Matt Holmes wins the Pendle Easter Handicap Tournament (by James Hopgood 25/04/11)
The Bury Bandit, Matt Holmes, won the Pendle Easter Handicap for a second season in a row, clearly playing above his handicap with solid break-play and some occasional flamboyant cockiness just to rub it in. The manager was tempted to “rigge” a final round to give some close runner-ups a chance of pipping Matt in the Egyptian system (see later in the report). However, the grape-vine suggests that Paul Rigge might come out of handicap-tournament-retirement next Easter to prevent Matt winning the trophy three years in a row, thereby breaking consecutive-win record jointly held by Riggee and the Beast.
Ten players, five from Scotland, played in this years tournament, with two local club members playing at the start and end of the tournament to bump up numbers. The Pendle lawns have improved dramatically over the past few years, and more so over the past year; they are now definitely a very good surface to play on. Even so, conditions were easonably easy, evenly paced, and I am guessing at around 10 Plummers or so (although I never measured it). The hoops were firmish but generous in width; nevertheless, some truly awful hoop strokes were seen to spin through (including one by the reporter) — see the recent discussion on the Nottingham board.
There were several players, in addition to Matt, obviously playing better than their handicap, including Terry Vernazza, who earned himself the Silver Merit Award badge for an all-round break without bisques against David Turner, and Peter Dewhurst, who had some canny tactical battles with his opponents. However, as Peter only played for part of the weekend, he did not qualify for any trophies in the tournament as he played fewer than five games. Alice Fleck entertained us on and off the lawns, with two amusing on-lawn incidents. First, after a long-break, Terry (9) narrowly missed his peg-out against Alice (10) and decided to peg strikers ball-out; Alice, now substantially behind, came onto the lawn somewhat deflated and asked Terry why he didn’t just use his bisque to finish the game. Terry duly pointed out the bisque was Alice’s! Second, in her game against Joe Lennon (Glasgow), Alice was Rover and Rover versus Peg and Box, and Alice laid up with a tight rush behind rover with Joe having a long shot on the peg. After Joe failed to peg out, Alice set up for a perfect peel which went through cleanly with strikers ball able to get a rush on partner. After the continuation stoke, Joe correctly pointed out it was the end of turn since she had peeled and run hoop five, not rover. Joe hit in to win.
James mopped up after some early season jitters by his opponents who failed to beat him in the sixth or seventh turns, and the only games he lost where no croquet when giving five bisques to the Bury Bandit (who also won the toss), and 8.5 bisques to David Turner. There are few opponents of handicap 7 who can still win 9th turn despite trying to run hoop three twice thinking it was hoop one (once first turn to peg-high from B-baulk, and again fifth turn thereby wasting 3.5 bisques), set a tea-lady with no bisques, play the backward ball seventh turn and get away with a decent leave, and still win with a bisque standing! At lunchtime on Monday, Matt had lost to Peter, but hadn’t yet played Terry who was clearly also playing well, leaving James and Matt on equal points in the Egyptian system with the same number of wins. James had played Terry, and so the natural final round was that James played Peter, and Matt played Terry, the latter being a battle of the bandits. If Peter beat James, and Terry beat Matt, Terry would have been the overall winner of the tournament. If James beat Peter then independent of the Matt and Terry result, James would have won the trophy. Otherwise, if James lost and Matt won, Matt goes home winner. Good tournament management, eh? In the end, no one could be bothered and we wanted to go home. So since Matt, with his unnecessary field of bisques, beat James, Matt took the trophy for a second year in a row. Bandit. Those North-West folk really should get their handicapping sorted out … 😉 As usual, Pendle is a superb club to visit thanks to the overwhelming hospitality of the club members. Pendle not only has high quality catering, but also high quality lawns. Two reasons to sign up to their tournaments this season.
Matt Holmes Wins John Beech Tournament at Pendle (by Barbara Dutton 25/04/11)
This was an invasion by players from Scotland and the North East, only three players were local, but they did well with Tony Vernazza from Fylde wining the Fasteset Game trophy in 50mins and 40seconds just pipping two other players by a few seconds. Matt Holmes from Bury was the Overall winner and the other trophies went to: James Hopgood (who also managed the tournament)and took the -10 Handicap Trophy and represents the Meadows club, Scotland : Joe Lennon from Glasgow who won the High Handicap trophy: and Roger Staples from Middlesboro who won the Most Games prize having played 11 games over the weekend. The weather was wonderful, the tournament was managed without a hitch. The manager thanked the club for the great state of the lawns, the catering and the warm welcome.
Overall Winner, Pendle Easter Handicap Trophy: Mathew Holmes;
10 or over Handicap Trophy: Joe Lennon;
Under 10 Handicap Trophy: James Hopgood;
Croquet for Leisure Trophy for the most games played: Roger Staples (11 games);
Fastest Game Cup: Terry Vernazza (50 mins 40 sec, Alice Fleck runner up just 57 seconds slower).