We are delighted and privileged to again be hosting the Championship of the East Midlands from Fri 25th to Sun 27th June. We can expect croquet of the very highest standard with a stellar selection of the strongest players in the country competing. Based on rankings, favourites include Paddy Chapman, James Death, Mark Suter, Ian Lines and Alain Giraud (all in the UK top 20) but there are also various possible wild card players including the exceptionally talented Jonathan Kirby.
The event will consist of two knockouts, into each of which all players are drawn, followed by a final between the winners of the two knockouts.
Spectators are very welcome any time to come and watch some top class croquet any time between 9:30 am and whenever the last game finishes (usually early evening; possibly earlier on Sunday).
Photos: two of the competitors: Robert Wilkinson & Robin Brown.
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Update – before start of play on Saturday
After the first day’s play in this prestigious tournament, Ian Lines and James Death are finalists in the first knockout (the “Draw”). The players are all also entered into a second seeded knockout (the “Process”) which will be played today, so no-one is out of contention, and there are players of the very highest calibre including many internationals.
James Death seems to be in superb form, having won 4 games decisively, three scoring +26SXP. (This means the opponent scored no hoops and James completed a ”sextuple peel” – a formidably complex break in which one ball makes 12 hoops and also scores 6 hoops for its partner without the mallet ever touching the partner ball. It is sometimes compared to a 147 break in snooker). Martin Beacon achieved what Mark Suter, Alain Girauld and Paddy Chapman failed to do, by scoring one hoop against James.
A couple of snippets of observed play. One of James’ SXPs ended with a virtuosic (and eventful, and not quite as planned) straight TP after an attempted straight rush peel of a ball almost in the jaws of 4-back (with one nearby opponent ball still unroqueted) bounced back a yard at 45 degrees. With a delicate split shot James jawsed peelee (pink), then rushed brown south west of the hoop, and used it to cannon pink through by 2 feet while getting hoop position, brown ending up in the east yard line area east of the hoop. James then did a jump shot to the boundary to avoid hitting pink, and then centre-balled the 10 yard roquet on brown, sent brown near the peg getting a slightly long rush on peelee, rushed it into poor peeling position about 3 yards north and 1.5 yards east of penult, with a penult pioneer (green) a couple of yards south and a bit east of penult. From here he did a straight peel intending afterwards to roquet green, but slightly overhit, peeling pink almost to rover and Irish peeling white through the hoop by a few inches. After that it was fairly routine, with a second jump over peelee necessary while running rover.
In a game between Ian Lines and Jonathan Kirby (nice to see him playing again), Jonathan had TPO-ed Ian and taken two balls off leaving them only one ball each. Ian got an early advantage, then after a while a cagey cat-and-mouse stand-off occurred on the south boundary, with Ian (for 2-back) a few yards from corner 1 deeming and Jonathan (for 5) about 6 yards from corner 4 and edging closer to Ian. Eventually Jonathan shot and hit, and approached H5 from corner 1 sending Ian’s ball a few yards short of H6. He ran a difficult, angled H5 decisively, several yards past H6, and was hugely unfortunate to find himself perfectly wired from Ian’s ball. Ian eventually prevailed.
Full results on Croquetscores.
There really is some top class croquet happening, which is well worth watching, both for aficionados (who might understand the above text) and also for interested spectators or learners. Free of charge to watch; come any time between 9:30am and whenever the last game of the day finishes – perhaps early to mid evening today (Saturday); possibly earlier on Sunday.
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Update after day 2.
James Death had looked insuperable and an outstanding favourite on Friday, but today’s play tells a more nuanced story and suggests an enticing final day tomorrow. In the second (“Process”) knockout James eventually beat Robert Wilkinson after hitting the last lift, played a break and pegged out Robert’s forward ball to leave 1 & peg vs 4-back and box, leaving his balls in corners 2 & 4. After a drawn-out 3-ball ending James prevailed. Jonathan Kirby had two +26TP wins followed by +25TP against James to take him to the final of the Process. Chapman progressed from TP to QP to SXP (the latter against a very solid Giraud who had already made six TP wins) to become the other Process finalist.
This leads to an exceptionally strong and intriguing final day with Lines vs Death in one final and Chapman vs Kirby in the other, followed by a play-off (perhaps best of 3) between the two winners.
Meanwhile in the plate, Mark Suter is looking very strong with five wins out of six.
Tomorrow should be a delectable feast for croquet fans.