Faced with the slightly awkward number of nine-and-a-half-and-a-half in terms of entries, the manager/tournament reporter decided to try a cross-block format for the first time. Undaunted by mishaps in previous years involving (variously) an "Eight" with eight players, a 'flexible' Swiss with eight players (pro-tip - it isn't very flexible), and unfinished blocks, no timers were set, which looked like a serious error when lunch on day one was reached with plenty of play left in at least two of the five first-round matches. The standard of play was perhaps best illustrated by the fact that David Goacher was the last to start but (comfortably) the first to finish. However, suitably fortified by the sterling culinary efforts of Nailsea members Pat Long, Erica Malaiperuman, Linda Shaw, and Brigit Clayton, the pace picked up slightly and 3.5 rounds were finished well before dusk, plus an early consolation game.
At this point the manager discovered that contrary to an earlier assertion, while you do have more flexibility with the order of matches compared with a traditional block, some care is still needed to avoid clashes in the later rounds. As a result of a lack of this, six rounds were in fact required to complete the five games. Fortunately, a 'spare' game in round 6 involved the two favourites for the event, so this was declared the final, with the semi-finals to follow. Because why wouldn't you?
The clear winner of block A was Marcus Evans with a 100% record. Tim Jolliff narrowly pipped Dave Kibble to the second semi-final place with 4/5, becoming a minus-player for the first time along the way. In the other block, David Goacher was the winner on 3/5, by virtue of the combined Kriss Chambers (Saturday) and Robert Wilkinson (Sunday) entry not being eligible to contest the trophy despite a combined 4/5. The surprise other contender of the semi-final was Alison Girdlestone, easily the highest-handicap player in the event off 4 (3.5 by the finish). The semis were of course contested between players from the same block in this format, and fortunately they both went to seeding so there was no need to start a second final or share the trophy.
Highlight of the weekend was Jonathan Wolfe's first ever tournament triple peel, for which he deservedly took home the peeling prize.
Many thanks to the Nailsea members who gave up their lawns, especially those led by David Hunt who moved the hoops beforehand, Geoff Hughes who supplied coffee and refereeing on the first morning, and immediate past President Jim Gregory who set out and cleared equipment on both days.
One of the entrants was heard to say the management of the event was one of the reasons they kept coming back - if the above gives you a flavour of the good-natured chaos that generally ensues, and you like that sort of thing, why not give it a try next year?
Full match results can be found in the World Rankings.