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Stuart M Smith won the Dorset Open GC Championship (Open Series) 22-23 July 2023

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pictureStuart M Smith receiving the trophy from Jonathan Powe

by Jonathan Powe at East Dorset
24th July 2023 (GC - Championships)

The Dorset GC Open had more of an international flavour this year. It was delightful to see Manuel Marcos Fal and Luis de Alarcon who flew in from Spain for the weekend, and also Helen Reeves (New Zealand) who joined us for a warm-up event prior to the Women's GC World Championship next month.

Unfortunately, we were unable to offer decent weather, at least not on the Saturday which was truly awful. It started bucketing it down at about midday and didn't stop until long after the final block game finished at 7.45pm. Very challenging for the players, all of whom were completely soaked by mid-afternoon. They did very well to stick with it.

As usual, sixteen entrants were split into two blocks of eight, which produced eight quarter-finalists for the Knockout and eight for the Plate.

Block A was reasonably straightforward and ran largely to form, although Helen Reeves just missed out on a place in the knockout to Paul Gunn, losing to him in her final block game. The other three qualifiers were Stuart M Smith (7/7 wins), Steve Leonard (5/7) and David Goacher (4/7). Andy Dochniak (h'cap 6, no DGrade) deserves a special mention for stepping in at the last moment when someone withdrew on Friday morning, and for winning two of his block games (plus a further two in the plate the next day).

Block B was quite tight for much of the day. Jonathan Powe (7/7) and Tim O'Donnell (5/7) both qualified reasonably comfortably, but four other players (Stephen Custance-Baker, Gary Brennan, Diana Wilson and Manuel Marcos Fal) all finished on 3/7, with Stephen and Diana going through on net hoops.

In the knockout, Stuart M Smith and Stephen Custance Baker both looked strong on their way to the final and it was Stuart who prevailed in the final match (his fourth appearance in a Dorset Open final), beating Stephen 7-2, 5-7, 7-3 to take the cup for the first time.

Helen Reeves' form rallied on Sunday (perhaps the warm, sunny weather helped). She won five games in a row to take the Plate, beating Louise Smith 7-2 in the final.

Good luck to Helen, Louise and Diana at the Women's GC Worlds (Sussex CCC, 7-14 Aug).

Key results:

Plate Final: Helen Reeves beat Louise Smith 7-2


QF1: Stuart M Smith beat Diana Wilson 4-7, 7-2, 7-5

QF2: David Goacher beat Tim O'Donnell 7-2, 4-7, 7-4

QF3: Stephen Custance-Baker beat Steve Leonard 7-4, 7-5

QF4: Jonathan Powe beat Paul Gunn 7-2, 7-6

5th/6th Playoff (Bowl Final): Tim O'Donnell beat Steve Leonard 7-4, 7-2

SF1: Stuart M Smith beat David Goacher 7-4, 7-6

SF2: Stephen Custance-Baker beat Jonathan Powe 7-6, 7-5

Final: Stuart M Smith beat Stephen Custance-Baker 7-2, 5-7, 7-3

Full results on Croquet Scores here:


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