Scottish Open 2008

19-20 July 2008, Meadows

Dave Nick, from the Crake Valley Croquet Club in Cumbria, won the 2008 Scottish Open, defeating the top seed David Openshaw in a closely contested best-of-five final.  It was Dave's sixth attempt at the championship, and he has now held all three leading positions, having won the Edinburgh Plate in 2003 and been runner-up in the main event in 2004.  (He also won the peeling prize in 2007.

The format, as in the previous five years, was a seeded knockout with single games in the first round and best-of-three matches in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.  A full entry of 14 players - the maximum possible, given three courts and two days - was modified in the preceding week by the withdrawal of Chris Dent and Brian Murdoch and the substitution of Alan Wilson and Duncan Reeves.  Chris, unavailable on Saturday morning, arrived later in the day and took over the management from his deputy Fergus McInnes.  Brian, unavailable on Sunday afternoon, made his contribution on previous days in the way of lawn preparation.

Dave Nick and James Hopgood had a bye to the second round.  Of the other six seeds, four got through the first round - top seeds David Openshaw and Bob Burnett with wins over Duncan Reeves and Campbell Morrison, Jane Shorten with a fairly narrow victory over Bill Spalding, and Martin Stephenson beating Alan Wilson.  Ray Lowe went out in the closest of the first-round games, losing -3 to Martyn Prins, and Derek Watts lost to Fergus McInnes in the only game that went to time (11 hoops to 23).  The second round went according to seeding, though Openshaw dropped a game to Stephenson and Nick lost his first game to Hopgood after a missed peg-out.  So it was Openshaw v Shorten and Nick v Burnett in the semi-finals, which were played on Saturday evening.

David Openshaw added scores of +25 and +23 against Jane to his +24 and +26 results earlier in the day, all four of these with triple peels.  The other semi-final was not so one-sided - Dave taking the first game and Bob taking the second (with a TP), before Dave finished the match decisively with a +26 in the third game.

The first day's rapid progress meant that the final could be played as best of five, starting at 9.30am on Sunday.  Saturday had been showery, with a longer period of rain in the morning, but the showers on Sunday were very brief and were interspersed with good periods of sunshine.  Enough local players turned out as spectators in the afternoon to fill two benches plus several chairs in front of the middle lawn, and the finalists put on a good show for them - with some competition from lawn 3 when Martin Stephenson, playing Duncan Reeves in the consolation event, had an attempt at a sextuple peel, completing five peels.

Dave Nick won the first game of the final, David Openshaw took the second and third, and Nick fought back to take it to a decider.  In the fifth game, after early progress by Nick, Openshaw collected three of the clips in his break to the peg with red, peeling and pegging out black and also peeling blue through 1-back, with yellow still on hoop 1.  The contact leave had red and yellow in corner 3 and near corner 2.  Nick took contact in corner 3, did not get a rush, and approached 2-back off the corner 2 ball - sending it into the wire of hoop 2 in the attempt to roll it to 3-back.  It was only after several turns of defensive manoeuvring, and near-misses on long shots by Nick, that Openshaw began taking yellow round.  He had got to hoop 4 when his croquet stroke on blue (which was now for 3-back) hilled off and sent it into the left wire of hoop 6, leaving the danger of a wiring lift.  After checking that a hampered follow-through did not give a lift, and after several minutes of thought, he eventually put yellow to the boundary east of hoop 4, leaving red between the hoop and the south boundary.

Further consultation of referees ensued, as Dave Nick claimed a very marginal wiring lift and was at length awarded it.  Taking the lift from A baulk, he hit the shot of about nine yards at red, got behind yellow, and finished, winning the deciding game +11, some time after 6.30pm.

Meanwhile the plate event had been proceeding throughout the day.  Its format, announced by the deputy manager on Saturday as "flexible Swiss", showed its flexibility after Chris took over by drifting far to the north-west, becoming first "Caledonian" and then "Hebridean".  Whatever the exact definitions of these terms, it ended up with a knockout, with seeded byes based on the first day's results.  In one semi-final James Hopgood beat Jane Shorten, and in the other Bob Burnett beat Martin Stephenson.  So Bob, already twice the holder of the Moffat Mallet for the main event, had a chance to become the first repeated winner of the Edinburgh Plate, which he'd held previously in 2004.  But James had other ideas, and with a +16 win he ensured that the Plate would have a sixth name on it in this its sixth year.

David Openshaw won the peeling prize, with five triples in his 11 games - well ahead of Bob Burnett and Martin Stephenson with one each, though if Martin had completed his sextuple it would have been a much closer contest.

The Moffat Mallet (thought to be the oldest croquet trophy in the world, dated 1871) was not actually presented at the end of the tournament, because by a lapse in the organisation nobody present knew where it was.  The even older Highgate Mallet (1869) was brought out temporarily as a substitute, with a promise to Dave Nick that he would get to hold the Moffat Mallet on a later date once it had been found.  In addition to the Plate, there was also a new cup donated by Bob Burnett for the runner-up.  All three trophies were accompanied by bottles of wine, provided by Chris Dent, who supplied a fourth bottle as the peeling prize, and the presentations were made by SCA founder member Ian Wright.

Fergus McInnes

 

Results

Main event (The Moffat Mallet):
Winner: Dave Nick
Runner-up: David Openshaw

Consolation event (The Edinburgh Plate):
Winner: James Hopgood
Runner-up: Bob Burnett

Peeling prize: David Openshaw

 

Main event results in full

First round:
David Openshaw bt Duncan Reeves +24TP
Martin Stephenson bt Alan Wilson +17
Jane Shorten bt Bill Spalding +5
Martyn Prins bt Ray Lowe +3
Fergus McInnes bt Derek Watts +12T (23-11)
Bob Burnett bt Campbell Morrison +9

Quarter-finals:
Openshaw bt Stephenson +17 -17TP +26TP
Shorten bt Prins +9 +21
Dave Nick bt James Hopgood -1 +25 +4
Burnett bt McInnes +13 +24

Semi-finals:
Openshaw bt Shorten +25TP +23TP
Nick bt Burnett +17 -16TP +26

Final:
Nick bt Openshaw +15 -10 -26TP +16 +11

Plate results in full

Day 1:
Wilson bt Reeves +25
Watts bt Morrison +16
Lowe bt Spalding +12
Wilson bt Watts +2
Morrison bt Reeves +24
McInnes bt Lowe +8
Spalding bt Prins +5
Stephenson bt Hopgood +5
Wilson bt Morrison +10
Lowe bt Watts +16

Day 2 (Plate knockout games asterisked):
Prins bt Reeves +20
Morrison bt Shorten +19
* Hopgood bt Lowe +13
* Hopgood bt Wilson +16
* Stephenson bt McInnes +15
McInnes bt Wilson +3
Prins bt Morrison +24
Burnett bt Watts +5
* Hopgood bt Shorten +23
Lowe bt Morrison +5
Watts bt Reeves +16
* Burnett bt Stephenson +14
Stephenson bt Reeves +23
* Hopgood bt Burnett +16

 

Players and handicaps

David Openshaw (London) -2
Bob Burnett (Southport) -1
Dave Nick (Crake Valley) -1
Ray Lowe (Southport) 0
Jane Shorten (Carrickmines) 0.5
James Hopgood (Meadows) 1.5
Derek Watts (Tyneside) 1.5 [changed to 2 after day 1 results]
Martin Stephenson (Meadows) 1.5
Martyn Prins (Mosman, New South Wales) 2.5
Campbell Morrison (Edinburgh/Meadows) 3
Fergus McInnes (Edinburgh/Meadows) 3.5
Bill Spalding (Glasgow) 4.5
Alan Wilson (Edinburgh/Meadows) 5
Duncan Reeves (Glasgow) 14