Croquet under the Sun

In late September, 24 croquet players, including myself and Steve Fisher, gathered to do battle at the annual Greek Open Croquet Tournament, which is held at Gouvia Marina in sunny Corfu. The players had a wide range of abilities, with handicaps ranging from -1 to 18.

The tournament starts with two days of AC doubles to pick the finalists for that event. This event generated a great talking point, which is described at the end of this new item.

On the following day there was a trip along the coast on a boat to the village of Kassiopi, with most participants enjoying swimming in the sea after lunch. This is always a popular day out for relaxing from the croquet.

Then the main event, the AC handicap singles, started in earnest. Those who lost in the first round go into a ‘repechage event’, where the eventual winner gets a place in one of the semi-final games. Once you are knocked out, there is a 14-point consolation event where you can play as much or as little as you wish. I started the singles well with two wins, but I made the strategic error of losing (-1, on time, on the golden hoop) in the quarter final, which was too early to claim much of a success in the singles, and too late to make much of an impact on the 14-point event. Fortunately, Richard Peperell had organised a level play advanced, one-day mini-tournament on what was notionally our day off. I entered that and I won it with 3 out of 3 wins. Very satisfying!

Interspersed with the AC singles was a day of GC where visitors played with local club members and WAGs/HABs. This is a fun day and is a good opportunity to encourage people to play who have not done so previously.

The last day was finals day where the AC singles and AC doubles events were decided. Both games were well fought and watched by plenty of spectators, most of whom seemed to think that they knew better than the players on the lawns. In the singles, Charles Ostler (2.5) from Pinchbeck beat Ros Pimlott (14) from Bowden, and in the doubles, Gordon Mills (6) and Ken Knock (18) from Pinchbeck, beat the reigning champions Peter Wilson (3) from Fylde and Rich Quilter (9) from Corfu.

There was a very interesting start to one of the early games of AC doubles. The first player shot to the east boundary, as is common. The second player shot at that ball (a less common tactic), missed, and when the ball was placed on the yard line, it was touching the first ball. The third player now had a ‘juicy double’ to shoot at, missed, and again the ball had to be placed touching one of the other two balls. I am sure you can guess what happened next. Yes, the fourth player shot at the ‘super-sized triple’, missed, so again the ball had to be place on the outside of the balls already there. We had a four ball cannon! If this happened to you, would you know how to (a) play your shot legally and (b) play your shot optimally? (All the balls are for hoop 1.) The picture shows Richard Peperell (red) and Andrew Dutton (yellow) discussing what to do next.

Peter Allan

Picture courtesy of Karen Quilter