Edinburgh Tournament 2003

11-16 August 2003, Fettes

Some things about the Edinburgh Tournament never change.  So this year's tournament was held during the first week of the Edinburgh International Festival, on five courts (only 90% full-size, but with slopes to compensate) measured out on the cricket pitch of Fettes College.

Other things vary from year to year, and 2003 was the year of the Nailsea Fringe - six players from Somerset who made the long train journey from the stifling heat of the south to the more comfortable temperatures of the Scottish summer, and who were particularly welcome in view of the absence of some of our usual entrants which would otherwise have left the numbers very low.  The reference to comfortable temperatures is not ironic, as it would have been in some years, since we were treated to a week of almost perfect weather.  Umbrellas were used to keep off sun rather than rain, the swamp on court 1 was transformed into something more like a sandy desert, and the run-off on downhill croquet strokes recalled to Fettes veterans the tricky conditions of 1995 and 1996.

The tournament followed its usual format: the unrestricted handicap event (knockout plus flexible Swiss) beginning on Monday, the class events in American block format beginning on Tuesday, handicap doubles on Wednesday, and a mixture for the rest of the week.  There was one new addition: a fun 14-point event on the Sunday preceding the main tournament, devised and managed by Geoff Caldwell.  13 players from the Edinburgh Club took part in this - Bob Cross winning the main competition with an unbeaten record, and Stuart McKendrick winning the shoot-out at the peg that concluded the day with twice as many hits as anyone else.  The Nailsea Fringe arrived during the afternoon to spy out the lawns and meet the locals.

The handicap games on Monday produced four semifinalists: Jamieson Walker (handicap 7) and Robert Lay (14) in the top half of the draw, and John Beech (3.5) and Fergus McInnes (5) in the bottom half.  Robert and Fergus achieved handicap reductions, to 12 and 4.5 respectively, which took effect at the end of the day.  The semifinals were deferred to allow all players to participate in the Swiss consolation event, since otherwise the finalists would have got fewer games.

Tuesday's block games left the Open wide open, with each of the four players having one win and one loss.  These four - John Beech, Graham Brightwell, Stuart McKendrick and Charlotte Townsend - were to play each other twice in the course of the week.  The same format applied in the advanced event for players of handicap 4 or over, in which the contestants were Fergus McInnes, John Seddon, Jamieson Walker and Alan Wilson.  Here Fergus was in the lead after three wins, though his game against John had been a close thing, with John missing a double target very narrowly to let Fergus peg out one ball in extra time.  Mary Barnes (up from 14 to 16 after the first day) was the leader in the third event, advanced with bisques for handicaps 8 and over; Allan Hawke (16) and Robert Lay (12) had one win each, while last year's winner Ruth Goudie (11) had yet to win a game.  The biggest of the class events was the high handicap one, with 10 entrants in two blocks of five; here the leaders in the respective blocks were last year's runner-up Walter Brown (20) and Nailsea player Richard Delmas (18).  Richard's handicap triggered to 16 at the end of the day, as did Walter's to 18.

On Wednesday a brisk westerly wind on the exposed Fettes site compounded the difficulty of the eastward slope on courts 4 and 5.  It also led to problems for the outplayers in keeping chairs and newspapers in place, which were solved by some simple engineering with bisques, string and clips.  Pictures of the anti-wind measures, and of the croquet, can be found in the illustrated supplement to this report, though those without a broadband connection may have to wait a few minutes while they download.  Three rounds of doubles games were played, with 12 pairs participating; Marjorie Elliott (16) and Bob Cross (20) won through to a final against Rod Williams (1.5) and Charlotte Townsend (4.5), to be played on Saturday.  John Beech had a good day, performing a beautiful all-round break in the first round of the doubles, and winning his handicap semifinal against Fergus McInnes in the evening with some impressively accurate shooting on a sloping court.

Thursday and Friday were occupied mainly with more block games and handicap games in the Swiss.  The remaining semifinal of the handicap knockout was also played, and Robert Lay was in the final against John Beech, played on Friday afternoon because John had to depart for an interclub match in Tyneside on Saturday; the result was a +12 win for Robert.  Geoff Caldwell and Maria Limonci laid on a barbecue in front of the pavilion on Thursday evening (with salads and desserts contributed by other Edinburgh Club members), and a few players entertained themselves during it with a four-way one-ball game - initially three-way, and reduced to two-way at the end - in which Fergus's tactic of joining up with Maria's ball while she was absent on barbecue duty was defeated by an alliance of Alan and Jamieson.  The weather continued fine, and the courts became faster, though there was no longer a strong wind to add to the challenge.

A game between Robert Lay and Ruth Goudie on Friday evening raised some interesting refereeing points.  Robert ran 2-back, was hampered, escaped back through the hoop, and put his clip on 2-back instead of 3-back.  The players didn't notice, but the spectators did.  They discreetly consulted the tournament referee, who told them that they must not tell the players of the error, but should watch the game carefully in case Ruth was misled at any stage by the misplaced clip, in which case, if the players realised what had happened, there would have to be a replay from that point.  Eventually Robert returned to 2-back and failed to get through it; Ruth shot at his ball and ended partly in the jaws without making the roquet; and Robert played through the hoop, roqueting Ruth's ball.  He took his clip off, but was unsure of the laws, and asked a watching trainee referee (Fergus McInnes) whether the roquet counted.  Fergus replied that it did, but (choosing his words carefully) that it didn't count as running the hoop (which was true whether or not Robert was really for 2-back as he thought he was, since Ruth's ball was not clear of the hoop).  (Had Robert asked "Have I scored the hoop?", the accurate but confusing answer would have been "yes", since he had scored it about half an hour earlier!)  Robert then put the clip back on, took off back into position for 2-back, and eventually went through it again and took the clip off.  Only at this point, when he played his continuation, was he playing when not entitled to do so.  Both players remained unaware of the earlier error, and the game continued, with Robert's clip now correctly on 3-back as it should have been in the first place.  After the limit of claims for the second error (the first stroke of Ruth's next turn), there was no longer a need for vigilant spectators, since there was no longer a misplaced clip, and the game continued and concluded (+2 on time to Robert) as if nothing irregular had ever happened.

By the end of Friday, John Beech had played his six games in the Open and won four of them; no one else had four wins, but Graham Brightwell could achieve this (and win on points) by beating Stuart McKendrick on Saturday morning.  In the other level advanced event, Fergus was still unbeaten, but John Seddon could force a tie-breaker by beating him in their second encounter on Saturday afternoon.  Allan Hawke was the leader in the 8+ event, with one game left to be played in it between Mary Barnes and Robert Lay.  The finalists in the high handicap event were confirmed to be Walter Brown (who had had to replay two games after a handicapping error, and won them again by increased margins with fewer bisques) and Richard Delmas.  A final had also been set up in the Swiss, between John Seddon and Charlotte Townsend.

Saturday was finals day, with fewer players and more spectators but the same warm dry weather as on previous days.  In the morning, Mary beat Robert to get into a tie-breaker against Allan in the 8+ event; Walter won the high handicap final against Richard (+8 on time) despite the presence of Nailsea supporters in team colours; and John Seddon comprehensively defeated Charlotte (+25) in the final of the Swiss.  The Nailsea players were able to stay long enough for Mary's tie-breaker (a 14-point advanced game), which she lost to Allan Hawke by just one point on time; they then departed to catch their train.  In the 4+ advanced event, Fergus saw off John's threat with a +23 victory.  The doubles final was, as always, the crowd-puller; Bob and Marjorie made limited progress with their 15 bisques, and Rod and Charlotte (playing in their third consecutive Fettes doubles final) triumphed +12.  This left only the deciding game of the Open still in play, between Graham and Stuart on court 2, the scene of Graham's +1 (on time) win against John Surgenor in last year's final.  That game had been a slow one for players of this standard, with only 22 points scored by the winner in 3 hours and 15 minutes.  This time it was even slower: with time approaching, Graham and Stuart had 12 points each, and neither had an easy opportunity to score another.  Graham thought hard, and played defensively.  Stuart hit in, approached hoop 6, and ran it to go one point ahead.  Graham had one shot left, and he missed - so Stuart won the game, +1 on time, and John Beech, in absentia, became the winner of the Open for the fourth time, his most recent previous win being in 1999.

While Graham and Stuart were finishing their game, the traditional generous afternoon tea was being served in the pavilion, and when all had eaten their fill we congregated in front of the building for the presentation of prizes, at which Edinburgh Club Chairman Geoff Caldwell presided (and gave an entertaining speech of thanks to those who had helped to make the tournament possible) and Donald Lamont, former Club Captain and a veteran of many Fettes tournaments, did the presenting.

For those who like this sort of thing, here are a few statistics.  (Those who don't can just go straight to the pictures.)  There were 114 games played during the week (not counting the games on Sunday, the fun one-ball on Thursday evening and the Edinburgh Club Golf Croquet final which Joe Henderson won on Friday afternoon), but this includes the two which were void because of the error in Walter's handicap; it also includes the 14-point tie-breaker in the 8+ event.  Of the 111 valid full-length games, 48 (or 43.2%) went to time, an unusually high proportion - perhaps because of the fast lawns and the preponderance of high handicap players.  Charlotte Townsend did best at avoiding going to time: all her 12 singles games (6 wins and 6 losses) ended with peg-outs.  (She didn't do so well in the doubles, with one finished game and two to time.  Is Rod a bad influence on her?  Maybe not so bad, considering that they won the doubles!)  At the other extreme, Violet Delmas played 9 singles and 2 doubles games, all of which went to time.  Those playing the most games (15) were Charlotte Townsend and Alan Wilson, but Allan Hawke played the most singles games (13) if the tie-breaker is included.  Walter Brown was the only player to win all his games, but then he was in only one event (the high handicap singles).  Of those playing in both the class events and the big handicap, Fergus McInnes had the highest percentage of wins (10 out of 13, or 77%, counting one doubles game); but John Seddon gained the most index points (61), mainly because his wins in the 4+ block counted for more, and his losses for less, as most were against lower-handicapped players.  Besides John Seddon, Fergus and Walter, the other notable gainer was John Beech, who gained 54 index points and went from being in danger of a handicap increase to being on the positive side of the 3.5 trigger point.

Fergus McInnes

 

Results

Event 1 (Open Singles): John Beech
Event 2 (Advanced Singles for players of handicap 4 and over): Fergus McInnes
Event 3 (Advanced with Bisques, handicaps 8 and over): Allan Hawke
Event 4 (Handicap Singles, handicaps 14 and over): Walter Brown
Event 5 (Handicap Doubles): Rod Williams and Charlotte Townsend
Event 6X (Unrestricted Handicap): Robert Lay
Event 6 Swiss: John Seddon
The Lauder Bowl (player getting furthest without winning any event): Richard Delmas

 

Results in full

 

Photographs
(by Fergus McInnes and Maria Limonci)

Unrestricted Handicap, Monday:

Evening games on courts 3, 4 and 5.

Mary Barnes (opponent behind camera), Joe Henderson and Allan Hawke contend with the hazards of court 1.

Open block, Tuesday:

Charlotte Townsend playing Stuart McKendrick, with Rod Williams and Joe Henderson watching.

Doubles on Wednesday:

John Beech completing his all-round break.

Uses for bisques on a windy day:

Thursday morning:

Graham Brightwell on court 2.

John Seddon on the sideline, Richard Delmas in play.

Golf Croquet final:

John Dewar v Joe Henderson.

Friday evening games:

Ruth Goudie's leave (and Robert Lay's misplaced clip) at 2-back.

Vigilant spectators.

Ruth v Robert.

Alan v Allan.

The Swiss final:

John Seddon lines up his shot at rover (but fails it).

Charlotte Townsend gets the innings ...

... but doesn't score a hoop.

John has another go at rover.

The Doubles final:

Bob and Marjorie stand at the side ...

... as Charlotte pegs out.

The Open decider:

Graham Brightwell considering his options, Robert Lay watching.

Closing formalities:

Manager and trophies.

Geoff Caldwell and Donald Lamont prepare for the presentations.