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25.08.2009 Alter: 9 Jahre 31.07.-01.08.2009 - Swiss Open 2009


Patrick Hort won a very exciting final over Stephen Mulliner

Patrick Hort from the Surbiton Club won a very exciting final of high quality croquet over Stephen Mulliner to win the 2009 Swiss Open Association Croquet.

Please find below a report by John Davis, Manager of the event and 2008 Champion, on the Swiss Open held over the Swiss National Day weekend of 1st. August: 

7th Swiss Open won by Patrick Hort on his first visit!

After some last minute concerns about the lack of entries, the 7th Swiss Open was held as a two day event over the weekend including the Swiss National Day of August 1st. Eight croquet players from four different countries gathered on the evening of Friday 31th July on the croquet lawns of CERN (Centre Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire). The two lawns, which are located in the CERN site at Prévessin (just in France), were in excellent condition due to the efforts of several club members and this resulted in several excellent peeling turns, the total being 1 sextuple, 1 straight quad and nine triples.

John Davis, the defending champion, was again the manager and he adopted the popular format of an all-play-all block with the top two to contest the final. In order to allow the final to start at 2pm on the Sunday, 2 hour time limits were the rule. In the event only 6 of the 41 games went to time reflecting well on the attitude of all the players. Two players, Patrick Hort (Surbiton) and John Hyde (Reigate), were playing in the event for the first time. The others were all seasoned veterans including twice beaten finalist Stephen Mulliner (the ECF President) and the three Swiss entries, Dave Underhill, Danny Davids and Norman Eatough. The entry was completed by ECF secretary, Kevin Garrad.

It soon became clear that Stephen and Patrick were the men to beat as each of them completed triples in their first matches. They then played each other in a high class game with Patrick completing a tpo which Stephen converted to an otp by finishing next turn. Patrick completed a 7th turn tp in his next game against John D. As the games continued to flow Stephen completed a sextuple against John H, Patrick another triple against Danny Davids before Patrick did his first ever straight quad, including at least three impossible shots, against Dave Underhill. Stephen rounded the block off with another 7th turn triple against John D.

So the final would be between Stephen and Patrick with everyone else in the plate. This worked out well as the two finalists had to leave on Monday morning whereas the plate contenders could continue to Monday evening. So one or two relaxed plate games took place whilst most eyes were focused on the final.

Originally planned as a best-of-five without time limits, things were destined to change as both players produced some wonderful croquet. The final began at 2.20pm. Patrick went to 4-back, Stephen hit and did the tpo. Although he had a couple of chances Patrick could not get a break together and finally lost -8. It was now about 4pm. Stephen set up the sextuple in the second game, only completed 5 peels but interestingly chose to peg out one ball. There then followed some serious cat and mouse before Patrick finally triumphed +2. By this time it was 6.20pm so the players agreed to reduce it to best-of-three….so to the decider. Stephen won the opening and got to 4-back, Patrick missed the lift and Stephen set off on his triple. All was going well until he did the “death roll” peeling penult whilst going to the pioneer at 3-back. He made the roquet but left himself a long approach which he overhit by 3 inches leaving an impossible hoop. Patrick hit and went to 4-back, Stephen missed, Patrick played a split croquet stroke off the lawn, Stephen missed again and Patrick finished with a tp to win the title and leave Stephen as the loosing finalist for the third year in a row.

The end of the main event dinner was a barbeque “chez Underhill” where the prizes were presented, Stephen was very gracious in defeat and Patrick had a huge smile on his face.

The plate was completed on Monday, without John Hyde who had to leave early. A very sociable day ended with John D winning all four games, including a tp against Norman, to win the plate for the first time but the highlight had to be the lunch with copious quantities of pork, chicken, salad, pasta and Swiss wine (the rosé is particularly good).

Continental Europe has some excellent croquet clubs. Despite the long distances involved, we are beginning to see a “European Croquet Circuit” develop. There are tournaments in Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium as well as Switzerland. The Swiss Open is a cornerstone of this development and has become a permanent fixture. It presents a wonderful opportunity to combine tourism, gastronomic pleasures and croquet in a beautiful part of Europe. Also, coinciding with the Swiss National Day, there is an impressive free firework display around the shores of Lake Geneva. The Swiss, as always, were marvellous hosts. UK based croquet players should take advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered by this emerging “European Tournament Circuit”.

John Davis

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