts blue, for three back, and sends Y to seven yards N of six getting rush on K to S boundary. Takes off behind R and gets rush to between peg and three back. Rolls up defensively, too hard - has three yard twenty degree angled hoop. Going to turn it down and join up in I.


Lawn one: Stephen actually hit partner near three back. He has done well to dig out a break and is going to be four back and peg at the end of this turn.

Lawn three: Jeff ison a delayed tp to win the match, partner is going to two back with one peel done.


Lawn one: last lift time for Mark - takes the short one fro A baulk, just misses. Should be game, set and match to Stephen.

Lawn two: didn't see what happened but Ben is now in and making hoop one, peelee is already up at four back but he doesn't have a hoop two pioneer so one or two more good shots required.

Lawn three: Jeff peels penult going to four back, has all the balls for a strait rover peel. Needs to rush peelee into position from five feet NNW of the hoop. Rush ends up about a foot away from the hoop but quite angled.


Lawn one: Mulliner doing press up for angled penult. Makes it, should become and dry now.

Lawn two: Rothman perfectly in control at hoop three, if he completes this triple he will win game and match.

Lawn three: Jeff jawses peel and plays good half jump to complete peel and run hoop. Rushes to three yards S of peg. Pegs out to win +25tp and win the match 3-1. Good solid performance from Jeff, as we have come to expect. He faces Jose in the quarter final tomorrow.


Lawn one: Mulliner duly finishes to join Jeff in the last eight, +20 in the fifth. Mark Ormerod proved a tough competitor to get past but perhaps Stephen's great match play experience was the deciding factor in the end. His reward is the winner on lawn two.

Lawn two: Rothman is setting up for penult peel after six.

The other quarters are: Bamford v Maugham at the top, Fulford v Patel at the bottom.


Lawn two: Ben fails to get the peel going to two back or three back, has perfect position for straight rover peel though. Doesn't get rush out of penult but rolls down fine. Deep ball is not very deep but he is peeling from one foot straight so shouldn't be an issue. It isn't - peel goes through cleanly, he can hit short ball. Pegs out to win +15tp and takes the match 3-1. Kevin can perhaps consider himself a bit unfortunate to lose the match having done three triples, but a couple of little inaccuracies were well punished by Ben.


Well, that's it for play for the day, the lawns have emptied, all but the most hardcore spectators have left, and thoughts turn to dinner.

A quick quarter final preview: Reg will of course be a favourite to beat Maugham, but the latter showed signs of his old self today and is always a tough player to beat. I predict a repeat of last year's semi when Reg won 3-1.

Riva v Mulliner will be very interesting. Unlike many of his previous opponents, Mulliner will know not to be fooled by the Spaniard's low grade and easy going demeanour, he will not be complacent. Both players have been reliable at triples all week so it may all come down to whether Stephen can master the sextuple. After all, last time he played a Spaniard he completed one, so who knows? I think he will win 3-2.

Rothman v Dawson - I predict Rothman will continue his good form and take this 3-1, his tactics seem perfectly suited to beating Jeff with his focus on triples rather than sextuples.

Finally, Patel v Fulford - both had relatively straightforward wins today, so it could come down to who hits top form immediately in the morning. Rob's mastery of the sextuple should be the deciding factor, I'd take him to win 3-1 also.

That's it from me, hope you have enjoyed today, unlikely I will be doing this tomorrow as I hope to be playing but I'm sure someone else will step in and do a better job. Wind is picking up, let's hope it doesn't bring rain. Signing off,



Ah, trust me to finish with an error - it's actually Dawson v Riva in the top half, and Mulliner v Rothman in the bottom half. That's probably more interesting from a spectating perspective. Riva v Dawson is too close to call, they have such different approaches to the game. Rothman I fancy to beat Mulliner 3-1. That's definitely the last word for today.


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