May 21st 2012 GC Doubles Handicap
Report by Peter Ross
The inaugural Letchworth GC Handicap Doubles was won by local pairing John Skingsley and Robert Staddon, in a close and fiercely fought final against Ray Mounfield (Ashby) and Susan Brooks (Letchworth).
Twelve pairs entered the tournament, from clubs as far flung as Guildford & Godalming, Leighton-Linslade, and Ashby, as well as from the host club Letchworth. Our two lawns were in excellent condition, and the weather was dry if a little chilly.
The schedule called for all-play-all (one 13-point game) within two blocks of six pairs, followed by a final. The block games were hard-fought: one-third of all games went to 76, and in only four games out of thirty did the winning margin exceed three hoops. As no-one was keen to impose time limits, this resulted in a long day before we resolved who would play in the final; but a day that was enjoyed by all.
In the end, both blocks produced a clear winning pair, by margins of two games in Block A and one game in Block B. John Skingsley and Robert Staddon went through to the final against Ray Mounfield and Susan Brooks. This too was played as one-point game, with two extra turns being permitted to Susan. There was a great display of tactical awareness from both pairs, especially at the twelfth hoop. Needing to score in order to level the game, Ray and Susan tried to delay the run until they were able to set up a rush to the golden hoop. John and Robert recognised this and played to force their opponents to take the hoop before they could set the rush.
The game went to six all, and after playing to the golden hoop Susan used her remaining extra turn to wire her ball from John's. By a quirk of the lawn, and much to Ray's dismay, John's ball skirted the hoop and then rolled to a blocking position. A lengthy tussle ensued, terminated only when Ray elected but failed to run the hoop rather than clear the opposition, who promptly seized the opportunity to claim the tournament.