A Member of Croquet England
The Pavilion, Lammas Park, Culmington Road,
Ealing, London W5 5JH
Simon Tuke triumphed in the ARK AC Advanced Handicap Tournament held at Surbiton on the weekend of 30 September to 1st October, with his five wins out of five seeing his handicap cut to an impressive 2.5 (down from 4.5 at the start of the season). The handicaps ranged from -1 to 11 and Ealing had three participants, Simon, Tony and Ignacio. Tony Elliott was also a strong contender with three wins out of four, but it was Ignacio who came third behind Simon and Diana Wilson.
However, having given away a total of 59 bisques across five games at the all-England Handicap National Final two weeks earlier, it was a novel experience for Simon to actually receive bisques in two of his games. It all came down to an exciting final game, played against Diana Wilson from Roehampton (who notably beat Simon +26 in the Longman Cup last year). Diana played extremely well, and looked set for victory until she unexpectedly missed a return roquet after hoop 4 with her second ball, when Simon was joined up. Simon duly picked up the break, but couldn’t manoeuvre his partner ball for the Rover peel. However, he continued serenely until inexplicably fluffing Penult from straight in front, giving Diana all the balls for a seemingly trivial finish.
Most unfortunately, Diana then played the wrong ball in a take-off, giving Simon the chance to make Penult and Rover, and produce a strong leave. Diana then hit a 25-yarder (cue huge cheers from all watching) and took off 20 yards to an angled position for Penult, which she ran superbly. She missed the subsequent 15-yarder though, to lose by the time-honoured score of -1 on time.
Later that evening Simon thought that maybe he had played the wrong ball in the turn before Diana, and that she might simply have continued his error. However, by good fortune it transpired that the only one of the three webcams that Surbiton recorded was for lawn 3, where the final was played, so Andy Dibben was kindly able to confirm that this potentially unfortunate situation had not in fact arisen. Not that it would have changed the result, but it did allow Simon to celebrate without remorse.
Photograph: Simon receiving the trophy from Martin Burger.