Scottish Short Croquet Championship 2014

24 August 2014, Kinross

Alistair Malcolm won the Scottish Short Croquet Championship, with his fellow Kinross Club member David Young a close second.

The tournament was played at the Green Hotel in Kinross in what I think of as traditional Short Croquet Championship weather - cool but largely sunny.  Four players from Edinburgh joined the two from Kinross to form an entry of six, who all played one another in five rounds of 60-minute games.  The three high handicap players had substantial armouries of bisques in each game: Roger Binks (20) with eight bisques, David Young (22) with nine, and Rachel Frith (24) with ten; Robert Inder (4) had a single bisque, and Fergus McInnes (3) had only a half, while Alistair Malcolm (14) was in an intermediate position with five bisques.

All the games in the first round went to time, though two of them were nearly finished: Fergus beat Roger 13-9 after running into his partner ball when trying for a rush to the peg, Alistair beat Robert 12-7, and David just scraped past Rachel 7-6.  Both Roger and Alistair accidentally gave lifts by leaving the opponent's balls marginally wired, and both Fergus and Robert adopted the tactic of pegging out an opponent ball.

Round two included further wins for Fergus and Alistair, over David and Roger respectively, this time with both the winner's balls pegged out in each case, while Robert and Rachel went to time but Robert came out ahead (10-5).  As in his first game Fergus had a missed peg-out and took one ball off, but on this occasion he was able to peg out his remaining ball in a later turn, with a fairly long shot from near hoop 2.  Alistair needed only one of his five bisques.

The third round continued Alistair's run of wins but brought a heavy loss for Fergus, who got no hoops against Robert.  David stayed in contention with a win over Roger, and when we went in for lunch the tallies were Alistair 3/3, Fergus and David and Robert 2/3, and Roger and Rachel 0/3.

After lunch David had a good game against Alistair, winning +12.  The other two games in round four were slower and beset with refereeing problems.  Fergus was playing Rachel, who had used up her bisques and most of the allotted hour getting one ball to hoop 6, and he was going round happily enough with his second ball when Rachel asked whether he had used her white ball twice between hoops 2 and 3.  Fergus was half asleep at this point and playing on autopilot, and although he wasn't aware of having done anything wrong he didn't have a clear memory of his last few strokes.  While they were both puzzling over how to resolve the situation, Fergus as referee of the tournament was called away to tackle a further tricky question arising in the game between Robert and Roger.  Roger had shot and missed just before time was called, and had said he would take a bisque; but was he allowed to take it, given that the time limit elapsed before he actually played the first stroke of the bisque turn?  Cue consultation of the laws book, which didn't appear to answer the question.  Roger eventually agreed that he couldn't take the bisque, but he was ahead anyway and Robert didn't make enough progress in his final turn to beat him.  Fergus returned to his game with Rachel, and proposed that they add a few minutes to their time to compensate for the interruption, and that (since no one had a clear idea of what had happened) he should replay his turn from the last point he clearly remembered, where he had to approach hoop 3 off white from a yard to the side.  He had done this successfully on the first attempt, and he did so again this time, and went on to finish the game in that turn.

A further but more welcome interruption ensued, for tea and cakes provided by Alistair's wife Susan and their daughter Lucy.  And then it was round five.  Fergus and Alistair, both on 3/4, were to play each other, and the winner of that game would thus be on 4/5; but if David beat Robert he would be on the same number of wins and the tie-breaking criteria would be invoked: net points, followed if necessary by points scored, and then a shoot-out if there was still a tie.

Alistair took his first ball round using only one bisque.  Fergus, who had yet to score, took a gentle shot at Alistair's balls, which hilled off but stayed close to them, and took his half-bisque to make a leave with a wide join on the north boundary so as to make Alistair's task of finishing more difficult, though with four bisques available he still seemed odds-on to accomplish it.  Alistair had a costly failure at hoop 1 and took his last three bisques to get it, and then after two hoops handed Fergus the innings by playing the wrong ball in a take-off; but Fergus failed to capitalise, sticking in hoop 3 to let Alistair back in, and the end result was +12 to Alistair.  Meanwhile David beat Robert 12-9, only failing to finish because he too played a wrong ball (in the turn after time was called).  So the computation of net points was required to determine the tournament winner.

The outcome was that Alistair was on +26 and David was on +17.  Hence Alistair was the Scottish Short Croquet Champion for 2014.

Thanks are due to the Kinross Club and the Green Hotel for hosting the tournament, and to Roger for transporting equipment and the other Edinburgh players to and from Kinross.

Fergus McInnes


Alistair Malcolm 4 wins, +26 net points: beat Robert Inder +5T (12-7), Roger Binks +9, Rachel Frith +12, Fergus McInnes +12.

David Young 4 wins, +17: beat Rachel Frith +1T (7-6), Roger Binks +8T (13-5), Alistair Malcolm +12, Robert Inder +3T (12-9).

Fergus McInnes 3 wins, -6: beat Roger Binks +4T (13-9), David Young +7, Rachel Frith +9.

Robert Inder 2 wins, +8: beat Rachel Frith +5T (10-5), Fergus McInnes +14.

Roger Binks 2 wins, -7: beat Robert Inder +3T (11-8), Rachel Frith +11.

Rachel Frith 0 wins, -38.


The players at tea time: Fergus, Roger, Alistair, Robert, Rachel and David.

Alistair approaching a finish against Fergus.