11.08.2008 Alter: 9 Jahre 26./27.07.2008 - Swiss Open AC
John Davis wins the 2008 Swiss Open for the THIRD time
John Davis wins the 2008 Swiss Open for the THIRD time following a tenseand exciting battle with Stephen Mulliner on the croquet lawns of CERN
1st, August, the Swiss National Day, has always been the date aroundwhich the Swiss Open is scheduled, to profit not only from thefestivities of the day but also to ensure good summer weather. Theforecast was again good for this year, with little warning of the rainwhich descended after the first round of games on the first day andcontinued through until play had well finished on Friday evening.Saturday morning saw the return of the sun which progressively becamehotter throughout the day until the final shot late Sunday afternoon.
The lawns had already suffered somewhat from a dry spell earlier inJuly, and although they were fast recovering there were still a fewvagaries in their overall quality which required players to pay closeattention to every shot.
Thursday evening was the Champagne reception to welcome old friends fromprevious Open's and especially to new boy Ian Vincent, making his firstappearance. Kevin Garrad unfortunately had to drop out earlier in themonth and Ian Sexton suffered a last minute infection (septic bursitis)in his left elbow for which he was forbidden to play. Fernando, havingfinally retrieved his mallet from the Iberian baggage handlers, soonfound it was in fact broken where the head meets the shaft and as suchspent much of the tournament trying different mallets which clearlyaffected his game.
So eight souls were ready to do battle in an all play all format, withthe top four going through to the semi-finals and the lower four intothe consolation "plate" along with losing semi-finalists if timepermitting. All under the ever watchful eye of John Davis, who had onceagain agreed to be the Tournament manager, ably assisted by his ROT, Stephen Mulliner, and more importantly the chief Catering Manager, PaulSamson.
The "round robin" games were most memorable for the emergence ofa fast improving "local boy" Danny Davids with 4 wins; frustration for Fernando in finding an acceptable mallet; a notable victory for Dave Underhill over the much higher ranked Ian Vincent; and the inevitable sextuple by Stephen Mulliner.
John Swabey saved John from the manager's nightmare, offinishing with THREE tied for 3rd. and 4th. place, by beating Dave inthe last game of the block. Or did Dave save him when forgetting apossible game saving lift right at the end?
Stephen, John, Ian and Danny therefore went through to the semiswhile the others took the less pressurized games in the consolation"plate" event. Having been beaten by his CERN Club colleagues, Danny and Dave, in themain event Norman came back to beat the other three contenders in theconsolation "plate" event, for which he received a figurine cow(CowParade) hand-painted with a Swiss Croquet theme.
The semi-finals were "best of three" games but each needing only two. The first between Stephen and Danny being a fairly quick affair, not somuch because of the score but more due to the speed at which Danny wentabout his game, giving an excellent account of himself prior to going down to Stephen. Stephen, indeed, reckoned he had never seen a break to 4-back executed so quickly.
The second semi was a much closer affair between John Davis and IanVincent, who frequently play each other in Nottingham despite John nowliving in Luxembourg. John finally coming out on top and thereby reaching the finals for the 3rd. time in 6 years.
With time running short in view of players' travel commitments, the final was again the "best of three". All the same it was as exciting and as nerve jangling as the best of five last year between Stephen andJenny Williams (now Clarke).
It really was an epic struggle with Stephen taking the first game, and John the second, only to be followed by a nail-biting final game whereeither of them could have won it with all balls in sight of the peg.
John, apparently desperately trying NOT to win it as he missed a shortroquet with the prize within his grasp. Stephen took to the lawn, andwith John's balls on peg and rover, laid up in corner 3 with John's incorner 2 and 4, for what looked like his final thrust to victory.
John, still fretting over that earlier miss trudged across to corner 4 and took aim, swung the mallet, looked up and together with the spectators swaning it in the West Stand watched with bated breath as it rolled ever closer to Stephen's balls (croquet) lurking around corner 3.
"Crack!" "wham!" "click!" or whatever noise they make when one croquetball hits another, he had redeemed himself .... But could he hold hisnerve? Yes, there was no way he was going to squander this last minute salvation. John Davis became the new Swiss Open Champion, for the third time, conserving his 100% record in the finals.
Congratulations to John who not only won the Kilo of Silver but also achieved a long time personal croquet ambition of his, to take a game off Stephen. A game? He took two and the Championship.
To the Victor the spoils, Fernando stepped in to present John with a large bottle of "Brandy de Jerez, Solera Gran Reserva". A similar bottle having appeared from Fernando's bag at the official BBQ dinner where it was much appreciated in the cool of the evening.
Congratulations indeed to both finalists who put on a superb display of croquet.
We were very pleased to have Peter Payne and his wife, Alena, down at the lawns to present the prizes, since it was very much his initiative and drive which created the Swiss Open six years ago. He is on an extended sabbatical from croquet at present so we hope that the excitement and level of the croquet played in the final will encourage him to dig out his mallet and return to the lawns in the not too distant future.
He presented the Silver Ingot to John, a "fistful of silver" in a shiny purse to Stephen as the losing finalist, the cow to Norman and everyone received mementoes of BOTH Switzerland and CERN.
Away from the lawns we enjoyed the Swiss National Day celebrations at the lakeside in Coppet, with a display of fireworks in the port and all around the lake itself. There was eating and drinking, singing and dancing, lantern procession through the streets, Alphorn playing and an enthralling speech on Coppet's place in the world. While on Saturday evening there was the official BBQ prepared by Paul, the catering manager, ably assisted by several willing CERN Clubhelpers. Ian Vincent took a tour of CERN on the Saturday morning to ensure there was no jiggery-pokery going on under the croquet lawns.
A very big "thank you" to all those who participated in the tournament and to all those who helped in making it a very enjoyable weekend for everyone. Should you have any comments on anything to do with the tournament, whether from the playing or the social side, please let me know, as we are always looking for ways to improve and encourage more visitors from abroad. We have already foreseen the adoption of the new Dawson balls for next year.
We do understand it's a long way to come to play croquet but do hope you enjoyed it and please encourage your playing partners back home to give it some consideration for next year.
Dave Underhill (David.Underhill#CERN.CH)