Scottish Masters 2007

2-3 June 2007, Glasgow

The 2007 Scottish Masters Tournament was like last year's, but different.

It was scheduled to take place in Glasgow - but it wasn't moved to Edinburgh.  It had six entrants, which meant five rounds plus a possible tie-breaker - but a seventh player, Bill Spalding, became available and entered late the night before, extending it to a full weekend of seven rounds plus possible tie-breaker.  Only one previous winner was playing - and here the differences end, for as in 2006 the previous winner failed to repeat the feat.

The eventual field of seven was composed of five players closely bunched on handicaps from 4 to 5, and two - Joe Lennon and Robert Lay - some way down the scale at 11.  Martin Stephenson had the lowest handicap, but James Hopgood and Fergus McInnes were higher in the world rankings despite their handicap of 4.5.  Alan Wilson and Bill Spalding were both at handicap 5, but Bill's grade and index in the ranking system were above all the others', helped by his wins two weeks ago in Ireland.

Four rounds were completed on Saturday, at the end of which Bill was the only one undefeated, with wins over Joe, Fergus and Alan, but Alan, having been in all the rounds, also had three wins; Martin, James and Fergus had each won two games out of three, and Robert and Joe had each lost four.  The most notable achievement was Martin's fifth-turn triple (his first TP in a ranking game) against Robert - finished in style with a jump through rover to the boundary after the straight rover peel, though running into the shallow reception ball in the ensuing croquet stroke led to no bombardment of the peelee, leaving the need to play a rush out from south of rover and a longer peg-out than might otherwise have been necessary.  James also had a game in which he did three peels, against Joe, but he ended up out of position at rover and didn't peg out until a later turn.  Four of the day's 12 games went to time, and several others took almost the allotted two and a half hours.

Saturday had been dry with some sunshine, but rain was coming in from the west, and it never held off for more than a few minutes throughout Sunday.  It was heavy at times, making the lawns considerably slower.  In the first round of the day James inflicted Bill's only defeat so far, Martin beat Fergus, and Alan beat Joe - leaving Alan, Bill, Martin and James with one loss each.  Now Alan, sitting out in the next round, wanted James to lose to Fergus and then beat Martin, and Martin to beat Bill, so that he could win outright by beating Fergus in the final round.  The first of these failed to happen, but Martin did win his game against Bill, while Joe had a +20 win against Robert in the battle for sixth place.  Alan won against a rather off-form Fergus, despite letting him in by trying to cannon the peelee away after a straight peel at 4-back and blocking the hoop with the third ball; so a two-way tie was guaranteed, between Alan and the winner of the seventh-round game which was in progress between Martin and James.

In this game Martin had got to 4-back and peg, with James far behind, when James got the innings and then played well to equalise with a few minutes to go.  James opted to peg out Martin's forward ball, but after sending Martin's remaining ball near the west boundary he was hampered from roqueting his partner ball, and had to run away to the east boundary leaving it near the peg.  Martin hit in and scored 4-back, but stuck in penult; James laid up at 4-back with one minute to go, Martin missed with 20 seconds to go, James two-balled and pegged out one ball, and Martin missed again to make it 25-23 to James.

A tie-breaker therefore began at about 6pm between James and Alan - reduced to a 14-point game, with a one-hour time limit, since James needed to be back in Edinburgh by 7.30pm or soon after.  However, when James checked the train times he found that he would have to reach Polmont by 6.53 to get to Edinburgh at 7.45 (as the trains were taking longer than usual because of engineering work), and he decided to concede the game, leaving Alan as the winner.  So Alan's would be the new name on the trophy.  Alan was giving James (and Fergus) a lift to Polmont, and so he had no time to buy anyone a drink before leaving Glasgow, but he did make up for it as far as James and Fergus were concerned by driving them all the way to Edinburgh since they were now too late to catch the 6.53 train from Polmont.

All the top four players in the final table could take encouragement from their results.  Alan had got the trophy; James had been in close contention for it (and could even have won it without playing a tie-breaker if the game between Martin and Bill had gone the other way, since the first criterion for breaking a three-way tie was points scored, on which he was ahead of Alan and Bill), and had kept his position ahead of Martin in the rankings; Martin had done his triple, and had the highest points scores; and Bill had done better than the handicaps predicted and made a net gain of AHS index points.  As for the rest, Joe had done roughly as expected, and the less said about Robert's and Fergus's performances the better!

Fergus McInnes

AAW JRH MAS WMS FRM JL RGL Wins Points
Alan Wilson -- +11
(26)
+1t
(23)
−2t
(16)
+16
(26)
+6t
(17)
+22
(26)
5 +54
(134)
James Hopgood −11
(15)
-- +2t
(25)
+3t
(22)
+17
(26)
+13t
(24)
+7
(26)
5 +31
(138)
Martin Stephenson −1t
(22)
−2t
(23)
-- +5t
(23)
+13
(26)
+18
(26)
+26TP
(26)
4 +59
(146)
Bill Spalding +2t
(18)
−3t
(19)
−5t
(18)
-- +13
(26)
+1t
(22)
+20
(26)
4 +28
(129)
Fergus McInnes −16
(10)
−17
(9)
−13
(13)
−13
(13)
-- +18
(26)
+12
(26)
2 −29
(97)
Joe Lennon −6t
(11)
−7
(19)
−18
(8)
−1t
(21)
−18
(8)
-- +20
(26)
1 −30
(93)
Robert Lay −22
(4)
−13t
(11)
−26
(0)
−20
(6)
−12
(14)
−20
(6)
-- 0 −113
(41)

 

The last hoop point of Martin's triple: note the flying green ball.