Report on GC Handicap doubles, Hurlingham Monday 31 August
This popular one-day Bank Holiday Monday event, usually held double-banked on four lawns, was originally well over-subscribed. After increasing the number of lawns to six the numbers still had to be reduced to 24 by ballot to keep it single-banked in these COVID times, disappointing some previous entrants. Those who arrived, from as far afield as Newport, Northampton, Chelmsford and Sussex County, were treated to an excellent day of doubles with a very friendly atmosphere. Fortunately the early morning chill was replaced by a pleasant late August day.
All played all in two blocks of six, each game limited to 60 minutes and the extension period if required; the winners and runners-up progressed to a semi-final/ final knockout. Ross Bagni (Leighton-Linslade, handicap 0) and Marilyn Robinson (Northampton, 5) were convincing winners of block A, winning all their games, only Tony Bingham (Hurlingham, 0) and Sudy Harrison (Hurlingham, 7) taking them past the time limit. Second in the group were relative newcomers Richard Andrews (Hurlingham, 6) and late replacement James Petit ((Hurlingham, 6) with 4 wins, losing to Bagni and Robinson 2-7 in the first game of the morning.
Block B was much closer: John Bowcott (Hurlingham, 0) and Rosanne Creighton (Hurlingham, 8), Ian & Jean Cobbold (respectively -1 and 7, Cheam) and Mike Huxley (Guildford, 2) and Gavin Taylor (Surbiton, 3) were locked on 3 wins each. Remarkably all three had +3 net hoops on all games and who beat whom didn't produce a clear result. On net hoops between the three pairs the Cobbolds and Huxley & Taylor were still even on +1, so they both progressed with the Cobbolds on top as they won their group game 7-4; bad luck Bowcott and Creighton.
The semi-finals saw Bagni and Robinson beat Huxley and Taylor, last year's winners, 7-3 and scratch pair Andrews and Petit, improving all the time as a partnership and beginning to work out how to make use of their significant extra turns, beat the Cobbold's 7-5. The final therefore saw a repeat of the first game but this time home players Andrews and Petit with 4 extra turns were too good for Bagni & Robinson and won 7-5. Finally Bagni's excellent clearances and Robinson's elegant stroke-making found their match in Andrews' accurate power and Petit's reliable hoop-running.
As all, including a good number of spectators, watched the final there was no 3rd/ 4th place play-off but previously the other block play-offs had resulted in Bingham and Harrison beating Bowcott and Creighton 6-5 for 5th/ 6th places. At the end there was warm appreciation for the prize-winners, for Hurlingham's beautiful grounds and welcome hospitality and for Tony Bingham's impeccable management.