Scottish Masters 2008

7-8 June 2008, Meadows

In its first 17 years, from 1991 to 2007, the Scottish Masters Tournament was never won more than once by anyone except for John Surgenor, who won it five times.  John wasn't playing this year, but two of the more recent past Masters, Fergus McInnes (2006) and Alan Wilson (2007), were in contention, along with eight other players from across Scotland and beyond: Martin Stephenson, Brian Murdoch, James Hopgood, Campbell Morrison and Jamieson Walker from the host club, Joe Lennon and Tony Whateley from the Glasgow Club, and Jane Shorten visiting from Dublin.

A six-round Swiss format was adopted, with the first round being seeded to the extent that the five highest-ranked players were allocated to separate games.  All five duly won - Jane beating Joe, Martin beating Alan, Brian beating Tony, James beating Fergus, and Campbell beating Jamieson, with all the winning margins in double figures.  After that things got less predictable, with the two top-ranked players (Jane and Martin) losing in the next two rounds.  James and Brian were the only ones unbeaten at the end of the first day - Brian having barely scraped through in the second round against Jamieson, by two points on time, despite their respective handicaps of 2 and 7, while James had a more comfortable though decreasing series of scores, +20, +16 and +12 respectively against Fergus, Jane and Campbell.  In pursuit were Campbell, Fergus and Joe, with two wins each.

As readers familiar with the Swiss format may have anticipated, James was set against Brian in the first round on Sunday.  Brian had his second win on time, to retain his unbroken record for the weekend so far.  At the other end of the results table, Tony and Jamieson (with no wins on Saturday) also went to time, with Tony pegging out one ball after time was called to win by a single point.  Fergus's triple peel attempt against Campbell ran into trouble when the attempted Irish peel at penult got the peelee through but left the striker's ball at the side of the hoop, and the recovery tactic of hitting the ball at rover and taking off back to penult was also unsuccessful because the take-off hit the hoop.  Fergus nevertheless won the game to stay in contention for the trophy, while Martin and Jane made up some lost ground with wins over Joe and Alan.

Round 5 included Brian's first loss, by three points to Fergus, who peeled and pegged out Brian's forward ball after it stuck in rover with Fergus's ball (for hoop 5) nearby, and then survived an endgame in which Brian scored 3-back and 4-back with the partnerless ball.  Brian, Fergus and James were on four wins each at the end of this round, with Campbell and Jane just behind on three wins.  Jane had had a failed triple, and Campbell had had a successful one - the first of the weekend, and his first one ever in tournament play.

Tea was taken, and the manager worked out the pairings for the final round.  The three leading players had already met, each beating one of the other two, and were therefore given games against the best-performing opponents whom they had not yet encountered: Brian against Campbell, James against Alan, and Fergus against Joe.  James won +26 with a triple (featuring a fortuitous rush-peel through penult when he was trying to rush to 2-back), and Fergus beat Joe by 24 despite a missed peg-out, but Brian and Campbell had a close game which Campbell eventually won by 1 on time.  Had Brian scored 26 points in that game, he would have been equal with James and Fergus on five wins and just ahead of James on the secondary criterion of points scored (144 against 143).  As it was, there was only a two-way tie on games won, and as Fergus had scored only 131 points it was James who took the title.  (There was some discussion afterwards of the relative merits of points scored and net points, and whether peels on opponents and games to time should get special treatment, but it was academic on this occasion because James also had the highest net score by a wide margin (+88, with Campbell next on +41) and the most games won by pegging out.)

Fergus could take consolation in having the biggest gain in index points (52) and a consequent reduction in handicap from 4.5 to 4.  Campbell and James were both close to coming down (from 3.5 to 3 and from 2.5 to 2), while Jamieson's series of losses had taken his handicap up from 7 to 8.

Besides James's rush-peel already described, there were some other good flukes in the course of the tournament.  Campbell had two involving the peg: one in which a rush from NW of the peg bounced the rushed ball off it to hoop 3 which was his next hoop, and a take-off from near corner 2 which looked very much like going off near corner 4 until a glancing impact on the peg took enough pace off the ball to land it by the opponent ball south of hoop 4.

The weather on Saturday was like the previous Saturday's, warm and sunny.  Fortunately Sunday was not like the previous Sunday.  (See the East v West report for details.)  So the iced drinks served by some enterprising Meadows Club members found a ready market.  This didn't prevent us from going to the pub after play on both days - with a few on Saturday (Hopgood, McInnes, Stephenson, Whateley) continuing along the road, by way of an off-licence, to the Magda Restaurant after that.  As usual the club's Sunday afternoon tea was also much appreciated (Boyd Moir on duty this time), and so were the efforts of Brian and George before the weekend in mowing the green and moving the hoops.  Less universally appreciated on Sunday afternoon was the music provided to the whole neighbourhood by the Meadows Festival, which definitely had too much amplification on the bass.

Fergus McInnes


(players ordered by games won, then points scored, then net points)

James Hopgood 5/6:  beat McInnes +20, Shorten +16, Morrison +12, Stephenson +22, Wilson +26TP
Fergus McInnes 5/6:  beat Murdoch +3, Shorten +13, Morrison +15, Wilson +3T (21-18), Lennon +24
Brian Murdoch 4/6:  beat Hopgood +8T (21-13), Stephenson +9, Whateley +13, Walker +2T (22-20)
Jane Shorten 4/6:  beat Wilson +15, Lennon +23, Whateley +10, Walker +21
Campbell Morrison 4/6:  beat Murdoch +1T (17-16), Stephenson +18, Lennon +26TP, Walker +23
Martin Stephenson 3/6:  beat Wilson +19, Lennon +12, Whateley +6
Alan Wilson 2/6:  beat Whateley +18, Walker +13
Joe Lennon 2/6:  beat Whateley +3, Walker +10
Tony Whateley 1/6:  beat Walker +1T (23-22)
Jamieson Walker 0/6