On Saturday 10 players contested the inaugural short croquet tournament at Blewbury. The weather was good and we were all tired at the end of 8 rounds of play, having had only one or two byes during the day. The games were each an hour long and were pretty interactive being played to handicap.
The competition was in two phases. The first phase had two all-play-all blocks ranking the players for the finals phase which comprised quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final, as well as other games for players out of contention. Tim Lacy-Hulbert from Kington Langley ran out the winner and received a presentation pack of Blewbury Honey.
Our visitors complemented us on the lawns!
We’ve been encouraged to hold a repeat performance next year as this is the only short croquet tournament on the CA calendar. Hopefully next year we will be able to accommodate 16 players!
Short croquet is a good format for all players, from the least experience to those with a low handicap, as it is fast moving, interactive and with bisques helps to develop skills and tactics at all levels. If you’d like a go, then please speak to me and I’ll organise a session for you.
Recently, Anthony Hardwicke and I took part in a C-level advanced AC tournament held over two days at Phyllis Court and High Wycombe. My reason for doing so was that I was advised last year that in order to improve, I should try some level play tournaments. That sounded a bit scary at first, but I discovered that there are level play tournaments restricted to handicaps of 8 and higher, so as a 9, I should have a reasonable chance. There were eight entrants (limited due to COVID-19 restrictions), which proved to be an excellent number. Everyone played a total of five games, organised as a Swiss tournament. You can find a full report of the tournament in the News section of the CA web site, posted on 29th July.
I enjoyed the tournament tremendously. It was well organised and played in a very friendly spirit. I would recommend giving this type of tournament a try if your handicap is in a suitable range. The entrants had handicaps in the range of 8 to 12 and everyone won at least one game. In fact, the winner and second placed players had handicaps of 9 and so did better than the two players with handicaps of 8. We are hosting a similar tournament at Blewbury on 29th & 30th August and there are still places left. I hope to see some of you there.
Oh yes, the Advanced Rules part. The tournament was played under so-called Advanced Rules, but there is only one such rule – law 36. If you are not familiar with this, then if you run either 1-back or 4-back in your turn, then on your opponent’s next turn, they can have a lift to A-baulk or B-baulk. This makes you think carefully about your leave at the end of your turn which I find adds to the enjoyment of the game. There is a bit more to it than that, but consult the laws of AC to find out more.
There are new web pages – described in a recent email telling people about mailing lists and about mailing lists and aliases. These two links require you to be logged in as they are within the members’ area.
Another new page has been introduced to show the status of internal competitions. This lists those going on this year and will, from next year, show those from previous years. This means that the news items for the Icknield Cup, the GC Championship and the AC All England Handicap which this year was renamed to the Berkshire Handicap are now all accessible from that page. I hope that this structure will be found more convenient. Our other internal competitions will appear there shortly. This page is available under “Members/Competitions” and will shortly require login to access it.
Controlled roll-up GC sessions are now available on Tuesday and Friday afternoons from 1.30-3.30. You will still have to register your intent on the booking calendar, both to allow required logging/tracing, and to ensure that no more than 10 people turn up for any such session. With a max. of 4 players allowed on each court, and potentially 10 people on the premises, priority for play should always be given to anyone “sitting out” during the previous game.
We also now allow double-banked singles play, both during those roll-up sessions and at other times. Again, all names must be shown on a booking, and – outside the roll-up sessions – a 2nd pair may only use the court with the permission of the first pair booking it.
To avoid crowding, the number of people simultaneously allowed on club premises remains limited to 10. Double-banked doubles is still not allowed. Nor is there any change in the use of catering or waste facilities in the clubhouse – the kitchen area is decommissioned so we don’t get relays of members trying to use kettles or the fridge in that small space, and you must take home all the waste paper and food or drink containers that you brought with you or generated while at the club – please just remember to bring your own takeaway waste bag with you every time you come, and take it away when you go.
Entries for the 2020 competition are now open and anyone wishing to play should contact Joe King to register their interest. The games will be played as 18pt handicap games in the initial block stage, with the final rounds being contested on September 12th (provisionally).
The block stages will be a minimum of 4 games to be played between now and September 6th.
A Blewbury team played Phyllis Court today in a match planned for this new level play league. Blewbury achieved magnificent 8:0 victory. Congratulations to John Garnett, David Grinstead, David Seed and Mick Moore.
We all know that the rules, regulations and guidance keep changing, yet the club is keeping up as best we can. Our latest set of guidelines, which we must treat as binding, are here on this web site. They are intended to be self-contained and consistent with current Government and Croquet Association advice.
Please take the time to read through them.
The one significant change from previous advice is that Club members may now invite guests to play, provided always that the rules about guests are followed. These are:
guests may only play at off-peak times, outside the peak 1:30-5:30 periods on Mondays through Fridays;
you must include your guests’ names in your court booking;
you must make sure your guests know the rules too, and follow them;
you must pay the guest fee of £5 per guest per session to the club, by bank transfer if you possibly can, and tell the Treasurer, preferably by email, what your payment is for.
On Wednesday 17 June, we held our one-day GC B-level tournament, level play for those with handicaps of 3 and higher. The CA’s tournament guidance had been published a few days earlier; we thought we might have been the first club to go with it – as it turned out, we were the second. Social distancing was the order of the day, and we kept entries down to just six players, though at least twice that number had originally signed up to play.
With staggered start times and no double-banking on either court, the games were all played at a good rate, with just two players waiting to go on as soon as one court was vacated. Each player had been given their own labelled chair well distanced from its neighbours, to use as their base station; and either luckily or by Steve Fisher’s good management, the final game was not only the deciding match of the tournament, pitting Bridget Goodman of Ealing against Caversham’s Peter Adams, but it was a close struggle that went to hoop 13 before Peter finally prevailed 7-6 and took the prize just before the late afternoon rain began.
We expect our next tournament to be the GC C-level equivalent, for handicaps 7+, on Saturday 4 July, and the playing format to be very similar.
Following the Government’s relaxations of lockdown rules from June 1st, and advice received from the Croquet Association, the Committee have agreed that, with immediate effect:
All members may now book the courts for doubles as well as singles matches. Double-banked games (whether singles or doubles) are still not allowed. All players involved in any game must be named on the booking system, to facilitate contact tracing if necessary.
Members may now make (or be included in) a maximum of 2 bookings ahead (eg to make one booking, and to be named in one other booking made by another member). Additionally, competition organisers may book further slots for members, as necessary for them to compete in any event/tournament.
Slots of 2.5 hours may now be booked outside our peak times (Mon-Fri, 1.30-5.30). Bookings within (or overlapping) those hours remain limited to 90 minutes.
1 coach or spectator is allowed per court with any booking (ie a total of 5 people may be on club premises for any booked slot). Such coaches/spectators must also be named on the relevant booking, for contact-tracing purposes.
Please inform the Secretary at earliest opportunity if you or any other member you’re aware of starts to exhibit Covid-19 symptoms. No-one with such symptoms should visit the Club.
In making these changes, all other rules/restrictions & cleaning standards remain as previously published. In particular, the Committee reiterate that members should:
be careful in maintaining the social distancing rule at all times, but to be especially careful during doubles play. 2m distance approximates to 2 mallet lengths held with arms outstretched.
bring your own chairs, if any are required. The white plastic chairs are not to be used, and use of the wooden bench is to be avoided as much as possible.
The Committee will continue to monitor adherence of these rules, and may retract these relaxations if they are abused.