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Soham by season:
A full entry of 8 doubles turned out for the final weekend of indoor play on the carpet in Soham for the Belgian Cup, although the silverware, still being in the hands of a previous winner, was only there in spirit. There was a large minority of visiting players of relatively low handicaps who tend to turn up by invitation on a yearly basis. This meant some keen fought play although it was noticeable that despite being required to complete 10 mandatory peels overall in total per round, only 3 games went to time.
As expected play was competitive and as the day progressed it became clear that the winner would be one of four sides: Colchester 1 & 2, Bygrave 1 and St Albans, although the Colchester 1 side comprising Rob & Susan Fulford would take some stopping. As predicted, this proved the case as the winners would be decided in the final round between Colchester 1 on 4 wins and the Bygrave pairing of Duncan Hector and Gabrielle Higgins on 3½ wins. However Bygrave did not perform as expected, losing by 4 hoops to Colchester 1 who finished the day undefeated with 5 wins.
|Colchester 1||Rob & Susan Fulford||5/5||1|
|Bygrave 1||Duncan Hector & Gabrielle Higgins||3½/5||2|
|Colchester 2||Colin & Georgeen Hemming||3/5||3|
|St. Albans||Terry Mahoney & Heather Bennett||3/5||4|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Robert Wilkinson||2½/5||5|
|Norborough||Nick Evans & Terrey Sparks||2/5||6|
|Bygrave 2||James Hopgood & Richard Smith||1½/5||7|
|Colchester 3||Jane Collier & Ann Brookes||0/5||8|
Again another full entry for the Sunday, which being an additional fixture made available because of not being able to arrange a further Golf Croquet fixture, was taken up by Association Play which still proves to be very popular. Again an experienced entry took part, although the overall peels were down to 7 from the previous day's total of 10. As before a very low total of only 5 games went to time.
As expected play was again keen and competitive, and went down to the wire before the winner could be finally ascertained. The steady old boys of Norfolk finished their 5 games on 3½ wins and waited in the wings to see who would triumph in the final game between Colchester on 3 wins and St. Albans on 2 wins. Although St. Albans were out of the picture that game would determine the final outcome depending on the result of the game: if Colchester won then they would be the outright winners on 4 points, but if they lost then the 'brides in waiting' Hunstanton would take the day. However, the Colchester husband and wife pairing of Colin and Georgeen Hemming were not going to be denied, and managed to see off St. Albans competently with a resounding +11 win to take the day.
|Colchester||Colin & Georgeen Hemming||4/5||1|
|Hunstanton||Jeff Race & Bryan Saddington||3½/5||2|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Robert Wilkinson||3/5||3|
|Bygrave 2||James Hopgood & Richard Smith||3/5||4|
|St. Albans||Terry Mahoney & Heather Bennett||2/5||5|
|Bygrave 1||Duncan Hector & Peter Whiting||2/5||6|
|Suffolk Boys||Mike Percival & Peter Allnutt||1½/5||7|
|Peterborough||Terrey Sparks & Roly Iddison||1/5||8|
A first was achieved for the indoors this session with the introduction of Electronic Time Clocks for the first time. With a programme devised by the Federation Webmaster Simon Hathrell and two portable PCs kindly brought along by Duncan Hector this proved to be not only a novel but a much improved and efficient method of keeping time. Unfortunately for the time keepers, with the screens being clearly visible all over the hall, any slight delay in stopping or altering the clocks often brought out the anguished call from somewhere on the carpet of 'Timekeeper' from a disgruntled player worried that his valuable time was being wasted. However, it was generally agreed by all that it was a much improved system over the normal battery chess clocks.
There was a full complement of eight pairs playing alternate-shot speed croquet battling it out for the 'Millennium Cup'. The strong Colchester pairing of Rob and Sue Fulford set their usual searing pace winning their first four games, closely followed by the St Albans and Bygrave 1 pairs. However, despite losing the final game against the Bygrave team of Duncan Hector and Paul Sinclair, who with St. Albans finished up on 3.5 wins, this was not good enough to frustrate the Colchester pair who managed to win the day with 4 wins to take the Cup for the second year running.
|Colchester 1||Rob & Sue Fulford||4/5||1|
|St. Albans||Terry Mahoney & Heather Bennett||3½/5||2*|
|Bygrave 1||Duncan Hector & Paul Sinclair||3½/5||3*|
|Colborough||Terrey Sparks & Lydia Vaux||2½/5||4|
|Colchester 2||Colin & Georgeen Hemming||2/5||5*|
|Colchester 3||Jane Collier & Al Brown||2/5||5*|
|Bygrave 2||Jeremy & Carol Scott||1½/5||7|
|Meldreth||Robert Skeen & Alex Osborne||1/5||8|
In a day when there was plenty of good fast croquet played where only two game went to time, the day ended in an exciting finish of working out who had won a three way split. With one round to play Hunstanton had finished their programme on four wins out of five games. Suffolk Boys with a 100% record of four wins had to meet the in-form pair from Peterborough, also on three wins and one loss. So the 'Suffolk Boys' needed to maintain their form to ensure the day was theirs. This turned out to be a difficult task as Peterborough, despite an iffy start, made a spectacular finish to end the game by +4.
This gave the Manager of the day Terrey Sparks a bit of a problem as all three teams had won and lost all their games within the time limits, so it was not possible at this stage to part them. Turning to the next qualification 'Quality of Opponents', again the Suffolk and Hunstanton teams could not be separated. However, the Peterborough pairing of Adrian Kirby and Roly Iddison clearly had a better record so ran out the deserving winners to take The Soham Trophy.
|Peterborough||Adrian Kirby & Roly Iddison||4/5||1|
|Hunstanton||Jeff Race & Bryan Saddington||4/5||2=|
|Suffolk Boys||Mike Percival & Peter Allnutt||4/5||2=|
|Ipswich||Martin French & Martin Hart||3½/5||4|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Terry Mahoney||3/5||5|
|Bygrave||Duncan Hector & Sheila Haggett||1½/5||6|
|Bedex||Nick Steiner & David Marsh||0/5||7|
|Colchester||Jane Collier & David Haslam||0/5||8|
Following a surprise last minute withdrawal by one of our stalwart competitors, Terry Mahoney, who was admitted to hospital at the last moment, his place was taken by one of St. Albans' younger members Thomas Cullis, who partnered Chris Frost, making his first appearance on the indoors carpet. However, this did not seem to faze the pair of them and this proved true in their first game when they saw off the Ipswich pair of Martin French and Phil Eardley +10, the fancied pair for the day. This form continued throughout the day and despite running up against well battered, experienced indoor players they could not be stopped and managed to finish the day unbeaten.
Despite their disappointing start Ipswich made a spirited recovery winning their last four remaining games. But with the St. Albans pair in relentless form none of the others teams could bring a stop to their winning run, and the day was clearly theirs.
|St. Albans||Chris Frost & Thomas Cullis||5/5||1|
|Ipswich||Martin French & Phil Eardley||4/5||2|
|Bygrave 2||Duncan Hector & Stuart Haggett||3/5||3|
|Suffex||Mark Avery & Jane Collier||2/5||4|
|Bygrave 1||Gabrielle Higgins & Sheila Haggett||2/5||5|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Keith Rhodes||2/5||6|
|Pinchbeck||Terrey Sparks & Mike Bowser||1/5||7|
|MidSuffolk||Mike Percival & Cecil Haddington||1/5||8|
Manager: Colin Hemming
An extraordinarily varied collection of players turned up on 19th January, with a range of CA handicaps from -1½ to 24, and with experience ranging from Debbie Lines, who last played 18 years ago (I didn't like to ask when she had first played) to husband Ian, who had never played at Soham before (but since he has the handicap of -1½ we were expecting great things).
The game was progressive speed doubles. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with this variant, it means that after each game you swap partners (like a progressive barn dance). The pairs and the games are pre-drawn so that the pairs progress properly, but since partners and opponents vary considerably depending on where an individual player is drawn, then each player draws his or her position when (s)he arrives at Soham. The players are split into High and Low blocks by handicap, and in each round of play each High-Bisquer is paired with a different Low-Bisquer. High and Low blocks are competed for separately. If time permits, the winners of each block then play the runners-up in a final, but since we were playing on a Sunday this time, the mandatory early finish meant that the two block winners would jointly win the event.
She was a little slow getting into her stride, but once she got started it was like Debbie had spent 18 days rather than 18 years away from this environment, and the help she gave to her partners was an example to all us low-bisquers. She ended winning the Low block with 4 wins out of 5, narrowly beating Adrian Kirby, Nick Evans and Colin Hemming, all on 3 out of 5. Peter Ross, with an accuracy belying his 14 handicap, also won 4 out of 5 to win the High block, just pipping Jane Collier on 3½ out of 5.
There was some sort of magic in the air that day. There were a few hiccups in the running order,
principally because games were finishing early rather than late, but everyone remained animated and interested right up
to the end. The biggest cheer of the day was for Bryan Saddington who, recovering from an operation on his right hand,
was not his usual model of accuracy, and ran his first hoop at about 3:30 in the afternoon; no holding him after that,
though. It was a hugely enjoyable tournament, one of the best days I have ever spent around a croquet court, and
certainly the best day I have ever had at Soham (and that's saying something!)
If you haven't tried Progressive Doubles yet, you should make a point of trying it next time.
Things got off to a slightly chaotic start when the time clocks failed to arrive. There not being enough personal timers to hand, the Manager decided that the only course of action was to continue with the prepared format of Alternate Doubles and play 50- minute games dispensing with the allocated time of 25 minutes per team. This meant that the higher handicapped teams with bisques suddenly had an advantage in that there was no time pressure putting the lower handicap players at a disadvantage in that they could not play their usual tactics of getting their opponents to run down their personal time allocation.
And so it proved to be with Colchester 1, St. Albans, Bygrave 1 and the Ipswich teams notching up early wins whilst leaving the lower handicap teams of Letchworth and Pinchbeck struggling to make an impact on play. Of the four teams off to an early promising start, only the Colchester team comprising Colin Hemming and newcomer to indoors play Lydia Vaux managed to keep up their winning streak despite the challenge of St. Albans and Bygrave 1. So the Colchester pair at the end of the day's play finished with an impressive 100% record to take home the Soham Trophy.
|Colchester 1||Colin Hemming & Lydia Vaux||5/5||1|
|St. Albans||Terry Mahoney & Heather Bennett||4/5||2|
|Bygrave 1||Duncan Hector/Sheila Haggett||3/5||3|
|Ipswich||Georgeen Hemming & Simon Down||2½/5||4|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Keith Rhodes||2/5||5|
|Colchester 2||Jane Collier & Ann Brookes||1½/5||6|
|Pinchbeck||Terrey Sparks & Mike Bowser||1/5||7|
|Bygrave 2||Paul Sinclair/ Stuart Haggett||1/5||8|
With the sudden appearance of the time clocks things returned to normal on the Sunday when seven pairings started to battle it out for the Albert Lawrence Trophy. In a brisk start the Colchester pairing of Robert and Sue Fulford saw off the Norfolk Boys comprising Terrey Sparks and Jonathan Toye +12 within 30 minutes. Likewise in the other early match Terry Mahoney and Chris Frost disposed of the Suffolk Boys Mike Percival and Peter Allnutt +14.
St. Albans kept up their winning ways by also beating the Norfolk Boys +8. However, they came unstuck in their next match against Robert and Sue losing -10 when something amazing happened. Terry, playing first, put his ball in corner 2; Susan then cleanly ran hoop 1 from baulk with her ball finishing just past hoop 2. Having roqueted Terry's ball she then completed a pass roll enabling her not only to make that hoop but obtaining the rush to hoop 3 where the break continued on to hoop 4. Running that hoop she than approached hoop 5 with an easy rush. However, the hoop run was not as clean and she ended up with her ball just short of the peg. There she decided to try a shot at the final hoop but was unsuccessful, ending a brilliant break of 5 hoops with only two balls on the lawn. Leaving Robert with two bisques, St. Albans had no chance.
However, Robert and Sue's winning run came to an unexpected halt when they lost to the Peterborough underdogs of Adrian Kirby and Roly Iddison. Not to be fazed by this they recovered their composure by going on to win their remaining two games to run out the overall winners.
The other surprise of the day was Peterborough finishing 3rd, winning 4 out of their 6 games. However, it must be said that had they kept their minds on their games and used all the bisques available, they could have finished top of the pile.
|Colchester 1||Robert & Sue Fulford||5/6||1|
|Bygrave||Duncan Hector & Peter Ross||4/5||2|
|Peterborough||Adrian Kirby & Roly Iddison||4/6||3|
|Colchester 2||Colin & Georgeen Hemming||2/5||4|
|St. Albans||Terry Mahoney & Chris Frost||2/6||5|
|Suffolk Boys||Mike Percival & Peter Allnutt||2/6||6|
|Norfolk Boys||Terrey Sparks & Jonathan Toye||1/6||7|
This year's Soham GC event was fully subscribed with seven players on the reserve list. Eight teams took part, and with an all-play-all format of 28 games it was a challenge to fit the itinerary into the day. Timed games of 40 minutes were used for half of the tournament, but the last games were of necessity timed to only 20 minutes! The change of tactics required was, however, well accommodated by several of the teams. At the mid-way point of the event Stony Stratford 3 (Martin and Pauline Field) and Bygrave (Duncan Hector and Peter Whiting) had created a slight lead over midSuffolk (Michael Percival and Paul Homer), and Stony Stratford 1 (Marian Holland and Susan Ellis)
In a key match at the start of the second half of the tournament Bygrave completed a good win against midSuffolk (7-2). Tactical play by the Bygrave pair was extremely good. However, Bygrave then faltered against Hunstanton when Dennis Johnson pulled out several good shots in support of Terrey Sparks. Meanwhile midSuffolk lost when Stony Stratford 1 gained a win of 4-3. By this stage several of the high handicappers and beginners had overcome initial nerves and teams achieved high standards by many good and long clearances. In the closing sessions Bygrave lost 2-3 to Stony Stratford 1, who again pulled off a win against a good side. Going to the last game of the day, three teams finished on 5 wins out of 7 games, giving them 10 points each. In the three-way tie, Stony Stratford 3 had a net hoop score of +7, midSuffolk of +10 and the winners Bygrave had a net hoop count of +21. Congratulations to these three teams, two of which played beginner players (Paul Homer of midSuffolk, and Peter Whiting of Bygrave).
Thanks go to the administrators at the Ross Peers Sports Centre for helping out cheerfully with all requests, especially an extension of time at the end of the day.
The final scores were:
|Stony Stratford 3||5||10||+7||3|
|Stony Stratford 1||4||1||9||4|
|Leyton Linslade 1||3||6||6|
|Leyton Linslade 2||2||4||7|
|Stony Stratford 2||0||0||8|
After about three years of trying, recent newcomers to Indoors carpet tournament play Peterborough managed at last to get their name on to the silverware by winning conclusively the latest event organised by the EACF at the Ross Peers Sports Centre at Soham.
The Peterborough 1 pairing of Adrian Kirby and the Manager for the day Terrey Sparks in absolute fine form set off at a blistering pace in their first game against the unfortunate returning pair of Nick Evans and James Skelton from Northampton by notching up a resounding win of +14. However, it must be said that that having been absent for some years both Nick and James soon settled down again to the pace of the indoor carpet and convincingly managed to win all their remaining games to become the runners-up.
However, even though the median handicap for this week-end fixture was quite low (i.e. 1), the rampant Peterborough pair despite being one of the lowest handicapped were not having any of it, and with their eyes firmly fixed on the trophy managed to win all their remaining games to end the day undefeated.
|Peterborough 1||Adrian Kirby & Terrey Sparks||1 Peel||5/5||1|
|Northampton||Nick Evans & James Skelton||0||4/5||2|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Peter Ross||2||2½/5||3|
|Bygrave||Duncan Hector & Peter Whiting||½||2½/5||4|
|St. Albans||Terrey Mahoney & Chris Frost||½||2/5||5|
|Essex/Suffolk Boys||Nick Steiner & Mike Percival||1 Peel||1½/5||6|
|Colchester||Colin & Georgeen Hemming||½||1½/5||7|
|Peterborough 2||Roly & Joe Iddison||6||1/5||8|
Play got off to a slow start, only attracting 4 double pairings to get things moving for the 2013/14 winter. It appears that with end of season holidays and the late finish to the outdoors, players' minds have not yet become focused on indoors play.
Due to the lack of numbers and to fully utilise the carpet, the Manager decided after consultation to an all-play-all format, each pairing playing each other twice. This proved quite successful although rather tiring with the lack of longer breaks between games.
After the morning session of three games the Pinchbeck and Letchworth pairings each had 2 wins, followed by Bygrave and Colchester on 1 win a piece. Both leading teams kept up their winning streaks, and after two afternoon games both stood on 4 wins, having to meet each other in the final game which would determine the overall winner. Despite a hard fought tussle the new boys on the block Pinchbeck just managed to see off the Letchworth paring by a win of +6 to take the trophy.
|Pinchbeck||Terrey Sparks & Mike Bowser||5/6||1|
|Letchworth||Nick Mounfield & Terry Mahoney||4/6||2|
|Colchester||Jonathan Hills & Nick Steiner||2/6||3|
|Bygrave||Duncan Hector & Paul Sinclair||1/6||4|
Numbers returned to normal on the Sunday attracting 7 pairings from around the Eastern Region. The Hunstanton Duo of Jeff Race and Bryan Saddington, hot favourites for the tournament, made their early presence known by notching up their first two wins both +1 against the St. Albans pair of Terry Mahoney and Heather Bennett and the 'Colborough' mixture of Terrey Sparks and Georgeen Hemming. However, in the biggest upset of the day the rampant duo came crashing down to earth unexpectedly losing -2(T) to the high handicap pairing of Colin Hemming and newcomer to the indoor circuit Lydia Vaux making her first appearance, both from Colchester.
Whilst this was happening and almost unnoticed the Suffolk Boys comprising Mike Percival and Peter Allnutt were quietly picking off win after win. Eventually they came up against the Hunstanton pairing in a game that would eventually decide the overall tournament winner. Incredibly, in what was the second shock of the day, the Suffolk Boys saw off Hunstanton by a white wash score of +14 which meant the trophy was theirs. It is not known what these two were taking but their form was a reminder of earlier days when they reigned supreme.
In what was a very evenly matched tournament, very few games finished early and quite a lot almost went to the limits of time giving the manager a problem finishing the day on time. However, once the overall winner had been declared it was decided to abandon the final two games as they would have no bearing on the overall result.
|The Suffolk Boys||Mike Percival & Peter Allnutt||5/5||1|
|Hunstanton||Jeff Race & Bryan Saddington||4/6||2|
|'Colborough'||Terrey Sparks & Georgeen Hemming||3/5||3|
|Bygrave||Duncan Hector & Peter Whitiing||3/6||4|
|Colchester||Colin Hemming & Lydia Vaux||2/5||5|
|Peterborough||Adrian Kirby & Roly Iddison||1/6||6|
|St. Albans||Terry Mahoney & Heather Bennett||1/5||7|