Edinburgh Tournament 2017 - Day 5

Only fitful sunshine today, mainly grey and cool with it. But the croquet kept you warm, provided you were playing and not just watching. Doubles all the way except for a few late matches in Events 1 and 6Y.

The 'dream team' in the doubles (if you didn't guess, it was Alan Wilson and Rosemary S Robertson), won through three rounds, defeating Graham Brightwell and Brian Cosford, Allan Hawke and Bob Darling, and John Surgenor and George Plant. In both the latter games Alan and Rosemary came from behind with a late surge to win by a few points on time. In the final on Saturday they will meet Brian Durward and James Thomson. In the consolation doubles Y final Allan Hawke and Bob Darling will meet Bob and Morven Cross.

To those who were used to the doubles at Fettes it came as a surprise to see that three games were finished before lunch, and without going to time. Perhaps the faster lawns accounted for this, or perhaps the need to keep moving to escape the chill breeze. Doubles games are notorious for going to time and in fact 6 of the 14 games played today did so.

In other events, Campbell Morrison is through to the final of Event 1, his opponent to be decided tomorrow. Event 2 has produced a final to be played between Bob Darling and Allan Hawke on Friday. Event 3 could yet have a final or there may be a clear winner. Event 4's final is between James Thomson and Lyn Gilpin. Also on Friday there's the final of the handicap Swiss, between Alan Wilson and James Thomson . (James is going to be much in demand for finals.)

In the late Event 1 games today, Alistair Malcolm beat Campbell Morrison, and Jane Morrison, dashing from work at 6pm, came 'back from the dead' to beat Andrew Symons.

It’s interesting picking up comments from participants or spectators. Can you guess who said the following? A special prize of a Green & Black's chocolate bar to anyone who can identify all three of the following. If you recognise your own comment you're not eligible to enter.

"My split shots are always exciting. I never know quite where the balls are going."

"That was the most boring game of croquet I’ve ever played."

"Rachel, knit me a hankie to mop up my tears."

On Friday, Events 1 and 3 continue and the golf croquet will be played, possibly to a conclusion.

Finally, if golf is 'a good walk spoiled', what is croquet? A good sleep spoiled? The manager might well think so. Poor soul didn't get home until 10.30 this evening.

Allan Hawke

Edinburgh Tournament 2017 - Day 4

Another day, another sunburst. What a contrast between the weather for croquet in Edinburgh and World Athletics in London.

However, the start was marred by the arrival of several plumbers’ vans, here to replace pipes, tank etc. They’d been told the place would be empty. Cue lavatory jokes - flushed with success, chain reaction, don’t poo-poo the facilities etc. However order was restored by lunchtime, which is just as well as it’s not easy to play croquet with your legs crossed.

Games were played from all the singles events and two of them, Events 2 and 4, were completed. However, the final results remain a managerial secret for the moment. And talking of the manager, in one handicap game an unfortunate Bob Cross was told, after he’d tried and failed to run hoop 2 three times, that his opponent had actually peeled him through it some time ago and forgotten to move the clip. And the perpetrator of this croquet faux pas? None other than our esteemed manager and tournament referee (indeed an examining referee)!

We all know that a game of croquet is never over until the fat lady pegs out (and don’t worry, I’ve checked that we have no fat ladies playing). The point was never more driven home than in an Event 2 game between Bob Cross (again) and Brian Durward. When I joined the crowd of spectators (well, four is a crowd for croquet) Bob was on peg and penult and Brian was on 1 and 2 back. A long gap to make up, for sure. But Brian got his 2 back ball going and went round to peg himself. The dilemma - should he peg out his opponent or not? He decided he would. That left Bob on penult with his remaining ball. No problem - when Brian got there with his second ball, he peeled it through for him! Despite Bob’s best efforts, including hitting a lift just about the whole length of the lawn, Brian put up a magnificent display of end game croquet to finally win by one point.

And would you believe, a similar situation cropped up in Brian’s next game against me. His piteous cry of "I can’t take any more" was heard across the lawns. Well I took pity and finished off.

Another heart-felt cry was heard from lawn 2, where Rosemary S Robertson was struggling against Bob Darling. "I’m just going to belt at your balls", she yelled, followed by "YEAH!" as she did, and hit. But it didn’t stop Bob winning.

Sorry if this report seems biased towards Event 2 but it is the one I’m most involved with. In other events Janice Duguid had two narrowish wins over Alan Wilson and Andrew Symons in Event 1; Joe Lennon and John Campbell added to their list of wins in Event 3 before playing each other, John taking the honours. In Event 4 there was another managerial mishap at the end of a long day, when the manager declared a winner and removed the balls, only for the players to say, "But weren’t the scores equal?" - and they were. But a satisfactory conclusion was reached, Charles Henderson prevailing over Kevin Wright.

Further handicap changes: Janice Duguid down to 3 (congratulations); Jola Jurasinska and Jamieson Walker now on 12; George Geis now on 22.

Tomorrow is doubles day and what a line up - ten pairs including one which is said to be 'the dream team' (guess). No doubt the manager's favourite is the team identified as 'Cross & Cross'.

Allan Hawke

Edinburgh Tournament 2017 - Day 2

"Grandad, what did you learn at croquet today?"

"I learnt not to wave at a friend passing by because your opponent might think you are taking a bisque (Rachel). I learnt that double banking can distract even the best players into playing the wrong ball (James). And I learnt that when all else fails there’s something called a 'suicide shot' (anon)."

Day 2 was given over to the handicap singles, Events 6X and 6Y. There were 16 entrants but long before they started play the early morning grass cutters arrived to find that the hoop fairy had already done his work and all was ready for a long day’s play. Ten hours later the two finalists emerged: Joe Lennon and Kevin Wright, each having won their three games. In the nature of handicap games, results are unpredictable and so it proved when James Hopgood lost his first game -26 to John Campbell, although he then went on to win two games in the Y event and completed a triple peel in the process. Bob Cross recovered his form from the day before and looked like a contender after the first two rounds, only to suffer "my biggest ever defeat" (-24) to Kevin as the shadows lengthened on lawn 2. There were also some very close results in games that went to time, Joe Lennon beating John Campbell by one point (23-22), Alan Wilson beating Hamish Duguid 22-19 and Kevin Wright beating James Thomson 21-17.

Overall there was some interesting play to watch and some that was described by the players themselves as 'tortuous' or 'tic-tac croquet'. Quote of the day came from Roger Binks: "My game is like the weather: one or two sunny patches and some dreadful downpours."

Handicap changes: Graham Brightwell and Alan Wilson, both now on 1½.

Tomorrow: Events 1, 2 and 4. Lawns will be assigned for matches.

Allan Hawke

Edinburgh Tournament 2017 - Day 3

Day 3 dawned bright and sunny and, surprise, surprise, stayed that way - all day. There was a mixture of games, mainly from Events 1, 2 and 4.

In Event 1, leading the field at the moment is Campbell Morrison on 3 wins, closely followed by James Hopgood, Alan Wilson, Andrew Symons and Jane Morrison on 2 wins each. No more triple peels today but James had everything beautifully set up for a sextuple - opponent’s balls wired at hoop 1, his own balls laid up in corner 3. But it was not to be. Two attempts failed through overrunning a hoop approach and blobbing a hoop. But he still came out the winner by +15.

In Event 2 Rosemary Saunders Robertson is on 3 wins, with Brian Durward, Bob Darling and Allan Hawke on 2. Rosemary and Allan had an exciting finish to their game ("fraught" Rosemary called it), which Rosemary eventually won 25-23 when time had been called. This was exactly the same result as Brian Durward’s against David Houston. All to play for tomorrow when all five contenders are in play.

In Event 4 James Thomson had 3 wins out of 3, which puts him in contention alongside Lorna Dewar and Lyn Gilpin.

Meanwhile in the handicap event, the finalists having been settled as reported yesterday, the 6Y Swiss trundles on, filling in the gaps in the schedule and coming into glory at the end of the week.

Handicap changes today: Alastair Burn-Murdoch from 3 to 2½; Bob Darling from 6 to 5. Congratulations to both.

Not many 'funnies' to report today, apart from the manager’s car alarm going off in mid-play. In fact, so desperate was I for something to report that a newer member of the club, there to spectate, offered to do a streak across the lawns - I declined. Then a screech of brakes and Andrew Symons rushed in to complete a game against Alan Wilson which had been pegged down for the night because Andrew had an important bridge event to play in. However, the bridge turned out to be cancelled so he hared back. "A bridge too far", commented James Thomson.

Allan Hawke

Edinburgh Tournament 2017 - Day 1

The all new Edinburgh Tournament - new venue, new lawns, new balls and some new players - got off to a good start on Sunday 6 Aug at Balgreen CC. The weather forecast was contradictory - the Met Office said dry, the Norwegian forecast said wet. For once the Met Office was more right than wrong and it rained for only an hour or so in the middle of the day. We were graced with a puff-past by the Flying Scotsman and learned that the tournament manager's father-in-law used to drive it!

Matches were played from Events 1, 2, 3 and 4, plus one from Event 6X. Early tournament mistakes were in evidence - missed roquets, misplaced clips, playing the wrong ball and running hoops the wrong way (no names, no pack drill). The biggest mistake was from one 'no show', who gave three opponents the unusual experience of playing the invisible man and winning +26. But there was some master class croquet in evidence also, particularly from Campbell Morrison, who won all three of his Event 1 games and included a triple peel to boot.

A doughty battle was fought between Rosemary Saunders Robertson and David Houston in Event 2: after the 'last turn' when time had been called, the scores were level. David had both balls on rover; Rosemary had pegged one of her balls out by mistake and the other was on 4-back. From near corner 4 she hit a magnificent roquet on David's ball near the peg and eventually won 23-22. That, with her later win over Bob Cross, brought her handicap down from 8 to 7. Alan Wilson had a bit of a scare in Event 1 when he took his balls round to peg and penult while his opponent, Alistair Malcolm, was still on hoop 1 with his second ball. But Alistair got going and appeared to be catching up until that frequent accident black spot, 2-back, caught him out and Alan was able to finish.

The manager's ambition was to get home by 9 o'clock. We think he might have achieved it - on day 1 at least.

Allan Hawke


Some people take their croquet seriously, others can't wait to get off the court!