Meadows Open 2003

21-22 June 2003, Meadows

I can't remember being at a more interesting weekend – at least not playing croquet: flamboyant things were happening all the time.  And thanks in part to Tony Foster winning 5 out of 6 matches (and therefore the tournament), more games were won than lost by the player who was underdog in terms of handicap.  Peels were frequent, and if only two triples were successful there were many noble failures.

The game of the weekend has to be that between Rod Williams and Jane Shorten.  On turn two Rod went to 3-back with a reasonably controlled break (he attempted 3-back but bounced off); Jane missed the shot but Rod hit and set about trying for the fourth-turn quadruple peel.  He got off to a good start by getting the first peel in before hoop 2!  Unfortunately he couldn't quite make the balls behave properly after that and at 4-back he still had three peels to do.  He succeeded with the first two but the rover peel bounced to the side.  Undeterred (well, maybe slightly deterred) Rod ran the hoop, roqueted partner and peeled it going to a deep ball.  He rushed that to behind partner and tried to promote it to near the peg while going to the remaining ball with the same intention.  Sadly for him he didn't quite make it.  The game now moved Jane's way: on turn 5 she hit and went to 4-back, Rod missed; turn 7 backward ball to peg, Rod missed; turn 9 last three hoops, pegged out croqueted ball from a distance, turned round to hit one of Rod's balls which was nearby, missed into baulk.  Easy +1 for Rod.

Rod also got off to a good start against David Appleton, who came out of retirement because he had rather liked the lawns (and the catering) when he attended the inauguration.  At the end of turn three Rod was on 4-back with a 'dream leave' (i.e. a rush for the backward ball on the opponent ball from the east boundary to the partner ball near hoop two).  Sadly he couldn't get started on his attempt at his first fifth-turn triple and indeed eventually went down to a very satisfying straight triple from David, an ending which included two promotions on the peelee from penult to rover as well as the half-jump at rover (this sort of fun might be hard to stay away from).

In his following game against Charlotte Townsend, David should have completed another triple but nudged the peelee after running rover and missed the long peg-out.  Similarly, against John Surgenor, Tony just failed to complete his first ever triple, when in trying to avoid colliding with the peelee he neglected to run rover.

Rod eventually had a triple, in his final game against John – but it was accidental!  He actually tried for a one-back leave but failed to wire the balls satisfactorily and had to carry on with his break.  After John missed he did the 4-back peel going to hoop 2, he declined to attempt the penult peel going to 3 but did it going to 4, jawsed the rover peel after 5 and completed it after 6.  One felt he was trying to prove something.  He then tried to demolish his four-ball break but it held together in spite of all he could do and he ended up as runner-up to Tony.

All this ambition must have been due to something.  At the inauguration I put it down to champagne, but it was probably a combination of the lovely lawns which were conducive to good stroke play, single-banking, and the wonderfully receptive new hoops which allowed controlled hoop-running.  I look forward to hearing of (or even seeing) Tony's continuing progress and everyone's raising and reaching their targets on these fine lawns.

And to those who weren't there: hard luck, you certainly should have entered, it was tremendous fun: croquet at its most enjoyable in spite of the odd shower.  And Jane proved on the Sunday that you could play croquet and read the new Harry Potter at the same time, so you really had no excuse.  Especial thanks from all the players to manager, lawn superintendent and cake provider Brian Murdoch.

David Appleton



Tony Foster -- +3 +26 +8 +17 −17 +17 5
Rod Williams −3 -- +17 −7 +22TP +17 +1 4
Brian Murdoch −26 −17 -- −10 +24 +6 +26 3
David Appleton −8 +7STP +10 -- −17 +6 −11 3
John Surgenor −17 −22 −24 +17 -- +24 −11 2
Charlotte Townsend +17 −17 −6 −6 −24 -- +23 2
Jane Shorten −17 −1 −26 +11 +11 −23 -- 2