Edinburgh Tournament 2009

17-22 August 2009, Fettes College

Aided by the assiduous work and persuasive abilities of the new Tournament Secretary Hamish Duguid, entries for this, the 39th Edinburgh Tournament, were more numerous than in any previous year since 2002.  The 35 entrants included former tournament manager Ian Wright, who had played on all 39 occasions so far (in 1969 and 1972-80 at Dunfermline College in Cramond, and at Fettes College annually from 1981); the present manager, Fergus McInnes, was perhaps a distant second to him in experience of the Fettes lawns, having played here every year since 1993.  At the other extreme we had several first-timers, including this year's furthest-travelled entrants, Jack Davies and Jamie Angus, who had come up from Sussex - though Jamie's accent suggested a past life north of the border, and questioning confirmed that he was originally from Falkirk.

The tournament followed the usual pattern - handicap singles on Monday, singles events for specific handicap ranges on Tuesday, doubles on Wednesday, and a mixture for the rest of the week - with a few variations, now to be described...  Most notably, the doubles event was extended (by popular request) to include a "Y" knockout for those losing their first game in the main event, so that all players could have at least two games.  Other variations were due to some players' arriving in the middle of the week - in particular the three from Tyneside (Alice Fleck, Derek Watts and Sheila Watts), who got to Edinburgh on Wednesday and thus had to have all their games fitted into the last four days of the tournament.  And then there were the unplanned variations resulting from an unusually high level of withdrawals, due to injury and other factors, which affected all the events but most particularly Event 3 (singles for handicaps 8 and over).  Yet further variations were required on Thursday when many players opted out of their scheduled games because they didn't want to play in the rain.  All this ensured that the manager was kept busy!

To start at the beginning, however, on Monday all the unplanned variations were in the future; the order of play prescribed 29 games, and these proceeded almost entirely as planned.  By the end of the day, two of the four semi-finalists in the unrestricted handicap knockout had been identified - Graham Brightwell (handicap 2.5), who despite some injury problems had achieved a narrow victory over Jola Jurasinska (20) and had then beaten Martin Stephenson (1) in a late afternoon game, and Sheila Tibbels (18), who had scraped through to the quarter-final with a +1 on time against Duncan Reeves and then had a more comfortable +12 against Brian Murdoch.  Graham's semi-final opponent would be either Campbell Morrison (2) or Hamish Duguid (14).  Sheila's opponent might be any of Brian Cosford (20 at the start of the tournament, but reduced to 18 on his first day's results), Ian Wright (10), Janice Duguid (reduced from 16 to 14) and Alan Wilson (4).   The morning's rain annoyingly kept returning after it had looked to be over, but eventually in the afternoon the sky cleared and the rest of the day was pleasantly sunny.  James Hopgood and his new doubles partner Suzanne Cameron took advantage of the benign conditions to have some practice in the evening, and it was 9pm before they and the one spectator (Fergus McInnes) packed up and departed.

So to Tuesday, when your reporter arrived at 9.30am exactly and was greeted by an unexpected round of applause from the assembled players on the front steps and veranda of the pavilion - whether expressing appreciation for his precision in timekeeping, admiration at his running speed, or just relief that the manager had turned up to tell them whom to play, he cannot be sure.  In any case, the order of play being thus delivered for their inspection and implementation, the croquet began on all five courts within a few minutes, and its outcomes may be summarised as follows.  In Event 1 (Open Singles), Jack Davies, the favourite on the basis of handicap (-1) and world ranking (111), not unexpectedly won all his games, and having also played and won one game on Monday he was on 4/4 and the leader in the block.  James Hopgood (-0.5, ranking 202) had played only two games by the end of the day, but had won both, and performed the only triple peel of the tournament so far in his first game, against Campbell Morrison on court 4.  The nearest challenger to the two leaders was Martin Stephenson, who had two wins (against Graham Brightwell and Fergus McInnes) and one loss (to Campbell Morrison).  In Event 2 (Advanced Play for handicaps 4+), Alan Wilson, at handicap 4, was the favourite, and he duly won his games against all three others in the block: Tony Brightman (5), John Seddon (10) and Allan Hawke (6).  One pair had yet to meet (Tony and Allan), and their game would determine who was in second place after the first half of the event.  But as they were all to play each other again later in the week, and any or all of the first-time results might be reversed then, the contest remained completely open.  In Event 3 (8+ Advanced with Bisques), the original entry of eight players had been reduced to seven by Ruth Goudie's withdrawal, implying that there were 21 games to be played altogether.  With just four of these played by Tuesday night, it was too soon to pick a winner, especially as two players (Alice Fleck and Sheila Watts) were not arriving till the following day.  However, of those who had played, two were undefeated: Edinburgh Club members John Clark (11) and Jamie Edgar (14).  Finally, in Event 4 (14+ Handicap, Full Bisques off a base of 12), the nine players were divided into two blocks.  In Block A, Janice Duguid (14) had three wins by the end of the day (all on time), and Jola Jurasinska (20) had two wins (both with peg-outs); Jola's performance earned her a handicap reduction to 18.  The holder Bob Cross had lost all his games, and Andrew Macmillan had lost the one game he had played, while Jamie Angus had one win and two losses.  In Block B, Morven Wardley was the only one undefeated, with wins against Duncan Reeves (on Monday) and Brian Cosford; her handicap came down from 16 to 14 at the end of the day.  If Morven won her game against Hamish Duguid, to be played on a later day, she would win the block outright; otherwise she would go into a three-way tie-breaker with Hamish and Brian.

Wednesday, of course, was doubles day.  The 12 pairs competing were too many to fit onto the five courts at once without double-banking (which, as usual, was not countenanced in the order of play for the doubles), and two pairs therefore had a late start, while the other 20 players were in action from 9.30am.  (As it happened, the late starters had a rerun of the 2003 final, in which Charlotte Townsend and Rod Williams were again the victors over Bob Cross and Marjorie Elliott.)  By the end of the day John Clark and Sheila Tibbels had gained a place in Saturday's X final, in which their opponents might be Jamie Angus and Jack Davies or Morven Wardley and Alan Wilson; and Jola Jurasinska and Fergus McInnes had got into the Y final, to be played either against Bob and Marjorie or against Suzanne Cameron and James Hopgood.  Towards the end of the day a few singles games were fitted into the schedule; they included the first game of the tournament for Derek Watts, who lost to James Hopgood to reinforce James's strong position in the Open.

Thursday's play started in dry weather, like that of the previous two days, but the rain - forecast to be mostly in the west of Scotland - came in by late morning and turned out to be heavier and more persistent than expected.  Responses varied: Jack Davies and Martin Stephenson decided to adjourn their Open game to another day, some of the remaining players put waterproofs on, some raised umbrellas, at least one used his car as a shelter when he was the outplayer, and another opted to take off his wet shoes and play barefoot rather than get a second pair of socks soaked.  Only eight players endured to the point of playing their evening games, and they were rewarded with an improvement in the weather, which included some sunshine, a welcome change from earlier parts of the day.

Friday's weather was better on the whole than Thursday's, but there was a chilly wind at times, accompanied for a period in the afternoon by sharp showers.  21 singles games and one doubles game were played - the doubles being the semi-final between Angus and Davies (who had been denied a second game on Wednesday by Morven Wardley's shoulder injury) and the newly-formed partnership of Cross and Wilson (Bob Cross, handicap 14, being the substitute for his daughter Morven, at the same handicap).  Bob Cross and Alan Wilson emerged the victors by one point on time, and would thus be in Saturday's final against John Clark and Sheila Tibbels.

So to Saturday, when the finals of all the events were played or at least begun - with the exception of Event 2 (4+), which Alan Wilson had already won, being undefeated and too far ahead for his nearest rival Allan Hawke to catch up, so that the second game between them was not needed.

In the morning, James Hopgood beat Jack Davies (with the second triple peel of the week) in the battle of the minus players in the Open, only to lose to him in the tie-breaker, which was played as a one-ball advanced game - a form of croquet in which Jack turned out to have the tactical edge, perhaps because he had had the opportunity of playing with, and being coached by, top one-ball player Rutger Beijderwellen.  Also played in the morning were the final of Event 4 (14+ handicap), in which Jola Jurasinska edged ahead of Brian Cosford to win by two points on time, and the final of the big handicap knockout (Event 6X) between Graham Brightwell and Alan Wilson, which Graham won, also on time, by three points.  And the last game in the depleted Event 3 (8+) block - now reduced by withdrawals from the original eight players to just four - ensured that Jamie Edgar was the winner outright rather than having to go into a tie-breaker with Jamieson Walker and Sheila Watts.  A win by John Seddon over Sheila Tibbels put John into the final of Event 6 Swiss against James Hopgood - a busy man on this occasion - but after a few minutes' play this was adjourned to another day because James was required for the Y doubles final.

Saturday afternoon's programme consisted primarily of doubles finals.  In the main event, John Clark and Sheila Tibbels remained ahead of Bob Cross and Alan Wilson to win by 11 points on time (23-12); in the Y final Jola Jurasinska and Fergus McInnes were ahead for most of the game but ended up losing to Suzanne Cameron and James Hopgood through a combination of difficulties at hoop 5 and a good time-turn break by James.

The weather had held good throughout the last day's play, and the presentations took place outside, in front of the pavilion, with Sheila Tibbels presiding as Club Chairman and Ian Wright (Club President) handing over the trophies.  The winners of the three extra events were also announced.  Duncan Reeves had prevailed over Jola Jurasinska in the final of the Fashion Contest (Event 7), and thus received the hastily constructed McJura Flags; the Pedantry Contest (Event 8) was won by Alan Wilson, with Jola again taking second place; and the Manager's Triple (three bottles of cider and beer selected from the bar) for the Competition Competition (Event 9) was shared by Allan Hawke, Fergus McInnes and Brian Cosford.  Brian Cosford was awarded the Lauder Bowl as the player getting furthest without winning any of the (croquet) events, though it was a close thing between him and Janice Duguid.  Handicap reductions were announced for Brian Cosford from 20 to 18, for Janice Duguid from 16 to 14, for Jamie Edgar from 14 to 12, for Campbell Morrison from 2 to 1.5, for Sheila Tibbels from 18 to 16, for Morven Wardley from 16 to 14, for Alan Wilson from 4 to 3.5, and (best of all) for Jola Jurasinska by two steps from 20 to 16.

And so it was all over for another year.  But the writing of this report dragged on for weeks, as the writer had a multiplicity of distractions, and is only now being completed on the 14th of September.  I hope those readers (if any) who have been looking out for it find that it was worth the wait!  [Actually it was not quite finished even then, as James Hopgood and John Seddon had still to finish their Event 6 Swiss final.  They eventually did so at the Meadows Club on the 27th of September, and James won, +15, with all the clips on his pocket, having peeled both John's balls during his final turn.]

Fergus McInnes



Event 1 (Open Singles): Jack Davies
Event 2 (Advanced Singles for players of handicap 4 and over): Alan Wilson
Event 3 (Advanced with Bisques, handicaps 8 and over): Jamie Edgar
Event 4 (Handicap Singles, handicaps 14 and over): Jola Jurasinska
Event 5X (Handicap Doubles): John Clark and Sheila Tibbels
Event 5Y: Suzanne Cameron and James Hopgood
Event 6X (Unrestricted Handicap): Graham Brightwell
Event 6 Swiss: James Hopgood
The Lauder Bowl (player getting furthest without winning any event): Brian Cosford


(by Fergus McInnes, Jola Jurasinska, Campbell Morrison and Alan Wrench)


Campbell Morrison and Sheila Tibbels.

Jamieson Walker running an angled hoop.

Brian Cosford looking pensive.

Jola Jurasinska taking aim.

The three-legged Janice Duguid.

The horizontal sweep: Brian Murdoch in play, Alan Wilson refereeing.

Effects of weather:

Tony Brightman takes refuge from the rain.

James Hopgood by the notorious "swamp" on court 1.

Fashion contestants:

Duncan Reeves as a player for all seasons (note particularly the flowers to attract bees away from the croquet balls).

Charlotte Townsend with flowers, diamond ring (genuine, she assured us!) and frog.

Alice Fleck (left) presenting a feather boa to the manager.

Duncan again - or, allegedly, his twin sister - in the final.

Jola shows off her accessories ...

... and then reveals several layers of clothing (does this count as a triple peel?) before an appreciative audience.

Finals and presentations:

Full bisques: the final of Event 4 between Brian Cosford and Jola Jurasinska.

Fergus McInnes lines up a peel for his partner Jola in the Y doubles final.

Jamie Edgar receives the Silver Jubilee Salver from Ian Wright.

Jola Jurasinska gets the Walter B. Laing Cup.

John Clark and Sheila Tibbels with the Norton Wright Trophies.