Aston Wade won the Chairman's Salver
Aston Wade receiving the Chairman's Salver from Eugene Chang (manager)by Nick Parish at East Dorset
27th September 2022 (AC)
I think all participants in this year's Chairman's Salver will remember it primarily for what they were doing when they found out about the death of the Queen, which occurred on the first day of the tournament. Given the lengthy distances participants had travelled, it was felt to be appropriate to continue with the tournament, despite the sad circumstances.
There were certainly other reasons to remember the event, though, particularly if you were Aston Wade. In the first round of his first Salver, Wade was playing another first-timer, Ali Maugham, and reaching the end of the game Wade hit in with his 4b ball, his other ball already for peg. Needing only a 3-ball break to win, he under-approached penult off Maugham's ball from two feet, and stuck in it. Maugham needed no second bidding and pounced to win the game.
That was particularly notable, since it was the only game Wade was to lose in the entire event. Combining astonishing shooting with precise hoop running and very accurate croquet strokes, he racked up a remarkable 361 points out of a possible 364 and in only one of his 13 wins did he concede more than 12 points. Given all those strengths, his reluctance to attempt TPs did not hamper him at all, and as a result he became the first player since Roger Tribe in 1996 to win the event without doing a single TP. Even allowing for the easy conditions, once he adds TPs to his repertoire, we can expect this rising star to challenge for the top AC events, in addition to the GC ones he has already won.
Only two players really threatened Wade. One was David Goacher, who couldn't have been a greater contrast to Wade in terms of experience, playing in his 23rd Salver and notching up his 150th Salver game win during the event. Goacher began well with six wins from his first seven, and then in a crucial game pegged Wade out. A prolonged, tactical pegged-out ending took place, with both players having chances to win, but eventually Wade came home +3 in the only game he won where he was run close. After that Goacher seemed to lose heart, and won only one more game. The other contender was Nick Parish, another Salver first-timer, whose shooting and croquet strokes were sufficiently on form to make up for periodic problems with the hoops. In the other crucial game, Parish TPO'd Wade, who stuck in hoop 1 off the contact. Unaccountably, Parish missed a 4-yarder at Wade's ball in the hoop, finishing on the south boundary. Wade ran the hoop to the north boundary, hit the ball in corner 2, rolled off hoop 2 and, taking the two-ball break to 2-back, finished to seal the Salver. Parish eventually came second with 11 wins.
Other than the games between them, Parish and Wade lost only one game each, so it was no surprise that the other players finished a little way back. A special mention must be made for Omied Hallam, who lost his first eight games, getting more and more despondent with each game. Eventually he crawled over the line against Nigel Polhill to win game 9, to a round of applause from all present. This win completely transformed his mindset and with his confidence restored he went on to win four of his remaining five games, losing only to Wade, and avoiding coming last for good measure. Of the other players, Maugham and Eugene Chang performed confidently in their first Salvers winning 5 and 7 games respectively, while Nigel Polhill struggled a little with the heavy lawns but finished strongly by winning his two pegged-down games against Goacher. Andy Myers entertained us off the lawn with his excellent chicken chasseur, but by his standards had an event to forget.
As always, Parkstone was a lovely place to play, with excellent catering and wonderful support from local members, for whom nothing was too much trouble, including having to take a crash-course in hoop setting since their principal hoop-setter was 200 miles away playing in the Spencer Ell. With torrential downpours on the first two days, the lawns were inevitably easy-paced, but the weather lifted after that, and rookie manager Chang deftly organised us to finish the growing number of pegged-down games, and conclude the event on time. I knew he wasn't only there for his cooking…