David Warhurst won the Treasurer's Tankard
The Treasurer's got off to a great start this year. After some rather overly-insistent communications regarding a start time, the Manager contrived to turn up late on the first day. This was shortly followed by the realisation that Martin Murray, entrusted with shuttling the Tankard itself to the competition, had left it many miles away back at home.
Luckily, croquet players are generally nice, so those issues were resolved pretty quickly and play commenced. This year's weather has made it near impossible to create difficult conditions, but Guildford has a well-deserved reputation for making things difficult but fair.
The first round was a bit of a struggle, and hopes of 4 games per day to get ahead of schedule dissipated early on. Lorna stood out, happily and consistently running longer hoops, which started to give others some courage.
It's only fair to say that a lot of defensive tactics were employed, generally successfully. While 4 ball breaks were verging on trivial, attempts in digging anything out often got punished.
There was very little variety in openings, with the pre-determined "toss-winner" almost invariably opting for going first with a standard opening, usually met with corner 2s or duffers.
Advanced tactics didn't come into play too much, save for Neal Bacon taking advantage of a jawsed 4B to manage a TPO (with partner on 4B!), but diagonal spreads and OSLs generally ruled supreme.
With fairly good boundaries, there were a surprising number of lift shots hit from B, and consistency in shooting in general was fairly impressive.
Of the 10 Triples completed, Andrew Hobbs managed the first with decent control throughout. Probably the most consistent player going into the event, he was often let down by the random lawn dalliances which made precision croquet so problematic.
Martin Murray was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the one to cause trouble. Veering from being a benign threat to completing immaculate triples, missing the peg out on one and using a rover bombard on another, he scored all of the entertainment points.
Pegged out endings became very popular, accompanied by some of the most questionable tactics imaginable, but provided a lot of discussion along with reference to some book that Pete Trimmer once wrote. Often, these endings were comically unintentional - one day saw 4 missed peg outs, from as little as 2 yards.
By the last day, David "Warhorse" Warhurst had a solid grip on the crown, through his defensive patience and solid shooting. With the horrific risk of a 3-way tie needing resolving, players started early, but the 2 other contenders were put out of contention by Lorna and Martin, allowing David to romp home.
After a somewhat surprisingly sober first day, the group managed to find a range of local establishments in which to hold court, along with a number of one-handed and other silly games, aided on the penultimate day by Annabel. Guildford did a great job, and the nicest guy won.