This is the first year that we’ve had the short form 14-point Association Croquet events in the South East Federation, intended to be 6 events shared between Sussex County and ourselves. Of course, Covid-19 has caused this monthly schedule to be put on hold, so our July tournament was the first one to be held.
Given the late start to the season there was a lot of pent up demand, so we were able to have a full house, of 12 players, ranging in handicaps from -2 to 12 and 6 different clubs up to 50 miles away. Parking as usual was a problem, but only expensive for those who didn’t read the joining instructions…
The lawns are in reasonable condition with the exception of Lawn 3 which has suffered due to some sad person who decided to practice turning circles with their Segway over the winter. It’s now bumpy and slow, since we can’t cut the grass very short until the bumps have gone… The weather was mostly gray and fairly cool, but at least the rain held off.
So, to the play: given the CA’s Covid-19 guidance the players were split into 3 groups of 4 in the morning playing Advanced all-play-all with 80 minute time limits. This was organised as three bands by handicap. Only a few games went to time, so lots of games pegging out and it feels like this time limit is acceptable, especially for the better players. Disinfecting balls and clips between games didn’t manage to affect the timing or the players’ enjoyment of the games.
Sam Murray from Surbiton was clearly in form, as the lowest handicapped player, making some really good leaves and the only player winning all three games in the morning, allowing his three opponents a total of just 5 hoops.
After lunch the players were divided into three all-play-all groups again, ordered by success in the morning. This time it was still Advanced, but if the handicap difference was more than 5 the higher handicap player could opt for the Advanced Handicap format, which they mostly did.
Sam couldn’t quite keep his success rate up, losing narrowly to Phil Dunk from Reigate Priory by two hoops. Phil did lose one of his games, but was declared the winner on tie-break from Sam and received his socially distanced and disinfected prize of a bottle of wine; also a handicap reduction to 1.
The next 14-point tournament is at Southwick and we’re back at TW on 3rd September.