Friday, March 30, 2012

Off on my travels - 1

Tomorrow I go off to Basel in Switzerland to the World Men's Championships where I will be attending the meetings of the World Curling Federation and European Curling Federation as one of the ECA's 2 representatives, the other being Alison Arthur our President. We will have a couple of days to watch some curling on Sunday and Monday before the meetings begin on Tuesday morning and continue through to Friday morning. I will be posting a daily blog from Basel with the news of what transpires at these meetings and also with my views on the Championships themselves.

The last time we were in Basel was for the European Championships in 2006 when Andy Schwaller's Swiss side beat David Murdoch in an extra end in the final and in the women's Russia beat Italy in probably the most surprising final in a European Championships.

The last time the World Men's was in Switzerland was in 2001 in Lausanne when both men's and women's were played in front of possibly one of the smallest crowds in World Championship history. So let's hope that there is more of an atmosphere this year.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sir Alexander Fleming Trophy (London CC)

This year's winners - Ivan Zadorozny (skip), Neil Maycock, Charles Murphy and Henry Carter

One thing that always fascinates me is the long history of the trophies played for in clubs around the country – you can look at the piece of silverware and realise that 100 or so years ago this very same trophy was being contested in a long lost ice rink or on an outdoor pond. For example, the Preston Curling Club’s magnificent I’Anson Trophy was first played in 1897 according to the names on the trophy and was won by the Carlisle Curling Club – no team member names on the trophy but where did they play I wonder?

The London Curling Club’s Sir Alexander Fleming Memorial Trophy is not quite so old having been presented to the club in 1957, but a history of almost uninterrupted play of 55 years is impressive. The trophy was first seen at the AGM of the London Curling Club in May 1957 and was specially made for Willie Fleming, a club member, to present in memory of his cousin, the famous Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin.

The Trophy was not held in 1968 as it was apparently decided that it would only be held every alternate year with the club’s Straus Trophy but this decision was obviously overturned later as it became an annual competition after just the one ‘missing’ year.

There are no names on the Trophy for 1982, and no mention of winners in the club’s minutes although there appears to have been a weekend in Kinross set aside in the club calendar and, even up to 3 weeks before the competition date, the minutes still talk about inviting interested parties from Holiday Inn to the weekend.

The fate of the 1985 event is also a mystery as it does not appear to have been held. By this time I was involved in the Province of London (as the London Curling Club had evolved into – another topic for future discussion perhaps) and my personal diary does have an entry for the weekend to be held in Kinross which is later scored out – perhaps the lack of curling in London, with just a few people attending at Peterborough had led to a lack of interest. My diary also tells me that it was the Peterborough CC AGM that weekend – presumably arranged after the cancellation of the Fleming weekend.

The final ‘missing’ year in the Fleming Trophy history is 1997 when the minutes are quite clear that a lack of entries led to the cancellation of the event which was due to be held at Pitlochry. The minutes record that Stephen Hinds was actually phoning around possible entrants during a committee meeting just a month before the event, with no luck, leading to the event being cancelled that same night.

While the competition was originally held in Richmond where the club had regular ice between 1951 and 1981, it went on the road following the closure of Richmond and the ’Fleming Weekend’ became an established event on the London calendar. Trips to Kinross, Pitlochry, Forest Hills, Lochgoilhead, Letham Grange and Greenacres all have their own set of memories, but what is astonishing and, hopefully coincidental, is how many of the venues visited (those in italics) have now closed since they were visited by the London members!!!

Since Fenton’s rink opened it has found a home there though the size of the rink has restricted the number of possible entries to 6, though even that has proved difficult to achieve on a couple of occasions.

And so to this year’s competition and the whole point of the above introduction was to emphasise the history of the event which was brought home to me with the realisation this year that we had past winners from 5 different decades participating.

From the 1970s – Ernest Fenton (winner in 1970 and 1971)
From the 1980s – Forbes Fenton (1987) and James Gibb (1988)
From the 1990s – John Brown (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995), Jean Robinson (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995) and Mark Wilkinson (1992)
From the 2000s – Lana Watson (2005 and 2008) and John Brown (2009)
From the 2010s – Neil Maycock (2010 and 2011), Ross Barr (2011) and John Brown (2011)

And so what would happen this year – would Ernest Fenton win it again 41 years after his last win? Would Neil Maycock make it 3 in a row, each time in a different team? Would Hetty Garnier lead her team of Juniors to victory? There were no well established teams so it was all very open.

The first session produced the first shock when Ivan Zadorozny with 6 stones of his own in the house failed to draw for the 7 which would have been only the second recorded in the last 30 years of Fleming play. A 6 would have to suffice, in itself a rare beast with just 6 previously recorded in 30 years, the last in 2000. The victim of this one was John Sharp who, although he won the majority of the ends, fell by a score of 4-11. In other games that first session, John Brown recovered from going 0-5 after 2 ends to peel with Hetty Garnier while Mark Wilkinson came from 3 behind with 2 ends to play to win 6-5.

As the only 2 winners from that session Ivan Zadorozny faced Mark Wilkinson and lo and behold Ivan did it again with another 6 on his way to winning 10-5. This was the first time 2 sixes had been recorded at a Fleming weekend since 1984 when unfortunately the same team was on the receiving end of both of them (to my regret I was the skip of that team!!). John Sharp defeated John Brown 6-4 after losing 4 singles in a row while Ernest Fenton beat Hetty Garnier in a close tussle by 8-6.

Into session 3 on the Sunday morning and Ivan showed that his Saturday form had not deserted him racing into an early 8-1 (just a 4 end – no 6s) lead against Ernest Fenton and finally winning by 8-5. Hetty Garnier won her first game of the weekend by beating John Sharp 7-6 and Mark Wilkinson defeated John Brown 7-5 to become Ivan’s nearest challenger and in fact the only team which could take the trophy away from him.

As Ivan had played Mark earlier in the weekend he played the team in third, Hetty Garnier, while Mark had to beat John Sharp to have any hope of winning overall and only if Ivan lost. As well as the one game win behind he was only 1 end behind but had a far inferior shots difference.

After 3 ends of the final session things were indeed going Mark’s way as he was leading 3-1 while Ivan was losing by the same margin but after that the balance swung and Mark lost 4 ends in a row while Ivan unleashed another big end (a 5 this time) to take victory in the game by 7-6 and in the competition overall, thus providing Neil Maycock with his third Fleming triumph in a row, each of them with a totally different team – queues are forming to join him for next year’s competition!!

So congratulations to Ivan Zadorozny, Neil Maycock, Henry Carter and Charles Murphy on a great performance. The runners – up on ends won were John Sharp, Nigel Patrick, Ian McDonald and James Gibb with Mark Wilkinson, Lana Watson, Gary Tapp and Mike Robinson in third.

Monday, March 12, 2012

And they are all here now

Those of you who like to look back at old blog posts will be pleased to know that you can now see all of my old posts from Toothy Tales on here dating back to the first ones in Autumn 2010!

Aren't you the lucky ones!!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ECA Mixed Championships Results

And now that the dust has settled we find that Bryan Zachary, Lauren Pearce, Kerr Alexander, Naomi Robinson and Angharad Ward won the ECA Mixed Championships after beating all 3 of the other teams over the weekend.

No final was needed as John Brown beat Lorna Rettig who beat Anna Fowler who beat John Brown and so with only 1 win each they were all 2 wins behind the winners.

It was a very tense weekend with all bar one game going down to the last stone, and two of them needing extra ends to decide the winners.

Firstly to clear up the teams!!

In my preview I wrongly stated that John Sharp was skipping but in fact it was Lorna Rettig in the house and throwing last stones with John at 3, Alison Hemmings at 2 and Nigel Patrick at lead. In the Fowler camp it was Sam leading, Hetty Garnier second, Ben at third and Anna skipping, while the winners had Lauren playing third in the first two games with Naomi at lead but a clashing gymnastics competition on Sunday meant that Naomi was unavailable and Lauren moved to lead with Angharad coming in at third.

Results were:

Bryan Zachary 6 John Brown 4
Lorna Rettig 6 Anna Fowler 3
John Brown 7 Lorna Rettig 6 after extra end
Bryan Zacahary 8 Anna Fowler 2
Anna Fowler 8 John Brown 6
Bryan Zachary 7 Lorna Rettig 6 after extra end

All through the last session any of the three possible options of no final, a straight final or a tiebreak and a final were possible right up unto the last stone in each game. It took a hit from Anna to beat John and avoid an extra end, while the last stone of normal time from Lorna was just a couple of inches away from getting the 2 she needed to give herself another chance against Bryan.

It is a long time since I experienced such a tense atmosphere in an ice rink - quite a weekend.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


OK - L plates gradually coming off - but still got the P plates up.

Clock is now correct - thanks Bob for the tip.

So how about a proper blog post........

It is the ECA Mixed Championships this weekend at Fenton's where there are 4 entries:

John Brown (Skip), Jean Robinson, Charles Murphy, Susan Young
John Sharp (Skip), Lorna Rettig, Nigel Patrick, Alison Hemmings, Tom Jaeggi
Ben Fowler, Anna Fowler, Sam Fowler, Hetty Garnier (Anybody's guess who will skip that one)
Bryan Zachary (Skip), Lauren Pearce, Kerr Alexander, Naomi Robinson, Angharad Ward

There will be a single round robin with games at 1200 and 1600 on Saturday and 1000 on Sunday and then:

If the teams win 3, 2, 1 and 0 games there will be a final between the top two on Sunday at 1400
If the teams win 3, 1, 1 and 1 then the team with 3 wins will be champion
If the teams win 2, 2, 1 and 1 there will be a final between the top two on Sunday at 1400
If the teams win 2, 2, 2 and 0 there will be a tie break at 1400 on Sunday and a Final at 1600 - the ranking of the three teams will be decided by a post round-robin 4 stone Draw Shot Challenge.

What is interesting of course is that this will be the first year since the ECA Mixed Championships began that Alan MacDougall will not be skipping the winning rink.

In 2005 he played with Joan Reed, Chris Robinson and Claire Grimwood and after losing the second round robin game to Daniel Jaeggi, Fiona Hawker, Tom Jaeggi and Louisa Penny he beat them in the final by 6-2. Pictures of that game can be seen here. You need to find pictures 41 to 43!!

In 2006 we had no entries for the Mixed Championships and the next year there were only 2. Playing it at Greenacres might have been the problem there but in a 5 game rubber Alan, Lana Watson, Andrew Reed and Suzie Law defeated John Brown, Glynnice Lauder, Robin Gemmell and Venetia Scott by 3 games to 0 to begin their incredible run of 5 consecutive Championships without losing a game! That was 19 successive victories.

In the European Mixed fortunes have been mixed for Alan. Over the 6 years there was the highlight of a bronze medal in 2009 when the only game they lost was the semi-final. This was followed by a 4th place in 2010. 2 tie-break defeats in 2005 and 2007 were the next highest rankings. Overall however he never had a losing record in the any of the European Mixed he played in and his overall record of 30 wins and 14 losses puts England 6th out of the 31 countries that have participated.

So no pressure on the winning team this year then.

John Sharp and Lorna Rettig have already won the ECA Mixed Doubles Championship and are going to the World MD at Erzurum in April - can they make it a double title and also a double trip to Erzurum as that is where the European Mixed Championship is in September / October. The Fowler clan will be desperate to stop them while one should never discount the experience of yours truly and my Seniors rink!! The 4th team skipped by Bryan Zachary is an unknown quality as a team though all 4 players (well 5 as Angharad is subbing for Naomi on Sunday) are good players in their own right. It promises to be a fascinating weekend.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Still got the L Plates on

Apologies for inconsistent colours and fonts - this is going to be an interesting ride!!!

And the clock appears to be 8 hours behind me as well!!!!!

A Bit of a Faltering Start

Don't worry I will get the hang of this blogging yet.The last post implied I had called the blog English Curling - well I did on my first attempt and then i changed my mind and just copied the initial post I had posted and ......oops!!

Must try harder - 2/10