Scottish Open 2009

18-19 July 2009, Meadows

Bob Burnett from Southport won the Scottish Open for the third time, prevailing over his arch-rival Dave Nick (Crake Valley) in four games in the best-of-five final.  Dave could console himself with the peeling prize, and first-time entrant Andrew Winn (Bowdon) gained the Edinburgh Plate to complete the clean sweep of the trophies by players from the northwest of England.

The event this year was without its usual manager, Chris Dent, who had not been playing croquet this season and also happened to be away at the weekend of the championship.  Fergus McInnes, who had acted as Chris's deputy in 2008, took over the management - and the associated task of arranging the tournament dinner on the Friday evening, which in a departure from precedent was not at La Partenope (Chris's favourite eating place) but at La Bagatelle in Brougham Place, a couple of minutes' walk from the lawns.

The full field of 14 entrants included 11 who had played in last year's championship (most of whom had also taken part at least once in previous years) plus three newcomers.  The visitors from outwith Scotland comprised six from England - Bob Burnett (handicap -1), Ray Lowe (0.5), Dave Nick (-1), Keith Roberts (5), Derek Watts (2) and Andrew Winn (-0.5) - and Jane Shorten (0.5) from Ireland.  The Scottish residents were James Hopgood (-0.5), Fergus McInnes (3.5), Campbell Morrison (2), Bill Spalding (4), Martin Stephenson (1.5), Bryan Sykes (3) and Alan Wilson (3.5).  Keith, Bryan and Andrew were the first-timers, though Keith and Bryan had played in other events at the same venue.

Rain on Friday, followed by showers on Saturday, meant that the lawns, cut closely by Campbell in preparation for the tournament, were easy-paced rather than very fast.  The combination of damp weather, soft sandy ground and Omega hoops led to fairly easy hoop-running, despite the hoops' being set to less than 1/16-inch clearance, as firmly as Fergus and Campbell could contrive, in new holes on Friday evening.

The main event was a seeded knockout, with single games in the first round and best-of-three matches in the following rounds.  The first round produced two upsets - Bryan beating Jane, and Derek beating Ray - and the second round added another, as the sixth seed Martin knocked out the third seed Andrew in straight games.  The top seeds sailed through to the final, Dave dropping no games and Bob losing only one (to a Stephenson TPO in the semi-final).  The semi-final between Dave and James was finished on Saturday, and the deciding game between Bob and Martin was in progress, and might well have been completed by nightfall had not the rain come on heavily in the evening, forming large puddles on the lawns (though these drained away quickly once the rain abated, helped by pre-season verti-draining treatment) and halting play for the day.

Although games were not continuing during the later part of Saturday evening because of the flooding, most of the players did stay for a while to consume takeaway meals in the pavilion.  (None of the restaurants from which these were ordered - Chinese, Indian and Italian - were doing deliveries, but Alan and Fergus ventured forth into the downpour, with the shelter of Alan's car and Fergus's umbrella, to collect the food.)  Rumour has it that some of the players went on to the pub afterwards, but your reporter was not among them as he had things to do at home.

Sunday was a welcome change from Saturday evening, with some warm sunshine and only a little rain.  Once the semi-final between Bob and Martin had been resolved in Bob's favour, the main knockout final got going as a best-of-five match, single-banked, on lawn 3, while games in the plate event continued on lawns 1 and 2.

The plan was for the losing semi-finalists in the main event - James and Martin - to go into a two-round knockout for the Plate with the two other non-finalists who had been most successful in their games so far.  James's opponent was identified by early afternoon as being Andrew, who had played six games by this time and lost only the two to Martin.  Selecting an opponent for Martin was more time-consuming, and by the time it was accomplished Martin could not afford the time to play two more games - a semi-final and the final of the plate event - and therefore decided to withdraw, allowing his intended opponent (Fergus) to go through to the plate final.  [The manager would like to assure all readers that he didn't deliberately prolong the flexible Swiss stage in order to provoke Martin's withdrawal and get himself a bye.  Indeed he didn't even think of it until a day or two later.  "Never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity."] By this time, Andrew had played James and won, and he was happy not to have to wait for the other semi-final to be played before beginning the final.  (Even as it was, the plate final didn't get finished in time for Andrew to claim his share of the peeling prize before Dave went off with it.  See below for elucidation.)

Returning to Dave and Bob on lawn 3...  The first game of their final was very close.  Bob was on a TP but broke down by landing against the wire after the penult peel.  Dave got the innings but broke down at hoop 5, and Bob played his forward ball and ran rover.  In his next break, having unadventurously declined the straight octuple, Dave pegged out Bob's forward ball and made a contact leave in which one of his balls was in corner 1.  Bob took the lift instead of the contact so as to cut the ball slightly out of the corner, got angled at penult and took position.  Dave missed his shot, and Bob ran penult, but he then missed the ball in corner 1, and Dave ended up winning the game +2.  In the second game Dave again pegged out one of Bob's balls - indeed he did a TPO - but then lost, with a score of +3 OTP to Bob.  I didn't see much of the third game, but Bob won it, and I know that in the fourth game he was left with a single ball yet again and won +13 to take the championship.

The finalists requested a pause in the remaining plate games so that presentations could be made and they could start on their journey home, and this happened at about 6.15pm.  First of all, Dave Nick was presented with the Moffat Mallet as the 2008 winner, since it had been missing at the time of last year's championship.  He couldn't have taken it home even if it had been available then, since the SCA does not allow it out of Scotland, but he now received an engraved tumbler to keep.  As the runner-up for 2009, Dave also got the cup that Bob Burnett had donated to the SCA in 2007; and, having acquired two drinking vessels, he appropriately received the peeling prize, consisting of two bottles of Scottish beer (Fraoch and Deuchar's IPA).  And then Bob Burnett as this year's winner had his turn of holding the Moffat Mallet and also received a tumbler (but no beer).

The Edinburgh Plate was not presented at this point because Andrew and Fergus were still contending for it.  And a close contest it was, until Fergus stuck in 1-back (with his other ball for hoop 4) and Andrew hit a long shot to take over the innings.  He then performed his fourth TP of the tournament, to win the Plate and qualify for a share of the peeling prize - though he would have to arrange with Dave to get this, as Dave had now departed for Cumbria.

Thanks are due to Campbell for his lawn preparation work, to Jola Jurasinska for the excellent lunches, and to Kay and Charlotte for further refreshments on the Sunday (tea and cakes provided by Kay, and beer and cider delivered by Charlotte).  A good time seemed to be had by all, and we were certainly glad that the rain had been on the first day of the weekend rather than the second.

A few photographs can be seen below.

Fergus McInnes



Main event (The Moffat Mallet):
Winner: Bob Burnett
Runner-up: Dave Nick

Consolation event (The Edinburgh Plate):
Winner: Andrew Winn

Peeling prize: Dave Nick (3 TPs + 1 OTP)
(equalled by Andrew Winn with 4 TPs)

Main event results in full

First round:
Dave Nick bt Alan Wilson +23TP
Campbell Morrison bt Bill Spalding +8T (22-14)
Bryan Sykes bt Jane Shorten +11T (15-4)
James Hopgood bt Keith Roberts +22
Bob Burnett bt Fergus McInnes +9
Derek Watts bt Ray Lowe +12

Nick bt Morrison +4 +26TP
Hopgood bt Sykes +22 +26TP
Burnett bt Watts +16 +26TP
Martin Stephenson bt Andrew Winn +17 +15

Nick bt Hopgood +20TP +10
Burnett bt Stephenson +16 -10TPO +5

Burnett bt Nick -2 +3OTP +17 +13

Plate results in full

Bill Spalding bt Alan Wilson +17
Jane Shorten bt Keith Roberts +16
Fergus McInnes bt Ray Lowe +24
Andrew Winn bt Campbell Morrison +26TP
Bill Spalding bt Jane Shorten +16
Alan Wilson bt Keith Roberts +2T (14-12)
Bryan Sykes bt Derek Watts +5
Andrew Winn bt Fergus McInnes +19
Campbell Morrison bt Ray Lowe +12T (23-11)
Keith Roberts bt Bill Spalding +1T (20-19)
Fergus McInnes bt Alan Wilson +5T (22-17)
Andrew Winn bt Bryan Sykes +17TP
Derek Watts bt Jane Shorten +22
Andrew Winn bt Bill Spalding +1T (23-22)
Bryan Sykes bt Keith Roberts +21
James Hopgood bt Alan Wilson +23
Andrew Winn bt James Hopgood +17TP
Fergus McInnes bt Bill Spalding +9
Campbell Morrison bt Derek Watts +13
Campbell Morrison bt Bryan Sykes +17
Ray Lowe bt Alan Wilson +23
Jane Shorten bt Alan Wilson +7
Derek Watts bt Keith Roberts +22
James Hopgood bt Bryan Sykes +17TP
Andrew Winn bt Fergus McInnes +17TP


(by Fergus McInnes and Jola Jurasinska)

Warning to slow players at the tournament dinner: don't take the second option!

Ray Lowe has a rest after losing his first game.

Andrew Winn considers what to do after getting the peelee (blue) only a few inches back through rover in his first peg-out attempt against Fergus McInnes.

Pegging down on Saturday evening: manager Fergus McInnes assisted by Bob Burnett.

Dave Nick during the first game of the final.

The trophies and the peeling prize.

Dave Nick gets the Moffat Mallet for 2008 (one year late) ...

... and the runner-up cup for 2009 ...

... and the peeling prize.

Bob Burnett with the Moffat Mallet and the winner's tumbler for 2009.

Andrew Winn receives the Edinburgh Plate.

A good caterer (and photographer) is hard to find... Jola Jurasinska at the end of the rainbow.
[The rainbow and the ghostly traces of Jola's co-photographer are seen here reflected in the rain-spotted glass of the pavilion door.]