Covid Precautions: Issue 12 (effective 19th July)

Although formal lockdown measures are now being lifted, Covid-19 is still endemic and currently spreading quickly. Please continue to observe the advice that follows, as recommended by the Croquet Association (CA):

  1. DO NOT GO TO THE CLUB IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING ANY SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 (including those typical of “only” a cold or flu). Use the NHS helpline and seek advice. For your own protection, follow the advice about self-isolation if you are, or are living with, someone in one of the vulnerable groups.
  2. For track and trace:
    • USE THE ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEM before coming to the club; and
    • SCAN THE DISPLAYED QR CODE on your phone (if possible) on arrival
  3. Familiarise yourself with our club’s rule and risk assessment:
    • KEEP DOORS AND WINDOWS OPEN to ventilate both the Clubhouse and “The John”;
    • MAINTAIN STRICT HYGIENE STANDARDS both by washing you hands and by wiping down surfaces and equipment after use – particularly after touching internal surfaces such as toilets, door handles or taps; or after borrowing club mallets.
  4. Please be aware that other players may be more vulnerable than you, and respect their need for social distancing:
    • unless agreed by other party(ies), CONTINUE TO RESPECT THE 2-METRE RULE;
    • AVOID CONGESTION IN THE CLUBHOUSE and particularly the kitchen area;
    • WEAR FACE COVERINGS INDOORS, IF REQUESTED by other players;
    • CAR SHARING IS NOW PERMITTED, but is a matter of individual choice.
  5. As far as possible, please DRESS APPROPRIATELY PRIOR TO TRAVELLING to the club, rather than changing there.

NB. we are now ending our club mallet loan scheme. Please RETURN ALL CLUB MALLETS TO THE CLUBHOUSE, for our increasing pool of new members, rather than keeping them for your own use.

Hibiscus at large


As the holder of the hibiscus tea bags – aka the wooden spoon  – for BCC’s innovative Hi Bisquers tournament in May, I headed to York in search of enlightenment. My target: the  James Hawkins weekend, Twelve Hoops,  One Turn on Saturday, Control, Tactics, Action… on Sunday. The venue: the  Northern Academy  (northerncroquetacademy.org) at  York Croquet Club.  Hawkins is the author of Complete Croquet (£16.99, available on Amazon), widely acknowledged as the most comprehensive contemporary guide.  

His premise is blindingly obvious: winning an AC game requires 12 approaches accurate enough to make hoop running easy. In between, as many hits  as it takes to make this happen.His weapons:  shot making skills, strategy, psychology and bluff.  ’I don’t care if I win or lose’, he said disarmingly. A blatant lie of course, but cool ruffles opponents tautly wired  for victory. And  ruffled equals prone to error.

The course is divided between classroom  and supervised  court time, the ratio defined by the weather. For me, there were several light bulb moments for plays at points on the course where I’ve often  been stymied.  My fellow students, seasoned by years of league matches, were less obviously  excited, but several were repeaters  which tells its own story.  At  the end of the first day, James made the headlined break of 12 hoops in one turn. All the shots looked effortless. What could possibly go wrong?  I  found out as soon  I tried it after class, but I woke up the  next morning with a plan for achieving it in my mind. Will this happen? I  now dare to believe it will. MC 

Calendar update

Some of you will have noticed some changes to the club calendar, which are designed to make it more reliable and secure. Quite a number of you have already navigated your way with the new calendars in the days since the changes went live. Things have seemingly been working smoothly and I’m not aware of any operational issues. But if you encounter an issue then I’d be very pleased to hear about it.

The changes are:

  • Club events which book the lawns are now all in ‘full green’, and are set up by the club committee, with sign-ups enabling members to register for them. Club events are club sessions and home matches. We have tried to choose colours which work well for normal sighted and CVD users.
  • Personal bookings are introduced in two new calendars (one for each lawn) and now in a grey-green. All members can make personal bookings. The slightly different colours also means you can spot personal bookings easily.
  • Maintenance is unchanged and White lining should still be booked and entered at the time it is going to be done.
  • Other events is now committee meetings, away matches and other activities – and which do not require a lawn allocation.

In terms of why we’ve made these changes. They will:

  • Stop email addresses of members being exposed to public users in the sign-ups for events
  • Prevent club sessions being inadvertently edited by members trying to sign-up to a session
  • Still enable team captains from other clubs to see match fixtures on our calendar

The calendar has two limitations which I would draw to your attention:

  • We cannot stop overlapping events as the system is quite clever enough for that. So we can end up with a personal booking accidently overlapping a maintenance session or club event.
  • If you need to make an a full day booking there is an option to do that. However, since these aren’t very obvious (they’re posted right at the top of the day they apply to) there have been some overbookings made on top of all day bookings. I would therefore suggest avoiding using the all-day bookings option, but rather make a booking from 9-18 or 9-21 or whatever is required as that will be clearer that the lawns are not available.

I hope everything continues to work smoothly for you.

New high-bisquers competition 2021

We are introducing a new AC handicap competition – which is yet to be named – for those players with a handicap of 14 or more. The objective is to provide for an ongoing competition which will result in a final on Saturday September 25th. This is in memory of Jolyon Kay who was instrumental in establishing the club and was a leading light of the club for many years.

If you would like to know if it is for you, then please let me know.

Please click on the button below to record your desire to play in this year’s competition.

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Games will be 14pt games, played off handicap, with a base of 10. There will be a 90 minute time limit until we get to the finals. The exact format will be determined once I know how many entries there are. It is likely to be in a block format ensuring each player has at least three games; but this is not yet fixed.

Entrants to this competition are welcome to enter the Prebendal Manor Cup too.

Entries so far:

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Prebendal Manor Cup 2021

Holder: Peter Allan

The Prebendal Manor Cup handicap competition is commencing and I am ready to take entries. Please click on the button below to record your desire to play in this year’s competition.

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Depending on the number of entries I will determine a suitable format to select the 8 players to advance to the finals phase on Saturday September 25th. This may be block play to ensure each entrant has 3 or 4 games, a progressive Swiss where the players with the most wins progress or some other format. The objective will be to make sure players get at least three games before the finals stages.

Initial rounds will be likely be played as 18pt games with a 2.5 hour time limit.

All club members are welcome to register as there are no handicap restrictions. High bisquers should be aware of the new high-bisquer competition (yet-to-be-named). Lower handicapped players should be aware of the Founder’s Cup advanced play competition for which the Chairman will provide invitations to suitably qualified players in the near future.

Entries so far:

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Inaugural Blewbury midweek advanced play tournament

On Wednesday and Thursday Blewbury hosted its inaugural midweek advanced play tournament. Paul Wolff, Peter Allan and Joe King were joined by five visitors from clubs in Winchester, High Wycombe, Watford, Wrest Park and Nottingham.

Sunny and dry weather, fast lawns and firm hoops made for some absorbing play and closely contested games, with players managing 5 or 6 games over the two days. Two games finished with the narrowest of margins +1 on time, two by +2 and three by +3

The eventual winner was Joe King who finished with 6 wins out of 6. Clive Goode ended up with one loss only, against Joe.

The visitors, impressed by the quality of our lawns, encouraged us to run the event again next year.

Final results were:

Eliminated from the Longman Cup by Harwell-Eynsham

Deirdre Cochrane, Brian Jamieson, Claire King and Steve Fisher made up the team that were eliminated 6-1 by Harwell-Eynsham. Claire, playing in her first match, with Brian won the doubles match in the morning. Unfortunately this was the only success. The games were only lost by a small margin – but they were lost. This means that Harwell-Eynsham will play either Swindon or Bristol in the next round. Follow it at Longman 2021

Covid Rules easing from May 17th

From tomorrow, the Government’s further lockdown easing means we can relax SOME of the precautions we had previously put in place, in line with the latest CA guidance received.

It is important that we all continue to exercise caution, and to observe the remaining restrictions. Issue 11 of our precautions list is now being mailed out to members, and will be posted on the clubhouse door shortly. The main changes are as follows:

  • Up to 30 people are now allowed on our grounds at any time, though everyone must continue to book their attendance on our booking system for track and trace.
  • Court use is therefore effectively now unrestricted, with 2 doubles games again able to be double-banked on each court.
  • Up to 6 people may now enter the clubhouse, though face masks should be worn – especially whenever more than 1 person is in the building.
  • All croquet equipment (eg now including clips and bisques) may now be used, and can again be stored in the clubhouse’s cupboards.
  • Food and drink may now be consumed on club premises, but only when seated.

Members continue to be responsible for sanitising all equipment and surfaces touched, as well as for their own hygiene. Social distancing rules remain, and you should NOT come to the club if you’re exhibiting any potential Covid symptoms or are meant to be self-isolating.

David Long, Club Secretary, 16th May 2021.

Courts Reopening

Following yesterday’s melt, the courts will reopen today as soon as last night’s frost has thawed.

With the ground still very soft, jump shots are still not allowed.

David Long

Courts Closed – Snow

Due to the snow fall earlier this morning, the Committee has decided to close the courts to protect the lawns. Even though the snow is melting fast, the ground is very soft and there is a likely risk that play would damage the courts.

Hopefully we’ll be OK to reopen them tomorrow but, with a deep frost forecast tonight, please check for further updates here before heading to the courts.

Additionally, whenever we re-open, please do not play any jump shots until advised it is safe to do so: there are already a number of gouge marks on the lawns from last week’s play, and we don’t want to damage the lawn further.