New Croquet Open Champion Crowned

The final was played today (Saturday 19th September) between our two freshest faces, Roger Stearn and Simon Charrington. Roger S had managed to win against Roger Dollimore and Tom Eddy on his way to the final, whilst Simon had squeezed past 2019 champion Steve Edney in his semi.

Roger played red and yellow, and Simon black and blue. Simon got the first hoop but then Roger quickly responded with a tremendous peel using both his balls. Unfortunately Roger could not capitalize and Simon nervously managed to progress to 9-2, before Roger got his next chance at a hoop. He clawed his way back to 5-9, but without finding his usual flow.

A couple more hoops were traded, so it was 12-6 to Simon when he got into his rhythm and pushed the black round nicely a few hoops. He was playing with a swagger but his best innings came to an end with 5 hoops added. Soon it was 17-7 and Roger was still not firing. He got another hoop but decided not to risk another hoop setting up yellow to run hoop 4 with red as its pilot and hoping Simon could not hit in. Of course he can! But hold on, he misses a simple roquet letting Roger back in to get a couple more hoops, 10-17.

Again Roger cannot string too many hoops together so once more sets up hoping Simon cannot repeat a long hit in. This time he cannot, so can Roger get going this time? He runs a hoop but in such a way he cannot hit the pilot so yet again he has to retreat.

Time is running out (both players had agreed to a 3 hour timed game rather than to the death), and the game gets even more tentative. Roger is on 13 and Simon on 19. Looking at how many hoops Roger could run, Simon calculated he needed one more hoop to be safe. He was playing blue and pushed black into the north east corner. Attempting to put blue in the south east corner, he sliced it off into the Tennis ditch giving Roger one last chance (the bell had now sounded). Roger had a tough 12-footer, yellow to blue, but unfortunately missed, so that was it… Simon is the new open champion, winning 20 points to 13.

Here are some statistics about this game:

There were 345 shots played in the match. Simon had 217 shots and Roger 128.

They had just over 30 turns each. Simon averaged 7 shots per turn, with his longest innings (turn) amounting to 38 shots, scoring 5 hoops. Roger averaged 4 shots per turn and his longest innings was only 15 shots.

Both players have regularly been running 11 hoops for fun, but this was a final, so a mix of nerves and cagey tactical play brought this down.

Simon was more successful today at hitting in (roqueting) with a success rate of 83% compared to Roger’s 70%. This proved to be the difference, as Roger had a hoop run percentage of 93%, whereas Simon blobbed a few resulting in a 77% success rate.

Roger had 43 croquet shots, 14 of which were roll shots. Simon chose to roll 23 times out of his 84 croquet shots. This points to Simon finding better positional shots today.

I am sure these two will have many more tussles like this over many years to come. It’s testament to Roger Dollimore’s excellent coaching that we have a couple of fast improvers on our books.

I enjoyed watching it anyway!

Steve “Statto” Edney

19th September 2020

PS. Ooh I said I would include a graph or two… (note Simon ran the same hoop twice because he put the clip on the wrong hoop!)

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