AC Open Singles KO: Simon (v Roger S)
AC Handicap Singles KO: Simon (v Roger S)
AC Handicap Doubles KO: Roger S and Pete (v Roger D & Tom)]
GC Handicap Singles KO: Simon (v Roger S)
GC Handicap Doubles KO: Tom and Pete (v Simon & Louise)
Ember Croquet – AC Handicap Singles Knockout Competition Final – 2023 Report
Simon wins the AC handicap singles trophy after two outstanding consecutive turns, firstly running 11 hoops to rover and secondly taking his partner ball from hoop 2 running the remaining 11 hoops plus a peel and pegging out. Congratulations to Simon. This is how it happened.
On a beautiful warm, sunny, late August afternoon, Roger S and Simon took to the lawn to compete the AC Handicap singles final, last contested pre-covid, Roger being the current holder. Roger has the advantage of a single bisque. Pete had dutifully mown the lawns in the morning, presenting them in pretty good shape, considering the effects of a variety of summer stresses, and now playing nicely fast and smooth. Roger and Simon checked the width of hoop 3, which had become slightly too squeezed following recent nightly critter digging activity. The new hoop clamp (funded by the Tesco grant) proved most useful in providing the necessary precision.
Roger won the toss and elected to play first. Simon chose the sunshine colours. Roger, with the midnight colours, opened to the east boundary, Simon to the west, hitting in with his second shot – yellow to red. At this point it was concluded that the boundary lines were too faint, having been largely washed out by heavy rain over the previous couple of weeks. The string line was therefore employed to provide the clear definition needed.
All now ready, Simon restarts, playing it safe by splitting up blue and black, and joining up with red … But, not so safe! … Roger hits in, black to blue. Black makes hoop 1 but slightly over-runs on the approach to hoop 2 so joins up with his partner ball. Simon misses the consequent long roquet. Roger gets going with blue, running hoops 1 and 2, but over-running at 3. Simon hits in, yellow to red, on the west boundary by hoop 2, take off to blue and black by hoop 3, rushes black towards hoop 1, and runs it. Take off black to get yellow up to red by hoop 2, but misjudges it, yellow running off the west boundary to leave a near-treble target for black. Roger assuredly makes the long hit in on red but breaks down with a split roll taking black off the west boundary. Time to take that bisque? … it’s early in the game … save for later …
Simon sees a chance to get red going, runs 11 hoops to penultimate, leaves black and blue wired from each other at hoops 2 and 3, respectively, and yellow and red joined up south east of hoop 1. Black shoots at blue, to join up, and a chance of a favourable rub of the green? Not on this occasion. Time to take that bisque? There’s still a long way to go …
Yellow rushes red to pivot position, takes off to blue and black at hoop 3, gets an adequate rush for hoop 2, plays a long split roll and runs it, four-ball break is in place. The break starts to become slightly out of shape from 1-back, as nerves, tiredness, or doubt creep in. Simon manages to hold it together but can’t avoid putting partner ball red as pioneer at 4-back, instead of the preferred route to a peel finish, by rover. The break continues, red is croqueted from 4-back towards peel position at rover. Simon’s continuation shot after penultimate is slightly hampered by blue, over the better-positioned black. The necessary improvisation works, getting blue to east side of rover, black to the south west of it, and a decent enough rush position on red. Yellow peels red, runs the hoop, roquets blue, the croquet shot moves red clear of the hoop. Roqueting black to get rush position on red is a formality, and pegging out of red and yellow quickly follows. So, victory, 26-3, for Simon, a new AC Handicap Singles KO champion, his first honour in club handicap competitions. Commiserations to Roger.
The two finalists have improved their games markedly this year, having benefitted from the wider variety of play from competing in the SECF ‘S’ League, and from seeing some of the matches at this year’s AC World Championships in action. Well done to both.