Scottish Short Croquet Championship 2003

24 August 2003, Dunkeld

This year's Short Croquet Championship had the largest entry since 1996.  As for the weather, it could hardly be better than last year, but it wasn't any worse.  Maria Limonci and Geoff Caldwell were camping at Faskally the night before, and Maria remarked what a glorious day it was as they emerged from their tent in the morning; Geoff, ever the pessimist, replied "Not a cloud in the sky - yet!"  A few clouds did appear in the course of the day, but they remained small and merely gave brief and welcome respite from the heat of the sun.

Seven players were contesting the Dunkeld House Hotel Shield.  As well as Geoff (with 2 bisques under Short Croquet rules) and Maria (5), there were two more from Edinburgh: defending champion Fergus McInnes (1) and first-time entrant Allan Hawke (6).  From further west came Alan Wilson (3.5), Andy Campbell (0) and another first-timer, Joe Lennon (8).

The courts were surprisingly damp and slow in the morning, considering the dry and sunny summer, but speeded up as the sun rose above the trees and dried out the ground.  Seven rounds of one-hour games were played, with a break for lunch after the first three rounds.  One player was sitting out in each round; the manager (Fergus) got the siesta spot (first bye after lunch), but claimed he hadn't planned it.

Joe and Geoff emerged as the leaders in the morning - Joe beating Allan and Andy in the first two rounds, while Geoff had wins against Alan and Maria.  Fergus kept sticking in hoops - seven of them in his first two games - and lost to Maria, despite pegging out one of her balls with all her bisques gone, and to Allan.  He was therefore particularly keen to beat Joe in their third-round encounter, and in this he succeeded in spite of some mishaps.  (Fergus went to the peg, with Joe on hoop 6 and peg, and gave Joe an easy lift by wiring him when the last croquet stroke of his leave went astray.  Joe hit the lift shot but didn't get his hoop.  Fergus's long shot at his partner ball near corner 1 hit hoop 1 hard, rumbled through and ended in hoop-running position.  Fergus finished in two breaks because Joe stuck in hoop 6.)

The most exciting ending occurred in the third-round game between Alan and Maria.  Alan failed hoop 4 one second before time was called.  Maria, whose other ball had been pegged out, hit and scored hoop 4 to go two points ahead, but jammed in hoop 5.  Alan hit the roquet, made a very angled hoop 4 and a rather long hoop 5 but was partly wired from Maria's ball in front of 5, hit the visible sliver of it, and got position at 6.  Maria hit in from near hoop 4 and took position at 5.  Alan hit with his forward ball and pegged it out to score the decisive point.

After lunch came the important game between Joe (on two wins and one loss) and Geoff (who had had two wins and a bye).  Joe won it +8 to take the lead, with Geoff and Alan close behind.  Joe had his second loss, to Maria, in the following round, while Geoff resumed winning, beating Fergus in round 5 and Allan in round 6.  Alan beat Allan and Andy to stay in contention, and then had a very close game against Joe, with 11 turns of extra time.  Alan had pegged out one of Joe's balls, and in the turn after time was called he pegged out his own ball to level the scores, leaving each player with one ball for hoop 5.  Joe mishit, Alan failed hoop 5, Joe hit the roquet and took wired position, Alan hit the lift and sent Joe away and took long position, Joe went to the west boundary, Alan failed 5 again, Joe missed, Alan failed to get position and landed wired from Joe, Joe went to the south boundary, Alan took position, and Joe managed to avoid peeling Alan with his roquet and scored the hoop himself to win the game.

This left Joe, who had his bye in the last round, with four wins and two losses.  Geoff had four wins and one loss, and Alan had three wins and two losses.  Everyone else had lost at least three games and was out of contention.  Everything depended on two games in the last round: Geoff v Andy, and Alan v Fergus.  If Andy beat Geoff, then Joe could win on points, and so could Alan by beating Fergus by at least 4.

In fact Geoff achieved a +2 (on time) win against Andy, making the result of the other game less critical.  (Fergus won it anyway, after peeling and pegging out Alan's forward ball and surviving several near misses by the remaining one.)  So Geoff became the Scottish Short Croquet Champion for the third time (the others being in 1996 and 1997), equalling Andy's record.

A great day was had by all.  Thanks to the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel for hosting the event once again!

Some pictures can be found below.

Fergus McInnes



Geoff Caldwell -- −8 +1t +6 +5t +10 +2t 5 +16
Joe Lennon +8 -- +1t +1 −3 −1t +9 4 +15
Alan Wilson −1t −1t -- +2t −3 +1t +11 3 +9
Allan Hawke −6 −1 −2t -- +3t +8 +2t 3 +4
Fergus McInnes −5t +3 +3 −3t -- −6 +1t 3 −7
Maria Limonci −10 +1t −1t −8 +6 -- −5t 2 −17
Andy Campbell −2t −9 −11 −2t −1t +5t -- 1 −20



Joe at hoop 3 amid morning shadows.

Alan tries a jump shot.

Andy and Allan change places.

Geoff and his clouds.

Outplayers take to the shade
(Andy and Allan, with sun-lover Maria in play).

Andy threatens to strike the pink; Geoff is in it!