Stephen Mulliner won the Guildford & Godalming Advanced Weekend
A full field of 16, including no fewer than six former winners, assembled for this excellent traditional AC event in very attractive surroundings. The club, aided by a preceding month with almost no rain, provided genuinely quick and challenging courts which made anything more complicated than a triple highly risky. The managerial plan was to play four Swiss rounds on Saturday and three on Sunday but it was soon evident that the 3 hour time limit might well be needed.
Nigel Polhill (2010 winner) caused a minor sensation last year by taking some senior scalps and an early lead. He repeated the feat by winning all four of his Saturday games, including wins against Stephen Mulliner (2004) by 26tp and Nick Parish (2016), another early leader, by 22tp. However, he was only one ahead of Parish, Jamie Burch (2012, 2018 and 2019), David Maugham and Samir Patel (2021), the latter two having both lost to Parish.
Maugham achieved a personal milestone in his third game on Saturday as the first player ever to record 2,000 ranked triple peels. With managerial assistance, he was able to complete this feat against Jeff Dawson - who had also been the first opponent against whom he had completed a ranked triple (in the 1988 Spencer Ell)!
Sunday dawned with the working assumption that the winner would be one of the five leaders mentioned above. Polhill started strongly with a 26 against Patel for 5/5 and Burch, who had lost to Patel in Round 2 and survived by a mere 3 against Gabrielle Higgins (2011) in Round 3, now recorded a confident win against Parish to reach 4/5. Burch then beat Polhill by 24tp to draw level with him at 5/6 while Mulliner improved from 2/4 to 4/6 by wins over Maugham and Parish.
Round 7 was expected to provide a clear-cut winner from either Polhill or Burch but, in the event, Maugham beat Polhill by 24tp and Mulliner completed an adventurous delayed triple against Burch (after the latter had unluckily cross-wired himself at hoop 5 when attempting his own triple). This created at least a 4-way tie on 5/7 with the possibility of a fifth contender if Higgins beat Parish (although this did not transpire).
The Tournament Regulations do not provide a clear solution for the circumstances of this case so the chosen tie-break method was a crowd-pleasing 2-ball break contest from corner 1 on a still quick court 1. Polhill achieved a forward rush after hoop 1 and scored two hoops while Maugham did not get the forward rush after hoop 1 - so that was his only hoop. Mulliner managed forward rushes after hoops 1 and 2 but was hampered after hoop 3 and was unable to run hoop 4. Burch started well but failed hoop 3 so, completely against his start-of-day expectations, the manager emerged also as the winner for the first time in 18 years!
The players expressed their hearty appreciation of the first-class catering (superb cold lunches, excellent cakes and tea, coffee and juices on tap throughout the day) and spectator interest provided by the club members.