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Nailsea May Tournament


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pictureNailsea May Tournament 18/19 May 2024

by Kathy Wallace at Nailsea Croquet Club
19 May (AC)

The Nailsea May and June Tournaments are both run as "Class" Advanced tournaments so that we can attract a wide range of handicaps but avoid matches between players of disparate abilities. The range in May is 2+. And in June, it's 0-8. We particularly encourage entries from players who are just beginning to play with Advanced Rules and don't want to face experienced B Class opposition. In the past we have had the full complement of 16, with 8 in each of the classes and the split being around the 3.5 mark. This year, we were disappointed with a meagre 10 entries with a gap between 2.5 and 6.

The only format that didn't involve repeat matches was two classes of 5. The players in the low handicap class were competing for the Peter Dyke Ruby Shield which was commissioned to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of Nailsea Croquet Club by Peter. Their handicaps were all 2 or 2.5, part from Erica Malaiperuman who had gone down to 1.5 after entry, so remained eligible to play. The higher handicap class had three 6s, a 9 and an 11. The 9 was Alex Lake from Newport. He had been 12 on entry and had been propositioned by the manager on the new Croquet Hub Facebook page. Alex had played his Club handicapper in the preceding few days and been reduced. The 11 was Geoff Barrett, a new player from Bristol who had an AHS reduction to 11 before the event. The trophy on offer here was the Michael Poole Cup - named in memory of Michael Poole who was also a founder member of Nailsea .

With 5 in each class, the format was "all play all". The two players who were sitting out played a friendly match and this system seemed to work well, in that no-one complained or decided not to play. Alex beat a 2.5 who was delighted that the match didn't go on his card.

In the Peter Dyke Ruby Shield, Erica won all 4 matches and took the shield home. Erica is the second Nailsea lady to get her name on it after Pat Long in 2022. She also forced another handicap reduction to 1. Chris Donovan, Adrian Morris and Robert Upton all had 3 wins. Going into the final round of the Michael Poole Cup, Geoff Barrett was on 3 wins and Kathy Wallace was on 2 wins. As manager, Kathy had her eye on a potential tie-break to entertain the crowd. Alex did his bit by beating Geoff so Geoff remained on 3 wins. After a dire couple of hours, Kathy made a late comeback to try to overcome Mike Salisbury (Bristol), but Mike played a brilliant last turn to win +1T. Thus Kathy stayed on 2 wins and Geoff won the cup. Alex Lake and Mike Salisbury also had 2 wins.

Robert Upton won the prize for the fastest win and also for the greatest number of peg-outs. Geoff Barrett took the prize for the biggest upset, exchanging 15 points with Kathy. As he had taken 16 points from her the previous week in a club match, she now regards him as a Number 31 bus.

The weather was kind after all the rain in the preceding weeks. The Nailsea hoops were fair and consistent but few would describe them as kind. One of the new players has claimed that he is suffering from PTSD after his encounter with them but he can gaze at the cup to help his recovery. I have promised Alex a prize for his win against a 2.5 in a the friendly, provided he comes to another Nailsea tournament to claim it.

The lawns were in good condition and had been expertly mowed. They played beautifully, allowing successful long range roquets and accurate hoop approaches. Although we didn't provide lunches, refreshments were available all day from a helpful band of volunteers and the cakes were as splendid as ever. Time limits of 2h 45min and a relatively short break for lunch kept us all reasonably alert and active to the end!

It was lovely to achieve one of the objectives and have two very new players playing so successfully in an Advanced tournament. However, where are all the players between 2.5 and 12? Apart from three 6s, in the initial entry list, we had none. There is a similar pattern at tournaments, round the country. It's sad to think that it's part of the general decline in AC numbers, particularly amongst new players.



 

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