Edinburgh Tournament 2018 - Day 5

So the question is, Who are the swingers in the local croquet community? Well, Alan Wilson is a swinger. John-Paul Moberly is a big swinger. James Hopgood used to be a swinger but isn’t any longer (that’s new fatherhood for you). I refer, of course, to the practice of swinging the mallet several times over the ball before you hit it - casting as it’s called. The hot topic seems to be to cast or not to cast. Well, the answer seems to be horses for courses - what works for one person might not work for another. But it’s interesting to see the different styles of grip and swing that people use and wonder whether any of them can be the magic road to accuracy for oneself.

To the events of the day, played in dry weather, some sunshine but still a cool breeze. In Event 1 Alastair Burn-Murdoch had a very good day, beating John Surgenor +4, James Hopgood +15 and Andrew Symons +24. James beat Alistair Malcolm and John Surgenor, and in other games John-Paul Moberly lost to Graham Brightwell but beat Alan Wilson in a three-ball ending, after he was pegged out with his other ball for 3 against Alan’s at 1b. Hitting in across the lawn and a two-ball break from 4 to 3b changed the game. So who will play Jane Morrison, winner of the other block, is still up for grabs.

Event 2 was decided. Lorna Dewar and Rosemary Saunders Robertson swept all before them before playing each other in what was in effect the final. In a long-drawn-out match as the sun set and the cold crept in Lorna eventually won by two hoops. The score somewhat surprisingly was just 12-10. All that time and effort for 22 hoops between them. As Lorna said, she was ‘croqueted out’. Rosemary also claimed to be tired but was seen jogging and dancing around the lawn leading up to time, although this may just have been to keep warm.

In Event 3 Hamish Duguid and Kevin Wright are to play off to decide who meets George Plant in the final on Saturday.

The Event 4 final will be played on Friday at 9.30 between Kathy Brown and Brian Cosford, Brian having beaten Robert Lay, George Geis and Kevin Russell today.

The other singles event, handicap Event 6X, will be played between Hamish Duguid and Lorna Dewar on Saturday. In contention for the 6Y Event are Brian Cosford, Rosemary Saunders Robertson and Alan Wilson. (You will notice how some names keep cropping up.) There will be more than Lorna that’s croqueted out by the weekend.

The good news is that we’re to have a lunchtime barbecue on Saturday, with complimentary Pimms. Orders for carnivores and vegetarians to Hamish by Friday morning please.

And the surprise visitors for the day? Two council infestation officers to deal with the wasps nests in the pavilion. Apparently we should all preserve and encourage bees, but wasps are a different matter.

Allan Hawke

Kevin Russell

Edinburgh Tournament 2018 - Day 4

Wednesday was doubles day. Doubles matches last a long time. Sometimes they seem to last even longer than the allotted time of 3½ hours. And if you’re playing three matches in a day it can seem like a very, very long time, especially in weather which the forecasters describe as ‘fresh’. If you’re facing a brisk westerly with intermittent sun and showers, it would be better described as ‘bloody cold’.

But there were some amusing moments to lighten the mood, such as Robert Lay twice in succession playing the wrong ball (his partner’s) and then Bob Darling, no doubt distracted by the cries of ‘Wrong ball!’, doing just the same in a different game on the same lawn.

There was some excitement too, with close finishes, the closest being the match between Lorna Dewar / Alistair Malcolm and John Surgenor / Bill Strachan. As the end approached John and Bill were ahead by six hoops, but Lorna caught up hoop by hoop to make it a draw. Golden hoop necessary, and Alistair scored it. No wonder Lorna and Alistair went on to play and win a semi-final against Jola Jurasinska and Jamieson Walker.

The other semi-final was between Bob Darling / Allan Hawke and Hamish Duguid / James Hopgood. This one also came to an exciting finish. Surprisingly Bob and Allan got to penultimate and peg before Hamish and James started scoring. But then James went round in one turn and pegged out Allan’s ball. So Hamish had to get all the way round with only three balls at his disposal, and he very nearly did it, in several turns, with help from James in setting up rushes and so on. Bob had several attempts at penult before finally managing it as time ran out with Hamish on 3-back. So the final will be between Lorna / Alistair and Bob / Allan, probably on Saturday.

Meanwhile the compensatory ‘5Y’ doubles were taking place for pairs who lost in the first round. Unfortunately details are not available due to Scoop’s involvement in other matches, but the general celebratory mood as the day drew to a close was marked by a fly-past by two jet fighter planes. Steam trains on Sunday, aeroplanes on Wednesday.

As well as the doubles there were one or two singles matches in the 6Y event. Rosemary S Robertson was particularly pleased by her win over John-Paul Moberly. She took her first ball round to 4-back. John-Paul missed the leave, whereupon Rosemary took her second ball round to peg. John-Paul then took his ball to peg and pegged out Rosemary’s peg ball. But she managed to finish with her other ball and came off the lawn floating almost as high as the jet planes.

Handicap changes were Lorna Dewar to 7 and Rachel Frith to 26.

Allan Hawke

Alistair Malcolm about to score the golden hoop

Hamish Duguid and James Hopgood

Hamish Duguid and James Hopgood

George Plant and David Houston

Edinburgh Tournament 2018 - Day 2

Day 2 started cool and cloudy with a stiff breeze, improved in the afternoon with some sunshine and then a heavy shower about 5.30. So at least three seasons in one day. On the menu were matches from Events 1, 3 and 4.

Jane Morrison continued her winning streak against Graham Brightwell in Event 1 but then fell to John-Paul Moberly in a close match where she pegged out one of J-P’s balls but then missed rover with her own second ball, letting J-P back in with a lift to finish +3. In another close evening match Jane beat Alan Wilson 25-23. Of course, Jane was on the Buckfast or rather the Buckfast was on her - she’d swapped the Ireland shirt for one with the discreet logo ‘Buckfast Abbey’.

John-Paul had had another very close match in the morning against Roger Adamson. J-P appeared to be well ahead and heading for victory when the match stalled in a defensive stonewalling by Roger until J-P was able to break free and finish off with 19 points as time was called. Roger had 13 points as he took up the final turn and carefully made his way through seven hoops, just reaching 20 points at 4-back before he missed a roquet which he thought had left the match drawn but in fact he had won +1. John-Paul finished the day in fine style with a +20 win over Howard Bowron. One facet of J-P’s game which particularly impressed was what snooker commentators would call his ‘cue action’, in this case his mallet action - a free-flowing swing from the shoulders which sent the ball hard and usually accurately to its target.

In Event 3 George Plant, Hamish Duguid, Kevin Wright, Roger Binks and Joe Lennon all recorded victories, George, Kevin and Hamish getting their handicaps down to 9, 12 and 11 respectively in the process. In Event 4 Kathy Brown, James Thomson, Rob Harvey and Halcyon Byers all had wins. Sorry not to report in more detail on these games but one pair of eyes can only be in one place at a time.

It’s noticeable that quite a few matches, even among the lower handicapped players, are going to time. Perhaps this is partly due to the variable lawn conditions, not just from one lawn to another but on individual lawns, with barer patches and grassier patches. This makes judging pace difficult. However, it’s not due to lack of maintenance but to the unusual weather conditions this year - cold, wet spring followed (late) by hot, dry summer.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that post-match analysis can sometimes seem to go on as long as the match itself. Comment after one particular discussion, admittedly of a close and tense match: “When I had sex I just wanted to sleep afterwards, not analyse my bleedin’ performance.”

A manager’s work is never done, especially when the unexpected happens. Last year it was plumbers arriving to fix the water problem in the pavilion (there was none). Today it was two builders’ or perhaps gardeners’ lorries which turned up at lunchtime but we never did find out why. And then there was the sudden panic as the manager was reminded that today was a bowls day and lawn 3 had to be vacated - and then the bowlers didn’t arrive.

Allan Hawke

Edinburgh Tournament 2018 - Day 3

The weather seems to have turned - a damp, drizzly morning but drier and some sunshine in the afternoon. The damp made the lawns slower, which caught the early birds out but they kindly warned those following, by which time the lawns were drying and getting faster.

The main event of the day was the handicap singles, events 6X (knock-out) and 6Y. There were 13 players and by the end of the day Hamish Duguid and Lorna Dewar emerged as the finalists for 6X, the final to be played later in the week. Some notable results showed just what can be achieved by the bisque system; for example Rachel Frith beat Graham Brightwell, John Campbell beat John-Paul Moberly +26, Brian Cosford also beat John-Paul +26 and finally Hamish Duguid beat Alan Wilson +26 with bisques left standing. Guess who complained to the chair of the Handicap Committee that the handicaps were all wrong. The Chair’s reply: “It must be yours that’s wrong, we can raise it if you like.” It’s also worth noting he’s playing with one of the so-called “bandits” in the doubles.

Other events saw David Lloyd beat the other three men in Event 2 (David Houston, Bob Darling and Allan Hawke) and David Houston beat Allan and Bob. Still some interesting matches to come on Thursday when the ladies join the fray (Lorna Dewar and Rosemary S Robertson).

One match was played in Event 4, Kathy Brown winning her block with 4 games out of 4. The other block will be played on Thursday.

In Event 3 (8+ handicaps) George Plant has won his block while in the other block Hamish Duguid and Kevin Wright are tied and will play off later in the week.

Finally in the Open Singles (no matches today) Jane Morrison has won 4 out of 5 games, but it’s still open as there are several new players scheduled to appear on Thursday. In fact Thursday looks like being a very watchable day all round.

But in the meantime we have Doubles Day on Wednesday. Relaxed and friendly, or bitter rivalry and old scores to settle? We shall see.

Just one handicap change: Graham Brightwell 2½.

Allan Hawke

David Houston lining up 2-back

Edinburgh Tournament 2018 - Day 1

Day 1 got off to a good start in sunshine and cloud in the morning, more cloud than sun in the afternoon, but none of that searing southern heat we’ve heard so much about. As players assembled and tried out the lawns, reactions were …. mixed. Tournament Secretary to Surbiton man: “You’ll find the lawns a bit slow, I’m afraid.” Auchincruive man: “These lawns are incredibly fast.”

Matches were spread across Events 1-4, with Jane Morrison and Graham Brightwell gaining early victories in Event 1 (two each). In Event 2 it was Ladies’ Day, with Lorna Dewar and Rosemary S Robertson each winning two games out of three. In Event 3 Jamieson Walker surprised himself by winning both of his games, with a sleep in between. And in Event 4 Kathy Brown also had two wins.

Diversions of the day included a passing steam train and a display of interesting shirt logos. In ascending order of kudos we had Edinburgh CC, Mid-Argyll Cricket Club, Howick CC (NZ), Ireland and Egypt (yes, Egypt - ask Jola).

And the prize for the most patient player goes to Rosemary S Robertson - both clips still on hoop 1 after two hours, and one clip still there when time was called although it finally went in extra time.

Allan Hawke

Lorna Dewar