Hallam retains Millennium Cup in Nailbiter
Early morning rain on the Saturday made life difficult for those making final preparations on the lawns for the start of play but fortunately the local weather forecast was proved correct in that conditions improved gradually throughout the July weekend, with the lawns slowly drying out and speeding up over the two days. With a buffet supper and fun croquet evening planned by Bath Croquet Club to start around 6.30 pm on the Saturday evening, the first day’s play was organised as three games of 22 points each, played from a base of 6, as all bar one of the competitors had handicaps between 8 and 12. The resultant handicaps were of course adjusted per Appendix 8 of the Laws Book. Last year’s winner of the Millennium Cup, Sanaa Hallam of Nottingham, now playing off a hugely reduced handicap of 3 (compared with 11 one year earlier), was drawn in the first round against Kathy Wallace (8). He eventually found himself playing second fiddle to the bustling, quickfire lady from Nailsea. Indeed, it was Wallace who led the field at the end of Day 1, unbeaten with 3 wins from 3 games.
Sunday’s plan was for play to end around 5 pm and to this end the tournament’s final two games were extended to the full 26 points, again from a base of 6. At the end of the morning’s play, things had begun to look interesting, because Wallace had been beaten by Mike Tracy (12), another Nailsea entrant, and both Paul Francis (12) of Bath and Hallam succeeded in their games. All three players were now on 3 wins from 4 games, but Wallace had beaten both of them on Day 1. On a “who beat whom” basis, she just had to come good in the last game to take home the trophy. Francis and Hallam had to face each other in round 5; Wallace was drawn against Gill Pocock (10) of Bristol. In an exciting climax the scores in both games were 22:19, both ending when time was called after 3.5 hours, at 5 pm. Hallam scored the 22 points in his game; unfortunately for Kathy Wallace, it was Gill Pocock who scored 22 in their game, thereby denying Wallace the Millennium Cup.
Interestingly, there was no precise time limit placed on any of the games, both on Saturday and Sunday. There was just a notional time limit, exacted at a time advised before play commenced, the intention being in all cases to bring about a pegged-out finish instead of the more usual, bland (and largely unsatisfactory, in the manager’s view) ending to most timed games. Nevertheless, 2.5 hours were notionally allocated for the 22 point games; 3.5 hours for the 26 point games. In the final analysis, only 3 out of 9 of the 22 point games had to stop when the bell was rung for time; paradoxically, all 6 of the full-point games went to time, Mike Tracy successfully pegging out against Kathy Wallace after time had been called.
So why was an hour not enough for only 4 extra points to be scored ?
The results :
Sanaa Hallam (3) won 4/5 (inc. a bye) by beating Duggan +10, Pocock +6 and Francis +3(T)
Paul Francis (12) won 3/5 by beating Duggan +13(T), Tracy +10 and Perkins +3(T)
Kathy Wallace (8) won 3/5 by beating Hallam +4, Francis +5 and Perkins +10
Gill Pocock (10) won 3/5 (inc. a bye) by beating Duggan +4(T) and Wallace +3(T)
David Perkins (12) won 3/5 (inc. a bye) by beating Pocock +7 and Tracy +1(T)
Mike Tracy (12) won 3/5 (inc. a bye) by beating Wallace +5 and Duggan +7(T)
Deirdre Duggan won 1/5 (inc. a bye)
The tournament was managed by Roger Hayes of Bath
A handicap reduction was achieved by Sanaa Hallam (Nottingham) from 3 to 2.5