Jamie Burch beat David Maugham to win the South of England Championship.
After a South of England Week characterised by alternate days of sunshine and rain, Friday dawned bright and clear for the Championship and with a promising forecast for the rest of the weekend. The only new faces this year were Richard H Smith from Bowdon and Simon Hayward-Tapp returning to croquet this season after a gap of just over 30 years! However, something of a shock awaited Simon in his first match: Keith Aiton's immaculate 7th turn and 6th turn consecutive sextuples consigned him to the Swiss in 87 minutes without taking croquet! Keith went on to make five peels of a sextuple against Gabrielle Higgins, and complete another against David Maugham, securing him the peeling prize for the second year running. David himself impressed with 8 triples in his 9 wins.
Most impressive of all was Jamie Burch's superb shooting throughout the weekend. He progressed to the final without conceding a game, though in his semi-final Ed Duckworth ran him close. The final went to 5 games, all starting with the same sequence: Jamie ran or glanced off hoop 5, David just south of corner 2 (or once to the east boundary), Jamie hit David's ball and approached hoop 1. In the first two games his long hoop 1 shots stuck. David took the first game but narrowly missed 4th turn in the second to give Jamie the innings and the game in the 9th turn. In game 3, turn 3 Jamie found himself hampered after 1-back. His sweep attempt missed and David went to 3-back from the contact. From his contact Jamie ran hoop 1 after a long roll-up, but could not make any further progress. David hit, made 3-back, cross-wired the opponents at hoop 1 and retired to corner 3. Jamie's 30 yard shot was his only miss of the match and David finished with a triple. Game 4 saw Jamie to 4-back in turn 3 only to suffer David's TPO in turn 6. But Jamie hit leaving a squeeze resulting in David retiring to corner 4, whereupon Jamie finished in two turns to level the match which he then took with a fifth turn triple.
Having been eliminated from the main event by two Ed Duckworth triples, Jack Wicks proceeded to win all 6 of his plate games, 5 of them with triples of his own. He beat his then closest rival, defending champion Gavin Carter, in his final game ensuring an unassailable two game margin. At the same time Gabrielle Higgins beat Sam Murray to draw level with Gavin for joint second place. This year's plate games saw two sextuples: Dave Kibble's against Graham Gale and one from Ed Duckworth (allowed a few non-scoring plate games in lieu of a third place play-off) against the manager!
Thanks, as ever, to Hilary and Tim Smith for their tasty lunches. And an interesting historical sidelight in that this year's entry boasted no fewer than six Spencer-Ell winners: Gabrielle this year, Dave Kibble last year and 1998, Keith 2002, Ed 1997 and 1999, Mark Ormerod 1982, and Simon 1978!
Jamie Burch beat David Maugham -26tp +26tp -18tp +14otp +26tp
David Maugham beat Keith Aiton -20sxp +5 +26tp -13tpo +26tp
Jamie Burch beat Ed Duckworth +17tp +8 +13tpo
David Maugham beat RichardH Smith +26tp +25tp
Keith Aiton beat Gabrielle Higgins +17tp +25
Ed Duckworth beat Jack Wicks +14tp +15tp
Jamie Burch beat Gavin Carter +23tp +7otp
David Maugham beat Mark Ormerod -17 +13tpo +17tp
Richard H Smith beat Dave Kibble +10 -23tp +19
Keith Aiton beat Simon Hayward-Tapp +26sxp +26sxp
Gabrielle Higgins beat Graham Gale +26 -23 +14tp
Jack Wicks beat Luc Berthouze +15 +25tp
Ed Duckworth beat Sam Murray -17tp +26tp +25tp
Gavin Carter beat Louise Bradforth +17tp +18
Jamie Burch beat Nigel Polhill +24tp +19
=Winner: Jack Wicks 8 wins from 10 games (80%)
6/10 (60%) Gavin Carter, Gabrielle Higgins
5/10 (50%) Mark Ormerod
5/12 (42%) Graham Gale
4/10 (40%) Dave Kibble, Sam Murray
3/9 (33%) Luc Berthouze
2/6 (33%) Louise Bradforth
3/10 (30%) Richard H Smith
2/9 (22%) Nigel Polhill
1/10 (10%) Simon Hayward-Tapp
Plate "extras" - Ed Duckworth had 3/3 wins, Roger Wood had 3/5.
Peeling prize: Keith Aiton (2 TP, 3 SXPs)