Edinburgh Tournament

The first Edinburgh Week tournament was held in 1969 at Dunfermline College of Physical Education at Cramond, and the tournament was revived and became an annual event in 1972.  It moved to Fettes College in 1981, when the club ‘found a new venue on the cricket fields which promises to provide a playing surface equal to or better than that used at most Scottish croquet clubs’.  It is always held during the Edinburgh International Festival.

The event comprises:

Four class events:

The Cramond Cup, Open Singles (Advanced Play)
The Ian H. Wright Trophy, Handicaps 4 and over Singles (Advanced Play)
The Silver Jubilee Salver, Handicaps 8 and over Singles (Advanced with Bisques)
The Walter B. Laing Cup, Handicaps 14 and over Singles (Handicap)

Two unrestricted events:

The Edinburgh Cup, Singles (Handicap Play)
The Norton Wright Trophies, Doubles (Handicap Play)

Two consolation events:

The Milne Trophy, Singles (Handicap Play, for those eliminated from the Edinburgh Cup)
An event with no trophies, Doubles (Handicap Play, for those eliminated from the Norton Wright Trophies)

There is a further award each year, The Lauder Bowl, for the player who gets furthest overall during the week without winning any competition.

The roll of honour, and results where known, are to be found by selecting the particular event.  Tournament reports are to be found by selecting this link year by year.

 

Reports:

25 – 30 August, 1969

The first official Scottish Tournament was held at Edinburgh in the last week of August.  Those of us who made the trip north of the border in a slightly wary mood need not have worried.  We vaguely expected a bleak kind of croquet, played by gaunt, unsmiling men in kilts, with a pipe major on the sidelines bursting forth into ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ when the local champion missed a short roquet!  We consoled ourselves with the thought that if knocked out in the first round we could fall back on the varied entertainment provided by the Edinburgh Festival.  These suspicions were not entirely removed on the first day when, although we saw no signs of kilts or pipes, we had a battle in a cold wind with courts much slower than anything we are used to down south.  Several Sassenach heads rolled in the first round of the handicap singles.  As the week went on however, the courts and the weather both improved – the former mainly due to Herculean efforts in the evenings by local members (notably Dr. Milne) with the mower.  By the middle of the week the sun had come out, the courts were shorn close, and the visitors, inspired by the example of Bryan Lloyd-Pratt, had learned that four ball breaks were possible, providing that one hit a little harder when playing uphill.  More important, the local members had shown themselves so hospitable and friendly that there was no doubt that this was going to be a successful tournament.

By this time, too, the usual crop of improbable but true stories was circulating.  Derek Caporn took a long shot at his opponent’s two balls; these had been lined up on the left of a hoop so as to present a single target; he nevertheless managed to go between them by the roundabout method of going wide to the right of the hoop, hitting a bump, and turning sharp left.  In another game a lady found herself with a problem which I draw to the attention of all aspiring referees.  What do you do when your ball becomes firmly wedged between the hoop uprights half-an-inch from the ground?  This happened to Mrs Moorcraft, who had no doubts about her course of action – she called for help.  The referee, with the wisdom of a Solomon, ruled that the hoop should be widened and the hoop shot taken again.  The mystery is that the hoop in question was 3-back, and Mrs M had already made it twice from the other direction (i.e. as hoop 4); sabotage during the tea interval was ruled out, and earth tremors are thought to be the only explanation.

The open singles were won by Bryan Lloyd-Pratt.  He was by far the most consistent player in the tournament and fully deserved his victory.  The only player to take a game from him was David Nichols, but when these two met in the final Bryan soon had one clip on rover, and finished the game off with a very pretty single peel.  Nichols was a worthy runner-up; he is a tough opponent who never gives up, and seems to have the right temperament for tournament play.  The handicap singles were won by Dr. Milne, a stylish player who makes the most of his chances, and who was the only player in the tournament to show that he could give away a lot of bisques on these lawns and still win games.  In the final he had to concede 7½ bisques to F.V.X. Norton, a newcomer who had improved visibly during the week and had overwhelmed several fancied opponents.  Luck deserted Mr Norton in the final, but he can nevertheless feel satisfied with the result of his first tournament, and will no doubt soon be receiving the attention of the handicap committee, for he won the 9 bisques and over event.

As usual the Doubles produced some nerve-wracking moments.  The winners were Drs. Milne and Kemp – a very strong pair – against Commander and Mrs Rowe.  Commander Rowe decided to peg out an opponent’s ball, lined them up carefully from a yard or so, took a hefty swipe, missed the peg with the front ball, but pegged himself out instead; his partner was for hoop 6 at the time!  Mrs Moorcraft won the ‘Y’ handicap singles (9 bisques and over) in a dogged match against Miss Murray.  The handicap singles for 3½ to 8 bisques was played as an American Block, so the competitors got full value for their money.  The winner was W.M. Spalding, who won the All-England last year and who showed that accurate shooting was possible on the Dunfermline College lawns.  The runner-up, Kenneth Paterson, was perhaps a little handicapped by having celebrated his birthday the day before the decisive game (including a little part in the manager’s tent).

To sum up – a week of croquet and culture.  Where else can you combine the game with Rigoletto, Shakespeare, or even a late-night revue?  The courts may not be Hurlingham standard, but the view (over the Firth of Forth) is, with the possible exception of Carrickmines, the best in the croquet world.  Our manager, Derek Caporn, presided over all with his usual charm and efficiency.  The locals gave us a great welcome.  And the prizes, all won outright except the five silver trophies awarded for the main handicap singles, were superb cut-glass dishes or beautiful table mats engraved with a Scottish Castle.  Thank you, Scotland!

21 – 26 August, 1972

After an interval of three years, the second Edinburgh Tournament was held at the Dunfermline College of Physical Education.  To a large extent the success of the tournament was due to Mr Scott, the groundsman, who spared no effort in the preparation of the lawns.  The trophies for the Doubles Event were given by Mr F.V.X. Norton and Mr I. Howard Wright, and the trophy for the Open Singles by the Scottish Croquet Committee.  The food and weather, which are important points in any tournament, were both excellent.  The only disappointment was the small number of visitors from England; it had been hoped that the tournament would have given us an opportunity of meeting new players.

The Draw in the Open Singles was won by Bryan Lloyd-Pratt, who was beaten by 1 in the final of the Process by Ian Howard Wright.  In the play-off Mr Lloyd-Pratt won by the more comfortable margin of 10, but his opponent could easily have pulled it off again.  Mr Howard Wright is an accurate and determined player; his handicap was reduced to scratch as a result of this tournament.  His son Stephen, who has only just started to play, is a promising player and featured in several semi-finals.

The Open Handicap was won by William Spalding from Glenochil, the runner-up being Des Willetts, whose bare knees featured prominently in newspaper photographs.  Dr D.I. Nichols won the ‘Y’.  Many of the games were won by very slender margins, and one of the most amusing of these ‘cliff-hangers’ was between Mrs Carol Rowe and Jim Shearer.  In attempting to peg out, Mrs Rowe roqueted her partner ball onto the peg, leaving her opponent joined up with both his ball for rover.  He managed to run rover with both balls before she hit in again.  Her take-off to the peg landed about six inches short, but a beefy swipe at the peg was mis-hit and landed in the fourth corner; her whoop of victory turned into a howl of anguish.  The game finally ended when the unfortunate Mr Shearer, in hitting in, roqueted Mrs Rowe’s ball onto the peg; several of the convulsed spectators fell off their seats with laughter on seeing this.

The ‘X’ Handicap for those of 4 to 8 bisques was won by Edinburgh Club Secretary Miss Anne Murray, who delighted the spectators throughout the week with her variety of hats, and by the number of games which she or her opponent won by 1 after time had been called; in one case extra time continued for thirty-five minutes.  The jovial Mr Middleton from Aberdeen was runner-up.  The ‘C’ handicap was played as an American Block and was won by Mr Shearer.

The final of the Doubles was only finished after all the trophies had been presented.  Mr Howard Wright went all round, using two of his side’s three bisques to peel and peg out one of the opponent’s balls, the other being for rover at the time.  A ‘cat-and-mouse’ game ensued, which Bryan Lloyd-Pratt would have enjoyed immensely had he not had to catch the evening train south to his next tournament.  Dr R.E.B. Duncan and Mr D.J. Philp eventually won when the single ball hit in and made rover, and a few turns later hit the peg from the first corner.

All the participants were delighted when it was announced that it was hoped to make this an annual tournament in future; our Manager Bryan Lloyd-Pratt rushed off and booked his hotel for next year when he heard this.

20 – 25 August, 1973

We hope that it is only distance that causes so few non-Scots to enter for the Edinburgh Tournament.  Our three visitors this year were Mr Carte and his sister Mrs Aubrey from South Africa, and the C.A. Secretary, Mr Vandeleur Robinson, whom we were particularly glad to see as a competitor.  The first three days were overcast, with a chilly east wind blowing in mist from the Firth of Forth, but the weather improved later in the week, and we were able, when we were not playing, to enjoy the view across the Firth.  Mr Robinson combated the elements with two waistcoats, a pullover and a raincoat.  Thus hampered, he scored what must be regarded as the best hoop of the week, when, having laid a twelve-yard tice along the West boundary, he shot at it from a point eleven yards along A-baulk, and ran the first hoop on a mis-hit.

Managing a tournament for the first time, Mr I.H. Wright succeeded in keeping up to schedule; he met all requests for leave of absence, and even fitted in a consolation event.  The responsibilities of management did not prevent him from winning the Open Singles and reaching the final of the Doubles.

The Doubles Final, played between Mr Norton & Mr I.H. Wright and Dr Kemp & Dr Milne, produced an interesting finish.  Dr Milne eventually succeeded in peeling Mr Norton through penult and rover and pegging him out.  Mr Wright hit in, set up a three ball break and took the only bisque, but broke down at 2-back; he played his ball into the first corner.  Dr Kemp, also for 2-back, laid up a distant rush partly wired from Mr Wright’s ball.  Mr Wright deemed his ball played; Dr Kemp played a rather unsatisfactory rush and retreated again to a partly-wired position; Mr Wright genially invited him to ‘try again’, and the situation was repeated twice.  Eventually Dr Kemp succeeded in running the hoop after a somewhat risky approach, and got away to the safety of the fourth corner.  Later in the game Dr Kemp failed to peg out his partner’s ball but pegged out his own.  Dr Milne found himself about nine yards from the peg and Mr Wright played to about six yards from the peg on the opposite side.  Dr Milne played some four feet closer, to be met by ‘Come a little closer, and if you’re not wired this time, I’ll shoot’.  Another three-footer and he was still wired, and the next turn he shot and hit the peg firmly, Mr Wright’s ball having been untouched for three turns.

The ‘B’ restricted handicap produced a family final in which Carol Rowe beat her husband Jimmy by 9.  The Big Handicap produced the usual crop of interesting games.  Young Stephen Wright, fresh from his triumph in the Younger Cup at Hurlingham, had four good wins to reach the final, where he was defeated by Mr Norton by 12 after a keenly contested game.  Both these players have had their handicaps considerably reduced over the last two seasons, and in spite of the further reductions they must now expect, we look forward to great things from them in the future.

We were again indebted to Dunfermline College of Education for the use of their grounds and catering facilities, and, in particular, to their groundsman, Mr Scott, and his assistants who performed the minor miracle of turning hockey pitches into six courts which, if not quite up to Hurlingham standards, provide a playing surface better than many of the lawns used by most Scottish Clubs.

19 – 24 August, 1974

Edinburgh provided its usual crop of mixed weather for the annual Tournament at Cramond.  There was little sun but not much warmth, and high winds which sent balls off course and even almost unbalanced players, but only one day on which there was sufficient rain to be troublesome.

We were glad to welcome four visitors from Australia, to see the Willetts back from Stourbridge after a two-year gap, and to have Peter Crawford, formerly from Glasgow and now from Roehampton, competing in the Tournament.  The Glenochil players had taken their “croquet leave” for the visit of the New Zealand team to Scotland and had to devote the rest of their leave to their families.  We hope to see them competing again next year.

Memories of a Tournament begin to dim shortly after it is over, but there are always some outstanding features which stay in one’s mind.  No-one will forget the tall figure of Derek Russell from Tasmania stalking dominantly over the lawns but unhappily failing to come to terms with the heavy turf and slow pace of the Cramond courts.  Col. Saalfeld will also be remembered as a tough competitor from whom it was difficult to wrest the innings once he had obtained it;  if at times he appeared to sulk in his tent like Achilles, his beady eye missed little of what was going on and he always emerged to give one a good game.  Mrs Brown of Stourbridge was another visitor who impressed with her improvement during the week.

Long games were a feature of the week and nearly every day there were two players (one of whom was usually Mr Tait or Mrs Macpherson) playing on into the twilight after everyone else except the manager had left.  Two of the longest games were on Finals Day and were not completed until after the presentation of the prizes when Col. Saalfeld won the ‘Y’ event in the Big Handicap from Miss Murray, and Peter Crawford beat Bob Calder by a large margin in the play-off of the 3-bisques-and-over class long after the hoops had been removed from the other courts and the tents taken down.

The shot of the week award must go to Ian Wright in the Doubles when he failed to run 3-back and left himself about six inches in front of the hoop and slightly to the side.  Opponents missed the shot and Ian found himself with his partner’s ball between 4-back and penultimate.  He decided that the best way of running his hoop and getting close to partner was to play a hammer shot.  This was magnificently executed with such force that his ball would have gone off the north boundary had it not hit 4-back and remained in perfect position to run that hoop under control.

A feature of the Doubles was the close finishes, and in only one game was the final margin greater than 5 points.  In an early round, Ian Wright and Bob Calder were one point behind Mr Russell and Mr McCulloch when time was called with Mr McCulloch in play but unable to score further. Bob somewhat luckily hit in on the ‘last’ turn and scored the equalising point which took him to the peg, which of course, he could not score as Ian’s ball was not a rover.  Shortly after, Ian scored the winning point.  In the Doubles Final, Mrs Russell and Jack Norton had their blue and black clips on rover with Bob Calder well behind.  Helped by his partner, Bob crept round hoop by hoop until eventually blue and black were both on peg with red and yellow on rover.  Mrs Russell hit in on her partner’s peg ball and tried to peg it out as she split to red and yellow to separate them.  The peg out failed leaving her short, and she missed the roquet.  After this blue and black did not get another chance and a real cliff-hanging final was soon over.

In addition to his success in the Doubles, Ian Wright won the Cramond Cup for the Open Singles for the second successive year.  This was not the only repeat performance as Jack Norton retained the Edinburgh Cup in the Big Handicap while Mrs Rowe beat her husband in the final of their class event by almost the same margin as last year.

The prizes and trophies were presented by Lady Mackenzie, the widow of Sir Compton Mackenzie, a former President of the Croquet Association. 

Dunfermline College of Physical Education provided the usual excellent facilities, their groundsman giving his ever-cheerful assistance and their lunches and teas being enjoyed by all.  Mrs Rowe presided genially over morning coffee.  Ian Wright managed the Tournament with his usual urbanity and provided extra games by deciding to run the 3-bisques-and-over class as Draw and Process, and by adding a ‘Z’ event to the Big Handicap.  This resulted in all but one of the competitors still being in at least one event on Friday morning.

25 – 30 August, 1975

Six courts were as usual laid out in the grounds of Dunfermline College of Physical Education, Cramond.  Is there an undiscovered scientific law which explains why a hoop which is being knocked in fits the gauge for exactly half its travel into the ground, but splays either in or out during the remaining half of its travel?

We were lucky to catch the tail end of the recent bright spell of weather, Monday through Thursday (as our American friends say) having practically tropical conditions.  However a transformation took place on Friday as immaculate whites (well – whites) were replaced by ‘wet-weather rigs’ of fascinating and, in some cases, formidable aspect (spectators approaching from a distance must be forgiven if they had assumed that an anti-gas demonstration was in progress).  White trousers moving under an oilskin bore a striking resemblance to a tortoise’s legs under its shell.  However Saturday saw a return to good weather at mid-day and the courts presented a fascinating mixture of a frogman’s get-together and a sun-drenched Ascot scene.

We were glad to welcome several new faces this year.  Reg Forth of Norton Hall, well known to Edinburgh Club members, and David Anderson from Hull both did well and returned home with fewer bisques than they brought with them.  Donald Lamont of Edinburgh had several good games and Margaret Lauder from Larbert and Judy McCrimmon from Glasgow both made a start by playing in the Handicap Doubles.  We were sorry that J. Ferguson from Glasgow took ill early in the week and was unable to continue and hope to see him next year.  The Willetts from Stourbridge were missed by everyone and we hope they will be able to come back next year.

Owing to the entries being slightly down in numbers compare to last year’s, competitors in the 3-bisques-and-over event and the 7-bisques-and-over event were given the opportunity to enter the next lower event as well if they wished (this was effected effortlessly when it was realized that no extra fees were required).  This resulted in a full week’s croquet with minimum lay-offs, and skilful management (allied to a desperate faith in the laws of chance) ensured that all was well on the final Saturday.

As usual there were many interesting games and not a few long ones, although few time limits had to be set.  Donald Lamont had the unusual distinction of having two games pegged down on the same court simultaneously!  On the Saturday Jack Tait and David Anderson had to play each other in two different Finals and started on the first one at 10 o’clock.  At 4 o’clock the manager saw David win one, and asked “How did the first game go?”  To his horror the reply was “That was the first game”!

Two unusual events occurred in open singles games.  In one Ian Wright, for hoop 4, was wired by hoop 2 from his partner ball which was near the fourth corner.  He played a jump-shot which jumped not only hoop 2 but also hoop 4 after bouncing over the peg!  He ruefully observed “Well, after all that, it might have passed under the crown of hoop 4 instead of just hitting it”.  The other incident involved a ‘leave’ by Jimmy Rowe after he had run 1-back and given away a lift.  As Jack Norton’s black was for rover and blue for 2-back it was necessary to persuade him to play black, particularly as red was only a short distance away from a baulk-line and the innings was certain to change hands.  The neat solution was to roll yellow up to black in the middle of the court where it finished up a few inches from it – the exact opposite of the usual ‘minimum opportunity’ leave before a lift is taken!  In this case the ploy was successful and black was induced to play.

Prizes were presented by Mrs Milne (whose son Robert was President of Edinburgh Croquet Club until he went to Australia two years ago: incidentally he has now returned and we give a warm welcome to him and his family on their return).  We have to thank Mrs Laing very much for so kindly donating the ‘Laing Trophy’ for the winner of the 7-bisques-and-over singles, and also Mrs Milne for donating the ‘Milne Trophy’ for the winner of the Y-event for 3-bisques-and-over.  A third new trophy this year, the ‘Silver Jubilee Salver’ for the winner of the 3-bisques-and-over singles, was donated by club members so that now the club has a permanent trophy for every main event.

Every event had a new winner this year with Glasgow taking a share of the spoils.  Jack Norton unexpectedly took the Cramond Cup from Ian Wright, losing to him in the Process but beating him in the final of the Draw and again in the play-off.  The prize for tenacity goes to Rod Williams who spent the whole of Friday playing in the rain and had to borrow a change of clothes before going back to Airdrie, but it paid off with victory in his class event.

Thanks are due to the Manager, Ian Wright, and Secretary, Bob Calder, for the hours which they devoted to making the Tournament so successful and enjoyable:  and to those who helped to prepare the lawns, provide tents, brew up coffee… And of course, to the Principal of the Dunfermline College of Physical Education who again allowed us to use their grounds and the College’s catering facilities.

23 – 28 August, 1976

Sunshine and hot weather again ushered in the Edinburgh Tournament, and in this year of drought it was pleasant, especially for our visitors from the south, to see the six green lawns prepared with loving care for the event – each one with its own hidden hazards waiting to be discovered by the unwary.

Because the ground is not normally used for croquet the hoops were freshly driven in, and with the ground like iron, there was no yield in the hoops at all.  On the Monday, only one or two of the low handicap players had mastered the technique needed to run such rigid hoops, and all week they continued to trap the unwary – Mr Scott, the groundsman, probably thought he was being helpful when he hammered them in tight after mowing the grass.

There was a record number of entrants this year and it was very encouraging to see newcomers all showing distinct croquet potential.  It is cheering to note the emergence of more women on the scene, Moira Scott and Margaret Lauder being notable acquisitions and Susan Willetts bringing a strong challenge from south of the border.  We were delighted to welcome members of the recently formed Auchincruive Club which lost no time in scoring a victory, Malcolm Laing winning the Laing Trophy.  Another newcomer was Alec Scott, and in his game against Stephen Wright he showed that he knew how to use the 13 bisques at his disposal.  He played a very cautious game, trying nothing that he did not know how to do, and so winning the only game which his opponent lost during the week.

One game with a very exciting finish was a handicap doubles in which Rod Williams and Bill Masterton were leading by eight points when Stephen Wright hit a ‘last shot’ across the full width of the court just as time was called.  He then made a nerve-wracking break of ten hoops to win with Reg Forth.  Meanwhile in the other half of the draw Bob Calder and Moira Scott were demolishing all opposition, but fell victim to the more experienced pair in the Final.  Following his performance at Nottingham the previous week, Bob Calder is showing that as a handicap doubles player he is a forced to be reckoned with.

The conventional method of recording a score as the difference between the points scored by the two sides is quite informative enough in a completed game, but does not really give much idea of how things went in a game which finished on time.  One ‘A’ class player was quite glad to be able to hide behind the conventional record of +4T when 13-9 would have been a much better summing up of that particular handicap doubles game.

Much of croquet, like missing short roquets and easy hoops, is all in the mind, as one competitor found after repeatedly failing to score a particular hoop.  Eventually he asked the Referee of the Tournament to gauge the offending hoop, claiming that his black ball could not go where the other three had been as it had expanded in the sun.  But alas, the gauge proved that, if anything, the hoop was wide.

As the weather deteriorated with cold winds towards the end of the Tournament, fashions, especially headwear, were many and various, the Ascot honours going to the men, with Rod Williams’ ‘ecossaise’ bonnet and Ian Wright’s scarlet linen creation.  Another cheering sight was our tireless and obliging Referee, Mr Henshaw, scurrying hither and thither about the lawns at the double.  No time-ridden game ever had to wait for his ministrations.

We would like to thank the heroic spectators who supported us in both sun and wind, for every sport needs its audience and we are very lucky in ours.  It gave us special pleasure to have the prizes presented by Mrs Wright, wife of our hard working Manager and mother of Scotland’s Number 1 young player.  As she claimed, she was also there in her own right as a member of the ‘Scottish Croquet Association Supporters Club’ with a close acquaintance with the game.

22 – 27 August, 1977

Monday morning, with six lawns, some 30 contestants, and a week’s croquet in view, what more could one wish?  Well, sunshine and smooth lawns would have filled the cup, and it was not long before the former appeared.  However, despite the excellent work of the groundsman, the ancestry of the lawns (hockey rather than bowls) began to show through, making long shots both hard work and erratic.  This, together with the accurate and firmly-set hoops, caused many a promising break to disintegrate, and blobbed hoops were commonplace.  Nevertheless Mrs Wright and Mrs Morrison set a fine example by being the first to finish, leaving many of the lower handicapped players to struggle on till time was called.  More than half the games were won by single-figure margins, including a nail-biting defeat of Ian Wright by Donald Lamont.  Jack Norton, despite his immaculate white shorts, became an early victim of Margaret Lauder in what proved to be her narrowest win in the Big Handicap.

The sun continued to shine throughout Tuesday, which was mainly devoted to the restricted events, but then went into hiding until Finals Day.  Jimmy Rowe won by the biggest margin of the day and Donald Lamont by the smallest, although the latter was still a notable achievement, since it was the only ‘X’ game that Margaret Lauder lost throughout the Tournament.  After struggling the previous day, Reg Forth appeared to have found his form in the morning, but lost it again in the afternoon!

Wednesday saw the start of the doubles.  Stephen Wright & Reg Forth began the defence of their title with a narrow win over Rod Williams & Bob Fletcher, but they were then put out by Ian Wright & Margaret Lauder.  Alan Girling & Ray Jones scored a convincing win over George Henshaw & Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie, refusing to be taken in by George’s impersonation of a Canadian International!

Thursday is normally reserved for the manager’s nervous breakdown, but Ian Wright showed no signs of wilting, and even compounded his problems by abetting his partner – a ‘blocker’ if ever there was one – in a doubles victory over Bob Calder & Richard Weyndling, though by the narrowest possible margin, hitting in after time was called and scoring two hoops to win by one.  The progress of the Open Singles resolved no problems at all, since four different names appeared in the finals of the Draw and Process, namely Stephen Wright, Rod Williams, David Openshaw and Jack Norton.  Thursday was also memorable for the ‘President’s Sherry Party’ at which Jimmy and Carol Rowe entertained all the contestants (as well as many non-contestants) to a full-blown meal as well as sherry.

Back to the business on Friday, with Alan Girling sailing through to the final of the Big Handicap (if +1 on time can be described a sailing) and, with Ray Jones, to the final of the doubles with a rather more convincing win over Jack Tait & Donald Lamont, and another +1T victory over Jim Shearer & George Mason.  Yet another +1T over Mr McCulloch took Malcolm Smith to the final of Event 3, making Rod Williams’ defeat of Jack Norton in the Process final by +2 look positively one-sided.

Saturday, and the moment of truth for all Finalists.  After beating David Openshaw in the Draw final, Stephen Wright successfully defended his Open title by beating Rod Williams in the play-off.  Having got to four finals, the Birmingham visitors, Girling and Jones, eventually succumbed to an overdose of croquet by day and Festival by night (and day) and failed to win any of them.  Mrs Lauder played a faultless game against Girling to win the Big Handicap, making full use of her bisques, and rubbed it in by partnering Ian Wright to a convincing win in the doubles over Girling & Jones, thus ensuring that she will not get so many bisques next time.  Rather churlishly, after accepting their hospitality on Thursday, Stuart Malin beat Jimmy Rowe on Friday and Carol Rowe on Saturday to win event 2; he was suitably punished by having his handicap reduced.  Malcolm Smith beat Ray Jones comfortably, but slowly, in the final of event 3, with the game going to time.  For those knocked out in the first round of events 2, 3 and 5 there were ‘Y’ events, which were won by Jim Shearer, Richard Weyndling and Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie respectively, the last receiving a walkover from Ray Jones because of the lateness of the hour.  Thus, despite a strong entry from the ‘other’ Croquet Association (Reg Forth from Norton Hall, David Openshaw from Harrow, Bob Fletcher and George Henshaw from Nottingham, and Alan Girling and Ray Jones from Birmingham), all the trophies stayed in Scotland.  However, the visitors made a great impression on the Tournament, both socially and as contestants, and we look forward to a similar invasion next year.

It is customary to congratulate the manager of a tournament, however incompetent he may have been, but this time it can be done with tongue well clear of cheek.  Despite the numerous special requirements (inevitable with the Festival going on at the same time) this was the most smoothly, unobtrusively and amiably run tournament I have ever attended.  Of the non-combatants, special mention must be made of Miss Murray for organizing the teas so efficiently (an invitation that will surely be repeated) and Harold Wright for sterling service with the coffee-jugs.  Mrs Norton presented the prizes and Bob Calder reduced all the handicaps.

21 – 26 August, 1978

On Monday morning threatening clouds looked down on a rather smaller tournament than last year.  With twelve of the twenty players from Edinburgh, one would have thought that their experience of the Cramond hockey pitches would have told in their favour, but only two managed to reach the second round of the Big Handicap.  Stuart Malin won comfortably over Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie, and Gavin Anderson, a new face in Scottish croquet from Cambridge, met an out of form Jack Tait to win equally easily.

An obvious advantage of the smallness of the tournament was that the manager had no need to impose time limits.  On Tuesday morning Alasdair Adam and Donald Lamont showed how well they could take advantage of this in a match which lasted from 12:30 to nearly 8:00 with breaks for much needed sustenance.  Alasdair emerged the victor by two points after a 5¾-hr struggle.  In the Open Draw all the matches were close with Rod Williams winning narrowly over Tim Smith from Nottingham, but going out to Stuart Malin after rather an arduous struggle.  Ian Wright disposed of Bob Calder and Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie to reach the Draw Final playing with an interesting and accurate side-swing which he has had to develop since he unfortunately contracted croquet elbow last season.

On Wednesday the sun shone on the doubles partners who responded by producing some mammoth games.  The prize for the longest game of the tournament went to Bob Calder and Alasdair Adam who took six hours to beat Mr McCulloch and Miss Murray by two points.  Jimmy Rowe was the lucky player who was given two bites of the cherry in the doubles – having gone down with Jack Tait to Vera Macpherson and Donald Lamont, he then joined the partner-less Gavin Anderson and scored a victory against the same opponents.  Ian Wright and Margaret Lauder, defending their title, beat Mt Lewis and Mrs Wright who fielded the tournament’s largest forest of bisques with their combined handicaps of 27.

Thursday saw a further improvement in the weather which seemed to engender a more sophisticated type of croquet, and with the gradual widening of the hoops, a number of sizeable breaks were unearthed.  The Open Process game between Ian Wright and Rod Williams proved to be the most unusual match in its high quality, with very few mistakes, all of them costly.

Friday was hot, and with closely cropped courts the occasional game of quality seemed a distinct possibility.  Gavin Anderson went to 4-back on his fifth turn against Lewis Middleton and won +23.  Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie, who had suddenly hit form, managed two lengthy breaks against Ian Wright in the Open Process Final and won after surviving a couple of dangerous leaves. With Ian Wright and Margaret Lauder on penultimate and 3-back, and Gavin Anderson and Jimmy Rowe both on rover with two bisques in hand, one would have thought the game settled, but Jimmy found the peg in the way on a long take-off and suddenly the bisques were gone and Ian had the innings.  Ian and Margaret grasped the opportunity and went on to a swift victory.

Finals day was typical in that four players were in two finals each, and the time set for the presentations, six o’clock, seemed a trifle optimistic.  However only the doubles and the Big Handicap Z finals were in progress when Mrs Laing presented the prizes at 6:30.  In the Big Handicap Y after an hour or so shying across the lawn at Tim Smith, Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie suddenly remembered how to play and went round in two breaks to retain the Milne Trophy.  In the B singles Process final Gavin Anderson beat Margaret Lauder, who had won the Draw, and they immediately restarted for the play-off to determine the winner of the Silver Jubilee Salver.  With Gavin on rover and peg and Margaret’s forward ball only on 1-back the result seemed inevitable, but Margaret, always dangerous under pressure, worried the Manager sufficiently for him to impose a time limit to free her for the doubles final.  Gavin managed to scrape an eight-point victory before time was called.  In the Open Singles play-off for the Cramond Cup Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie soon got both balls round to peg and 4-back against Stuart Malin, and though Stuart got in a few times he seemed incapable of running the first hoop and allowed himself to be ‘twenty-sixed’.  Malcolm Smith had a good win over Donald Lamont in the C singles play-off, both earning well-deserved and long-awaited (by everyone else!) reductions in their handicaps.

In the Big Handicap Rod Williams was the favourite against Malcolm Smith and took an early lead.  But even though dogged by misfortune after using his early bisques, Malcolm fought back to win the Edinburgh Cup.  The final excitement was the doubles when Ian Wright and Margaret Lauder, the holders, came up against Bob Calder and Alasdair Adam.  The game got off to a slow start, but before long Ian, showing utmost confidence in his partner, took his ball to 4-back.  Margaret however, perhaps tired by a day of almost continuous play, did not manage to keep a break going on the occasions when she got the innings.  Meanwhile Bob and Alasdair crept round slowly together and eventually got both their clips on the peg with Margaret still on 2-back.  Ian decided that it was tactically right to peg Bob out but after picking up a break and running rover the imperfections of the court defeated him as he missed a comparatively short return roquet.  Bob hit in but under the stress of the moment forgot to try to peg Ian out.  In spite of this the game quickly ended with a victory for Bob and Alasdair.

As Manager Ian Wright was conspicuously inconspicuous – one scarcely notices the ease and efficiency with which he runs the tournament.  Bob Calder, the tournament secretary, organised the venue and lunches with his usual accomplishment, and one can observe that, in Ian and Bob, the SCA must have the slickest pair of operators in the game.  Copious thanks must go to Mrs Morrison and her afternoon tea crew for their excellent fare, to Dr Wright for his Trojan efforts with the morning coffee flasks and to Mrs Laing for presenting the prizes.

20 – 25 August, 1979

Le style est l’homme même.’ Why is it that in most games there is a generally accepted good style?  All the best golfers have similar swings; in snooker the top players have similar cue actions; cricketers who score lots of runs play their strokes in a similar fashion; the examples are endless.  We only have to look at the players in the Edinburgh Club’s tournament to see how untrue this is of croquet. 

Glancing round the courts, we see Stephen Wright with a fluid and apparently effortless swing send the croqueted ball the full length of the court, while Donald Lamont with a golf-style swing seems to expend five times as much effort in forcing a ball to travel half as far.  Look at Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie stalking his ball casually with a swinging mallet, playing his stroke without pausing in his stride and not even grounding his mallet.  Compare this with Gavin Anderson’s stop-go stalk like a kitten playing with a ball of fluff, or Alasdair Adam’s long contemplation after he has grounded his mallet and is performing his genuflection routine.  Consider Miss Murray glaring at the object ball after she has grounded her mallet as if defying her own ball to miss the target, while Roger Wood seems to aim solely from his stalk with scarcely a flicker of an eyelid at the object ball.  Watch Phillip Simpson faced with a difficult decision as to which shot to play at the beginning of his turn walking smartly on to court and playing the chosen stroke without hesitation, while Jack Tait in a similar situation prowls around slowly considering the position from all angles before making up his mind.  If there is any lesson to be learned from this it is to stick one’s style for all these are good players in their class and any attempt to change their methods would probably be disastrous.

But what of the tournament?  Weather-wise it was possibly the worst ever.  From Monday to Thursday there was a succession of heavy showers each day, then Jupiter Pluvius relented on Friday, sending us a mild sunny day which made us look forward to a further improvement for Finals Day on Saturday.  Alas it was not to be – although there was no rain the temperature was at its lowest for the week.  The croquet as usual provided games of varying standard but there were many surprises.  Anyone who had tried to predict on Monday who was going to reach the finals would probably have been wrong in more than half of the selections.

In the Open event the finals of the Draw and Process produce four players still in contention for the title.  Jack Norton’s experience was too much for Gavin Anderson in the Draw while Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie showed his prowess by a good win over Robert Milne who had eliminated Jack Norton.  Ewen went into the play off determined to avenge his first round defeat in the Draw but it turned out to be an undistinguished game in which both players made mistakes and broke down too often.  Jack eventually achieved a not very memorable victory.

The 4-bisque-and-over level single event had only four players and so was played as a double American block giving each competitor six games.  Malcolm Smith showed that he is still improving by suffering only one defeat. 

The 8-bisque-and-over handicap singles was played as Draw and Process.  The Auchincruive Club showed its strength when Phil Simpson reached the final of both halves, having an easy win over George Anderson in the Draw but losing narrowly on time to Donald Lamont in the Process.  In the play off Phil produced what was perhaps his best croquet in the tournament to beat Donald by +16.

The Big Handicap provided one early surprise when Alastair Hunter used his ten bisques to good effect in beating Roger Wood +3 on time.  In the second round however, he fell heavily to Robert Milne.  Robert went on eventually to the final to meet Jack Norton.  1½ bisques proved too much for Jack and Robert regained the Edinburgh Cup of which he was the first holder in 1969 but had never won since.  A happy tenth anniversary.

In the ‘Y’ event, Gavin Anderson had three wins by fairly large margins to gain the Milne Trophy.  In the ‘Z’, Alastair Hunter showed that although this was his first season of competitive croquet he had learned a lot during the summer and indeed, his play could be seen to be improving as the week went on.  He disposed of Ian Wright, Vera Macpherson and Jack Tait on his way to final victory and earned a substantial handicap reduction.

The Handicap Doubles, as always, produced interesting games for the spectator if not, at times, for the players.  Roger Wood and Stuart Malin on the lowest possible handicap of 5 lost by 3 on time to Jack Tait and Donald Lamont who made good use of 5½ bisques.  Stephen Wright, who was able to play only in this event, partnered Reg Forth and showed his skill at the minus-and-middle-bisquer game by piloting Reg to the final.  In the bottom half of the draw, that other master of disparate handicap doubles, Jack Norton, steered his 10-bisque partner Stewart Kilpatrick to the final with three wins by large margins.  The final was the showpiece game on a cold Saturday afternoon, but unfortunately did not come up to expectations.  Reg was perhaps tired as a result of the large number of games he had played in his class event and Stephen missed more than his usual proportion of long shots.  Jack and Stephen have an interesting difference in their approach to a doubles game with a high bisque partner.  Jack likes to remain one or two hoops behind his partner using each hoop to ensure a perfect lay-up for his partner’s ball in the next turn if opponents miss the shot, while Stephen prefers to keep his clip on the first hoop until he sees the possibility of a triple or double peel and peg out.  With Reg having scored only a few points, Stephen eventually embarked on an attempt to double peel Jack with Stewart’s clip on rover.  This might have provided an interesting finish but to Stephen’s annoyance he broke down almost as soon as he had got the break started.  Jack and Stewart went on quickly to win by 19.

Our thanks as usual must go to all those who looked after our morning coffee and afternoon tea.  Our thanks also go to Ian Wright who, managing the tournament with his accustomed competence, coped with a vast number of requests for leave and succeeded in having the last final finished on Saturday shortly after half-past five.  Mrs Tait presented the trophies and prizes with charming and accomplished ease and within a short time the tents were down, the courts were stripped, and the events of the week began to become memories.

25 – 30 August, 1980

The entry for the Club’s annual tournament took on a new pattern this year with a decrease in the number of low handicap players and an increase in the number of high bisquers who in previous years had felt ‘not good enough to play in a tournament’.  To cope with the imbalance, Bob Calder, acting as Manager for the first time, invoked Regulation 19f(iii) and altered the handicap limits for the class events.  This resulted in the final of the high handicap event (Laing Trophy) being between Mrs Mona Wright (13) and Allan Ramsay (16).  Mrs Wright’s victory showed that high bisquers can enjoy competitive croquet provided that they are not completely outclassed.

With a total of 29 the manager would have had problems fitting in all the games had it not been that a number of players entered only one event.  This produced 18 players in the Big Handicap (Edinburgh Cup) in which Robert Milne was trying to retain the trophy which he won last year.  After narrow wins in the first three rounds he succumbed in the final to R.E. Wallis who used his 1½ bisques in the efficient manner one would expect from a player of his experience.

The unluckiest player of the week was Mrs Margaret Lauder who played more games than anyone else, but all she had to show for it at the end of the week was to be runner-up in the Milne Trophy (‘Y’ event of the Big Handicap).  On her way to this relatively undistinguished finish she had reached the final of the Draw in the Open event beating the winner of the Process on the way – likewise she had eliminated the winner of the Draw in the first round of the Process.  In the Doubles, she and her partner, Geoff Roy, had good wins in the first two rounds but suffered an unfortunate narrow defeat on time in the semi-finals.  Beaten in the first round of the Big Handicap she survived to the final of the ‘Y’ only to fall victim to Donald Lamont.  (Margaret Lauder presented the Lauder Bowl in 1982 to be awarded to the player of the week who made most progress without actually winning a trophy – this story, and a similar one in 1981, shows why!)

Finals Day on Saturday produced some interesting croquet with a thrilling finish in the final of the Open Event (Cramond Cup) in which Rod Williams eventually beat Stuart Malin by two points.  The afternoon game attracting most spectators was the Doubles (Norton Wright Trophies) final in which Jimmy and Carol Rowe were playing ‘at home’ against the Glasgow / Middlesbrough combination of Rod Williams and Reg Forth.  The home crowd were glad to see the Rowes gaining a solid victory.

The manager had imposed a time limit of three hours on all games.  The results of the singles games provide some interesting statistics on the responsibility for slow or unenterprising play.  In the Open singles three were thirteen games, all but one of which finished within the time limit.  In the middle bisquers event (in which it turned out that all seven players had handicaps of 7 or 8) there were nine games and the time limit operated in seven of these.  Since the event was played as level singles there can be no excuse of ‘waiting until the bisque had gone’.  The high bisquers did as well as the low bisquers, with only one of their games lasting the full three hours.  The mounting evidence that the long games are between two middle bisquers was confirmed by the unrestricted handicap event in which the draw happened to work out so that there were hardly any games between two middle bisquers.  The total number of games was twenty-six and in only two of these was the time limit needed to determine the result.

17 – 22 August, 1981

Fortunately everyone found their way to the Fettes cricket pitches, the new venue for the Edinburgh Tournament.  Alastair Hunter’s yellow signs saying ‘croquet’ on East Fettes Avenue (copyright graciously granted by the AA) ensured the prompt arrival of the thirty players who entered this year – a good turn-out.

Monday saw the start of the Big Handicap; about half the games went to time, which was an indication that the lawns were not as good as we had hoped.  Although three were better than Cramond, the other three decidedly were not.  Of the visitors from England, Peter Thompson was most successful, getting through his first two games reasonably well – he went on to win the Edinburgh Cup and lose a bisque from his handicap.

Tuesday saw a change of weather from gusting horizontal rain to relentless, but rainless, wind, which ably assisted the occasional long take-off to roll a little over the line.  In the Class events, Geoff Roy and Margaret Lauder were successful in the Open Draw, Phil Boddington and Donald Lamont in the ‘B’ singles, and Ralph Pirrie and Campbell Morrison in the ‘C’ singles.  John McCulloch played his usual accurate game and reached the semi-final of the Laing Cup winning two games in appalling weather conditions, only to be overcome by Ralph Pirrie.

Doubles Day (Wednesday) produced weather that was poor even by Edinburgh Tournament standards – in short, it was bad, as indeed was a good deal of the croquet.  Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie and Paul Campion beat Alastair Hunter and Ralph Pirrie +1 on time; George Anderson and Allan Ramsay beat Vera Macpherson and Mona Wright +2 on time; fortunately the exciting finishes made one forget how they had arisen.  Jack Norton and Phillip Simpson, strongly tipped to win the event, had a sticky opening against Carol and Jimmy Rowe, winning +6.  The other western pair, Malcolm Smith and George Mason, eventually joined their compatriots in the final after a victory +1 on tie over Geoff Roy and Margaret Lauder.  If one remembers the days of Alasdair Adam at Cramond in five or seven hour doubles marathons, it is easy to understand why time limits were imposed on all games.

By Thursday all the events were heading towards an orderly completion under Bob Calder’s cool, accommodating management.  The high handicap event had, as one might have expected, more than its fair share of games going to time.  Campbell Morrison conspicuously lengthened the process by protracting all of his games to the limit with his inimitable golfing style.  But this proved the undoing of many a sterner player, and Campbell won the Laing Cup, reached the third round of the Big Handicap, and the semi-finals of the doubles.

Phil Boddington won the Silver Jubilee Salver (Level Singles) with a series of progressively easier victories over Vera Macpherson, Alastair Hunter and Donald Lamont.  The Open (Cramond Cup) distinguished itself by the number of failed triple peels, double peels, and indeed rover peels.   Nor was a missed roquet an unusual sight.  After their Draw semi-final, Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie and Geoff Roy agreed that the game might as easily have been decided by the toss of a coin, rather than the toss of the croquet balls as they continually leapt over their targets on Lawn 4.  Finals Day on Saturday had more than a little excitement when, in the Open Draw final, Geoff Roy was on peg and peg with a perfect rush, while Margaret Lauder was on 3-back and Hoop 1.  Margaret hit in and went round with the backward ball, going on to win +1, thus requiring a play-off between the two of them.  After just as exciting a finish, Geoff won a comparatively easy victory +2!  Thus Margaret repeated her 1980 performance of nearly winning everything, but actually winning nothing except a reduction in handicap.

And so the tournament was completed with much steady croquet on the unsteady lawns, and little spark of excitement except for the Roy / Lauder duel in the sun on Saturday.  The weather got better towards the end of the week – it could not have been worse than it was on Wednesday.  One of the highlights of the week must have been the policeman who turned up on Thursday, assigned to crowd control.  After failing to arrest any lawn invaders he returned to the more mundane routine of riot prevention along the road in Drylaw.

The Fettes facilities were voted a great improvement on this at Cramond; particularly in that the tea and coffee makers felt closer to, and more a part of, the actual croquet.  To them, under the batons of Dr and Mrs Wright and Mrs Morrison, a warm thank you was offered.  Thanks were also tendered to Miss Murray for presenting the prizes, Bob Calder for impeccable managing, the Fettes Headmaster, Mr Cochrane, and his staff, and particularly to Alastair Hunter and his henchmen from Bush for preparing the lawns.  It is to Alastair that we direct our thanks for the negotiations with Fettes College to produce this, a much improved venue for the Edinburgh Tournament.

23 – 28 August, 1982

This premier Scottish tournament might have been called the Tournament of the Managers or the Tournament of the Alasdair/Alastairs since the co-managers Alastair Hunter and Rod Williams played 13 and 11 games respectively in three events, while Alasdair Adam played 11 games in two.  Time limits were applied to all games.  As in recent years there were more high handicap than low handicap players.  From a total of 31 entrants there were six at advanced play in the range 1½ to 6½, six in the level event at 7 or 8, and eleven for the high handicap event in the range 11 to 16.  There were 15 pairs for the doubles and 21 entered the Big Handicap.  After a wet previous week – good for lawn rolling – the week’s weather was generally good with heavy showers on two days.  It was occasionally even warm enough for one hardy soul to try shorts.

The Cramond Cup (advanced) produced the expected result when Rod Williams (1½) won both Draw and Process, his closest opponents on handicap being three at 5.  Bill and Elizabeth Scarr, married visitors from Poole, had a family tussle for runner-up.

The Silver Jubilee Salver (level) produced hard games with Alasdair Adam also winning both Draw and Process – he won as many games on time (usually by the narrowest of margins) as he did outright.  In the Draw final he came back from hoop3/hoop3 to Alastair Hunter’s penultimate/4-back to win by seven points.  In the Process final they met again, this time with Alasdair making the early surge only to go off on a long take-off which let Alastair go round.  Fortunes were reversed later though, when Alastair made the same mistake.  Alasdair was left a simple rush to 3-back, from where he kept the innings and the trophy.

The Walter B. Laing Cup (high handicap) was played as ‘X’ and ‘Y’ knock-out, and produced relatively quick games generally.  Two rapidly improving members of Edinburgh CC, Campbell Morrison and Allan Ramsay, contested the final which Campbell narrowly won to retain the trophy.  Fred Mann was a worthy winner of the ‘Y’ event, possessing a very good hitting-in eye and stroke.

The eventual winners of the Norton – Wright trophies in the handicap doubles were Allan Ramsay and George Anderson, off 18 jointly.  They struggled all the way through, winning every game on time, including the final, where they met the unluckiest player of the week, Alastair Hunter and a sadly off-form Margaret Lauder – she had three shots at hoop 1 in 2½ hours.  When time was called, she was in play, but needed an unlikely, and indeed unforthcoming, all round break to keep the game alive.

In the Big Handicap for the Edinburgh Cup, the early surprise was Rod Williams going out to George Anderson on time.  In the same round, Alasdair Adam defeated the holder Peter Thompson by 1 on time after surrendering an early and almost commanding lead.  In the third round, Alasdair took a bisque to start a break against Elizabeth Scarr which he took to penultimate.  Later he broke down at hoop 6 off Elizabeth’s ball for the same hoop – she had to Irish-peel Alasdair’s ball but kept the balls too close together, committing a fault when she hit Alasdair’s ball when trying to complete the running of the hoop.  In the semi-finals, Roger Hissett, playing well and in his only event of the week, beat Bill Scarr, while Alasdair again beat Alastair Hunter by 1 on time to reach his second final.  Alasdair moved into an early lead against Roger, which he never relinquished, in a rather undistinguished Saturday match.

In the ‘Y’ event for the Milne Trophy, Rod Williams beat Margaret Lauder in the final by the narrowest of margins, while Campbell Morrison beat Fred Mann in the ‘Z’ event by seven points.

At the prize-giving, a minute’s silence was observed for Jack Tait, the Edinburgh Club President, who had died on the lawn in the course of his game on Wednesday.  Mrs Margaret Lauder had presented a new trophy to be awarded to the player with the greatest number of games played without a final victory – this went to Alastair Hunter, who had played thirteen games, winning nine, and being runner-up in the level singles and the handicap doubles.

22 – 27 August, 1983:

A ‘C’-level view:

It was a large entry by Scottish standards, with 34 players taking part, frae a’ the airts.  Possibly it was the lure of the festival, possibly the excellent facilities at Fettes College, including the school swimming-pool, but we like to think the biggest attraction was to meet friends old and new in happy competition.  From over the border we welcomed Vincent Camroux and Mark Strachan from Roehampton sand Parsons Green, and old friends Reg Forth, Bill Masterton, Peter Thompson and Caroline Hay from Norton Hall.  The tournament would not be the same without Jack Norton, Rod Williams and Corla van Griethuysen from Glasgow, and Roger Hisset and Malcolm Smith from Auchincruive.  Drew Nisbet and Ray Ottley came in to civilisation from ‘The Bush’.  As Donald Lamont was to comment in his felicitous Presidential remarks, quite a few of our visitors did not depart empty-handed.

After a glorious opening day, torrential rain on the Tuesday morning left the three top lawns waterlogged until lunchtime.  However the rain was not unwelcome to those who had played on lawns 4, 5 and 6, as it eased much of the bounce – we had seen several hurdling shots and at least one hop, skip and jump on Monday.

Drew Nisbet, in his maiden tournament in his first season, swept aside ‘B’s and ‘C’s alike in his events.  He was hardly extended in winning the Walter B. Laing Cup for high bisquers, and in the Big Handicap he disposed of two doughty opponents before succumbing to Carol Rowe.  His mentor and club captain might take his revenge in the handicapping committee, but other victims may not find it so easy to put him down on grass.

The Norton Hall quartet proved formidable opponents either as soloists or duos.  Peter Thompson and Caroline Hay lost – but only to players of the calibre of Rod Williams and Margaret Lauder respectively – in the first round of the Big Handicap, but were invincible for the rest of the week.  Caroline beat James Marshal in the Level Singles ‘Y’ final, and in his two finals, Peter defeated Mona Wright in the Milne Trophy and Allan Ramsay in the Level Singles Jubilee Salver – all close matches which the opponents enjoyed (almost) as much as the winners.  Together Peter and Caroline overcame Alastair Hunter and Margaret Lauder to win the Norton Wright Handicap Doubles Trophies.

Close encounters were the rule rather than the exception, and the adjudicators for the Lauder Bowl – awarded to the competitor who plays the most games without winning any event – also had a hard job.  In the end, Mary Fotheringham was a popular choice, her defeat in the Laing final just tipping the scales against Bill Masterton’s finals defeats by Malcolm Smith and Fred Mann in consolation events.

In the Edinburgh Cup (the Big Handicap) final, George Anderson, pondering about taking an early bisque, made the fatal mistake of underestimating Rod Williams’ ability to take a ball round on only his first turn; George fought hard but could not recover against a player whose unobtrusive consistency conceals real mastery of all the shots.  Earlier George had to struggle against the evergreen Mr McCulloch, who played his usual canny (and successful) game until tiring.

No praise can be too great for the lady members, players and non-players alike, who provided coffee and tea throughout the week.  A self-service bar was a new feature much appreciated, as were the twenty salad lunches daily prepared by Carol Rowe, who also had house guests, compete, and entertained almost all the competitors at the now-traditional Thursday evening party; she was also seen mopping up the surface water on Tuesday morning.  Alastair Hunter, aided by Rod Williams and George Anderson, staged 106 ties in the week, 21 more than last year; once again he made light of such problems as did arise in a very happy and friendly week, blessed (apart from Tuesday) by glorious sunny weather.

1984:

No report has been found.

19 – 24 August, 1985 (Report by D. Jesson-Dibley):

On a damp and chilly ‘summer’s’ day at Roehampton in early June, I was assured by a visitor to last year’s tournament at Edinburgh that I would not regret my planned week playing croquet in August beyond the Fringe of the Festival.  ‘Sporting people, sporting courts’, he said – not very sporting weather, he might have added.  But then, he wasn’t to know that this August was not to be as sun-blessed as 1984’s.  However, I came well prepared for rough weather to the six courts laid out in a corner of the vast playing fields in the grounds of Fettes College.  Closely mown, and revealing fewer topographical undulations than I had expected, I put my trust in a far-distant slope and the possibility of a few elastic hoops to behave sportingly in my favour.  They didn’t of course, because the courts were justly kind only to those who performed with consistent application and skill.  And that is just another way of saying that bad play brooks no excuse.

Among those who played with admirable consistency, and were ultimate winners of events, were three of my first four opponents: the President of the Club, Rev. A.D. Lamont, whom I sent on his winning way after he had confessed that he had won scarcely a game last year; George Anderson, who shot firmly through aluminium hoops on our court in exemplary fashion; and the Manager, Alastair Hunter, the only other exponent besides myself of side-stance play.  We seem to belong to a rapidly diminishing breed, but he proved that the stance can be as effective and, to my mind, more stylish than that of the run-of-the-mill swingers between the legs.  This was Alastair’s fifth and final year as Manager – he will be hard to replace.  That he was able to guarantee as many as eight singles matches for those who lost many more games than they won was a triumph of well-timed and genius administration.

The Captain of the Club, Lionel Fotheringham, took time off from behind the drinks counter and from fetching and carrying of refreshments in his car, to partner me in a doubles match.  His wife Mary, and Ian Wright, proved too good for us, as they did for all their subsequent opponents.  In the top bracket, Rod Williams from Glasgow was the clear winner – any A-class players who decide to cross the Border next year to challenge him will need to be on their mettle.

The wind blew, rain lashed horizontally across the courts in short, sharp showers, and from time to time the sun shone.  Spirits were never dampened.  We visitors (all but three from Scottish clubs) were sportingly and generously welcomed and entertained, not least by the non-playing Vice-President and his wife, Jimmy and Carol Rowe, who contributed their own fringe entertainment one evening – a barbeque supper for us all at their home.

Southerners, roll up next year!  For those of a certain age and more, good use may be made of rail concessions.  One is never too old to cross the Border or, indeed, to play croquet, as was proved by one tournament player and member of the club, Mr J.C. McCulloch, whose 91st birthday was celebrated joyfully at the end of a happy and companionable week.

18 – 23 August, 1986:

The main event on the Scottish croquet calendar got under way at Fettes College on Monday morning with a record number of entries.  Some 44 persons braved the capricious August weather of Edinburgh to do battle with mallet and ball.  It was encouraging to see larger numbers of visitors from south of the border take croquet alongside the usual strong Scottish contingent.  Old friends, the Willetts, Peter Thompson, Bill Masterton and Charles Waterfield were joined by a couple of ‘auld adversaries’, Terry Greenwood and Roy Weaver.  Two new faces in Brian Hallam (of whom much more later!) and David Appleton were welcomed.

As for the format of the tournament itself, five separate events run in parallel during the week, providing all levels of competition.  The prime event is the Cramond Cup for open advanced singles.  For those with lower aspirations (myself included) the Silver Jubilee Salver is played level to standard rules.  Three handicap events make up the rest, the Walter B. Laing Cup for handicaps eight and over, the Norton-Wright Trophies for handicap doubles, and finally the Edinburgh Cup for all comers with the Milne Trophy for losers in the first round.

In addition to providing plenty of good competitive croquet tucked away in the corner of Fettes College’s peaceful playing fields, the Edinburgh Tournament must offer the finest fare for après-croquet activities.  There is Festival Edinburgh abounding with vitality through the week, a big part at the Rowes’ one evening, and swimming available during the day – make sure you book early for next year’s performance!

It is clearly impossible to report on all matches in such a large tournament.  Of the 129 games played I have chosen a handful which I think would be of interest.

The first was a contest in the ‘Y’ section of the Big Handicap event between Rod Williams and Fred Mann, which gave an exciting finish.  Rod was trailing with both balls on hoop 6, with Fred on peg and penultimate.  Suddenly Rod conjured a break to peg, finishing by pegging out Fred’s ball.  With half an hour remaining Rod slowly eroded Fred’s lead, despite Fred shooting at any target left within view.  Eventually Rod arrived at rover with blue using Fred’s ball as pioneer, leaving black by the peg for the finish.  But even ‘A’-class players can stick in hoops, which Rod did leaving Fred a possible chance.  Fred went for the ball at rover but missed, ending near black in the middle of the lawn.  Rod shot hard at Fred with black but missed, finishing on the boundary beyond penultimate.  Fred merely took position at penultimate.  Rod elected to run rover at this point and shot at Fred, but he found one coat of paint too many on the peg and pegged himself out.  Fred ran penultimate, and after several near missed from Rod, continued to run rover.  Rod was now four yards away, but Fred shot and missed.  Rod’s gentle trickle to the peg hilled off, but Fred’s shooting let him down again, so Rod won +1.

Wednesday saw the start of the doubles event.  This year the numbers were swollen considerably by several ‘specialist’ pairings.  Malcolm Smith and Miss Anne Rutter were thwarted in the first round by the Bush Bandits, George Anderson and Allan Ramsay.  Mr McCulloch was seen to be swinging as smoothly as ever at the age of 92 alongside Miss Murray of Edinburgh; his mallet remains unblemished apart from a central worn patch.

One or two interesting pairings did emerge from the pool of single players.  Jean Morrison, the most experienced player on the lawns with a mere 84 years of croquet seasons beneath her belt, joined Brian Hallam, ½, the lowest handicap of the week.  Their game against the Hunter father and daughter duo, Alastair and Hazel, deserves comment.  The Hunters were well ahead with ten minutes remaining.  Hazel and Jean were each for hoop 6, with Alastair at 4-back.  Brian slowly made hoops, finishing with a five-hoop flourish that took him to the peg.  With his usual good hitting, Alastair regained the innings, and found himself running rover as time was called.  A lapse of concentration caused him to miss the return roquet, ending up near Jean, who took the golden opportunity to score the winning hoop.

Hallam and Morrison were beaten in the next round, but this did not appear to affect Brian’s confidence when it came to the singles; out of eleven games played he won ten, going down only to that spirited swiper of the ball, Philip Simpson, in the first round of the Big Handicap.  It was, after all, the first time he had seen the Fettes lawns!

Brian dominated the Open event with a fine demonstration of ‘A’-class play.  His closest match was against Rod in the Draw Section.  Rod was playing with panache, reaching 4-back and peg in two breaks.  Brian, on hoops 3 and 4, took the backward ball to 3-back, and followed up with a better break from hoop 4 to the peg, pegging out Rod’s ball in the process.  Rod hit the lift, scored 4-back, but, having failed to get position at penultimate, laid up in front of the hoop, wired from Brian’s nearer ball.  Unfortunately for Rod, Brian was reading the lawn well, and his gentle stroke curved nicely round penultimate to clip Rod’s ball; he finished off +3.

As is often the case with knock-out competitions, many of the finals lacked the excitement of a close struggle.  In the Big Handicap, Malcolm Smith, who had played superbly all week, had arrived at rover and penultimate before Terry Greenwood had taken croquet; Terry who had also shown good form earlier in the week, could not come back, and Malcolm won +23.  The Doubles Final, a wholly Bush affair, foundered in the doldrums for most of its time; Colin McArthur and Ralph Pirrie came out on top against Drew Nisbet and Ray Ottley when Colin came good with a late seven-hoop break.  Ralph Pirrie also featured in the Laing final where he dominated Mary Fotheringham to win comfortably.

Since Brian Hallam had won both Draw and Process, no final of the Cramond Cup was necessary.  The Silver Jubilee Salver was contested by old compatriots, David Warhurst and Corla van Griethuysen, two players clearly in form.  David was well ahead at half-time, but Corla came back with a well-constructed break to get to penultimate.  After more close play, Corla made the critical mistake, clunking rover to give David the innings, which he did not relinquish to win +5.

I echo some of the sentiments expressed by Club President, Donald Lamont, in his closing address: Fred Mann is to be congratulated for his pre-tournament labours in dealing with entries and bookings; Ian Wright’s vast experience as a tournament manager served to ensure the smooth running of the tournament; Rod Williams, ever in demand, must have walked miles from lawn to lawn to act as tournament referee; thanks also go to the lawn manager and labourers, Alastair Hunter, George Anderson and Allan Ramsay.  Lastly, but definitely not least, homage must be paid to the people behind the scenes for increasing my waist size by two inches – the ladies of Edinburgh Croquet Club, and bar manager Lionel Fotheringham.

17 – 22 August, 1987:

Included among the countless invaders who make their annual pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Festival is a small band of croquet players who choose to join battle with members of Scottish clubs, in an event omitted from the Festival brochures and guidebooks.  They know full well that this is not just a splendid occasion, but that it can display echoes of cultural happenings elsewhere in the City.  The cast which assembled at the alfresco venue of Fettes College, on five smooth but testing lawns, was drawn from the Edinburgh, Bush, Auchincruive, Glasgow, Dollar and Dunfermline clubs; Colchester, Bowdon, Norton Hall and Roehampton provided an English contingent.

Neither age nor youth were barriers to performing, as Jean Morrison has played for over eighty years; Fiona Hunter (aged 11) this year joined her sister Hazel in separate partnerships.  Audiences were naturally a little sparse for a Six-day Mime with Mallet and Ball, excepting of course Malcolm Smith’s faithful dog Shadow. Any theatre critic passing by would have appreciated certain familiar themes, nonetheless.

Tragedy.  In the Open Singles, Peter Thompson achieved peg and 4-back, but life is cruel – Rod Williams hit in, pegged out Peter, and emerged the eventual winner +3.

Drama.  The Doubles Final again saw Rod sweep round, peel his partner Corla van Griethuysen through penult and rover, pegging out his ball but not Corla’s, leaving Charles Waterfield and Peter Thompson on hoops five and six.  After many twists and turns of the plot, the latter pair snatched defeat from the jaws of victory:  Charles having pegged out, left Peter five feet from the peg – Corla hit in from the boundary!

Comedy.  On the one extremely wet day (perforce using the Lauriston lawn), Alasdair Adam chose to remove his waterproofs only moments before being drenched by a David Warhurst rush:  revenge came later in the form of an Alasdair jump shot, over a puddle, hitting a double far in the distance.

Music.  Apart from the Music-of-the-Spheres (to roquet makers), the only intrusions, one day, were bursts of bagpipe music(?) from nearby woodland – precisely when certain Sassenachs needed maximum concentration!  This underhand tactic had less effect on Fiona McCoig, seen to be restoring her customary calm with the aid of headphones and Pink Floyd.

Fringe events.  These included a predictably chaotic Golf Croquet session on lawn 5, and a mini-league, run and won by Malcolm Smith, for those who would have been in ‘Z’ events had there been any; this took place on what had earlier been named Flood’n’Field (referring to other contests long ago).

Stars of the Show.  These were of course additionally ‘rewarded’ by handicap reductions:  Rod Williams (1½ to 1), Peter Thompson (4 to 3½), Corla van Griethuysen (5 to 4½), David Warhurst (4 to 3½), Fred Mann (8 to 6½), Niall Smith (11 to 10), Brian Murdoch (13 to 11) and Ann Rutter (18 to 16).

Production.  The highly professional team who ran this tournament included George Anderson (manager), Rod Williams (‘andy capper) and Fred Mann (secretary).  Of the many backstage, applause was given to Fettes groundstaff, to those who set out the lawns, and to all those who furnished delicious food, not forgetting the annual party at Carol and Jimmy Rowe’s.

Miss Anne Murray presented the prizes, herself receiving a gift of silver teaspoons and life membership for twenty years as past Club Secretary.  An inscribed Quaich and life membership was bestowed on Mr J.C. McCulloch, twenty-one years the Treasurer.

15 – 20 August, 1988:

(Report by Norman Hicks)

The Edinburgh tournament has several advantages, not least of which is the attractive setting in the grounds of Fettes College, with the added benefit of access to the swimming pool for those with time to spare between games.  The tournament this year broke several records.  More competitors than ever before ventured over the border, coming from places as far flung as Ireland and the South of England.  One less welcome record was provided by the weather, which was much wetter than usual.  Players took to the lawns in wellingtons (or bare feet) and the courts were swept periodically to remove standing water.  Fortunately the final day of the tournament provided a break from the showers, and the closing matches, though played on damp lawns, were unrestricted by waterproofs.

The tournament provided some exciting competition, and for those players participating in their first event there was the opportunity to experience challenging and competitive croquet.  Players were also reminded of the hazards of being a referee: Rod Williams received a blow to the head and was presented with a crash helmet for future use.  Edinburgh provided excellent roquet and proved to be a memorable and friendly week; the Pendle contingent extend our thanks to all who took part and organised, and look forward to 1989 in the Festival City.

In the Open Singles event (Cramond Cup) Rod Williams won all his matches, though closely run in one or two. 

The Unrestricted Handicap Singles (Edinburgh Cup) saw a good finish between Hamish Hall of Bristol and Malcolm O’Connell, one of the Edinburgh Club’s rapid improvers.  The game proceeded nip and tuck for three hours until all four clips were on 1-back.  Then Hamish made too fine a cut-rush, leaving Malcolm able to establish a four ball break to get one ball to 4-back.  Hamish, having out a pioneer at 2-back, laid a rush to 1-back – alas he had overlooked that Malcolm was also for 1-back and still had a bisque.  He took this and carried on to the peg.  Hamish crashed into 1-back, but moments later, with five minutes to go, ran the hoop.  He proceeded to the south boundary to pick up Malcolm’s balls and go to rover; with only fifteen seconds left he laid a final rush for his second ball.  With time called, Malcolm was four ahead, but showed his sportsmanship by firing at Hamish rather than cornering; Hamish’s rush was not good enough and Malcolm won his first tournament trophy.

The final of the Double (Norton Wright trophies) was a titanic struggle of a few co-ordinated breaks but many gallant ‘hits’ and ‘scoops’.  Peter Thompson and Ralph Pirie’s judicious use of bisques forced Phillip Simpson (playing with Dave Arnot) to spend most of the game in a variety of wired positions around 1-back, but he compensated by hitting everything from everywhere.  Ralph and Peter eventually won +10 after a nail-biting last hour.

In Event 3, the 8 and over Handicap Singles (Jubilee Salver), the final was played in good spirit, with Vincent George and Niall Smith both enjoying short breaks and laying up well.  Despite the uneven surface of the lawn, both players had some good long roquets which kept the game alive and exciting.  Vincent established a marginal lead early in the game but a late break by Niall almost brought him victory.  As time was called however, Vincent’s lead remained and he won by 4.

After a slow start in the 12 and over final (Laing Cup), Ray Ottley had a smart break to 1-back and 4 with young Keith Coull on hoops 2 and 4.  Later Keith broke away to 1-back and 5 but Ray moved to peg and penult.  Keith rallied brilliantly to get to rover and 1-back, but in the process peeled Ray through penult.  Both had three stabs at rover but Ray finally slipped through and pegged out 9 points ahead after many nail-biting interruptions from Keith.

The final of the singles for 4 and over bisques (Wright trophy) was a marathon, and most of the other competitors had departed, probably expecting to see the final stages in 1989, before Richard Barnes finally triumphed +4 over Alastair Hunter well after 8pm.

14 – 19 August, 1989:

(Report by John Hearnshaw (New Zealand))

There must be few sports where teenagers can compete with octogenarians on equal terms.  But this is just what happened in the Edinburgh Croquet Tournament, which took place on the well-prepared (albeit sloping!) lawns of Fettes College in Edinburgh during the first week of the Festival.  The entry this year was 44 (equalling the record) and the fact that fourteen of these came from outside Scotland is testimony to the growing importance and popularity of this major Scottish tournament.  It seemed a pity that after nearly four months of unbroken sunshine the tournament was played in continuous blustery westerly gales that brought showers on five of the six days.  Swinging a mallet while being buffeted by squally gusts of air was no mean feat.  Nevertheless, thanks to the firm management of Malcolm Smith, some 140 games were played in six different events, with no time lost due to the weather.

The two big events were the unrestricted handicap singles (Edinburgh Cup) with 31 entries, and the handicap doubles (Norton Wright Trophies) with 18 pairs.  As should be the case in handicap events, it is the players who have improved the most since last being handicapped who have the edge.  There was no exception here, with young Graham Coull (Edinburgh) winning the singles final and John Beech & Phillip George (Pendle) taking the doubles.  Graham also won the restricted handicap event (8 bisques and over) and Phillip that for 11 bisques and over.  Both these players had well deserved handicap reductions at the end of the tournament.  Also Malcolm O’Connell convincingly won both draw and process in the event for handicap 4 and over; he has all the hallmarks of a future Scottish Champion.

The premier event is of course the open singles, and here there were nine entries.  From the first round results it would have been hard to pick a winner.  Rod Williams (Glasgow) and David Appleton (Newcastle) were the only players to win their first round matches in both draw and process, yet in the play-off it was Peter Thompson (Macclesfield) who beat Williams by one to take the Cramond Cup.  If ever there was a nail-biting cliff-hanger between two players and the clock, then this was it.  Peter bravely pegged his opponent’s river ball when he was on hoop 4 and Rod’s other ball was on rover.  Declining a three-ball break, he then stalked round to 2-back before Rod hit in and got position for rover, which he ran on his next turn.  But Peter kept going on his two-baller, making the last three hoops on his last turn to peg out just five seconds after time was called.

All croquet tournaments produce some unbelievable shots.  The prize for the most spectacular goes to Malcolm O’Connell, who ran penult and rover in a single stroke (yes, that is possible on a sloping lawn!); that for the most ignominious defeat to an anonymous contestant, who, expecting to win his match by four, in fact lost by one point after missing the peg from two yards in consecutive turns (the moral is: never assume a croquet match is won until both balls are pegged out!).

As a New Zealand visitor to Scotland for just one season, a few remarks on the Scottish scene generally may be in place here.  The standard of competition in Scotland is impressively high, especially as there are relatively few clubs and players north of the border.  I have been particularly impressed by the number of keen young players here with rapidly reducing handicaps, and by the fact that many players here think carefully about tactics as well as displaying a high level of skill.

Several features of Scottish croquet distinguish it from its kiwi counterpart.  Firstly there is the strange dearth of women players in Scotland (for instance, only 8 of the 44 Edinburgh Tournament entries were from women), whereas in most New Zealand tournaments the ladies would represent the majority.  Secondly, I found a significant difference in the handicapping scales adopted by New Zealand and Scottish handicappers, the difference being about two points at the higher end of the scale, but as much as four or six bisques for beginners, in the sense of the Scottish handicaps being higher.  This means that when two players of given but different abilities play a handicap game, the junior player would receive fewer bisques in New Zealand than here in Scotland.  My feeling is that too many bisques are given here, which possibly builds false confidence in the junior players and can be demoralising for the more advanced.

In New Zealand, handicap games are in any case comparatively rare and everyone learns the advanced rules as beginners.  Given the unreliability of many handicaps in both countries and the sharper competition that advanced play promotes, this is one feature of New Zealand croquet that I would like to see practised here.  I don’t accept that the paucity of croquet players in Scotland is any longer a reason for playing so many games on handicap.

Finally, let me say that I will go home with the knowledge of a strong and vigorous organisation for croquet in Scotland from the SCA down to club level.  Above all, it is the players themselves I will remember more than my games (often lost!).  It would be hard to imagine a more friendly fraternity of sportsmen and women than that of Scottish croquet.

13 – 18 August 1990:

(Report by Terry Greenwood, Wolverhampton)

Prologue

What a delightful way to spend a week: playing croquet in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, during a world-famous International Festival, with high quality food at prices within the reach of all tournament players.  It is a toss-up which city, Glasgow or Edinburgh, serves the best fish’n’chips in the UK, but, if your taste is of an exotic eastern flavour, then look no further than the Tandoori near Broughton Street; if you like the traditional carved meats, including venison, then try the Lauriston Farm Restaurant which has class and style; if you favour the pub atmosphere, then the Peacock at Newhaven has a lot to offer; and for those with a fishy taste, the Ship Inn by Leith Docks will suit your requirements.

Where does the croquet fit in?  It so happens that in between the Edinburgh nights are long stretches of daylight which can be made more pleasurable by playing croquet.  These hours are made even more enjoyable by the Scottish hospitality and humour which eliminates that intensity that shows through at many of the English tournaments, but still allows the competitive element to remain.

Setting the Scene

Besides the local Scottish contingent, the international flavour of the Festival with Anglo-Kiwis in the form of quiet Bob Fewtrell and his bubbling wife, Faith, Anita Quinn, an exile in Geneva, and Colin Dinwoodie, whose croquet career has been interrupted by an enforced stay in Paris.  Also, a big welcome back to one of yesteryear’s stars, the player who took the four ball break to Scotland, Roger Kemp, who tends to enjoy running up and down the mountains of Scotland as a pastime these days.

The weather on the Monday at Fettes College was bright and sunny, but thankfully we did not have the scorching temperatures of England.  However, due to some early successes by the English, the committee completed an ancient reel, which is practised in times of drought, in an effort to wash the English off the lawns on Wednesday and Thursday.  It did not work: we English are not soft; we had secretly flown up the rubber brooms from Southport.  Another reel was danced: this time an ancient Pictish god was summoned to send forth high winds on the Friday.  Whilst it moved stationary balls and twisted swinging mallets, we English battled on.  Thoroughly defeated, and to save their faces, the committee called up a glorious day for the Saturday finals.

The Edinburgh Cup

The unrestricted handicap event with its ‘X’ event in knock-out form was started on time.  Whilst many of us ‘stood and stared, building castles in the air’, Corla van Griethuysen and Rod Williams kept their feet firmly on both the dry and waterlogged lawns, and both made the final.  Corla demonstrated some fine technique in parts and allied this with fierce determination, and Rod produced Aiton-like precision croquet; however, Corla ran out an easy winner.

The Milne Trophy

This is for those who were unsuccessful in the ‘X’ event of the unrestricted handicap competition, and a Swiss was used, which provided hope for those inconsistent competitors with a handicap of 2 or 3.  Whilst they started well enough, it soon became evident that the gentle sloping lawns, which became rather wet, were ideal for the higher bisquer with their armament of bisques and uncomplicated version of the game.  Trying to rush from corner IV to hoop 1 or hoop 2 across the sodden surface and up the slope was almost impossible, and, for those that tried it, an act of hara-kiri (you can see that I feel sorry for myself).

The two successful players were Ian Wright and Faith Fewtrell, and they had to play a decider.  Ian’s form had improved as the week progressed, and, in disposing of your reporter, he had shown the form that had made him a respected opponent.  Only a triple peel was missing in this game.  Armed with two pieces of cotton wool, which looked suspiciously like ear plugs, a pair of sunglasses (it was a bright day), and a strong determination, Ian picked up the trophy.

The Cramond Cup

This open event saw Peter Thompson, a regular visitor, return to defend his title.  He had a comfortable win over Corla in the semi-final; the other finalist was Malcolm O’Connell.  The drying wind and worm casts had made reading the pace of the lawn difficult.  Both finalists showed some uncertainty on rushes and hoop approaches, but as Malcolm’s confidence grew, so did his lead.  Peter remained cool, never losing his style and eventually his hitting in and smooth, silky play gave a close victory.

The Silver Jubilee Salver

Basil Townsend, who had been giving a good account of himself all week, won through to the final to meet Bob Fewtrell.  Basil had won +12 in the Block encounter, but a more determined Bob was evident in the final.  However, he seemed to be more determined to clang hoops than run them, and never took the advantage, to lose by one on time.

The Walter B Laing Cup

This event always contains the new hopefuls and those established players who play for the fun of it; here we can reflect on the mistakes we made, such as joining up in the middle.  In an event of two-thirds ladies, it was left to Nigel Gardner and Tony Mann to save the men’s faces.  At the start, long hit-ins followed by those simple misses of a short distance were the main features.  However, once Nigel had lit his pipe, filled with his Balkan mixture, he settled down to an easy win.  The ‘Y’ section final saw Faith Fewtrell determined to make amends for her early failure in the ‘X’ event, and an equally resolute Anita Quinn; Faith took the match +5T.

The Norton Wright Trophies

The handicap doubles event always creates interest on finals day, and this was no exception.  The Williams & Murdoch pairing looked strong, and the only duo to give them opposition was Corla van Griethuysen & Basil Townsend.  The Greenwood & Weaver pairing found their passage to the final more difficult: against the very competent duo of Mann & Gardner, the end game was reminiscent of the Gunfight at the OK Corral when Weaver was left to shoot from the boundary at either the Gardner ball on or near the peg, awaiting that gentle tap, or the peg itself.  For technical merit, the final deserved 10/10, but for excitement it fell lower down the table as Greenwood & Weaver clamped on any danger.  A typical Williams run raised hopes, but Murdoch’s failure to utilise the bisques allowed the opponents a much easier win than expected.

Epilogue

It was a scoop by Fred Mann in obtaining the Chairman of Edinburgh Council’s Leisure Services Committee to visit the tournament and present the prizes.  This was followed by an encouraging comment by the visitor, who promised to pursue with vigour the improvements and expansion of the Edinburgh lawns at Lauriston Castle.  If this becomes a reality, this would provide Edinburgh with one of the most attractive venues in the UK: five lawns with a magnificent view over the Firth of Forth.

The last prize to be presented is rather unique: it is a wooden bowl, and the significant date for the holder is represented by a 20p coin.  It is given to the person who makes the most progress in all competitions but never wins anything.  Rod Williams was summoned for the second successive year to receive the wooden bowl, and it was then apparent why he had tried so hard not to win other events, and had successfully defended this highly prized trophy.

Whilst the tournament committee should be thanked, especially Basil Townsend for his wide array of drinks and his wonderful idea of the bar bill at the end of the week, a word of praise for Malcolm Smith and his managerial skills is appropriate.  No irate gestures, always a sense of humour, and problems of matches going to time and rain-soaked lawns were non-existent for him.  Best described as a mixture of Peter Dorke humour and Edgar Jackson efficiency.

19 – 24 August, 1991:

Not the Edinburgh Tournament Report

(An exercise in hidden names)

(Report by Fred Mann – the list of names is added at the end of the report)

Close to the New Town’s endless architectural delights, Fettes College is on the way to the Firth of the great river to name which would be too obvious for the solvers of this little summer’s puzzle.  Fortunately this year the arena did not suffer from a surfeit of water – fields were bright with sun beating down on the players’ whites, a really attractive decor.  Lawns were so fast as to induce a kind of awe – a very unusual sensation.  There was a relaxed atmosphere, almost that of a holiday camp.  Bells rang to signify coffee was ready, and the lunches and teas were first-class, although apple charlotte was invariably missing (unlike the eponymous competitor), and supplies never ran shawt.  The bar, not surprisingly, had ample stocks, especially of cider (why no perry?).

Walker mallets were less in evidence that Jacksons, Pidcocks and other mallet-wrights.  Grips included the Irish and the Solomon (a lot of players favour this), and Jaques balls alternated with Barlow, rightly an experiment to which a few were inclined to demur.  Do children (or maybe an adult who by nature is a belligerent player and is prepared to smash his mallet to smithereens) find them easier to lam on through the hops than some ‘touch’ players, who found it a d...ably difficult affair?  I think it all depends on the individual’s will – I am sure confidence plays a big part in hooping.

Cross words were rare, except for one player who’d brought a collection from The Times and a crib in the shape of the Synonym and Antonym Annual.  Talking of cribs, the youngest spectator was a continuous source of interest in her pram – ‘Say “cheese”’, the photographers would request, and she always obliged with a smile!  Ian was as Manager utterly successful – he’d have a great future as a professional MC.

Laugh? – line balls on the steeper slopes were often good for amusement.  As one player’s break was chuntering along (six hoops in a row, everyone thought he’d go to peg), he played the most delicate croquet stroke but sent off red – manna to his opponent, who was poised to go out from 3B.  As ill luck would have it, he promptly did the same.  His malison was only muttered, but the irreverent gallery made quite a din.  Woodier surroundings might have slowed some boundaries and induced less long-distance panic (a roll was almost impossible to get right) or at least cast some welcome shade under a tree: vespers time supplied some respite from the hot afternoon sun.

At the prize-giving, home competitors might have been tempted to revise ‘The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens’ – “Ye Englishmen steal a’ our Club goud ...” – i.e. a lot of trophies went south.  But pleasure had been gained passim.

PS on reflection, well I otta come clean and confess that including Christian names (except in a few cases) was a problem I couldn’t fathom.

PS on further reflection, I’d better add (hesitantly) that I’ve managed to comprehend – er – so nearly all of the competitors: I think none has been omitted.  I hope nobody is offended by the liberties I have taken with their names.

Answers (the names are in this order)

Townsend, Forth, Summers, Waterfield, Corla, Weaver, Campbell, Charlotte, Ranshaw, Arnot, Perry Walker, Wright, Mona, Wright, Murdoch, Isabel (Thompson), Smith, Lamont, Adam, Williams, Ant(h)ony Mann, Ramsay, Rutter, McLaughlin, Hunter, Rowe, Fred Mann, Basil, Alison (Thompson), Dinwoodie, Carol, Reeves, Goudie, Simpson, Elliott, Chris (Robertson), Thompson, Henderson.

And Now the Official Report

(Report by Mike Ranshaw)

Ian Wright’s meticulous management of the latest Edinburgh Tournament even extended to organising the weather.  Research into local meteorological records showed that the second week of the Festival was consistently much better than the third, the normal time for the tournament.  And so it was that 34 competitors gathered a week earlier than usual to do battle on the playing fields of Fettes College in glorious sunshine.  The sloping lawns have always been a prominent feature of this event, and they were accentuated by the fast playing conditions.  Judgement in negotiating the hills and valley around hoops, and particularly in approaching balls in corners, was crucial to success.  However, the Laws say nothing about the court being flat, and the challenges and new tactical possibilities that are offered can be quite fascinating for everyone but the purest of purists.  The hoops were all set tightly and firmly each day by Andy Campbell; this, with the use of unforgiving Barlow balls, resulted in a lot of unexpected blobbing.  Although clearly irritating for some people, this form of apartheid exercised by white hoops against coloured South African balls should have the benefit of encouraging a more technical and disciplined approach to hop running.

The play was dominated by Charlotte Townsend, who lost only one game in the whole week, and by David McLaughlin, whose handicap of 20 seemed fairly to reflect his ability at the beginning of the week, but as his nerves quickly learned from experience, and was observed, more than once, commiserating with defeated opponents while gathering up the unused portion of his forest of bisques.

Neither of these players competed in the Open singles event, not this year anyway, the likely outcome of which became clear early on when the holder, Peter Thompson, was beaten by the eventual winner, Rod Williams.  Peter did treat a small crowd to an exciting triple attempt against Colin Dinwoodie; on several occasions an apparently impossible situation was retrieved by a long hit or a big roll.  Even after roqueting his partner ball immediately after the straight rover peel, Peter continued his triple-or-bust policy by attempting a combination peg out: that is croqueting his ball very close to the peg and using his other two croquet shots to cannon it onto the peg.  Despite failing to do this he won +16 soon afterwards.  However Rod took the Cramond Cup for the sixth time, losing only his last game in the block after everyone else was out of contention.

In the second class event, the Ian H. Wright trophy for handicaps 4 and over, Phillip Simpson and Andy Campbell were responsible for the most tense endgame.  A second ball was pegged out on time to bring the scores level.  With both players for penult, the resultant one ball finish was a real cat-and-mouse affair around that hoop.  Phillip came out on top in the end, but was obviously shaken by the experience: in his following game he was so glad to reach the peg that he failed to peg out his second ball.  This was because its progress was obstructed by his pegged out ball which he had neglected to remove, thereby delaying victory by a turn.  During this entertainment, the serious croquet was being played by Alastair Hunter and Charles Waterfield who both won their blocks with solid, convincing play.  Charles won the final +14 by ensuring that he never risked giving anything to his opponent, with some very careful (if not over-cautious) play.

Seven people lined up to play event three (the Silver Jubilee Salver) as a single block.  Brian Murdoch lost only one of his games, that to the unbeaten block winner, Charlotte Townsend.  The other players had a fairly even share of wins.  This 8 and over event was played with bisques but to advanced rules (that is with lifts and contacts).  This format, while a valuable introduction to the advanced game for improving middle bisquers, very often leads to unrepresentative situations when a player is not confident enough to remove an opponent from baulk during a break, either refusing to run a lift hoop or conceding a good position to an opponent.  A full bisque version of this variant would allow players to experience something more akin to an A or B class game and, if the use of a bisque to hit in on a lift shot were prohibited, then proper lift leaves would be encouraged.

There were plenty of interesting games in the 11 and over handicap event (the Walter B. Laing Cup), with a mixture of newcomers and seasoned campaigners like Mona Wright and Donald Lamont.  Mona’s experience was certainly enough to ensure that she qualified as the first finalist.  This was in spite of the confusion of a twice pegged down game against Anne Rutter, resuming using both first and second colours.  The other block was headed by David McLaughlin who won all three games; he was made to work hardest by Donald, whose wiles and ruses were used to some effect to extract bisques, but eventually David’s determination saw him through to the final.  Nine of the thirteen matches in this event were decided on a time finish, but it is to the credit of both players that the final was played to completion within three hours, with David gaining a well deserved +12 win.

In previous tournaments, getting to the later stages of the unrestricted Big Handicap was a matter of physical endurance as much as anything else: the requirement was usually to win three matches on a wet and windy first day that finished about 9pm.  This time, the playing conditions meant that people survived or were banished to the consolation Swiss on playing ability alone.  At the semi-final stage the Townsends’ collective unbeaten record was destined to end: Basil in fact lost to Charlotte in the confrontation of the week.  Brian Murdoch, who is being allowed out by his wife a lot more this year, had a very good run which was ended as Dave Arnot pipped him to a place in the final.  Dave then took full advantage of some rare lapses by Charlotte (who used her bisque to little effect), and he carried off the tiny Edinburgh Cup after a 23 points victory.  The play off at the end of the Swiss (for the Milne Trophy) was won by Charles Waterfield, who made short work of Roy Weaver.

Traditionally the final of the handicap doubles for the Norton Wright Trophies on the last afternoon attracts a lot of attention.  David McLaughlin & Rod Williams had breezed through their half of the draw, as many people had expected.  Their opponents, Charlotte Townsend & Anne Rutter, had a more difficult time in reaching that stage, but, if their form of the rest of the week could be repeated, they were likely to make a close game of it.  Nerves were apparent from the start when Rod missed a perfect triple target on the east boundary on the fourth turn.  However the game proceeded – slowly, but enlivened when Charlotte ‘peeled’ her partner ball with a half bisque.  Charlotte made the running to ensure that her side had a substantial lead when the last bisque finally fell, ably supported by Anne who demonstrated an economical style, saving her hoop running for when it really mattered.  David played well but didn’t always make the best use of the opportunities Rod left him.  Rod was left to make 2-back to the peg in the last turn with the opponents’ balls in corners III and IV.  Having successfully rolled out of the corner to make 3-back he failed to get a useful rush and was left to repeat the roll out of corner III, this time without success.  Had he succeeded at that stage, he would probably have completed an exciting victory, but it was the two ladies who took the match by two points.

There were many people involved in the smooth running of a very enjoyable tournament.  Special thanks have to go to Ian for managing the event, to Basil Townsend for his well stocked bar, and to the ladies of the Edinburgh club who provided superb lunches and teas each day.  Those who have experienced the friendly atmosphere, the happy-go-lucky croquet of the week at Fettes and the excitement of Edinburgh during the Festival could have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone for the future.

17 – 22 August, 1992:

(Report by Donald Lamont)

As usual six events were played on Fettes College Sports Field; Ian Wright was Manager, Malcolm Smith Handicapper and George Anderson Referee.  Thirty-six players took part – of these seventeen were members of the Edinburgh clubs, five came from other Scottish clubs, nine from English clubs, two from Jersey, one from Australia and two from France.  The Tournament operated under the SCA’s Automatic Handicapping System, which is identical to that of the CA, except that handicaps were adjusted at the end of each day’s play – this was appreciated by players because rapid improvers were not such complete bandits in the last day or two of the Tournament.

The Cramond Cup was handsomely won by John Greenwood, who not only beat his other four Open Singles opponents by double figures, but, in his 26-0 45-minute game against Charles Waterfield, he produced the first triple peel in any of the 22 annual Edinburgh Tournaments.  Apart from putting his balls into play, Charles sadly only got two unproductive shots.

France was unusually represented by the Dourthe brothers who had played in the SCA v France International Match over the previous weekend.  The two, Rodolphe and Boris, carried all before them in the three events which they had entered.  Thus they departed with the maximum number of trophies.  In the Advanced Level Singles – handicaps 4 and over – each block was won by one of them, and it was the older Rodolphe who beat his brother in the final, to win the Wright Trophy.  It was much the same in the Big Handicap for the Edinburgh Cup in which Rodolphe reached the final after swamping Charles Waterfield and then easily disposed of Boris who had reached that stage through narrow wins in the first two rounds, and more comfortable wins in the later stages.  However, Charles had had the satisfaction of winning 26-0 in the third round, beating, surprisingly, John Greenwood. 

In the Handicap Doubles final the Dourthe brothers won the Norton Wright Trophies comfortably, outclassing Donald Lamont and Ruth Goudie after the latter had made a promising start.  The runners-up, who had reached the final with smallish wins, were fortunate in their first round tie when in danger of being overtaken.  John Greenwood had reached the peg and now placed his partner Rodney Parkins’ yellow ball in easy position for hoop 5 with his own alongside.  Donald, shooting at the red from near hoop 6, was off the mark, but hit yellow by running its hoop in reverse.  Nor in the first match of those Doubles was the element of surprise lacking, with Charlotte Townsend and Anne Rutter (the 1991 champions) playing against Terry Burge and Chris Robertson.  Charlotte had pegged out Terry and the game was level; Chris had just stuck in a hoop off Charlotte’s ball when time was called.  Charlotte attacked carefully to avoid peeling Chris’s ball.  She took croquet but was penalised due to the balls not having been in contact and they were replaced.  Not realising that his ball had become ‘in hand’ Chris ran the hoop from where it lay in contact with Charlotte’s, but that hoop didn’t count and he lost the opportunity to clinch the match.  However another chance followed shortly when Anne unluckily afforded Chris a lift.  Chris struck, got his hoop and a sudden death win.  The irony for Charlotte was that, as she discovered later, although it was a handicap game she could have won by pegging out her own ball, as she had already pegged out Terry’s.

The unexpected was not lacking in other games which contained incidents causing surprise, amusement or annoyance, depending upon whose viewpoint was considered.  In the Wright Trophy (advanced play for handicap 4+), Malcolm Smith shot from the boundary straight at Fred Mann’s ball in nearby 2-back.  On reaching the hoop Malcolm’s ball leapt over Fred’s, leaving it untouched, and passed clean through the hoop.  Also, with Alasdair Adam playing against George Anderson in the same event, Alasdair’s inaccurate shot aimed at blue in corner IV from near hoop 5 glanced off that hoop and thus deflected actually hit the blue.  The game between Alasdair and Ian Wright produced an exciting finish.  The former had reached penult and peg with Ian on hoop 3 and hoop 4.  Nevertheless Ian seized the initiative, and although Alasdair hit in with the lift after 4-back, Ian replied in kind and pegged out Alasdair’s ball.  Ian was now in control, and despite Alasdair’s resistance, he won by +3.

Although Stuart McKendrick had won each of his games in the Jubilee Salver (handicaps 8+) by a small margin, and Peter Smith had won his easily in the other block, the final result was another cliff-hanging win – for Stuart.  There was a close contest in the Laing Cup (handicap 11+) with Ruth Goudie winning all her six games, two very narrowly.  Rodney Parkins was a good runner-up with only one defeat, by one on time to Ruth, and with nearly as many points as Ruth had collected.  Thanks to the Swiss event, provided for those who had been eliminated in the first three rounds of the Big Handicap, winners and losers got plenty of games.  Peter Smith emerged as winner of all four rounds of the Swiss to take the Milne Cup, and was one of those who had their handicaps suitably lowered.

We were much indebted to Mrs Jythe Murdoch for her outstanding labours in providing on each of the six days lunches of high quality with food of great variety.  We are also grateful to all the helpers whose various efforts on our behalf ensured that morning coffee, lunches and teas were served, and likewise we than those who contributed to the tea-bread.  Not least of course, our thanks are due to the Manager, Handicapper and Referees, and to Stella Summers, the Tournament Secretary and Bar Manager, for their valued services.  These all contributed so significantly to the undoubted success of the Tournament, and the weather happily obliged.  The Tournament was concluded with the presentation of the various trophies and prizes by Mona Wright.  Thankfully we noted that she had been making a good recovery from the recent ailment which had prevented her from playing.

16 – 21 August, 1993:

(Report by Ian Wright)

42 entries

The Edinburgh Tournament was again played on the cricket field of Fettes College, each of the five courts having its own distinctive slopes – some subtle and some severe.  The only common factor was that a long take off to an opponent in corner IV on any court was a distinctly hazardous venture. The weather on Monday and Tuesday was brilliant sunshine – one out player was even seen using an umbrella to keep the sun off!  The strong west wind, so familiar at Fettes, returned in the middle of the week and became an additional hazard.  Colin Dinwoodie stuck in hoop 3 and then, after putting his clip on the hoop, watched his ball being blown through by a gust.

The 42 entries were well up on last year and it was especially pleasing to see so many very high handicap players, both from the Edinburgh club and also from the neighbouring Bush club, playing in the tournament for the first time.  Although several had club handicaps of 24 and 26, some, especially Stella Summers, Betty Blaikie and Fergus McInnes, acquitted themselves well against opponents with very much lower handicaps.  When they lost it was often by a very close margin.  In fact a feature of the tournament was the high number of very close games.  No fewer than 20 games ended +1, mostly on time, and in quite a few of those the winning point was scored in extra time.  In another 19 games the winning margin was only two or three points.

Edinburgh Cup (the Big Handicap)

Monday was devoted to the Edinburgh Cup – the ‘X’ of the Unrestricted Handicap Singles.  The ‘Y’, the Milne Trophy, was played as a Swiss – this was for first round losers in the ‘X’, but second and third round losers also entered, bringing their wins in the ‘X’ with them.  There were a few surprises.  David Shipston (0) from Australia found the combination of giving 14 bisques to Peter Smith and coping with the severe and varying slopes of Court 3 just too much. 

A few more games in the Swiss were played after the Doubles on Wednesday and then Thursday was devoted to these two events.  By the end of that day the big handicap had become a middle bisquers event with Peter Smith (now 12) due to meet Nigel Gardner (9) in one semi-final, and Donald Lamont (12) to play Brian Murdoch (7) in the other.  Friday saw Nigel scrape through with a sudden death +1 on time win, and on Saturday he took the cup with another +1 on time win over Donald Lamont.

Cramond Cup and Ian Wright Cup

Class events started on Tuesday.  These were all played as blocks.  At the end of the day the Open Singles (Cramond Cup) was wide open, and when play finished on Friday the issue was still in doubt.  David Shipston had won three games out of four and Alastair Hunter two out of three.  On Saturday Alastair needed to beat Ian Wright by seven to take the Cup.  Alastair started well and soon had a clip on 4-back, but Ian finally got his act together and took the game, much to David’s relief.

The six players in the Ian Wright Cup were divided into two blocks with each playing the other two twice to give them four games.  This was for handicaps 4 and over and was played to advanced rules. At the end of Tuesday each player in block ‘A’ had won one game and lost one, but Andy Campbell had won both of his in the other block.  On Friday Norman Hicks made sure of block ‘A’ with two good wins and Andy remained undefeated in block ‘B’.  However Norman was determined in the play off to end Andy’s run of wins and, after a good battle, he took the game and the cup.

Silver Jubilee Salver

There were two blocks of four in the Silver Jubilee Salver, for those with handicaps 8 and over.  This was played to advanced rules but with bisques. This was the third year that this format has been used for the event and it caused no problems.  True, some lifts were forgotten, but then your scribe did the same in the Open Singles!

At the end of play on Tuesday both blocks had someone with two wins – Ruth Goudie in block ‘A’ and Peter Smith in block ‘B’.  On Friday Ruth played Stuart McKendrick and won +9.  Peter Smith, however, had a tougher match against Donald Lamont and scraped home +1 on time.  After an epic struggle on Saturday Ruth added another game to the tournament ‘plus one on time’ total and took the title.

Walter B. Laing Cup

In the Walter B. Laing Cup, for those with handicaps 11 and over, there was one block of five players and two of four.  John Blaikie in block ‘Bwas the only one to have two wins on Tuesday, but the picture cleared as Friday progressed.  In block ‘A’ Dianne Dunn of Himley Hall and Chris Robertson of Surbiton and Edinburgh had both won three games, each narrowly losing their one game (-3 and -1 on time respectively), but Chris had a net points total of 21 to Dianne’s 16.

In block ‘C’ Tony Brightman had a clean sweep of three wins, but in block ‘B’ John Blaikie, Joe Henderson and Jamieson Walker each had two wins; Joe’s net points total of 13 was enough to give him the block.  Having played one more game in his block than the others had, Chris Robertson got a bye to the final, while Joe and Tony contested the semi-final on Saturday morning.  This was won by Tony +6 on time who then in the final won by a similar score over Chris, but this time within the three hour time limit.

Handicap Doubles

The Handicap Doubles got under way on Wednesday morning without any double banking, to the relief of many competitors!  Handicap doubles always means mid-court conferences, and many were to be seen that day.  Why do competent players take five minutes discussing what to do, and then do what they would have done almost automatically in singles, just because they are playing doubles?  It is one of the minor mysteries of croquet.

In two first round games Phillip Simpson and Dave Arnot from Auchincruive, and Andy Campbell (Edinburgh) and Brian Murdoch (Bush) disposed of their opponents by fairly big margins within time.  But the other games all went to time, and the scores, +1T, +1T, +2T, +3T and +5T, spoke of worried mid-court conferences and nail-biting finishes.

The semi-finals, which started the day on Friday, showed the extremes of handicap play.  The top handicapped pair, Tony Mann from London and Joe Henderson of Edinburgh, with 33 bisques between them, met the lowest, David Shipston from Australia and Norman Hicks from Pendle, who shared 6 bisques.  The massive fence was not enough protection and David and Norman won +11.  In the other semi-final, Colin Dinwoodie and George Anderson (12) of Bush met Andy Campbell (Edinburgh) and Brian Murdoch (Bush) (12).  As both pairs had the same joint handicaps no bisques were involved.  Colin and George squeezed home +3 on time.  Saturday’s final, which started as always immediately after lunch, was a good game which was won convincingly by David Shipston and Norman Hicks.

Individual handicap changes

The week brought the usual crop of handicap changes, nine players going home with fewer bisques and four with more.  When Norman Hicks, from Pendle, lost one on Wednesday, he said that he had been trying to get down to 6 for four years and now he had done it.  But he continued his winning ways and lost another one on Saturday.  Ruth Goudie was another one who lost one bisque in the middle of the week and another by the end.  The Bush club had been uncertain whether to send their beginner, Tony Brightman, to the tournament on a handicap of 18 or 16, and chose 16; by the end of the week he was down to 14 and had won his class event.

The Scottish Croquet Association variation of the Automatic Handicapping System, in which handicaps always change at the end of the day, whatever the event, has proved to be a good one.  It means a few minutes extra work for the Handicapper every day, but the frustration of having to meet an opponent who is clearly playing below their handicap has almost disappeared.

The first duty of the Manager is to end the tournament at five o’clock on Saturday afternoon and the second is to make sure that the entrants enjoy the tournament.  I very nearly achieved the first (the last game ended at 5:10) and I hope I was successful with the second.

1994:

(Report by David Appleton)

Fringe Activities

The annual Edinburgh tournament is held at Fettes College to coincide with the first week of the Festival.  Since croquet is generally regarded as a fringe activity, this seems entirely suitable.  This year visitors were welcomed from Surbiton, Wrest Park and Pendle; possibly because the West Midlands had played the SCA at Bush only a couple of weeks before, some regular attenders from there were missing.  The handicap range of the 35 participants was from 2 to 20 with an encouraging number of new and improving players, mainly from the Edinburgh and Bush clubs.  Over 100 games were played in the main competitions, as well as a number in the consolation event for those eliminated from the big handicap tournament, which was played as a knock-out.

Brian Murdoch was the winner of the handicap singles, beating David Farmer in the final.  He skilfully contrived to keep winning in that event despite losing nearly all his games in his open singles block, which was the one which provided most interest, and eventuality which could have been predicted as the seven players all had handicaps between 4½ and 7 at the start of play.  Three players in fact each won five of their six games and Norman Hicks was awarded the Ian Wright trophy by virtue of having a net advantage of 71 hoops compared to David Farmer’s 70; Andy Campbell was third.  None of the games between these three players was decided by more than two points; the quality of play in his block augurs well for the future of Scottish croquet.

The senior block (for the Cramond Cup) was headed convincingly by Colin Dinwoodie who won all his games, albeit two of them only by +1T.  John Beech persisted in excessive generosity to his opponents by forgetting he was giving away lifts at crucial points in several games, and the more fancied players, David Appleton and Rod Williams, never came to terms with the conditions which were actually quite difficult: the notorious slopes were particularly trying on the first day before rain slowed them down somewhat; strong winds affected swings; changing from Jaques to Barlow balls from game to game caused some problems; and the mixture of types of hoop on lawn 1 caused extra problems to those few who persisted too long in trying to run hoops with control.  Despite the lawns being somewhat undersized, almost one-third of the games went to the 3½ hour time limit.

Players in the handicap range from 8 to 14 played for the Silver Jubilee Trophy.  Brian Medley and Tony Brightman won all their games in two blocks of five, and Brian won the play off.  The ten players with handicaps 16 and over who competed for the Walter B. Laing Cup played in a similar format, with Jamieson Walker beating Fergus McInnes in the play off.  Jamieson’s wins were all by at least 18 points.  It was good to see some of the less experienced players in this last group improving noticeably through the week and putting several bisques to good use to build breaks.

As always the handicap doubles were entertaining, not least a close game between Jamieson Walker and Maria Limonci, highest handicapped with a total of 40 bisques, against the lowest pair, David Appleton and Brian Murdoch.  In the final, Nigel Gardner and Stuart McKendrick could not quite hold Colin Dinwoodie and Tony Brightman.  The consolation event was won by Norman Hicks, and the prize for playing best without winning a trophy went to David Farmer.

One aspect of the week must not pass without comment, and that is the standard of the catering.  There was morning coffee and biscuits; an excellent three course lunch with splendid homemade soup and a choice of hot or cold main course, with biscuits and cheese and coffee as an option or even an addition to the sweet; and afternoon tea with sandwiches and cakes.  This cost the embarrassingly low sum of £3 per day – if this is not the best value for money on the British croquet circuit, please let me know which club beats it.

Another event which does not often take place was the signing of a card to be sent to one of the Edinburgh Club’s founding members on the occasion of his hundredth birthday – best wishes from us all, Mr McCulloch.  And a word of thanks, of course, to the Edinburgh Club for their organisation of this most enjoyable week of sociable croquet, particularly to Ian Wright for his computer-controlled management.

August, 1995 at Fettes College:

(Report by Michael Mills, Australia)

Edinburgh Friendly Fettes Festival Croquet Competition – an Australian’s View

Last year a croquet playing sailor wandered into my croquet club in Manly (Sydney, Australia) and, among other things, Nigel Gardner told me about the E.F.F.F.C.C.  Well, no-one who plays and enjoys our beloved game of croquet should miss the opportunity of experiencing the excitement and challenge of ‘crown’ croquet as offered in the E.F.F.F.C.C.  The exponents of bowls in the U.K. will be well aware of the skills needed to succeed in this environment: but unfortunately I had not yet mastered the techniques before I found that for me, the games were over.

Meanwhile I have been delighted by the warmth and generosity (except on the courts) of the welcome I have received in Edinburgh; it was a bit of a shock to, travel 16,000 miles from Sydney to be beaten (26-25) in my first match by a ‘neighbour’ from New Zealand; Bob Fewtrell in his turn met an 18-bisquer who not only double peeled but 26’d him – well played, Fergus McInnes.  After missing NO ROQUETS for most of her game against me Charlotte Townsend (TPF) had reached the peg with white and penult with pink; then she made THREE CONSECUTIVE MISSED ROQUETS!  This allowed me to creep from four to nine hoops before she put me out of my misery!

With a combined age of 170+, a combined total of 33 bisques, and a combined resource of unlimited experience and ‘sneakiness’, Mona Wright and Donald Lamont bludgeoned Malcolm O’Connell and Chris Robertson, and then Jolyon Kay and myself, out of the doubles.  I am happy to report that they finished up in the final against Jamieson Walker and Maria Limonci.  Donald played a total of 15 games in the week, all but one going to time.  He reached two finals, and very deservedly won the Lauder Bowl for the player getting the furthest without winning anything – not bad for an 87-year-old!

During the week I had the pleasure (and misfortune) to meet a 7-bisquer (Charlotte) who made a nine hoop break against me, and a 12-bisquer (Peter Smith) who made a seven hoop one!  I can’t even make the excuse that the ‘lawns were against me’ as most of my opponents were playing on the same lawn as I was at the time!

There can be no doubt that I, and most of the contestants with whom I spoke, thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and spirit of the 1995 E.F.F.F.C.C.  It would be remiss of me not to mention the organisers – the magnificent catering; the calm, efficient and helpful manager, Ian Wright – and to say a big THANK YOU to all involved.  I look forward to getting my ‘revenge’ on all of you when you join me at our (Manly) Annual Sea Breeze competition held during the first two weeks of October, or when I return to Edinburgh.

1996:

(Report by Charlotte Townsend)

Phew, What a Scorcher – but Watch Out for RoTtweilers

On waking up on Monday morning I realised that the sick building syndrome known to afflict croquet players staying in my house was finally taking a toll on me.  It appeared that Edinburgh was drowning in sunshine – and it was Fettes Week.  I tried to go back to sleep and see if rationality had returned an hour later – but it didn’t work.  The strange delusion persisted throughout the week.  No need for thermal underwear, no huddling under blankets beside the lawn with strange (some very strange!) men, no wondering whether I would still be able to move if I put on another jumper under my waterproofs.  The only use found for umbrellas all week was to avoid the sun – could this really be Fettes?

Perhaps it could.  Malcolm O’Connell tells me that he overheard a secret committee meeting discussing whether to advertise the tournament next year as a hill walking competition for croquet players (with a special prize for ascending the quarry side at corner IV of lawn 4).  Additional hazards this year included ever-increasing speeds on the lawns (although some players, like myself, found that as the heat increased, our speed of play decreased), Barlow balls that softened into toffee-like puddings as the heat rose and some dubiously legal hoops.  President’s settings are one thing – President’s hoops at a 45 degree angle on top of a hill are another!  However, as we always say at Fettes, it’s the same for all of us.  (But of course, as Mrs Gummidge in David Copperfield would have said, ‘I feel it more than other people’.)  Yes, I became convinced that it was Fettes.

Old Friends

One of the joys of Fettes each year is seeing the people you lost to last year, who remember losing to you.  This year we had our regular visitors and some new faces – Chris and Gladys Johnson, Jolyon and Shirley Kay, Sharon Wood and Brian Rees, Paul Campion and Douglas Gurney, Dee Dennett, John Beech – any more I’ve forgotten? It’s truly remarkable that year after year these people (and us locals) return to be beaten by the lawns.  And some people even enjoy being beaten – an anonymous contributor to this article said his day had been made by Gladys winning a game against him!

But where did the RoTtweiler come into all of this?

A RoTty’s Lot...

RoTty was relatively unobtrusive at first, growling a little at crushes, or snarling from the sidelines as I slouched onto the lawn with only five minutes to time.  (Which reminds me: should any of you be tempted to have discussions about puddings on the lawn when only five minutes are left in your timed game, and you’re winning by about one hoop, it really isn’t on – I apologise, Douglas!)  RoT (Rod Williams) looked on impassively as John Beech had his ball grabbed, first after Marjorie mistook it for a ball in hand, and latterly as a puppy decided to take it away to another lawn.  He remained unmoved as balls were moved around to avoid lawn one’s mascot, Albert the Bumblebee, who was escorted repeatedly from the lawns, but invariably staggered out yet again to lawns 1 and 2, narrowly to avoid death by croquet ball, feet, or exhaustion.

Albert and the puppy demonstrated some of the problems which confront a referee.  It was generally acknowledged that the puppy must represent an outside agency (see Law 34(1)(b)).  But did Albert?  And what if one of us had roqueted Albert?  Would our natural grief in the circumstances have meant that we should have been allowed to replay the next three shots?

‘Time, Gentlemen Please’

A contentious decision was that in an early game Malcolm O’Connell and Stella McCraw had beaten (some might say thrashed) RoT and me in the first round of the doubles.  Was this wise?  Could they expect any further wins after this?

Their next game was against Ruth Goudie and Peter Smith and the outcome was hanging in the balance when time was called.  Peter was in play and the score was level.  Malcolm took his turn and stuck in the hoop which would have won the game.  Nigel Gardner was called on as referee for the next shot and was asked whether Ruth and Peter could now take a half bisque which they had not taken before time was called.  He asked if they were playing during ‘extension time’ and when Ruth and Peter said they were, he said they couldn’t.  (Handy note – if asked about something when you don’t understand the terminology, get it clarified.  I don’t (or didn’t) know the term ‘extension time’ (or ‘extension period’) – do you? – see Regulation 13(c)(2).)

They shot at Malcolm’s ball, missed, and Malcolm made the hoop in the next turn.  Congratulations all round, but Malcolm asks as they begin to walk off why they hadn’t taken the half bisque.  RoT is called as they reveal that they were told they couldn’t, and he rules that they were misled.  Their last turn is replayed, they dislodge Malcolm’s ball, and they win the game.  RoT is demoted, in some quarters, to RoTten.  Many discussions follow, but I shall comment no further since all six parties involved are liable to sue.

But I’ve Got a Turn Left!

Many of these incidents seem to involve the same people.  Is there a conspiracy?

Stella and Jamieson Walker had all four balls for the peg in the Big Handicap.  Stella had a rush on her own ball towards the peg – bam! the rushed ball hit the peg.  She threw it off the lawn and went back to partner ball (at this point RoT stirred a little) and did a magnificent final shot to hit the peg.  Wild applause all round (from me too, though I did wonder how I’d failed to notice that the previous shot had been a croquet shot) except from RoT.

Jamieson and Stella walk off the lawn, with Jamieson making gentlemanly noises about how well she’d played.  Stella begins to describe the last turn, and says something about ‘and I rushed it right onto the peg’ and I say ‘yes, you did rush it didn’t you?’.  Stella goes pale and calls RoT, who confirms that it is too late to do anything about it.  Stella has won and Jamieson tries to work out how her turn could be over when he hadn’t started his next turn (See Law 18(a)(3)).  RoT eats lunch alone.

C’m Here, There’s More...

Oh no.  Not Malcolm again.  And no, RoT couldn’t be involved?  ‘Fraid so.

John Beech appeared to be having an easy ride against Malcolm in the game on the final day to decide second place in the elite ‘Cramond Cup’ (you know, the one we’re none of us ever going to be good enough to play for).  RoT really had nothing to worry about here since he’d already won it – but that lost doubles game was obviously still rankling.

Malcolm made a late comeback, and ended up with victory in sight, joining up on the east boundary.  John had one ball for peg and one for 3-back.  Malcolm ended up at East Wittering – at least ten shots windscreen-wipering at the east boundary.  John finally ran penult from an earlier shot which had left him stuck in the jaws, and ended up just beyond penult.  The shock of running the hoop was too much for him and he walked off the lawn without taking his continuation shot.  Malcolm was clearly going to win on the next turn.  But, what was this?  Malcolm asks John ‘I take it you’ve deemed your continuation shot taken?’  John gasps, and realises that he had another shot.  RoT is consulted and puissantly suggests that Malcolm was correct to point out John’s error, and that John can continue.  He offers to consult the rules, but Malcolm concedes.  John plays on and wins the game.

...And More Referees Than Players?

A huddle of referees eventually decides that in fact, John was taking advantage of Malcolm’s advice and should have left the shot where it was.  John offers to concede the game, or replay it.  RoT rules that the game is over and John has won.  The pit bull terrier in Malcolm begins to sharpen its teeth with a view to doing something nasty to RoT.  Sarcastic comments such as ‘act of RoT’ begin to be used.

Still, if it was an act of RoT, God on the whole seemed to be on the side of RoT.  Maria, who later (allegedly) took eight bisques to go through hoop 1 against Malcolm, beat Nigel +26 (an unusual if not quite unique feat on these lawns).  Rod then had great difficulty beating Nigel (at 5, much the highest handicap in the block).

Acknowledgements and Apologies

Your commentatr intended to gather more information about more games when she received the instruction (oops, sorry, invitation) to write this article.  However, numerous obstacles (sloth, cooking, sloth, providing entertainment, sloth, hangover, sloth, occasional games of croquet and sloth) prevented her from doing so.  Apologies to everyone whose superlative play, or lack of it, I’ve forgotten to mention.

And thanks to everyone who made Fettes another enjoyable tournament to remember – Ian Wright for managing it (and for producing the results), Sheila Crearie for all the hard work of being tournament secretary, etc., etc.  Gosh, and me for writing it up – well done, Charlotte!

Letter from the CA Laws Committee

A later Bulletin published a letter from the Laws Committee Chairman, Bill Lamb, originally sent to the CA Croquet Gazette (which had also published this report).  In it he suggested that the referee ought to have ascertained the state of the game in general terms rather than asking about ‘extension period’, that being a technical term not readily understood.  He confirmed that the game had indeed finished after both players had quit the lawn under the impression that it had, and that a spectator referee could not intervene under the particular circumstances.  Finally he confirmed that Malcolm had to inform John that his turn was not complete, and that it was nonsense for the huddle of referees to decide that John had taken advantage of advice from Malcolm.  3-0 to the RoTtweiler!

11 – 16 August, 1997:

(Report by John Beech)

‘Beyond the Fringe’ – the Edinburgh ‘Festival’ Tournament

Champion Peeler?

The talk of the Tournament was around the question posed by the Manager on the first day’s play, after he watched a first round game in the Edinburgh Cup (the Big Handicap) – ‘Has Donald Lamont done more peels than Robert Fulford?’  The general view was ‘probably’, bearing in mind that Donald has been playing croquet for seventy years!  Mind you, he did get beaten by a 1½ with four bisques still standing!  Never mind, Donald, you’re brilliant at almost 90 still competing in tournament croquet – is this one for The Guinness Book of World Records?

All Comers

As usual there was a good entry, and players from Sidmouth, Bristol, Lansdown Bath, Blewbury, Newport Essex, Ealing and Pendle joined the Scottish regulars from Bush, Auchincruive, Dunfermline, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Fettes slopes are always exciting and this year was no exception.  The bunker on Lawn 1 had been considerably enlarged, in an attempt to modify the advantage of the A-class player.  With the final eclipse of Jaques balls, the Committee may like to consider promoting this policy by playing with Walkers!  (The scoring could include points for the length of rushes – measured in lawns!)

Cramond

The Cramond Cup was won by Brian Murdoch in a ‘Saturday’ final which could have produced a winner from those not playing!  In the event Brian deserved his victory over Peter Thompson from a game which produced some good break play.  John Beech was runner-up.

Ian Wright

Advanced play for 4+ handicap players saw Jim Potter, unbeaten in the block, win the Ian Wright Trophy with 5 from 5.  Joint runners-up Stuart McKendrick and George Anderson had 3 from 4, but Stuart had the hoop point advantage.

Silver Jubilee

The Silver Jubilee Salver, handicap singles for 8+, was won by Jamieson Walker with 5 from 5, with Malcolm Smith running up a close 4 from 5.

Walter B Laing

There were two blocks in the handicap event for 11+ players.  Fergus McInnes and Stella McCraw were unbeaten in their respective blocks, but Stella soundly beat Fergus +18 in the final, giving the lie to the gossip that Fergus was the biggest bandit north of Budleigh Salterton.  So Stella proudly took the Walter B Laing Cup.

Edinburgh

Notwithstanding his peels and surplus bisques, Donald Lamont did not win the Edinburgh Cup.  The Big Handicap was won by Jim Potter in an exciting Saturday final in the sunshine.  Stuart McKendrick seemed as though this time he would do it after many near misses, but Jim won +1T in a classic tournament ending.

Lauder

Stuart’s efforts and ‘almost got its’ did have consolation success when he was awarded the Lauder Bowl for coming closest to winning without actually doing so.

Milne

The ‘Y’ event took the form of a Swiss with main event results counting.  Fergus McInnes won it and received the Milne Plate to prove it.  Perhaps he is that bandit after all, but low bisquers will be glad that his handicap dropped from 16 to 12.

Norton Wright

The Doubles Knock-Out was won by Stella McCraw and Jamieson Walker in another excitingly close Saturday afternoon final +1T against Esme Owen and Peter Thompson.  So Stella and Jamieson took away the famous Norton Wright Trophies, but Esme had the long journey back to Devon with nothing but nostalgic reminders of her younger days as a native of Scotland.

Thanks...

Edinburgh Fettes is an experience not to be missed.  It is always great fun, remembering the cultural opportunities at the Edinburgh Festival or The Fringe, for which the Manager is generous with leave.  Everybody is very friendly, and the catering is excellent.

It was managed ably and professionally by David ‘Mr Croquet Injuries’ Appleton – we really do hope that your back is mended by now, David!

17 – 22 August, 1998:

(Report by Jolyon Kay)

The Edinburgh Festival Croquet Tournament – you either love it or hate it.  For those for whom the gentle undulations of the fine fast turf (though, after this rainy summer, not as terrifyingly fast as last year) are anathema, never again!  But 28 competitors this year came, mostly once again, from all corners of the isles from Sidmouth to Dunfermline, to brave the Scottish winds and to appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of one of the liveliest elements of the Edinburgh Festival.  The manager, Fringe programme always at his elbow, posts a notice diffidently asking for applications for leave to reach him, if possible, the day before.  Fergus McInnes, in his first venture as manager, must receive the credit for an outstandingly enjoyable tournament.  How appropriate that, after an extraordinary ten-minute spell conducted at a sprint at the end of the final, he should win the Silver Jubilee Salver.

Brian Durward also came from behind on his last turn to win the final game of the singles (handicap 4 and over) against Jim Potter for the Ian H Wright Trophy.  But Stuart McKendrick was playing too well for him in the final of the Swiss, to win +20.  The day before, both Maria Limonci and your correspondent achieved +26 wins in the Swiss to lift themselves (just) off the bottom of the table.  Another wide margin was achieved by Stella McCraw, to win the final of the handicap singles (for 11 and over) +12 against John Seddon.  Peter Thompson won the unrestricted handicap singles for the Edinburgh Croquet Cup, winning +2 on time, also against John Seddon, to bring his handicap down to 4.  Nevertheless John, losing only his two finals throughout the tournament, brought his handicap down twice, from 16 to 12.

John Beech won the Open Singles for the Cramond Cup; Rod Williams won the final game (John’s fifteenth game of the sixteen he played in the tournament) but by an insufficient margin to win the event.  But he did just manage to maintain his handicap at ½.

Edinburgh, well known for its philosophers, produced (as usual) some fine debating points for Tournament Referee Rod Williams to resolve.  For a competition labelled Advanced Play with Bisques did Rule 39 (restricting the right to peg out) apply?  Ruling – it did not.  The logic was impeccable – the purpose of playing advanced rules with bisques is to give middle ranking players experience of the advanced singles game, which includes the rigour of playing with only three balls.  But the manager was only partially convinced.

More difficulty came when Charlotte Townsend failed to spot that her opponent was playing with the wrong ball.  A spectator remarked on it in her hearing.  Was she then obliged, or entitled, to draw the fact to her adversary’s attention?  She consulted a referee, who consulted another, who consulted the Tournament Referee.  Ruling – she should warn her opponent.  Any other course would lead one too far into the realms of fantasy.  The spectator concerned, himself an apprentice referee, shall remain nameless.

And lastly to the doubles, where there were once again no married couples playing.  It used to be said that folk came from miles around to watch them fighting on court.  No such sport this year.  The Norton Wright Trophies, each one a major silver-polishing task, were won in front of a good audience nevertheless by Ruth Goudie and Peter Smith, who managed to hang onto their lead on a tight finish to win +2 on time.  Donald Lamont and Mona Wright (combined ages over 170) played together again, to universal pleasure, but were defeated in their first round, as was the other comparative veteran, Esme Owen, badly let down by a partner who managed to stick in every hoop.

(Further report by Fergus McInnes)

Some Statistics and Observations

Entries were slightly down on 1997 (which in turn had a lower entry than previous years), with 28 players taking part.  Of these, 26 played in the class events, 22 in the unrestricted handicap, and 22 in the doubles, including two who played only doubles games.  Eight players were visiting from England, and two each from Glasgow, Auchincruive and Dunfermline, but none from further afield.  Exactly half the entrants were members of the host club.

A lot of rain earlier in the summer (making the lawns less fast than in some recent years) and only a little rain during the tournament contributed to a higher total number of games played than last year: 129, of which only the seven finals and deciders and one other game were played on the final day.

The proportion of games going to time was considerably smaller than in some previous years: 34 out of 129, or 26%.  The record for going to time was achieved by Malcolm Smith with five results on time out of eight games – and one of the other three was a +1 after time had been called”!  Donald Lamont also had five games to time (out of ten), and indeed he never pegged out since these included all his four wins.  At the other extreme, all of Stuart McKendrick’s 11 games got finished, as did all the singles games (but not the doubles) involving Rod Williams or Geoff Cuttle.

John Beech played the most games (16, including two on the final day), followed closely by Geoff Cuttle, who was awarded the Lauder Bowl having played 15 games without winning any of the events.  The favoured score seemed to be +2 on time, which occurred in eight games, including four of the finals and deciders.  Two of the event winners, Brian Durward and Fergus McInnes, came from several points behind in their last turns to achieve this score, providing some excitement for the few spectators watching these games on Saturday morning.  Only two of the decisive games had winning margins in double figures: Stella McCraw’s +12 victory over John Seddon in the Walter B Laing, and Stuart McKendrick’s +20 against Brian Durward to decide the winner of the Swiss for the Milne Cup.

Three player achieved handicap reductions: Brian Durward from 4 to 3½, Peter Thompson from 4½ to 4, and John Seddon twice, from 16 to 14 and on to 12.  (The only singles games John lost were his two finals.)  Three others went up in handicap: Charlotte Townsend from 4½ to 5, David Arnot from 5 to 6 (after which he won all his remaining games), and Geoff Cuttle from 2½ to 3.  Rod Williams just managed to stay at ½ by winning the last game in the Open, against John Beech, though he didn’t win it by a wide enough margin to win the event, which went to John on points.

16 – 21 August, 1999:

(Report by Chris van Essen)

Seven Events in One: Handicap Croquet at its Best – Edinburgh Festival is Added Attraction

The premier event in the Scottish Croquet Association calendar attracted an entry of 36, about half of them visitors from the south.  It takes place during one of the weeks of the Edinburgh Festival (six Festivals, to be precise), which is a brilliant if potentially exhausting combination.  The Fettes College location gives the players the use of a fine pavilion, where excellent refreshments were available. Altogether the Edinburgh Club made us all very welcome again – I was there for the third time.

I will say a few words about the various competitions; you could enter for as many as three of them, and several people did, including the manager, Fergus McInnes, which says much about his great efficiency.  The Referee of Tournament, Charles Waterfield, was himself playing in two events.

The Cramond Cup (open singles, advanced; holder John Beech) was a block with an entry of six.  John Beech and Charles Waterfield were on the lowest handicaps, 1½ and 1, and the final game was duly between these two.  John had four wins and 60 points by this stage, and Charles had three with 38.  Peter Thompson was on four with 16 and had beaten Charles; the reason that he was not in the final game was that John had already beaten him.  Thus only John or Charles could win the event, Charles having to win the game by at least 11 to do so (or win by fewer than 11 to come second).  In the event John won by +7, retaining the trophy with a full set of wins, and Peter became runner-up.

The Ian H. Wright Trophy (advanced, handicap 4 and over; holder Brian Durward) was another block of six, and was without Brian who had entered for the Cramond Cup.  By the last day Chris van Essen and Stuart McKendrick, each 4½, both had the maximum four wins, though Stuart had 55 points to Chris’s eight.  The final attracted a fair crowd, including a representative from the Scottish Sports Association (there had been an article in the Edinburgh Herald and Post earlier in the week about the tournament), and was played in perfect sunny conditions.  In a close match Chris eventually won by +1 on time.

The Silver Jubilee Salver (advanced with bisques, handicap 8 and over; holder Fergus McInnes) was in two blocks of four, the winners of which were Fergus (9) and Peter Smith (12).  The final was another very close match, Peter eventually taking the Salver south by winning +1 on time.

The Walter B. Laing Cup (handicap singles, handicap 11 and over; holder Stella McCraw) required some rearrangement to produce two blocks of three, the winners of which were Donald Lamont and John Seddon.  In the final John won convincingly by +19.  Donald, who has a long term view of croquet, having played it for over eighty years, was delighted to be runner-up.

The Norton Wright Trophies (handicap doubles; holders Ruth Goudie and Peter Smith) was a knock-out which attracted 15 pairs, the majority being mixed doubles.  In the first round Donald Lamont and Mona Wright, who have allowed me to say that their combined age is 179 years, knocked out some ‘youngsters’, though a further calculation showed that the aggregate age of the four players was 315.  Donald and Mona were then beaten by Peter Thompson and Esme Owen, who went on to make it to the final against Jamieson Walker and Stella McCraw.  So it was a mixed doubles final, which Jamieson and Stella dominated to win by +13 and bring the huge cups back to Scotland.

The Edinburgh Croquet Cup (unrestricted handicap singles; holder Peter Thompson) had an eventual entry of 23, with a handicap range of -½ to 20, and an age range of 20 to 91.  Really this was the major event of the tournament, and a fine example of the handicap system working.  All the extremes of age and handicap made it through two rounds to the quarter-finals, though eliminated in the next two rounds, leaving Brian Murdoch (3) and Charles Waterfield (1).  The final saw a convincing win by +22 by Brian, again bringing a trophy back north of the border.

Those knocked out from the handicap singles played in a Swiss for The Milne Trophy (holder Stuart McKendrick) where the eventual final was between John Beech and Jonathan Kirby.  Jonathan is a second-year undergraduate at Cambridge, with a beautiful fluent style and a fine grasp of tactics.  His handicap of 8 is clearly going to drop – in fact if he is able to play regularly I am sure he is a future star.  John Beech was in jovial mood, even more than normal, having won the open singles earlier in the day, but Jonathan slaughtered him +23, which meant that the runner-up position went to Jim Potter.

Finally there was The Lauder Bowl (holder Geoff Cuttle) for the player who has got the furthest without winning an event.  This was definitely Peter Thompson who had been runner-up in two events.

A few extra words about the weather and the lawns.  I have only been to this event three times, but Donald Lamont assured me that in 29 years there has never been a serious disruption of the final Saturday because of weather.  During the week this year we had much better weather than in my home area of East Anglia.  The five lawns, which are created on the cricket outfield, were well prepared, set and marked, but the undulations and large pit in lawn one are pretty sub-standard.  Same for everyone, yes, but...

Finally a question of laws which arose during the Swiss.  Blue had got about halfway through its correct hoop and come to rest in contact with already-roqueted Black, which was on the exit side.  This was the beginning of Blue’s next turn, the question being: could he complete the running of the hoop (and if successful, take a continuation stroke)?  A referee was called: answer ‘yes’, but Blue, dubious about this, called for a second opinion: answer ‘no’.  Quite a crowd gathered on the lawn; eventually the players agreed that the completion would be legal, which then took place.  The game finished; afterwards with the aid of some McEwan’s the Laws were read properly, and it was realised that under Law 14(c) Blue was a ball in hand and should have run the hoop afresh.

14 – 19 August, 2000:

(Report by Fergus McInnes)

This year’s tournament at Fettes will be remembered for at least three things: the unprecedented number of A-class players, the flooding on the final day and the achievements of Jonathan Kirby.

A gaggle of minus players

Perhaps these high-fliers would prefer ‘skein’ as their collective noun.  Whatever the word, four of them together constituted a rare sighting at this latitude.  Accompanied by players handicapped at 0 and ½, they provided a display of high quality croquet such as Edinburgh has seldom seen.  The most negative handicap belonged to Steve Comish (-1½) and he showed his class by making triple peels look easy on the sloping Fettes lawns – achieving four of them in his five block games in the Open, and another in the doubles.  Malcolm O’Connell (-1) supplied the tournament’s other triple, in a handicap game against Stuart McKendrick on the first day.  These and other made up an unusually large entry of thirteen for the Open, which was divided into blocks of six and seven players, and contributed to a high total of 142 games played during the week.

Nearly a washout

After five days of reasonable weather, with just a few heavy showers, Saturday began with a downpour which left the lawns covered with puddles.  The Fettes ground staff set to with squeegees and got four of the five courts nearly puddle free by 9:00 a.m., but the rain persisted, the ground was waterlogged, and the puddles returned.  Two games were played in the morning, double banked on court five (the least watery one) during which the manager ran about with the squeegee, trying to keep puddles at bay while avoiding moving any puddle whose position was critical for either game.  In these conditions John Seddon emerged the victor over Ruth Goudie in the 8+ Handicap, and John Beech beat Campbell Morrison to gain a placed in the final of the Swiss event.

Simultaneously two games were played in even worse conditions on other courts: on the very puddly court four Stuart McKendrick beat Jamieson Walker to get into a play off in the 4+ Singles, and on the extremely puddly court two, which at one point had a loch stretching nearly from north to south boundary, the aptly named Charles Waterfield triumphed over Peter Thompson in the last block game in the Open.

With the rain continuing through lunch-time, contingency plans for the remaining finals were prepared: some could be played locally on other days, the Open Final between Jonathan Kirby and Steve Comish could perhaps take place somewhere near Cambridge in October, and the Swiss final between John Beech and Jane Shorten could happen at the start of the 2001 tournament.  A decision on whether to continue play had been promised by 2:30 p.m., and at 2:15 it looked like being negative; but at 2:20 the state of court five began improving enough to make hitting from end to end a possibility, and so the afternoon’s reduced programme got under way: the Swiss final between John and Jane, the remaining 4+ block game between Brian Durward and Campbell Morrison, and the final of the 11+ Handicap between Sheila Crearie and Joyce Cowie.  Two games, the 4+ play off and the Unrestricted Handicap final, were held over to other days, since the other four courts were still waterlogged, and some of the players were too wet after their struggles in the morning.

The Kirby phenomenon

Jonathan started the tournament at a handicap of 5, but had entered for the Open rather than the 4+ event, a decision vindicated by his winning five out of six games in the block.  The last game in the block on Friday evening was a spectacular affair, with Jonathan pitted against the as yet unbeaten Rodolphe Dourthe (-½), both of them hitting twenty yard roquets with amazing consistency.  Rodolphe completed the three peels of a triple, but was hampered after rover and failed to finish in that turn; Jonathan then came from well behind winning +1 with an impressive two ball break including rover peel and peg out.

So they were tied on five wins each and had to play a one ball game to decide the outcome of the block.  This was another display of accuracy under pressure, in which Rodolphe was ahead until, with Jonathan in position at penult, he declined a lift and went for rover; he failed the hoop and Jonathan scored his, made the roquet and won by +2.

So it was Jonathan in the final against Steve Comish in the final the following day.  This was a rather scrappy affair on the heavy wet court, with misses on both sides, but still Jonathan’s achievement in coming from behind yet again and winning +2 against such a nominally superior opponent deserves considerable credit.  His handicap, already down to 4, was cut to 2 by the SCA Handicappers at the end of the week; and he still won the Unrestricted Handicap final, played at Meadows West a few days later against Jamieson Walker, to complete his clean sweep of trophies, having won the Doubles with Peter Thompson as well as the Open.  Jonathan lost only one game, to Malcolm O’Connell, who can take some consolation from this after going up from -1 to -½ at the end of the tournament.

Other handicap changes occurred for Fergus McInnes, down from 9 to 8, and Ian Wright, up from 11 to 12.

I said that this tournament would be remembered for at least three things.  Traditionalists may remember it less for the three I have selected than for three breaches of hallowed convention:

  • No games went to time on the first day
  • The Doubles final, usually a crowd pleaser on the final day (though it has sometimes been hard to discern what the attraction was, as pairs slogged through wars of attrition to reach a result of +1 or +2 on time), was played early, on Friday morning, because one contestant had to leave that afternoon
  • The manager introduced one ball play offs as tie breakers in case of equal numbers of wins in a block, instead of using the standard net points decision rule, which caused some displeasure to those with superior points scores; he is unrepentant about preferring play offs, but in future will make sure he announces them before the start of the event!
 

13 – 18 August, 2001 at Fettes:

(Report by Fergus McInnes)

By the end of the first day of Fettes, and the second wettest day I can remember there (the wettest being the final day of last year’s tournament), seventeen players had completed a total of eighteen games in the Unrestricted Handicap Singles.  The class events, with 22 players, began on Tuesday.  Numbers for these, as for the Big Handicap, were down on recent years.  A dry day with some sunshine made for more pleasant conditions than on Monday. However, the notorious court one (the one beside the cricket screen) was still wet and swamp-like in places, and those who played on it in the morning were easily recognisable for the rest of the day by the brown splashes of mud on their white trousers.  The scheduled golf croquet session for local club members and tournament players was held in the evening, but with only four players it did not last long.

Only the Doubles entry held up to its normal level, with twelve pairs competing.  With another dry day on Wednesday (the evening’s rain holding off until after the close of play), the lawns continued to get faster, and even court one was less of a swamp than on Monday and Tuesday.  The twelve pairs ranged in their combined handicaps from 6 to 40, and the day’s games accordingly showed an interesting range of tactics. 

The highlight was a game with only one bisque – the semi-final between Jonathan Kirby and Pat O’Hara (-½ and 20) and Stuart McKendrick and Alan Wilson (3½ and 14).  After a good break by Stuart, Jonathan got started, and peeled Stuart’s ball through penult and rover, but broke down when he was hampered after hoop 6.  However he soon regained the innings and pegged Stuart out, leaving Alan’s ball partnerless with six hoops to make.  Slow but steady progress by Pat ensued, punctuated by Alan occasionally getting in and making a hoop or two.  After time was called Jonathan pegged out his own ball to take a one point lead, with Pat in position to run rover and Alan near the middle of the north boundary. Alan in his final turn was left with the choice of going for the 20 yard roquet (with a long take off back to penult) or for the nine yard hoop shot from the boundary.  He took on the hoop shot and ran penult spectacularly!  He then made the roquet, ran rover, and played back through the hoop in an attempt to peg out.  Although he missed the peg (not surprising on a sloping lawn) he had done enough to reverse the score to +1 on time, and he and Stuart were into the final.

Thursday saw continued improvement in the weather and gradual drying out of the ground, and a mixture of games in the class events and the big handicap, plus the completion of a doubles game that was adjourned from Wednesday and which had an eventful finish.  Mattie Meiklejohn and Peggy Bartlett (both handicap 20) had been well ahead of Brian Murdoch and Jonathan Toye (3 and 9), and got both balls to rover, but in the last hour Brian and Jonathan did some catching up.  Jonathan was playing an excellent break, making shots with one hand that most of us would be happy to achieve with two... but then, after pausing to examine a nearly cross pegged position, he played the wrong ball!  End of turn, with the two balls together it the middle of the lawn, Mattie and Peggy still ahead by three points, and half a minute to go.  Time was called in Peggy’s turn, in which she shot at the opponents’ balls and missed, leaving them a third ball nearby; they failed to capitalise on this in their final turn and Mattie and Peggy emerged as victors, to play in Friday’s semi-final against Rod Williams and Charlotte Townsend.

Earlier in the day, John Seddon had got into the final of the main handicap event against Ian Wright, and Stuart McKendrick had achieved a win over Jonathan Kirby, much the lowest handicapped player present and hitherto unbeaten, in their second encounter in the Open.  Brian Murdoch achieved a similar feat the following day, meaning that he and Stuart join Malcolm O’Connell, who did the same last year, in the select set of players who have beaten Jonathan at Fettes.

In continuing good weather, Friday attained the highest daily total of games played in this year’s tournament: 23 singles games and one doubles, plus the endings of two pegged down games in the Swiss – plus the club golf croquet final in the afternoon and an overdue match in the Scottish Handicap Singles in the evening!

Saturday (finals day) dawned fair, a welcome contrast to last year’s downpour, and the select few made their way to Fettes.

In the Unrestricted Handicap final, Ian Wright beat John Seddon to lift the Edinburgh Cup, which he had last won in 1975!  Jamieson won a rather scrappy Unrestricted Handicap Swiss final against Alan Wilson to take the Milne Trophy.

Charles Waterfield had a second win over John Beech in the Open block, which was still open between Jonathan Kirby and Brian Murdoch, each with five wins so far.  Jonathan then beat Charles and John beat Brian, making Jonathan the winner of the Cramond Cup without the need for a tie breaker.

John Seddon played well against Jonathan Toye, who had more than his usual rate of missed roquets, to win the tie breaker +20 to collect the Silver Jubilee Salver, for Handicaps 8 and over.  (Jonathan seemed to have saved his good shooting for the one ball game that he and I had on the otherwise unused court one before lunch, in which he triumphed +6 with some spectacular long hoop shots.)

Mark Elliot beat Pat O’Hara resoundingly, +19, in the final of the Walter B. Laing Cup, handicap play for those 14 and over.

The Doubles final nearly went to time, but Stuart McKendrick and Alan Wilson just managed to finish, beating Rod Williams and Charlotte Townsend +6 for the Norton Wright Trophies, thus making up for Alan’s loss in the morning.

The presentation was performed inside the pavilion, since by this time there had been some heavy rain and the clouds were threatening more.  Brian Durward presided as Edinburgh Club Chairman, and Mr J.C. McCulloch, a former member from the early years of the club, made the presentations.

When the presentation was carried out at 5:00, a tie breaker on the Ian H. Wright Cup (advanced play singles, 4+) was still to be finished, leaving the outcome of the Lauder Bowl, for the player getting furthest without winning an event, also to be decided.  Formalities over, the crowd dispersed, and only a hardy few stayed in the rain to see the end.  Occurrences in this game remain etched on my memory.  Before we broke for presentations, I had had a good break and got my black ball to 4-back.  I had high hopes of achieving my first triple, which would have been the best possible conclusion to the tournament from my point of view.  Alas, this failed.  After some slow progress on both sides, at 7:18 p.m., Jamieson was in play with red, with yellow and black on rover, and blue on 4-back, when Charlotte asked me how much time was left.  I then realised that, with a 3:30 p.m. start and a half hour break for presentations, our 3 hrs 15 mins should have expired at 7:15, and we acquainted Jamieson with the news that this had happened during his present turn – which surprised him, since he didn’t think we had been playing that long.  (Alert readers of this report may have similar suspicions.)  He failed to get position at rover and put red off into corner IV, leaving me with a lift and two points to make to equalise.  I decided that it would be hard to make 4-back if I lifted blue, and opted to lift black and shoot at yellow, which was south of rover, hoping to run rover and peg out black, whilst leaving blue in position at 4-back for the sudden death finish.  I hit yellow all right, but got an angled position at rover and failed the hoop.  Result: +2 on time to Jamieson, who has now won all three of the finals he has played against me at Fettes (the others being in the high handicap event in 1994 and 1995).

Back in the pavilion we had a reciprocal presentation: Jamieson gave me the Lauder Bowl (I just pipped Jonathan Toye at the post for this) and I gave Jamieson the Ian H. Wright Trophy.  Rod, Charlotte and Alan were on hand to witness the proceedings and take photographs.  Alan then took the remaining hoops and balls, the lost property and Donald’s bag of aluminium cans to Lauriston before heading off to Polmont, and the rest of us adjourned to the pub.  Shortly afterwards, sitting in the Northern Bar with my pint and clipboard, talking over the events of the week with Charlotte and Rod, I made the dreadful discovery that I had called time an hour too early in this evening’s game!  Would I have won if we had played to a finish?  Who can tell?  The answer remains forever inaccessible in a parallel universe.

That’s all for this year.  I think a good time was had by all.  I certainly enjoyed it a lot, despite the calamities of Saturday evening, and I look forward to being back at Fettes next year and maybe beating Jamieson in the final!

Mark Elliot’s two wins on Saturday got him a well deserved handicap reduction to 14.  Congratulations to him and to the others who got their handicaps down during the week:  John Seddon from 10 to 8, Jamieson Walker from 8 to 6, Charles Waterfield from 1 to ½, Alan Wilson from 14 to 12, and Ian Wright from 12 to 11.  (Rod Williams came down from 2 to 1½ before he arrived.  Is this what a name beginning with ‘W’ does for you?)  In the course of the tournament 114 games were played (103 singles and 11 doubles).  24 of them (21%) went to time, counting the one in which time was called prematurely; these included 12 of the 21 games in the 14+ handicap, and four in the doubles.  I don’t like going to time, and would have avoided it but for that last game!  Those who did avoid it were Nigel Gardner (who played only two games before retiring with a hoop-pulling injury), John Seddon and Ian Wright.  Alan Wilson played the most games (11 singles and four doubles); Jamieson Walker played the most singles games (13).  John Seddon had the highest percentage of wins (9/11 or 82%), but if doubles games are not counted, then Jamieson did (11/13 or 85%).  Two of the three players who defended their trophies were successful: Jonathan Kirby in the Open (though he had to give up his Doubles and Unrestricted Handicap trophies, in the latter case because he was in Ireland on Monday), and John Seddon in the 8+ handicap, but not John Beech in the Swiss. Overall I think it was a good tournament in terms of the standard of play, and the low proportion of games to time, in the absence of last year’s multiple minus players, is evidence of this.

12 – 17 August, 2002 at Fettes:

(Report by Fergus McInnes)

After last year’s low turnout of 29 players, it was encouraging to see a resurgence this year – not quite to the level of 2000 when 37 took part, but to a healthy 35.  It was particularly good to have so many visitors from south of the border, including some who were new to the event and one who was playing in his first tournament anywhere.

The weather up to early August had been very wet, and the day before the tournament, Sunday the 11th, continued the trend.  Those who visited Fettes to spy out the land reported flooding and raised doubts as to whether the lawns would be playable on the first day.  It was with some relief that the manager arrived on the Monday morning and saw the groundsmen plying switches, rather than squeegees, to remove the remaining moisture from the courts.

Monday saw a full programme of games in the Unrestricted Handicap, for which there were 25 entrants, plus a few early games in the class events.  There were 29 games scheduled for the day, but the target was exceeded with 31 games completed.  Court one (the furthest from the pavilion) was wet and muddy, but not as bad as at the beginning of last year’s tournament.  At the end of the day, those with three wins were Graham Brightwell (handicap 2), Fergus McInnes (6) and David Tester (4½); also in contention in the handicap event, after fewer games, were Nigel Gardner (3½) and Fred Mann (10) with two wins each, and Graeme Holland (20), who had won his only game of the day.  Kathy Holland (20) and Mattie Meiklejohn (20) had yet to play their first game as Mattie was not available until Tuesday.

Tuesday’s games were mostly in the four class events.  There were many games to get through in the week, especially in the Open, where the nine entrants were each playing the other eight; after one day’s play, therefore, it was still too soon to make predictions with much confidence.

Wednesday was mainly devoted to doubles.  Unusually, some of the games were double banked, because court one was in a swamp-like state again after heavy showers on Tuesday.  The five games in the first round had remarkably similar scores: all were decided by margins of 5, 6 or 7 points, and all but one went to time.  The second round scores, in contrast, ranged from +1 on time (by Stuart McKendrick and Alan Wilson, last year’s winners, against Jamieson Walker and Fergus McInnes) to +13 (achieved by Rod Williams and Charlotte Townsend against Peter Thompson and Evelyn Mackenzie).  The game with the most exciting ending was John Surgenor and Jeff Billing (½ and 5) against Mark Elliot and Joyce Cowie (14 and 20); Jeff pegged out Mark’s ball, but accidentally pegged out his own as well, and Joyce hung on in the two ball ending to finish four points ahead of John.  Rod and Charlotte then beat Mark and Joyce to gain a place in the final, while Stuart and Alan had still to play Ian Wright and Walter Brown for the other place.  A few singles games were played too; the last one to finish, in the 14+ event, had another exciting ending, with several turns of extra time in which both Walter Brown and Kathy Holland hit long roquets and Walter eventually scored 1-back to win.

Thursday was the sunniest day so far, but a brisk westerly wind for much of the day caused difficulties for the players, especially when it combined with the slopes to speed up strokes in one direction and slow them down in the other.  The Unrestricted Handicap semi-finals were played in the morning: Graeme Holland, undefeated in the tournament so far, beat Nigel Gardner +23, while David Tester vanquished Graham Brightwell by the same convincing margin.  In the 4+ advanced event, played as a single block, Peter McDermott completed his unbeaten record; he opted out of any further Swiss games for Friday and Saturday and departed after an early presentation of the Ian H. Wright trophy.  Also out of the tournament, for an unhappier reason, was Brian Murdoch, who had to withdraw from the Open as well as the Swiss when his tennis elbow became too painful.  A barbecue was held in front of the pavilion in the evening, and was much enjoyed – thanks to Geoff and Maria and to all the others who contributed delicious comestibles.

Friday was warm with a good deal of sunshine and just a little breeze.  Ian and Walter made their way to the doubles final with a +8 win over Stuart and Alan, pegging out after time was called.  After more games in the Open, those still in contention were John Surgenor, Rod Williams and Graham Brightwell, with only one loss each.  The 8+ handicap event, with two games left to play, was still wide open, with the possibility of a five-way tie which would have to be decided on points.  Both the 14+ blocks had clear winners, namely Walter Brown and Graeme Holland, who would thus face each other in Saturday’s final.  Each of them was playing in his first tournament, having taken up croquet only a few months ago, and both had won all their games so far.  Graeme had been particularly impressive, showing a good grasp of tactics and excellent judgement of his croquet strokes on the sloping lawns, and his handicap had come down to 18 at the end of Thursday.

So the last day of the tournament arrived – and a beautiful sunny day it was.  Eight games were played in the morning, completing all the class events except for one Open game which was scheduled for the afternoon.  Walter Brown was ahead of Graeme Holland for most of the 14+ final, but Graeme just managed to overtake and win by one point on time.  John Surgenor beat Rod Williams in the Open, so that John’s game with Graham Brightwell would effectively be the final.  In the 8+ block Ruth Goudie beat Fred Mann and Ian Wright beat Alan Wilson, making Ruth the winner as she was the only one with three wins in the block; Jim Penny, who had completed his games on the Thursday, was the runner-up.  Meanwhile Jamieson Walker and Fergus McInnes had an interesting game on court one, playing off for last place in the 4+ block; as well as the mud (now somewhat dried out) and the slopes, they had to cope with a large dog from a nearby house who made off with the white ball at one point and proved most reluctant to give it back!  (The same animal had done a similar thing during another game earlier in the week; yet another game had suffered interference from a cat coming onto the court and moving balls about.)  Fergus, who had been ahead in the early stages but was then overtaken, eventually got his ball back, but his attempt to catch up in the last few minutes failed, the final score being 24-20 to Jamieson.

Four games were played in the afternoon, and three of them were very close.  The exception was the Handicap Doubles final, in which the combination of Ian’s tactical skills and Walter’s bisques and straight hitting proved too much for Rod and Charlotte and the score was +25.

The Open decider between John and Graham was surprisingly scrappy, both of them having difficulties with the slopes on court two.  Graham eventually pegged out one ball in the turn in which time was called, with his other on 4-back.  John took his lift shot with yellow, which was for 3-back (with red on rover) and hit; he succeeded in approaching and running 3-back and 4-back, had an extraordinary return roquet (the shot bounced high in the air and landed on top of the target ball), got in front of penult... and failed the hoop!  Result:  Graham Brightwell +1 on time and winner of the event.

David Tester and Graeme Holland also had tricky slopes to deal with in the main Unrestricted Handicap final on court three, and both fell well short of pegging out, but David emerged the winner by two points on time.

The most dramatic ending was in the decider of the Swiss between Stuart McKendrick and Rodney Parkins.  Stuart attempted a long peg out, and succeeded with his partner ball but put the striker’s ball several yards beyond the peg and then missed with it.  Rodney then played an excellent catch-up turn, in which time was called, with a rover peel and an even longer peg out – he succeeded with both balls: +1 to Rodney.

So, of the seven events (counting both X and Swiss in the Unrestricted Handicap), four were decided by one point margins: the Open, the 4+ (in which Peter McDermott’s win over David Tester had been +1 on time), the 14+ and the Swiss.  And a fifth result, David’s in the Unrestricted Handicap X, was +2 on time.  Handicap finals do seem to go to +1 or +2 on time remarkably often, but this was exceptional.

The decision on the Lauder Bowl – for the player getting furthest without winning a trophy – was also very close, with John Surgenor and Rod Williams in contention.  After some deliberation, it was awarded to Rod, who had been a doubles finalist as well as having five wins out of seven in the Open and two out of four in the Unrestricted Handicap.

The tournament was rounded off with the usual lavish afternoon tea and a closing ceremony, held outside unlike those of the previous two years, at which Edinburgh Club Vice-Chairman Sheila Tibbels presided and Edinburgh West MP John Barrett presented the trophies.  As well as those for the tournament proper, these included the club’s Golf Croquet trophy, for which Alex Cowie and Joyce Cowie had played the final on Friday evening, Alex being the winner – by one point, of course!

Most people seemed to enjoy the tournament, unless they were just being kind to the manager by concealing their discontent.  He at least was happy, if not with the results of his own play (five wins and eight losses) then with the record total of 146 games played during the week.  The ‘maximum break’ of 147 remains an elusive goal, but maybe in 2003...

2003:

This report is already on the website.

2004:

This report is already on the website.

2005:

No written report has been found.  The website has several photographs.

2006:

This report is already on the website.

2007:

This report is already on the website.

2008:

This report is already on the website.

2009:

This report is already on the website.

2010:

This report is already on the website.

2011:

This report is already on the website.

2012:

No written report has been found.