Scottish Open 2006

15-16 July 2006, Meadows

A maximum field of fourteen players gathered for the 2006 Scottish Open, being WCF President and 2005 runner-up David Openshaw, 2006 England Home Internationalist Samir Patel, 2006 Scotland Home Internationalists David Magee, Chris Dent and Bruce Rannie, erstwhile MacRobertson Shield player Martin Murray, Lancashire stars Dave Nick and Bob Burnett, German visitor Joern Vinnen, Lancashire's Ray Lowe and four more SCA representatives David Appleton, Fergus McInnes, Brian Murdoch and Martin Stephenson.  Eleven of us, plus Eileen Magee and Jacqueline Openshaw, had gathered at “La Partenope” Italian restaurant for the pre-tournament dinner, a highly successful idea, allowing play to continue well into Saturday evening if necessary – thirteen for dinner worked very well.

The competition format is a first round of single games, with six non-seeded players each being pitched against one of the seeds, leading to best-of-three quarter-finals, where two of the eight seeds started, the choice being random, insofar as a late start was on offer.  Semi-finals and final are also best-of-three.  Once eliminated, players go into a consolation Egyptian event, taking main event results with them, and the top four at the end of Saturday play qualifiers to decide the two names to take on the losing semi-finalists from the main event.  Others continue to play plate games if they so wish.  Your reporter volunteered to be the event pressman because of his late start and low expectation of progress through the weekend.  Now read on ...

Saturday dawned hot and sunny, the three SCA National Centre courts at the Meadows Croquet Club looked in pristine condition, well-shorn, but watered on Friday.

Samir Patel wrote Saturday:

A few further words.  The lawns at the Meadows club are in good condition albeit with a few patches.  As converted bowls lawns, they have lots of space to move the courts around, so the boundaries are good although the different texture of the patch joining the two old lawns is a little disconcerting at first.  Courts were of a good overall pace (for the technically minded, timed at 10-11 seconds at 1030) which proved testing, particularly as they sped up under a hot sun later in the day.  Rather oddly, the Omega hoops were putting up some resistance.

The first round started at 0930, and first to draw attention of your reporter was David Appleton, first to score against Martin Murray, first to call for a referee, first to miss a roquet in a break.  First ball round to 4-back was by Bob Burnett, against Brian Murdoch.  First to start a second-ball break was Chris Dent, against Joern Vinnen, and Chris was first to finish, in three clinical turns, no attempt at a peel, Joern, all the way from Hamburg, striking his ball four times.  First to fail his TP was Bob Burnett, who had a grievous from beyond rover – Brian had a wee shottie but soon Bob hit a ball and that was that.  Next to fail his TP was Martin Murray, with a collapse at rover and peg, first rushing the peelee into the peg, and then putting another ball in between that ball and rover, but again all ended well – David Appleton commented that the +17 score was not as good as it looked from the losing end, i.e. two balls part way rather than one at 4-back.

All first round games went to form, and all were completed by 1110.  Results: David Openshaw (seeded 1) bt Ray Lowe +24, Martin Murray (8) bt David Appleton +17, Dave Nick (5) bt Martin Stephenson +22, Bob Burnett (4) bt Brian Murdoch +21, David Magee (3) bt Fergus McInnes +26, Chris Dent (6) bt Joern Vinnen +26.

Quarter-finals started with the Samir Patel (2) v Bruce Rannie (7) clash – that Rannie was involved might lessen the surprise that this was the last to finish; in fact lunch was cleared away and had to be revived after the match ended so Samir and Bruce could gain some sustenance.  Actually the match started brightly, with Samir round to 4-back on Turn 4, but then things got dragged down, with Samir missing some unexpected roquets and hoops, and Bruce's tenacity and scrambling standing him in good enough stead for him to pinch the first one +13.  The second one went more to form, with Samir taking it +20, but the third one was closer, Bruce being round first, and well on the way with the second after Samir had equalised, but a dunch (a Geordie term) of Samir's forward ball up to 4-back to assist the TP, from near the East boundary level with 5, after running 4, rolled and rolled, into the hoop and through!  Now Bruce had the extra (wrong) clip, and the ball was out of position.  Once the rush of the real peelee towards 4-back went nearer penult (Samir thought that was done on purpose!), then the TPO seemed the more likely option.  However the penult peel hit the hoop, and shortly afterwards, striker's ball hit 3-back!  Samir gratefully finished off the two peels and the game +9 and the match 2-1 at 1615.

Elsewhere, in fact on the same court as your reporter, Bob Burnett did the first TP of the weekend winning game 1 against Dave Nick in Turn 9.  The next game went to the wire ... and then Dave finished it +1.  The third was more clinical, and Dave came out on top +20 to go through 2-1.

David Magee beat Chris Dent 2-0, +6 in the first and a standard +26TP in the second, although this game was of note to the reporter because the first croquet stroke was in Turn 11.

David Openshaw beat Martin Murray +26, +25TP, and the courts were getting faster, though Lawn 1, under the trees, was two-paced between the north and south halves.

So the semi-finals started, the plan being to organise Indian and Chinese carry-outs and eat in the well-appointed Meadows pavilion at an appropriate time in the evening.  David Openshaw beat Dave Nick 2-0, +21TP, +13, followed shortly by Samir Patel beating David Magee +3TP, +25TP, both well before dinner.  David Magee had had several attempts at his own TP in the first game, finally coming to grief around rover, giving Samir the chance to play himself into a bit of form after the Rannie experience (“I was approaching hoops from bits of court I never usually visit!”), with a rescuing TP in game 1, and a clinical two-turner (the 1 was a POP) TP in the second.  This is the first time Samir has won a Bo3 match 2-0 with 2 TPs, although he had beaten Stephen Mulliner 2-1 at the 2005 Westerns with consecutive TPs after Stephen had won the first with his own TP and had the second in his grasp with an almost completed SXP.

Meantime in the Plate, several matches had taken place, including Murray's TP (after 6, after 1-back, on the way to 3-back, “just like the old days”) against Burnett, punishing yet another TPF, Rannie's +6 including a solid straight DP against Dent, after Chris was well ahead, and Dent's TP against Nick.  Rannie's result was enough to trigger him from 0 to -0.5 (SCA AHS rules require any changes to take effect at the end of each day).

Plate results (Saturday): Dent bt Murray +26, McInnes bt Lowe +12, Murdoch bt Vinnen +14, Appleton bt Vinnen +10, Lowe bt Stephenson +24, Murdoch bt McInnes +11, Murray bt Burnett +4TP, Rannie bt Dent +6, Lowe bt Vinnen +9, Dent bt Nick +18TP, Burnett bt Stephenson +24.

Manager Chris Dent did the sums, and pronounced that the Open Final would commence at 1000 Sunday between the top two seeds David Openshaw and Samir Patel, while the qualifying matches in the Plate to commence at 0930 would be Dent / Burnett (winner to play Nick), and Rannie / Murdoch (winner to play Magee).

The carry-outs were well appreciated, although Dave Nick was somewhat disappointed when his Chinese Chicken and Chips failed to materialise – however, he got bits from many others' dishes, and his money back ...  Joern and Samir got through a banquet for two, Joern telling tales from his holiday in Norway ski-ing, and the expense therein, and the temperatures, somewhat at the other extreme to an Edinburgh July.

Sunday also dawned hot and sunny, the three SCA National Centre courts at the Meadows Croquet Club still looked in pristine condition, well-shorn, with the brown bits even faster, and the green bits slightly longer-grassed.

The Plate qualifying games started first on Lawn 3 – hot and fast.  Bob Burnett was away first against Chris Dent, and Brian Murdoch was quickly away against Bruce Rannie too, but clanged 3-back.  Bruce equalised, after a period around Hoop 1 where each player in turn hit the oppo in the hoop, and promptly failed to make the hoop – five times in all.  He then took a second ball round, but Brian hit the lift and started an excellently-controlled three-ball break to the peg, his 3-back ball being left at that boundary.  He chose not to peg the oppo ball off, but dumped it into Corner II, leaving the 4-back ball in the middle, and his own rush to 3-back.  Bruce joined in Corner II.  Brian made 3-back, got his rush to the north boundary, split to penult and near Corner II ... and missed.  Bruce finished, +5.  Meanwhile Bob had done yet another TPF, giving Chris the balls, which he took advantage of, to win +4.

And the Open Final started on Court 2.  This is fast but has the wide strip down the middle which is the new piece created when the path between the original bowling greens was removed, so there is a little bit of variation.  David Openshaw won the first game +15, not without incident.  He stuck in 5 with Blue, considered that the hoop was too tight, and asked for a referee.  Martin Murray volunteered, and as he was RoT, that was handy.  He eventually determined that (a) the blue would not go through the hoop on any diameter, so the hoop was reset using the Omega spanner, and (b) there was a minuscule gap between blue and one wire, so the ball was not “stuck” - David remarked that the ball had appeared to spin when it hit the hoop, so Martin judged that it must not have hit the wires simultaneously.  RoT Martin was set to allow a replay, but David appealed (sic), the Commentary was produced, and it showed that David's instinct was correct, i.e. under these circumstances, “hard luck” applies.  Samir however could not capitalise.  He did find more form in the second game, winning it +17 with solid break play, although David did have a couple of nibbles.  The third game had one incident where Samir was hampered after 1-back, and attempted to trickle his ball down a curve towards a nearby ball – unfortunately that piece of land was green, and the ball did not reach its object.  David did not give him another real opportunity, and clinched the Moffat Mallet 2-1, +15, -17, +19.

Samir Patel wrote again Monday:

We've established why the hoops were putting up resistance - they were very small, including the one that David stuck in which was set to -1/8"! [Fergus McInnes (hoop setter) responds:  But two balls in the double-banked game had already gone through it ...  Were they small too, or did the hoop get narrower in the course of the morning?  The latter is quite possible, as it was on the central strip where the ground does not hold the hoops very firmly.]  Lawn speeds after the final were 12.5 seconds (or 11.5 on the 'slow' bit).

Meanwhile, in another place (Lawn 3), Bruce Rannie was beating David Magee +26, in several turns more than three, and Dave Nick was beating Chris Dent +23, more scientifically.  So the decider for the Edinburgh Plate was between Dave Nick and Bruce Rannie, which Bruce won +18 despite giving Dave some chances, unexpectedly being put down quite quickly.  The winning turn started when Dave clanged 1-back with Bruce on 1-back and peg.  Bruce managed to play the 1-back ball in the hoop so it stayed in the hoop, giving himself two strokes to run the hoop.  But the forward ball turned right down a brown hill, and the striker's ball limped through the hoop – hampered.  Oh Calamity!  But Bruce had watched in horror the path the Red ball took, and with the referee in attendance, tickled the Black ball down what he hoped was the same path.  Unlike Samir's in the Open Final, Bruce's ball did reach, just nestling against its Red pal, and Bruce was not going to put it down from there.

Edinburgh Plate KO results: Dent bt Burnett +4 (KO qualifying), Rannie bt Murdoch +5 (KO qualifying), Nick bt Dent +23 (KO semi), Rannie bt Magee +26 (KO semi), Rannie bt Nick +18 (KO final).

[Fergus McInnes can't resist adding to what is already the longest ever report on the SCA website:  The Murray-McInnes game in the Plate, double-banked with the main event final, was one that will stick in my memory.  It started off all right: McInnes to 4-back (starting by running hoop 1, just failed in turn 6, to the north boundary to pick up a ball north of hoop 2), then Murray to 4-back.  Then it got scrappy.  After some time, I stuck in 3-back leaving Martin's green ball just off B baulk and his brown clip (so we thought) on hoop 3.  He forgot his lift! - and shot at my jawsed ball and missed.  I resumed, and after 4-back took off from green near corner 3 to my pioneer at penult because I judged it less risky than putting green to rover.  I failed penult, and this time Martin remembered the lift which I had forgotten.  He got his break organised and put brown through hoop 3, and then realised that the clip on hoop 3 which both of us had thought was brown was actually yellow!  By such a comedy of errors did I achieve my first ever win against a minus player.  Martin may be able to claim "senior moments" as an excuse for the errors, but I can't, as we established at the start that I had not even been born when he began playing croquet.  So let's blame the heat instead.]

Tea was had, presentations were made, speeches of thanks and pleas to pass on the good word re Edinburgh croquet were made, photographs were taken, and we all prepared to go home.  Well, nearly all of us, but there was still one game going on when your reporter headed south, Bob Burnett against Fergus McInnes.  After yet another TPF from Bob, a non-lift turn left him on peg and rover, with Fergus on 1-back and 1-back.  Fergus hit the rover ball, and a couple of turns later Bob's peg ball was in the box instead of Corner III.  I don't know why, or who won!

Other Plate results (Sunday): McInnes bt Murray +14, Vinnen bt Stephenson +13, Burnett bt Vinnen +20, Burnett bt McInnes +8, Lowe bt Appleton +16, Dent bt Lowe +26tp, Murdoch bt Appleton +10.

Bruce Rannie


Main Event

David Openshaw bt Ray Lowe +24
Martin Murray bt David Appleton +17
Dave Nick bt Martin Stephenson +22
Bob Burnett bt Brian Murdoch +21
David Magee bt Fergus McInnes +26
Chris Dent bt Joern Vinnen +26

Openshaw bt Murray +24 +25tp
Nick bt Burnett -26tp +1 +20
Magee bt Dent +6 +26tp
Samir Patel bt Bruce Rannie -13 +20 +9

Openshaw bt Nick +21tp +13
Patel bt Magee +3tp +25tp

Openshaw bt Patel +15 -17 +19


Dent bt Murray +26
McInnes bt Lowe +12
Murdoch bt Vinnen +14
Appleton bt Vinnen +10
Lowe bt Stephenson +24
Murdoch bt McInnes +11
Murray bt Burnett +4tp
Rannie bt Dent +6
Lowe bt Vinnen +9
Dent bt Nick +18tp
Burnett bt Stephenson +24
Dent bt Burnett +4 (KO quarter)
Rannie bt Murdoch +5 (KO quarter)
Nick bt Dent +23 (KO semi)
Rannie bt Magee +26 (KO semi)
Rannie bt Nick +18 (KO final)
McInnes bt Murray +14
Vinnen bt Stephenson +13
Burnett bt Vinnen +20
Burnett bt McInnes +8
Lowe bt Appleton +16
Dent bt Lowe +26tp
Murdoch bt Appleton +10



Martin Murray during his game against Fergus McInnes on Sunday morning.

Samir Patel in play in the final.  (The clips on hoop 3 are Samir's yellow, later mistaken for brown in the double-banked game, and Fergus McInnes's pink; on 4-back, Fergus's white and Martin Murray's green.)

Eileen Magee on refereeing duty with a straight edge.

SCA Chairman Brian Murdoch (left) presents the Edinburgh Plate (hidden) to Bruce Rannie while manager Chris Dent prepares for the other presentations.

David Openshaw with the Moffat Mallet.