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Challenge & Gilbey

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pictureTeddy Wilmot-Sitwell, David Warhurst, Jim Field, Chris Williams, Colin Walls, Ed Dolphin (Photo: Bob Whitaker)

by Chris Donovan at Budleigh
6th September 2023 (AC - Mixed)

This year the Challenge part was most apposite for the manager. The much reduced entry saw just 14 entrants for the handicap event, the Gilbey Goblet, and only 23 for the Class event of whom 11 had handicaps in the range scratch to minus 2.

Thus, it was on a grey Thursday that the 14 players gathered to play a flexible SWISS of a minimum of 5 rounds; base 6. The manager fully expecting 6 and hopefully 7 rounds but, the weather depressed spirits and only the 5 rounds were played. Linda Shaw 16 [Bristol] succumbed to a heavy cold and spent Thursday night re-inspecting lunch and the manager played in her stead on Friday. Come 4pm on Friday and, inevitably there was a 3-way tie between David Warhurst -1 [Budleigh], David Fuller -0.5 [East Dorset] and Roger Staples 5 [Middlesbrough]. Suffice it to say that not all had played the same opponents and, after agreement by all three, David Warhurst emerged the winner by a narrow margin.

Post event the manager mooted on more games, maybe 18 pointers, to reduce the multi-tie risk but this met with negative responses. The 2 days for each event is a 'challenge' in itself and a limited field with 'incorrect' numbers further limits options. Personally, I dislike single life knock-out; it may get an unarguable winner but half the entry is playing to no avail after the first game. I wish the 2024 manager a better structured entry!

Thursday evening the print of the class blocks and discovery of a further withdrawal by a handicap 1 player with Covid and a very poorly Linda unable to play. Frantic phone calls and obliging Simouthians enabled the semblance of sensible block play to proceed.

The Stevenson Cup saw a block of 14 - 11 - 7 & 6 play 3 full games on Saturday and 3 14pt games on Sunday which was an arrangement rather well received. Brian Shorney 14 [Universal Member] refusing to retire gracefully, came second with 4 wins. Ed Dolphin 6 [Sidmouth] lost one game - to Shorney, and took the Stevenson Cup home.

The Reckitt Cup was played for by a block of 6 with Colin Walls 3.5 [Sidmouth] re-appearing in the CA Tournament arena and commanding a strong lead from the start. Walls lost his last match to David Houston 4 [Edinburgh] which gave Houston his only win. Erica Malaiperuman 2.5 [Nailsea] and Chris Donovan 3 [Sidmouth] entertained the spectators on lawn 7 with Donovan making a strong come-back after an indifferent start and pegging-our Malaiperuman's ball from adjacent Hoop1. Red and black on 4 Back and a good leave. The rush was messed-up and Malaiperuman played an accurate game with long roquets, canny placements and successfully ran all three hoops to peg - a splendid win. Walls took the trophy with 5 wins and a handicap reduction.

The Council Cup was also a block of 6 with handicaps. Is there a general trend for lower handicaps in CA tournaments? It was noticeable in both the Vets and Seniors. Comparing 2013 with 2023 there is a significant difference:

2013     2023  
Nigel Amos 2.5   David Warhurst -1
Adam Wimshurst 2.5   Jim Field -1
Chris Donovan 2.5   Chris Roberts -0.5
Mike Taylor 4   Teddy Wilmot-Sitwell 0
Roy Edwards 4   Nigel Amos 1
Adam Moliver 5   Philip Harris 1.5
David Clarke 6    

Teddy Wilmot-Sitwell 0 [Winterbourne Valley] achieved his first triple peel against Chris Roberts -0.5 [Phyllis Court] - +16TP. He duly received his bottle of wine offered for such. Well done! This was the only triple peel in the block and the last game threatened another circular 3 way tie. The manager buried his head and the sand and Warhurst lost to Jim Field -1. The three-way tie disappeared with Jim Field now having a clean sweep of 5 wins and he took the Council Cup.

The A Block of 6, 1 x -2, 3 x -1.5 and 2 x -1 played untimed games and saw a plethora of triple peels: Duncan Reeve -2 [Budleigh] and Jeff Dawson -1.5 [East Dorset] achieving 3, Dave Kibble-1.5 [Bristol] 2 and Tim Russell -1 [Roehampton] 1. Chris Williams -1.5 [Glamorgan] managed the Fastest Game - 55 minutes and was presented, with some hesitancy, a bottle of Malbec as Chris is a budding, Level 1 'Master of Wine'. However, this trivial award was outshone by far as he carried home the Roehampton Cup. He won 4 games, as had Jeff Dawson, but was victorious on 'who beat who'.

Peter Nelson, Vice Chairman CA Council, presented the trophies with thanks to Budleigh, David Warhurst's administrative support and particularly thanked their outstanding groundsman - Richard Quelch who presented the lawns in excellent condition. He thanked Bob Whittaker, Referee of the Tournament, for his many years of service to croquet. Particularly as a referee, from which Bob is retiring as an active participant. Many will be grateful for his coaching skills and he will still be seen 'on the circuit' with his fund of stories and detailed knowledge of the laws.

Peter Nelson concluded his remarks lamenting the small entry and noting how difficult it can make management - 'what do we do to encourage a return to over-subscribed events?'


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