Edinburgh Tournament 2008

11-16 August 2008, Fettes College

This year's Edinburgh Tournament was unusual in having only one entrant from outside Scotland (Graham Brightwell, from Hampton in Middlesex), and in having only five of the usual six events played because of a lack of entries in the 4-8 handicap range.  It also suffered from heavy rain during the first half of the week and at the weekend before, leading to very wet ground conditions and putting one of the five courts out of action on some days.  Despite these impediments, the total entry was similar to those of the previous two years, and a good deal of croquet was played - a total of 112 games, exceeding the number in any of the last five years, though still well short of the records set on other occasions with larger entries.

On Monday there were three rounds of games in the unrestricted handicap event, which conveniently had 16 players so that everyone got three games into the day despite the use of only four courts.  Only the first two rounds of the knockout (Event 6X) were played on Monday, after which all games were in the consolation event (6 Swiss); the deferment of the semi-finals, with early Swiss games in the meantime, was meant to maintain interest in the Swiss games by leaving uncertainty as to who would be in the knockout final, given that the knockout winner would not be eligible to win the Swiss.  The semi-finalists were identified after the first two rounds as being James Hopgood (handicap 1), Brian Cosford (18), Robert Inder (14) and Martin Stephenson (1.5).  Of these, only Martin won his third game, but both he and James achieved handicap reductions at the end of the day.

Tuesday's games were mostly in the class events - the Open (Event 1) with seven players, the 8+ Advanced with Bisques (Event 3) with five, and the 14+ Handicap (Event 4) with eight.  A few further Swiss games were interspersed, and there were nine games at a time for most of the day; fortunately the flooding on court 1 (the notorious "swamp") had subsided and two games were played on it.  At the end of the day James Hopgood had three wins in the Open, while the other contenders all had at least one loss - upsets occurring when Campbell Morrison (3) beat Graham Brightwell (1.5) and when Alan Wilson (5) defeated Martin Stephenson (1).  In the 8+ event Ruth Goudie was in the lead with two wins, while Jamieson Walker had two losses and the others (Joe Lennon, Duncan Reeves and Ian Wright) had a win and a loss each.  The 14+ was divided into two blocks, and the results of both remained undecided, though Jamie Edgar was the leading contender in Block A and Morven Wardley in Block B (each of them having played all the others in the block and won two games out of three).

Wednesday was doubles day, with 10 pairs (at combined handicaps from 8 to 38) playing in a straight knockout.  After torrential rain early in the morning, court 1 was unplayable again, with a huge puddle along the east boundary, and the others were waterlogged in places, especially courts 2 (by the cricket square) and 5 (by the pavilion).  Four games were played in the morning, and two of them were double-banked to avoid having to use court 2.  Four more games followed in the afternoon and evening, and at the end of the day it was known that Saturday's final would be between James Hopgood and Duncan Reeves (combined handicap 16.5) and Jamieson Walker and Jola Jurasinska (29).  There were also a few singles games played, and Janice Duguid got her handicap down from 20 to 18 by winning one of these against her husband Hamish.

Thursday and Friday were occupied with a mixture of games in the class events and the Swiss, plus the two handicap (6X) semi-finals.  Court 1 dried out gradually and was in use again for one game on Friday.  Both the 6X semi-finals resulted in narrow victories for the low-handicap players - James Hopgood surviving Brian Cosford's remaining 10.5 bisques after pegging out one of Brian's balls to win +2, and Martin Stephenson going round from hoops 1 and 4 to beat Robert Inder +1 after Robert took off over the boundary with both his clips on the peg.  (Robert pegged out his own ball accidentally when shooting at the opposing balls after Martin's first break to the peg.)  In the 14+ event the block winners were Bob Cross (14) and his daughter Morven Wardley (16); in the 8+ Duncan Reeves (16) had joined Ruth Goudie (14) on two wins and one loss so that the game between them would be the effective final.  (It was a curiosity of this tournament that the handicaps of the finalists in these events were the same: some of the players on 14, who included Duncan at the start of the week, had chosen to enter the 8+ event while others had gone in for the 14+.)  James was still unbeaten in the Open, but had yet to play Graham Brightwell, who had had only one loss.  The leaders in the Swiss were John Clark (with 5 wins from 6 games), Robert Inder (4/6) and Martin Stephenson (6/7 but not eligible unless he lost the knockout final, which would put him on 6/8).

So all the events were left to be decided on the final day.  Four of the deciding games were played in the morning, and three of them ended with scores of +12: for James Hopgood against Martin Stephenson in Event 6X, for John Clark against Robert Inder in Event 6 Swiss, and for Bob Cross against Morven Wardley in Event 4.  The exception to this uniformity of scores was Ruth Goudie's +7 win against Duncan Reeves in Event 3.  After his handicap final, James had to fit in his Open game against Graham before the doubles final, and this went to time, delaying the doubles, with Graham winning it by 21 hoops to 20.  While Graham's win stopped James's handicap from reaching 0, it was not enough to prevent James from winning the Open, since Graham needed to win the game by a wider margin, and also to beat Martin in the afternoon, to overtake James on points.  In fact Martin beat Graham, ensuring that James was the outright winner without recourse to the points criterion.  This left only the doubles final still in progress, and it was a memorable game.

The higher handicapped side had 6.5 bisques, and had used them to get Jola's ball round to 4-back.  Her partner Jamieson had got to hoop 5, while Duncan was for hoop 4 and James was still on hoop 1.  Duncan then played his best break of the game, and got to 3-back, but Jamieson also had his chances and joined Jola on 4-back; and time was running short.  James had had unsuccessful attempts to set up a break, and had scored only two hoops.  In the turn in which time was called, James finally got his break together and went to the peg to take a two-point lead, then dispersed the balls to the four corners - fortuitously getting them to match the colours of the corner flags, as can be seen in the photograph (see link below).  Jamieson had a long shot, which he missed, and at about 6.55pm the game was over with a +2 win on time (20-18) to James and Duncan.

The closing speeches and presentations were in the pavilion, as the evening was becoming chilly.  Edinburgh Croquet Club Chairman Sheila Tibbels presided (being now recovered from the bad cold that had caused her to withdraw from playing in the tournament), and the Club President, Ian Wright, presented the trophies.  Handicap reductions were announced for James Hopgood, Martin Stephenson and Janice Duguid, as mentioned above, and also for Alan Wilson (down from 5 to 4.5) and John Clark (from 14 to 12).  The decision on the Lauder Bowl, for the player getting furthest without winning anything, was very marginal between Martin Stephenson and Graham Brightwell, but it went to Martin.

James Hopgood's feat of winning all three events he entered was an impressive one - last achieved by Jonathan Kirby in 2000, and before that only by Rodolphe Dourthe in 1992.  Despite this, James had only the second-greatest index points gain this year: 34 points, behind John Clark with 50 and just ahead of Fergus McInnes with 33.  (These results do include two extra games that were played during the week: one in the Scottish Handicap Singles, which James lost to David Arnot, and one in the Edinburgh Club Open, which Fergus won over Alan Wilson.  Without these, the figures would have been 44 and 25 respectively, with the rank order unchanged.)  James also played what was probably a record number of games in the week: 17 in the tournament proper, or 18 including the Scottish Handicap game.  The number of games per player was higher than usual generally, and represented exceptional value for entry fees: average games per player were 4.5 in the class events, 1.8 in the doubles and 7.3 in the unrestricted handicap, giving an expected total of 13.6 for a player who entered all three.  The lack of visitors (who might reasonably wish more time off to see Edinburgh and attend Festival events) was perhaps a contributory factor.  I hope nevertheless that we'll have more players from furth of Scotland next year.

Fergus McInnes



Event 1 (Open Singles): James Hopgood
Event 2 (Advanced Singles for players of handicap 4 and over): not played
Event 3 (Advanced with Bisques, handicaps 8 and over): Ruth Goudie
Event 4 (Handicap Singles, handicaps 14 and over): Bob Cross
Event 5 (Handicap Doubles): James Hopgood and Duncan Reeves
Event 6X (Unrestricted Handicap): James Hopgood
Event 6 Swiss: John Clark
The Lauder Bowl (player getting furthest without winning any event): Martin Stephenson

Results in full

Results in order of play



(by Fergus McInnes and Ian Wright)

Doubles on Wednesday:

Double-banked doubles with puddle: Alan Wilson and Hamish Duguid.

Rod Williams fails an angled hoop 2 against Robert Inder and Vivien Wightman.

Robert in play, Charlotte and Rod in the background.

James Hopgood preparing to peel and peg out Brian Cosford's yellow ball, watched by Bob Cross, Marjorie Elliott and Duncan Reeves.  (Remnants of the morning's flooding can be seen in the brown patches on court and puddle in the background.)

Charlotte Townsend runs penult (this is an action shot, and the ball did go through) ...

... and rover ...

... and pegs out.

Players in action - and sitting out:

Alan Wilson

Campbell Morrison

Duncan Reeves

Joe Lennon

James Hopgood and Martin Stephenson

The final day:

Graham Brightwell playing a split shot in his Open game against James Hopgood, watched by Evelyn Mackenzie, Marjorie Elliott and Ruth Goudie.  (Notice the blur on James's red ball.  The exposure time was 1/200 s, so how fast was the ball going?)

The doubles final: Jola, Jamieson, Duncan and James taking their turns to play ...

... and James's leave after time was called

(with enlarged details showing the balls near the matching corners).

The assembled company in the pavilion.