Winners: Block A - Level Advanced: David Marsh, Block B - Handicap Advanced: Carole McLoughlin
A cloudy but windless and mild day met the contestants for this year's annual 1-day open tournament at Watford. The courts were slow and a bit rough in places, but this did not stop some close competitive games from being fought in good spirit by all throughout the day. With the majority of the 12 entrants preferring to play level advanced, the tournament was divided into two independent blocks, 8 playing level advanced and 4 handicap advanced. With only one day for play it was also important that everyone played 3 games, so all were played to a time limit of 3 hours.
In a block of 8 the 3-round Swiss format is in effect equivalent to a 3-round knock-out as far as the winners are concerned, and it has the advantage (from the manager's perspective!) that it always guarantees a unique winner without the need for any further tie-breakers. To provide an incentive for those who lost a game in the first two rounds a consolation prize was also offered for the player, other than the block winner, who achieved the largest net index point gain in the day.
The first round results went according to the form book,
though not without a bit of a scare for David Marsh who just scraped a +1 win on time against Geoff Johnson. The first upset came in the second round when Alan Clark gained a tight +3 win over the defending champion Terry Mahoney, and thus a place in the final against David Marsh, who had beaten Arthur Reed. The final proved to be a closely fought contest as well, and as the time limit approached it had reached the point where both players were level with a ball each on 4-back and peg, but Alan had the innings with a rush to 4-back leaving David needing a long-range roquet to save the game. He shot at one of Alan's balls.... hit, and was able to finish from there for a +5 win and the tournament title. He confessed afterwards that he had aimed at Alan's other ball! Sometimes luck can play a large part in the outcome. Meanwhile the young Cesar Miranda-Reyes had a one-sided +25 win against John Smallbone to bring his net index point tally to +17 for the day, gaining him both a handicap reduction to 4 and the block consolation prize.
In the handicap advanced block the players met in a simple all-play-all block of 4. After two rounds David Frost was in the lead with 2 wins, both completed within time, with Carole McLoughlin and Andre Machell each having 1 win on time, and Quiller Barrett with none. The last round set David against Carole and Andre against Quiller. A win for David would therefore have made him the unambiguous block winner, regardless of the outcome of the other game, but competition is rarely that simple! The 3-hour limit was reached with both players level, and after the usual extension period went to a sudden death finish in which Carole hit a tense 12-yarder to gain the innings and a rush to her next hoop to win +1 on time. This left both David and Carole on 2 wins, with Carole having beaten David; BUT both David's wins were within time whereas both Carole's wins had gone to the time limit. So according to the specified tie-breaking rules, if at the end there were only 2 players on 2 wins then Carole would win the block on the who-beat-whom rule, but if there were 3 players on 2 wins each the who-beat-whom rule would not identify a winner amongst them, and then it would be decided on wins within time instead. This meant that if Andre beat Quiller in the other round 3 game, David would win the block instead of Carole!
And indeed things appeared to be heading that way. As the time-limit approached with Andre for Rover and peg while Quiller was only for 3-back and peg, Andre had the innings and laid up near rover for his final hoop. Quiller shot and missed, leaving his ball nearby. Andre made his last hoop, roqueted Quiller's ball needing a simple 1-yard take-off to get behind partner for the 7-yard rush to peg.... and over-ran into partner's ball instead. His 7-yard peg-out attempt failed, and so Andre pegged out his other ball. Then with time having expired by now, Quiller shot, hit, picked up a difficult 3-ball break and managed to get to peg.... but was only able to peg one ball out! This left a sudden death 2-ball finish with both players for peg, and both with about 7-yard shots at the peg. Andre shot and missed, leaving his ball only a few yards away from Quiller's, which Quiller then hit for an easy final peg-out to win +1. Not only that, the outcome ensured that it was Carole and not David who won the block! Exciting stuff!