Summer Weekend 2008

5-6 July 2008, Glasgow

Twelve players entered for this handicap tournament, but four withdrew for a variety of reasons, leaving a field of eight.  Handicaps ranged from Fergus McInnes's 3.5 up to Robert Inder's 20, with a spread of players between: Bill Spalding on 4.5, Alan Wilson on 5, Tony Whateley on 8, Alice Fleck and Joe Lennon on 10, and Robert Lay on 16.

The first round pitched Robert against Robert in the battle of the bandits; Robert Inder was playing well and had a +16 win over Robert Lay, who had not yet found his form for the weekend.  Tony had a narrower win over Bill, as did Alan over Alice, while Fergus beat Joe +13 despite failing in his attempt at a quadruple peel (with one peel done).  Both Robert and Robert went on to accumulate three wins over other opponents on the first day, all by margins of more than 20 and most of them with bisques to spare.  Next in the running at the end of the day were Tony and Bill, with two wins from three games.  Joe and Alice had yet to win one, and the struggle between them on a slow lawn in the rain was pegged down with several hoops left to play on both sides.

Robert Inder's succession of wins brought him a well-deserved handicap reduction to 18, which took effect on Sunday morning.  He still had a record 10 bisques left after his game against Bill - a game in which everything seemed to go right for Robert and he won +26 using only 3.5 bisques.  With five wins so far, and two opponents left to play, he now encountered Alice, who had only three results on her card, all narrow losses.  At this point, Robert's mallet, which had been his friend in the game against Bill, seemed to revert to being a brick on the end of a stick (his own description); he got one ball to the peg, but his bisques ran out with the second ball only half-way round.  Alice then pegged out Robert's forward ball, with her backward ball for hoop 2, and played a good tactical endgame to win +7.  Under the "Egyptian" scoring system, this result against prior form gave Alice a big points gain and Robert a correspondingly big loss - putting him out of first place, which was taken over by Robert Lay.

In his one remaining game, against Alan, Robert Inder was back in +26 mode (five bisques left this time), but this didn't take him past Robert Lay, who with a +26 of his own against Bill (6.5 bisques to spare!) had gained enough points to maintain a narrow lead.  Robert I's only hope now was that Alice, who was Robert L's last opponent, would beat him and so reverse the effect of her earlier win on the two Roberts' relative standings.

Unfortunately for Robert Inder, Alice was still playing Tony, and they took a while to finish, so that her game against Robert Lay did not get started till after 4pm.  As usual in these Egyptian weekends, there was a cut-off time, and unfinished games would not count.  So Alice had to beat Robert by 5.30 to make a difference.  Well before 5.30, all other play had finished, and the remaining entrants moved round from the sheltered side of the pavilion to see the outcome of the crucial game.

Robert was in good form (and had bisques) and quickly established a lead.  But then Alice got in and took one ball to the peg - peeling her other ball through hoop 5 to gain an extra point, with Robert's clips on peg and 2-back.  There was now too little time for either player to finish, and so the game was void.  The ending could have been interesting if time hadn't run out: would Alice have pegged out Robert's forward ball, and if so would he have succeeded in doing what the other Robert had failed to do, by hitting in and finishing with the single ball?  As it was, by not letting Alice finish, he had done enough to win the tournament by a narrow margin of two Egyptian points.

Two other handicap changes occurred in addition to Robert Inder's: Tony got down to 7 after Saturday, and on Sunday evening Joe went up to 11.  Curiously enough, Joe's only win had been against Alice - the only player to beat Robert Inder, who was the only one to beat the eventual winner.

Finally Alan's failed quadruple on Sunday - which was against Joe, like Fergus's on Saturday - perhaps warrants a mention.  His position was promising: he had rush-peeled through 3-back and got the peelee most of the way to 4-back while still on hoop 2, with the other balls well placed.  But then he forgot which hoop he was for and rushed his hoop 2 pioneer to hoop 1!  There are many ways to fail in a peeling turn, but this is one of the more unusual ones.

Whether in spite of such mishaps or because of them, I think a good time was had by all.

Fergus McInnes

Results

1. Robert Lay 119 points, 5/6 wins: beat JL +22, FM +26, AW +22, TW +20, BS +26.
2. Robert Inder 117 points, 6/7 wins: beat RL +16, FM +26, JL +26, TW +23, BS +26, AW +26.
3. Bill Spalding 101 points, 3/6 wins: beat AF +7, FM +21, JL +3.
4=. Tony Whateley 99 points, 3/6 wins: beat BS +8, AW +2, FM +17.
4=. Alice Fleck 99 points, 2/5 wins: beat RI +7, TW +12.
6. Alan Wilson 92 points, 2/6 wins: beat AF +4, JL +16.
7. Fergus McInnes 90 points, 2/6 wins: beat JL +13, AW +24.
8. Joe Lennon 83 points, 1/6 wins: beat AF +4.