A full twelve players gathered at Edgbaston. Three players had the minimum handicap of -1, so Phil Cordingley, Nigel Polhill and Chris O'Byrne were the ante-post favourites.
The Manager thought 3 blocks of 4 appropriate for these times. Two out of three gained a place in Sunday's knock-out, 3/3 and you'd be seeded.
If you're having blocks you may as well fiddle them, so #2 v #3 was scheduled for the third round. If games went with ranking, this would be a sudden death game. In two blocks it was actually the wooden spoon game, with #4s Adrian Morris and Simon Cawdell exceeding expectations.
The third block also had an upset as Jonathan Wolfe beat Phil.
All 3 blocks had one 3/3, and one 2/3. (If games were on the toss of a coin, that would happen 3 times out of 8.)
This meant a knock-out of 6, with 3 seeds. I'd vaguely hoped that that wouldn't happen.
(And it wouldn't have, had Clive Goode not failed rover v Chris. Chris's clips were 3 and penult: forced to play with his penult ball he made 2 hoops and constructed a leave where oppo felt obliged to corner. Chris properly ignored that ball as he finished next turn.)
Jonathan drew the lucky #1 seed position, meaning that all 3 -1s were in the bottom half.
Only one extra game was played on Saturday, and it featured a ladies' sextuple from Chris.
[Brief history of SXPs at Edgbaston. The first was by John McCullough in 1984ish, with Walker balls - remember them? The rushes pinged.
We believe Reg Bamford had one during the block phase of the 2005 World Championship. He did have two in his block, and I'm sure an efficient manager would know if either was at Edgbaston...
And now Chris O'Byrne adds his name to the roster.]
On Sunday Jonathan duly came through the top half.
In the bottom half Phil won the battle of Middlesex, then faced Chris. Phil soon reached 4-back and peg, only for Chris to recover. Chris had done 2 peels of his triple when he failed 4-back, giving Phil an easy finish.
In the final Phil again reached 4-back and peg before oppo had made much progress. Jonathan hit his "last shot" and soon had a break with Yellow - the Red clip was on 2. To the crowd's surprise he did not stop at 4-back, clearly intent on pegging out Phil's Black. The red ball was dispatched near 4th corner. Jonathan then felt he had to play the very short peg-out with some pull, misjudged it, and failed to peg out! Yellow retired to second corner. In Phil's contact turn Blue took off from Red, but ended about 10' West of Black (hoop 4 in the way apparently - so why not just take contact off Black?). Blue dribbled at Black and missed, ending up halfway between hoops 3 and 4. Jonathan's Red hit Blue, and cut it within a few feet of hoop 2! The crowd was delighted. Jonathan made 2, hit his six-yarder at Yellow, and picked up the break. Phil searched desperately for his stopping bisque, but he'd already used it against Chris. Jonathan kept his composure to win the Tompkinson Shield.
This was Jonathan's first tournament at Edgbaston, though he did play a game here with Martin ("The Hat") Kolbuszewski in 1971!
This was also Neal Bacon's first A-class tournament. After a disappointing Saturday he perhaps reflected overnight that minus-players make mistakes too, and fared much better on Sunday. I look forward to him joining the Warwickshire team. Another rare sighting was the Rev'd Simon Cawdell. He's been promoted, hence much wit on can(n)ons. Regulars Gary Bennett and Kevin Carter had a nice final game on Sunday. Kevin pegged out Gary and separated. Gary took long position at 4-back. Kevin joined up. Gary ran his long hoop, hit his long shot, and finished. Good to see Riggall's Law still applies.
I've mentioned everyone bar Alan Clark, whose only noteworthy achievement was losing to the Manager!