Basil Townsend Quaich 2004

24 May 2004, Auchincruive

Auchincruive extended its usual hospitality to the players who came from across the breadth, if not the length, of Scotland to represent their clubs in this year's contest.  From east to west, they were Fergus McInnes (Edinburgh, handicap 4), Alan Wilson (Powfoulis, 9) and Joe Lennon (Glasgow, 18).  The home club was represented by Steven Boyne (20), who was playing in his first ever tournament but clearly had a good grasp of both stroke-making and break tactics.  The sun shone, though a cool breeze blew from time to time; the lawn was in excellent playing condition; and several spectators, including three generations of the Smith family, turned out to join the players and manager for afternoon tea.

In the first round Steven got off to a good start with a win over Joe.  Alan and Fergus were a little late arriving and were therefore left to play each other; progress was slow at first, with both players having difficulty with the slopes and the Barlow balls, but eventually Alan, making good use of a bisque, achieved a substantial break, after which he remained well ahead.  Both games failed to finish within the three-hour time limit, but neither by much: indeed Alan was lacking only one peg point to keep the "t" out of the score.

Alan beat Steven in the second round to take the lead, while Fergus, his croquet strokes now under better control, won his game against Joe - who made little progress with his first 10 bisques, though he improved once they were gone.  Again both games went to time (which was 15 minutes shorter in the later rounds than in the first) but both were fairly close to finishing.

So it was well into the afternoon when the last two games began.  Alan pegged out against Joe, comfortably within the time limit, to remain undefeated; Fergus and Steven took a bit longer, but Fergus eventually finished with a few minutes to spare.  Although Steven thus came third overall, the results could have been very different but for two mistakes: it was his running rover in the wrong direction that let Fergus in near the end of the game, while in the previous round Steven had given Alan a chance by roqueting a ball in the jaws of a hoop and thinking he had scored the hoop.  (Running hoops the wrong way is not exclusive to inexperienced players: Fergus in his turn did the same thing, on the same lawn, in a Scottish Handicap match the following day!)

Thanks go to the Auchincruive Club for hosting the event, and in particular to David Arnot for managing it and to Malcolm Smith and others for providing food and drink to the players.  (Whether the wine aided or worsened our play is difficult to judge, but it certainly helped to make it a relaxed occasion.)

Fergus McInnes



Alan Wilson (Powfoulis) 3 wins: beat Fergus McInnes +15t (25-10), Steven Boyne +8t (19-11), Joe Lennon +8.
Fergus McInnes (Edinburgh) 2 wins: beat Joe Lennon +6t (23-17), Steven Boyne +3.
Steven Boyne (Auchincruive) 1 win: beat Joe Lennon +7t (20-13).
Joe Lennon (Glasgow) 0 wins.

The players in front of the MPW Smith Memorial Pavilion Memorial Pavilion: Fergus McInnes, Alan Wilson with quaich, Steven Boyne, Joe Lennon.