The National Seniors' Tournament
The 2023 Seniors' Tournament was a challenging event; foremost for the decidedly reduced number of entrants and secondly a reduced number affected by 9 class entrant withdrawals. Injury and medical problems to the fore - Consultant's secretary 'No you cannot re-book, if you don't come, you'll not get another appointment this year!' So, a bijou event which, with the weather deciding to be unhelpful with torrential rain for most of Friday, was probably a blessing in disguise.
Informative emails were sent; twice each time, once by 'normal' email and again by gmail, 'cos if any addressee isn't going to get a key email it will be a gmail user [it happens over and over]. Amazingly therefore 21 players, joined by the manager, turned-up on Monday to play an 11 pair X & Y Doubles.
Managers will appreciate the frustration of such an uneven number and it highlights the question of event scheduling. The Veterans and the Seniors have been played as one event following conclusion of another. This means accommodation need only be booked for the event(s) entered and, of course, it makes management considerably easier than the alternative. This is practised by Nottingham in their August event when very active management enables all events, single life doubles knockout, handicap singles and class events, to start altogether. [Discuss]
Anyway, I digress. The doubles went ahead with only the issue of alternate stroke play when agreement was not universal - tournament regulations however are clear. Games at 2 hours 45 minutes went mostly to time as the usual safety at any cost discussions were well rehearsed between partners on the lawn, as though they had never seen the state of the game before their turn arrived. Jane Babbage [Sidmouth] and Richard Williamson [Bristol] played well but were knocked into the Y stream by Tim Russell [Roehampton] and Neil Fillery [Taunton Deane] who went on to contest the X Final. Babbage and Williamson won the Y and took home the glass-based trophies. Bob Thompson [Nottingham] and Peter Thompson [Driffield] won the X and the accompanying CA Trophy Cups.
The Handicap singles, also at 2 hours 45 minutes, was contested by 14 players over a Fixed SWISS. Somewhat slicker in the organisation this year as the manager was finally inculcated into the art of the WCF SWISS computer programme - thanks Barry. There was, however, a fault in the system which became apparent when a player remarked, somewhat aggrievedly, that not only had he had to play 'X' but had been also double-banked three times with 'X'; 'X' not known for celerity of play. Regardless of this drama Fillery, playing by entry rather than manager's plea to make-up numbers, was determined to retain the Quiller Cup which he did by winning all 6 handicap games - well done!
Came Thursday afternoon and, throughout the week, the forecast for Friday had not improved. A block of 7 and three blocks of 6 to be played. It was decided to play two games on the Thursday early and late afternoon rather than just the one scheduled. All got the change message bar one. This gave Charlie Martin [Ramsgate] cellist, pianist and keyboard Maestro time to rehearse his programme which was to accompany the Fish'n Chips evening get together.
Friday arrived and players set forth, one or two setting fifth thinking play would start later as the extra game yesterday had been the Friday morning's scheduled game - still with me? Most games finished but Babbage v Peter Death [Nottingham] refused to play with 18 minutes to go merely because a 3 inch deep lake was taking-up the southwest corner. Frances Colman [Phyllis Court] and Geraldine O'Rourke [Carrick Mines] wet, bedraggled, chilled to the bone sought refuge and respite with a peg down. The kind hearted manager acquiesced and Chris Roberts [Phyllis Court] was dispatched to complete the peg down sheet! Games abandoned. A few venturous souls returned at 4pm and played a couple of A Block games for which that kind-hearted manager was most grateful in that they materially helped to avoid the necessity to work out an incomplete block result the following day. [I mean have you actually read, and more importantly, understood the calculation thereof? Makes Schrodinger's cat conundrum look facile by comparison.]
Saturday was bright with light, brief showers and the spectre of violent thunderstorms and torrential rain happily disappeared. The Nigel Graves trophy saw Andre Machell [Watford] and Colman on 3 wins but Babbage took the trophy home after her final 4th win.
The de Ansorena block had 3 in second place with 3 wins: Fillery, Robert Moss [Budleigh Salterton] and Charles Ostler [Pinchbeck] and, much to his surprise Chris Donovan took home the trophy with 4 wins.
The Colin Hemming's Cup is, I regret to say, an embarrassment to me, the manager. One game was not played and there was a complete misunderstanding, the game was 'made-up' and finishing as prize-giving started when all, otherwise, seemed 'clear'. Thus it was, that Nigel Amos [Budleigh Salterton], Barry Holland [Surbiton] and Peter Thompson were on 3 wins with Neil Adams [Westmorland] on 4 wins. Neil was presented with the cup; mention being made of his two triple peels. Then the manager was advised that Peter Thompson's late win against Martin meant that he too was on 4 wins and, what's more, he was the one player to have beaten Neil. I can only apologise again to both for the misunderstanding.
The A Class on untimed games progressed in remarkably good order given the main play day, Friday, was effectively a washout. The manager was relieved not to have to express an opinion on that cat as Jim Field was a clear winner with 6 games won out of 7.
The trophies were presented by Peter Nelson [Sidmouth] Vice Chairman of Council. He thanked Budleigh Salterton for their continued excellent support in organisation and facilities and particularly noted the first-class lawns - arguably the best in the country - certainly outside of 2 certain London clubs - the players agreed.
Will climate change threaten green lawns, to the delight of elite players, dismay of the not so elite; will the cost of living once again return to acceptable levels and encourage entrance to longer tournaments; will the final year in Budleigh for the Veterans and Seniors see a return to full take-up before it moves elsewhere - well it might if you sign-up! See you in 2024.