Marcus Evans won the Nailsea Advanced Weekend
With the excellent innovations of croquetscores.com, text commentary, and live streaming, the written tournament report seems to be dying out - but since I enjoy writing them, I hope those who don't enjoy reading them won't feel their delete key is over-exercised by this attempt.
Unable to find a replacement for an unavoidable late withdrawal due to injury, but with 7 keen players, the manager opted for an all-play-all block with the unusual twist of each player starting 2 games simultaneously, in an attempt to reduce waiting around for games. The players rose to the extra challenge and despite a little confusion the experiment was generally deemed a success, with no time limits and very little pegging down being required despite mixed levels of skill (often from the same player in the same break) and fairly tough playing conditions. Although entrants were warned before the event that it was not possible for the hoops to be moved to new holes, Nailsea member Andrew Wimshurst did such a good job of firming up the old ones that players still found a variety of entertaining ways to fail to make the most of a seemingly promising opportunity.
Mainly because I promised him it would go in the report, I have to mention in particular pre-tournament favourite Richard M Smith who, being hampered, requested a referee come equipped with a carrot-humbler to put some proud carrots in their place. This duly done and balls marked, naturally what followed was a lovely stroke in all respects right up to the moment the mallet face failed to reach the ball. He later claimed to have been outdone in the stupidity stakes by James Galpin missing out a hoop on a break, albeit he was cunningly getting in the way as double banker at the time. Fortunately the ethics committee decided not to get involved once it was determined he was not also the opponent in the affected game. For his part, Galpin has decided to embark on a GC career, where going for the wrong hoop is a little more difficult - at least without the co-operation of the opponent.
With the three double-rounds neatly completed by lunchtime on Sunday, the top 4 in the block played semi-finals and a final for the trophy, which was won for the fourth time by yours truly, avenging in the final his opening game defeat by Chris O'Byrne. Surprise package David Warhurst came within a whisker of defeating me in both his games, and reported the overnight conditions in his luxurious campervan parked at the club were very peaceful.
Robert Wilkinson won the consolation event, followed by also winning an impromptu three-handed game of 'Irish Speed Croquet'. There were some none-too-subtle mutterings about him taking home a bottle of wine with a record of 1 win from 7 whereas 4 out of 7 went home empty handed, but hey, you've got to win the ones that count. Jonathan Wolfe played entertainingly as ever and took home a good number of index points for his 2 wins.
Another, less successful innovation was the peeling prize, which was advertised as 3 points for a rover peel, 2 for a double, and 1 for a triple or better - the idea being that a triple or better is its own reward, whereas if one of those fails there is then an incentive to finish off the game efficiently. It also potentially gives all players something to aim for in later games. However, as it turned out the winner of the tournament did so by repeatedly failing to finish triple peeling turns only to get back in later, and thus scooped the peeling prize, too.
Club Chairman Graham McCausland presented the prizes and joined me in thanking Nailsea members Joan Timmins and Mike Powell who had generously given up their time for the weekend in order to diligently sanitise the playing equipment after each and every game, as well as keeping the clubhouse clean and safe, and supplying competitors with drinking water which was much needed on two hot days. We also thanked members Brian Roynon, Erica Malaiperuman and Tony Dowman who along with Andrew Wimshurst had spent Friday preparing the lawns to an excellent standard. Particular thanks is also extended to members John and Kathy Wallace who throughout the year have continued to visit the club almost every day to tend to the lawns, which is resulting in great improvements to the playing surface. The club and all who play there are greatly indebted to them and extremely grateful for their efforts.
For full results please see https://croquetscores.com/2020/ac/nailsea-advanced - many thanks to Chris O'Byrne for keeping this up to date.
Handicap change: Marcus Evans -1.5 to -2
Appendix: schema for 7 player all-play-all block with each player starting 2 games simultaneously
A v C B v D A v D B v C E v F E v G F v G
A v B A v E E v B C v F C v G D v G F v D
A v F A v G B v G B v F C v D C v E D v E