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Cheltenham Challenge GC inaugural event

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pictureCheltenham Challenge GC Final

by Ivor Brand at Cheltenham Croquet Club
20 Jun (GC)

This weekend's event is of course (to the keen eye) the old 'Ascot' championship series event which was moved to Nailsea because, I chose (supported by Cheltenham committee) not to follow the format set by the CA and allow 16 players through to the knock out stages. This of course has the effect of potentially running very late if a Bo3 format is pursued, so once again all the knock out rounds were a single 19pt game. There are several advantages to this, but mostly allowing 50% to stay in the main event and saving time so that the final can be played at a reasonable time with an audience rather than after everyone else has gone home!!! I do recognise that not all clubs are lucky enough to have 8 or more lawns which is of course a prerequisite to running a large competitive event.

Anyway, onto the event which started off as 32, but unfortunately due to late withdrawals finished with a frustrating 27. However, 'Big Bad Baz' (BBB) father of Sam Cuthbert was persuded to make the numbers up to an even 28. Unfortunately, this created a large handicap range from -2 up to 11. The dilemma to run two separate A & B class events or keep it as 4 blocks of 7 with a bye was much discussed and I would welcome anyone's openion? After much deliberation the 4 blocks with 13pt games was opted for.

Block A, saw Paul Gunn go through as winner, followed by Morgan Case. Block B was won by an undefeated Richard Brand, followed by Ignacio Alesanco. Unfortunately, top seed Sam Cuthbert had to withdraw halfway through his first game with Jeff Faulkner (who has been credited with the win, but not in this event). This promted a call out to Darryl Whitehead who came and saved the day for me, by taking his Sam's place and playing friendly's to avoid yet more byes. Block C had a major sake up with top seed Colin Britt failing to qualify, while Jon Carrington was undefeated with Richard Thompson as runner up. Block D turned out to be a strange block with 5 players all winning 4 games having to be separated by net points, resulting in Ignacio G Ariza being top followed by Richard Brooks. All results are on CS.

Sunday despite the forecast was bright and sunny and the knock out rounds began, apart from mine due to an even later withdrawal which meant the consolation event had to be completely redone which resulted in my own opponent, Morgan patiently waiting for over 30mins (for which I apologise). There were several close games not least of all for Paul Gunn on his way to the final who survived two 10-9 wins against Ian Norris and myself. Meanwhile, 'steady' Stuart Smith also had a 10-9 win on his way to the final against Ignacio Alesanco. The final itself was nip and tuck at 6all, when Paul pulled ahead to take an 8-6 lead. At the 15th hoop Stuart chose to block Paul leaving him with the choice of an angled jump or an easy clearance and go through the rotation again. Paul had been 'jumping' well all weekend, but even he did not expect the 'shot of the tournament' to be his winning shot which saw his red fly cleanly through all the way up to and through hoop 16!!!

The 'revised' consolation event was won as expected by top seed Colin Britt, followed by Jeff Faulkner. While Ian Norris and Richard Brooks won their respective 'Bowl' blocks. The 'Shield' and 5th place was won by my assistant Richard Brand followed by the ever improving local boy, Ray Bassett.

Finally, as always my gratitude goes to all the hard workers behind the scenes, ground staff and volunteers who come in early to set up the lawns, and the lovely afternoon teas.

Ivor Brand (manager)


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