Canadian Open Won by Jim Bast
7-9 August 2009
AC CroqCan was hosted by Croquet Ottawa this year (7-9 August) at the Elmdale Lawn Bowling Club, with nearby Central Lawn Bowling Club as ancillary venue.
In perfect croquet weather Jim Bast edged past Brian Cumming and Rich Lamm (both seeded above him) to become the 2009 Canadian Open Champion.
At the start of the last day the three top seeds were still very close: Cumming 4/6, Lamm 5/6, Bast 4/6. At this point book makers would have had a hard time figuring out odds. Two rounds later the final double round robin standings had unfolded as follows:
As the tp-count suggests, top seed Cumming was actually in fine form. His relatively few mistakes just turned out to be very costly. Emmett had pulled off the biggest upset of the event by beating Lamm, almost with a tp (only the peg-out failed). Lamm played brilliantly generally and Bast appeared to go from strength to strength. (I do not remember Association Croquet played at such sustained high level in any previous CroqCan). The solid cone Jacques hoops were set with clearance 1/16 inches when the lawn was shared with lower flights and at 1/32 for Top Flight on the last day. Pretournament rains did however make the hoops less firm than they would have been in dry soil. The Elmdale lawn speed was measured at slightly above 12 plummers.
In terms of the advertized tie-breaking rules, the above tie at the top called for a deciding game to resolve it. It was to be without time limit (games generally had a nominal duration of 2 hour 15 minutes). Bast did the first break (in 4th or 5th turn) and when the lift shot was missed, he proceeded with well executed early moves of an on-time triple peel attempt. He rush-peeled Blue through penult to midcourt. He approached 2-back via a pass roll that sent the peelee near rover. However, his striker ball kept rolling in 12 plummer fashion to a position perfectly wired from the perfectly placed pioneer at 2-back. This mishap enabled Lamm to convert a baulk line lift into an all round break in which Blue was peeled through rover and pegged out. One could almost hear the crowd smack their collective lips for the treat ahead: enjoying the tasty catered lunch on the deck while watching the big boys play cat-and-mouse. Indeed, with no time pressure, Lamm kept a respectful distance for some time, not daring to bring his balls close together when Bast would have a shot. Bast, enjoying the shown respect, advanced his clip to 3-back and parked his black ball on the boundary south of it. Then Lamm made a move. He set a rush to hoop 1, high up on the west boundary, wired from Black by the rover hoop. Did I say "wired"? I should have said "quasi-wired", because Bast dared to run the hoop from the boundary. Three yards beyond the hoop his ball was no longer wired - in fact it now had a double target. Bast hit and finished.
This was not the only game in which one ball triumphed against two. In an earlier game Cumming did a tpo against Lamm and, after much cat-and-mouse, had set the following leave in last turn: the single ball near corner 3, his rover about peg-high on the west boundary and his other ball (for rover) in corner 1. A good looking leave, right? Lamm (for 3-back) calmly hit that mid-west ball, took off to corner 1, rolled the two balls to 3-back, ran the hoop and finished.
The tournament was originally populated by 18 players and divided into three flights of 6 in view of high player disparity. This had the effect that no player remained winless. Danny Huneycutt unfortunately had to drop out from Top Flight at the last minute for compelling reasons. The Red and Pink flights were each formatted for a single round robin of 6, followed by a knock-out phase starting at semifinal. Placement into flights was based on the Bayesian Grade of the players. Pursuant to the philosophy that the knock-out phase is a new event for which the block serves as qualifying event, seeding for the KO was based on the updated Bayesian Grade of the players. (In our technological age, these updated grades are available on a laptop within seconds after the block results have been typed in). While net points are generally frowned upon for good reason as tie-breaker at high level Association Croquet, they are well suited -- and were used here -- in situations where most games end with a winning score of less than 26. Where neither net points nor head-to-head could resolve the tie, this tournament prescribed a certain single turn mini-game as tiebreaker of last resort. It is designed to test ability to get going on a break from a challenging starting position (the same position for each tied player). The tournament dinner at the Canal Ritz was held on Friday evening so that Saturday evening could be available for such single-turn tie-breaking games if necessary. Many who wanted to see this in action were disappointed when it turned out not to be required.
In the Red final, Russell Brown beat Gordon Lunn while Peter Westaway beat Patrick Little in the (3,4) play-off. The two players who did not make the semifinal played a best-of-2 match for positions 5 and 6. This was to ensure that every entered player had at least 7 games. The Red(5,6) match ended in a tie between Ken Shipley and David Druiett.
In the Pink final, Chris Loat beat Jane Beharriell to become the only undefeated player in the tournament. Christian Paquet beat Alison Streight in the Pink(3,4) game while Don Oakley beat Georg Dej in the (5,6) match.