SCA v Latvijas Kroketa federācija 2014

16-17 August 2014, Meadows

Seven Latvian players came over for a weekend's golf croquet in the midst of Edinburgh's Festival season.  The SCA put together a team which turned out to be distinctly stronger overall than the visiting team, and the home side won the match by 43 games to 11.  But, regardless of the score, in establishing friendly connections between the Scottish and Latvian croquet communities the visit was an outstanding success.

With three courts available and seven players on each side, a format was devised in which a round consisted of three doubles games or six singles games, with one member of each team sitting out.  The plan was to have seven doubles rounds alternating with seven singles rounds, so that every player had one turn of sitting out in doubles and one in singles and (in the other 12 rounds) played six doubles games, partnered with all the others on the same side in turn, against different pairs on the other side, and six singles games.  The manager didn't quite achieve theoretical perfection in the design by having all the singles games against different opponents, but came close to it, with repeat games for any player occurring only against the player in the same ranking position in the opposite side.  Provisionally eight rounds were to be played on Saturday and six on Sunday.

As it turned out, the first few rounds went more slowly than expected, and only six rounds were completed on Saturday - after which most of the players repaired to Jamieson Walker's house, where all the Latvians were staying, for a Chinese takeaway.  Sunday's play then began with what had originally been planned as round 9 (omitting rounds 7 and 8), and continued from there as per schedule, except that the final round was not the original round 14 but a modified version of the original round 8 (singles), with some substitutions and one doubles game, to satisfy requests from some of the players.

The teams were as follows:

Scottish Croquet Association:
1 Martin Stephenson (not in GC ranking system, but handicap 2 - the lowest in the team)
2 Fergus McInnes (grade 1896)
3 Jamieson Walker (1861)
4 Hamish Duguid (1757)
5 Jola Jurasinska (1637)
6 Jackie Shannon (1525)
7 George Geis (1444)

Latvijas Kroketa federācija:
1 Roberts Stafeckis (1897)
2 Silvija Stafecka (1809)
3 Viktors Harlinskis (1590)
4 Jolanta Stafecka (1503)
5 Māris Paiders (1430)
6 Sandra Harlinska (1403)
7 Tomass Freimanis (1250)

Play began on a cool and breezy Saturday.  All the doubles games in the first round were quite close, but all went to the Scots.  The closest result was a 7-6 for Jamieson and Jola against Roberts and Tomass (see photographs below for this game at the 13th hoop).  The home side went on to win most of the singles and all the doubles during the rest of Saturday, bringing the match score up to 22-5 at the end of the day.  The exceptions to the Scottish dominance were wins for Roberts in both his singles games (against Jola and Jamieson, as it happened - he had the bye in the other singles round) and for Viktors against Martin, Silvija against Jackie, and Jolanta against George.

Sunday (again windy but mostly dry) brought a continued preponderance of Scottish wins, again with some exceptions - which this time included one doubles game, in which the top Latvian pair of Roberts and his daughter Silvija defeated their opposite numbers Martin and Fergus 7-3.  Roberts maintained his unbeaten record in the singles; Tomass had a win over George; and Silvija won her game against Jamieson.

Some games in the last round were finished soon enough for the players to fit another game into the day, and the order of play was modified to implement this, and to satisfy individuals' preferences for playing or not playing: thus Roberts, Silvija, Viktors and Jamieson all had two games in this round, while those not playing were Jolanta, Sandra, Māris and Jackie (instead of Tomass and George as previously planned).  One of the resulting games was a rematch of the last doubles game between Scotland and Latvia at the 2013 World Team Championship (Second Division) in Cairo, in which Jamieson and Jola had come back from 6-2 down to beat Roberts and Silvija; and its ending held the attention of a small crowd of spectators looking out from the pavilion (to which they had retreated because at this stage in the late afternoon it had begun to rain).  Jamieson and Jola went 5-1 up, and then 6-2; but then Roberts and Silvija staged a comeback similar to that of their opponents in Cairo, winning the next four hoops to make it 6-6.  Could they get their own back?  The 13th hoop was fiercely contested, but at last Roberts missed a long clearance with blue on Jamieson's red ball in front of the hoop, and Jamieson ran it to secure another 7-6 victory and a match score of 43-11.

This was a really enjoyable weekend with some exciting games, played in a spirit of friendly competition, and enhanced by various cultural exchanges.  The Latvian players enjoyed a visit to the Edinburgh Tattoo on the Friday before the match; the Scots appreciated their presents of balsams (a herbal liqueur), chocolate, Latvian bread, a piece of traditional pottery and a Riga calendar; commemorative pins in Latvian and Scottish colours were exchanged; and Joan Marshall, a Scottish croquet player with Latvian connections, supplied a Latvian flag to fly during the match and laid on a tasting of Scottish delicacies including Blairgowrie raspberries, whisky and Irn Bru.  We are already discussing dates for a return match in Latvia, possibly in June 2015.

Fergus McInnes


Martin Stephenson & George Geis beat Silvija Stafecka & Sandra Harlinska 7-4
Fergus McInnes & Jackie Shannon beat Viktors Harlinskis & Māris Paiders 7-5
Jamieson Walker & Jola Jurasinska beat Roberts Stafeckis & Tomass Freimanis 7-6
Martin Stephenson beat Māris Paiders 7-2
Hamish Duguid beat Sandra Harlinska 7-2
Fergus McInnes beat Tomass Freimanis 7-0
Roberts Stafeckis beat Jola Jurasinska 7-2
Jackie Shannon beat Jolanta Stafecka 7-5
George Geis beat Silvija Stafecka 7-5
Martin Stephenson & Jackie Shannon beat Viktors Harlinskis & Jolanta Stafecka 7-1
Fergus McInnes & Jola Jurasinska beat Roberts Stafeckis & Sandra Harlinska 7-5
Jamieson Walker & Hamish Duguid beat Silvija Stafecka & Māris Paiders 7-5
Viktors Harlinskis beat Martin Stephenson 7-5
Fergus McInnes beat Jolanta Stafecka 7-4
Roberts Stafeckis beat Jamieson Walker 7-6
Jola Jurasinska beat Tomass Freimanis 7-1
George Geis beat Māris Paiders 7-0
Hamish Duguid beat Silvija Stafecka 7-5
Martin Stephenson & Jola Jurasinska beat Viktors Harlinskis & Tomass Freimanis 7-3
Hamish Duguid & Jackie Shannon beat Roberts Stafeckis & Māris Paiders 7-4
Jamieson Walker & George Geis beat Jolanta Stafecka & Sandra Harlinska 7-3
Jola Jurasinska beat Viktors Harlinskis 7-4
Hamish Duguid beat Tomass Freimanis 7-3
Fergus McInnes beat Sandra Harlinska 7-4
Jamieson Walker beat Māris Paiders 7-0
Silvija Stafecka beat Jackie Shannon 7-6
Jolanta Stafecka beat George Geis 7-5
Martin Stephenson & Jamieson Walker beat Silvija Stafecka & Jolanta Stafecka 7-3
Fergus McInnes & Hamish Duguid beat Roberts Stafeckis & Viktors Harlinskis 7-5
Jola Jurasinska & George Geis beat Māris Paiders & Tomass Freimanis 7-2
Fergus McInnes beat Silvija Stafecka 7-3
Jola Jurasinska beat Māris Paiders 7-3
Jackie Shannon beat Sandra Harlinska 7-2
Jamieson Walker beat Viktors Harlinskis 7-2
Roberts Stafeckis beat Martin Stephenson 7-6
Tomass Freimanis beat George Geis 7-6
Hamish Duguid & Jola Jurasinska beat Viktors Harlinskis & Sandra Harlinska 7-4
Fergus McInnes & George Geis beat Jolanta Stafecka & Māris Paiders 7-4
Jamieson Walker & Jackie Shannon beat Silvija Stafecka & Tomass Freimanis 7-1
Hamish Duguid beat Viktors Harlinskis 7-3
Roberts Stafeckis beat Fergus McInnes 7-5
Martin Stephenson beat Silvija Stafecka 7-4
Jamieson Walker beat Jolanta Stafecka 7-3
Jackie Shannon beat Tomass Freimanis 7-4
George Geis beat Sandra Harlinska 7-3
Roberts Stafeckis & Silvija Stafecka beat Martin Stephenson & Fergus McInnes 7-3
Hamish Duguid & George Geis beat Māris Paiders & Sandra Harlinska 7-1
Fergus McInnes beat Viktors Harlinskis 7-3
Jola Jurasinska & Jackie Shannon beat Jolanta Stafecka & Tomass Freimanis 7-2
Silvija Stafecka beat Jamieson Walker 7-3
Roberts Stafeckis beat Hamish Duguid 7-4
George Geis beat Viktors Harlinskis 7-4
Martin Stephenson beat Tomass Freimanis 7-3
Jamieson Walker & Jola Jurasinska beat Roberts Stafeckis & Silvija Stafecka 7-6


Jola clears Roberts' red ball away at the 13th hoop in the first-round doubles, with Roberts and his partner Tomass looking on.

Tomass and George in play during a sunny spell on Sunday.

Jolanta lining up a shot.

George follows up a conversation about porridge by presenting a spurtle to the Latvian team - received here by Roberts.

The rematch of the 2013 doubles game:

Silvija lines up a clearance of Jamieson's red ball at a well contested hoop 1.

Watching intently from the pavilion: Robert Inder, Janice Duguid, Ian Wright, David Houston, Jackie and Māris.

The view through a window pane: players approaching hoop 11 with the Scots 6-4 up.

Silvija and Roberts celebrate the equalising hoop.

Silvija clears yellow from hoop 13 with black ...

... Roberts attempts the clearance of red with blue ...

... and Jamieson's red ball scores the decisive point.

The players in the doubles rematch draped in their national flags.

All the players at the end of the match: from left to right, Sandra, Tomass, Māris, Silvija, Roberts, Jolanta, Viktors, Martin, Jola, George, Jamieson, Fergus, Jackie and Hamish.