Edinburgh Tournament 2004

16-21 August 2004, Fettes College

This year's tournament at Fettes College brought together 27 Fettes veterans and six newcomers.  New from south of the border were Andrew and Lindsay Hobbs, originally from South Africa but now living in Kent, and Angus Bell and Robert Skeen from Meldreth near Cambridge; locals playing for the first time were Margaret McBride from the Edinburgh Club and Martin Stephenson from the Meadows Club.  These six compensated for the absence of last year's "Nailsea Fringe", and some others absent in 2003 were back, including 2002 first-timers Graeme and Kathy Holland, making the total attendance a little higher than last year.  One regular player sadly missing this year, and never to be seen again, was Stuart McKendrick, who had been diagnosed with leukaemia in September 2003, and whose death in January had been a great loss to the Scottish croquet community.

Monday began dry and cloudy, but it was not long before the rain came on.  Tuesday and Wednesday saw some very heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, though there were also periods of sunshine and it was never cold.  It was a relief to have dry and sunny weather on the last two days.

Most of last year's winners were defending their trophies: John Beech in the Open, Allan Hawke in the 8+ handicap event, Walter Brown in the 14+, Rod Williams and Charlotte Townsend in the doubles, Robert Lay and John Seddon (winner of the consolation event in 2003) in the unrestricted handicap.  The exception was Fergus McInnes, who had decided to play in the Open this year; he was hoping to be ineligible for the 4+ advanced event, though as it turned out he didn't quite manage to get his handicap down to 3.5 either before or during the tournament.

The unavailability of some players on some days restricted the numbers of games that could be played in the four class events, and so these consisted of blocks of four players (or five in the Open) with all playing each other just once - though the 14+ had two such blocks, with a playoff between their winners, and there was provision for tie-breakers if required.  To compensate for the small numbers of games in those events, those entered for the unrestricted handicap got more games than usual in the Swiss consolation event; this was aided by the cunning ploy of delaying the knockout semifinals and playing early Swiss games, which the manager had learnt from David Magee at the South of England Week three years ago.

Amongst those entered both for the class events and for the big handicap, three remained undefeated in their singles games up to Thursday night: Graeme Holland (handicap 18 at the end of the 2002 tournament, 16 at the start of this one, and down to 14 after two days), Allan Hawke (down by two steps from 14 to 11) and John Seddon (8 at the end of last year, up to 9 when he arrived here, but now down to 7).  On Friday all this changed: Graeme lost to Joe Lennon in a Swiss game, Graeme beat John in their knockout semifinal, and Allan lost his last game in the 8+ block to improving newcomer Martin Stephenson (playing off 14 in his first 26-point tournament).

The result between Allan and Martin meant that their block was tied, with three players on two wins each.  Martin and Mark Elliot, as the two with the lowest net points scores, played off on Friday evening to determine who would play Allan in the decider on Saturday, and Martin was the winner.  Also played on Friday evening were the decisive games of the Swiss.  John Seddon maintained his record of only one loss (carried over from the knockout) and so avoided having to play a decider against John Beech (who'd had two losses, to Graeme Holland and to John Seddon) to retain the trophy.  Having won the 4+ block outright, John Seddon now had two trophies to take away, without being in any of the finals on Saturday.

The finals of the remaining class events were played on Saturday morning.  Andrew Hobbs, the favourite with his -0.5 handicap, beat John Beech in the Open; Martin Stephenson kept up his winning streak by beating Allan Hawke again in the 8+ event; and Graeme Holland defeated Walter Brown, in a rerun of the 2002 final, in the 14+.  In the afternoon at least 13 spectators - a crowd by croquet standards - watched the doubles final, in which defensive play by Malcolm O'Connell and Fergus McInnes was defeated by the excellent hoop-running of high-bisquer Lindsay Hobbs, she and Andrew winning by an emphatic margin of 22 points.  In contrast, not even Graeme Holland's opponent Allan Hawke was watching for some of the time (he could be seen horizontal on a bench) as Graeme made steady progress in the unrestricted handicap singles final, which went to Graeme by 13 points on time.

Afternoon tea was provided by members of the Edinburgh Club as the last games came to an end, and then the trophies were presented by Maria Limonci, wife of Club Chairman Geoff Caldwell, to those winners still present.  (John Seddon had got his ones earlier and departed northward with Melissa and Ivor for the next stage of their holiday.)  Besides the winners already mentioned, Joe Henderson retained his title in the Edinburgh Club Golf Croquet, in which he had played the final against Peggy Bartlett on Friday afternoon; Allan Hawke, as the loser of two finals, received the Lauder Bowl for the player getting furthest without winning an event.

Geoff announced at the closing ceremony that from next year the manager would be known as the Thin Controller and would direct the tournament by public address from the glazed tower in the pavilion roof.  Fergus, as Thin Controller designate, had mixed feelings about this idea, as he likes to be a playing manager.  This year he played more games than anyone else (15), though John Beech played the most singles games (13).  Andrew and Lindsay Hobbs were the only pair to play four doubles games, and won them all.

A few more statistics...  John Seddon had the highest winning percentage (91%), though Graeme Holland equalled this in his singles games.  John and Graeme also had the biggest index point gains (94 and 90), followed by John Beech with 73.  Handicap changes were: John Beech from 2.5 to 2; Graham Brightwell from 2.5 to 3; Walter Brown from 18 to 16; Mark Elliot from 14 to 16; Allan Hawke from 14 to 11 (two steps); Lindsay Hobbs from 18 to 20; Graeme Holland from 16 to 12 (two steps); John Seddon from 9 to 7 (two steps); Robert Skeen from 10 to 11; Rod Williams from 1.5 to 1.  The number of games played was 110, lower than in recent years, though only a little below last year's total of 111 valid full-length games.  The proportion going to time was 43.6%, the highest on record; probably the difficult conditions in Tuesday's and Wednesday's heavy rain contributed.  The tournament's only triple peel was by Andrew Hobbs against Fergus McInnes in the Open: triples on the sloping courts of Fettes are not easy!

Fergus McInnes

 

Results

Event 1 (Open Singles): Andrew Hobbs
Event 2 (Advanced Singles for players of handicap 4 and over): John Seddon
Event 3 (Advanced with Bisques, handicaps 8 and over): Martin Stephenson
Event 4 (Handicap Singles, handicaps 14 and over): Graeme Holland
Event 5 (Handicap Doubles): Andrew Hobbs and Lindsay Hobbs
Event 6X (Unrestricted Handicap): Graeme Holland
Event 6 Swiss: John Seddon
The Lauder Bowl (player getting furthest without winning any event): Allan Hawke

 

Results in full

 

Photographs

Unrestricted Handicap, Monday:

John Seddon misses the peg with his remaining ball (Charlotte Townsend officiating) ...

... letting Andrew Hobbs back in. (John got another chance and finished shortly afterwards.)

Angus Bell and Charlotte Townsend peg down their game, with Robert Skeen standing by.

Class events, Tuesday:

Bob Cross wields his unique axe-handled mallet on the way to a win over Kathy Holland.

Mark Elliot shoots at Allan Hawke's balls lined up for the peg-out ...

... and plays on as the evening shadows lengthen.

Friday:

"Did you tell them you wanted the lawn dug up, John?"

John Seddon finishes with a rover peel and peg-out to clinch top place in the Swiss.

A brief shower creates a rainbow over the Edinburgh Croquet Club flag.

Doubles final, Saturday:

Andrew and Lindsay Hobbs consider what to do. (Spectators from left to right: Joe Lennon, Fiona Stewart, Jean Forshall, Margaret McBride, Marjorie Elliott.)

More spectators: Evelyn Mackenzie, Morven Cross, Rod Williams, Charlotte Townsend, Ian Wright, Mattie Meiklejohn, Martin Stephenson, Maria Limonci.

The Tournament Referee explains the law on replacement of balls after a fault.

Unrestricted Handicap final:

Graeme Holland in play ...

... Allan Hawke lying out.

The prizes:

John Seddon (in civvies, but note the croquet colours) with the Milne Trophy and the Ian H. Wright Trophy.

The remaining trophies arrayed for presentation.