The British and the Americans arrived on Monday and Tuesday for practice play and began the four-day, 21-match series this morning(Wednesday). As play begins Wednesday morning, here are the quotes of the team captains:
"We're here to win handsomely at the Mecca of croquet." - David Openshaw, British team captain
"We'll give it our best show." - Jerry Stark, American team captain
October is "Showcase Month" at the National Croquet Centre in West Palm Beach, and the Solomon Trophy matches occur in the same month the Cafe Croquet opened for daily lunch service and the liquor license came through (just a week ago).
For the first time, everything at the new Centre is up and operating continuously. Well, not QUITE continuously. We can't afford to have the bar open all the time, and the presence of the Brits has occasioned a discussion as to what might be appropriate and affordable in the way of bar service. I have been told it is the custom in Britain for the winner to buy the loser a round at the bar. Presumably the winner buys and consumes the alcohol himself as well. I have some questions about this that I will get answered today, like: (1) Is the brew consumed after every game or after every match? If after every game, the Brits are likely to achieve unconsciousness by mid-afternoon. (2) Is it after the end of play, in which case we should make sure to have the bar open for every cocktail hour? (In any case, it is my understanding that the bartender has gotten in a respectable quantity of Pins.)
The National Croquet Centre is determined to be good hosts to all the players.) Phil Cordingley has provided excellent coverage of the World's for Croquet World Online Magazine in the past, and he has promised to produce some reports for us. I shall persuade others on both teams to report throughout the contest - as well as for the vastly amusing Presidents Cup matches (American rules doubles play) on Sunday. I have a great negotiating tool here: They can use my computer to catch their emails if they promise to produce a report-of-the-day on the games.
Director of Croquet Archie Peck has gone out of his way to "rest" the six central lawns in play for the Trophy competition, and he was here past sundown and again at dawn creating the best possible wicket settings and court settings, as well as setting up courts for various groups arriving for packaged experience combining the play of Golf Croquet, lunch, and watching top players The weather is warm, with a possibility of showers - all the veranda ceiling fans are turned on, and there's already (in the morning) a slight breeze from the ocean shore. Cafe Croquet is preparing for luncheon service both inside and on the veranda. At 9:00 AM, Jerry Stark (captain of the American team) and team-mate Bob Cherry are totally engrossed in a backgammon game in the bar. What kind of training regimen is this, anyway? (I just proposed to the "old man" of the British team - David Openshaw - that we have an inter-team Backgammon tournament in the evenings to salve American pride in case of an unfortunate outcome. He said, "I wouldn't bet on it. We're pretty good at backgammon, too.") These are all great guys - there couldn't be a more convivial group of competitors, from both sides of the Atlantic. They're here to play their best.
In the next posting on www.CroquetWorld.com, the one-through-six rankings and pair-ups of the teams will be revealed and Day One results reported. See the preview and look for frequent reports on www.CroquetWorld.com.