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« Clark: Old Holes vs New Holes #06 | Main | Clarke: A Wild Day of Playoff Action #05 »

Soo: Block H Entertains at Kelburn #05

Jim Nicholls (AUS) prepares to run hoop 1 in the resumption of his pegged-down game with Sam Murray (SCO)


Two pegged-down games from Block H provided the morning's entertainment for a small group of idle tournament players and other spectators at Kelburn. Samir Patel (ENG) had won the block on 8/9. Jim Nicholls (AUS), with six wins, resumed with Sam Murray (SCO), on five wins. Stuart Lawrence (USA) and Andy Myers (ENG), each on five wins, were the other pegged-down game. With Greg Fletcher (AUS) at 6/9, a Murray win would create a four-way tie for second place and hence a two-round playoff. Lawrence won his game +25, taking advantage of a wrong hoop run by Myers. Now he and Fletcher became Nicholls's biggest fans.

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Nicholls was set to finish but failed rover, giving Murray an easy pickup to advance his backward ball and peg out Nicholls's rover. With time running out (all pegged-down games had a time limit imposed) this was an interesting choice. Nicholls hit the lift but again failed rover, after which it took several turns before Murray scored 4b with a rush to penult. He ran penult but had a backward rush, so with a few seconds left on the clock he croqueted both balls out on the east boundary with a wide join well north of the corner. This gave Nicholls an attractive double, but he missed. Murray played his peg ball, attempting to roll partner to long position at rover, wired from Nicholls's ball in corner IV. The shot went long but he pegged out to tie the game.

Nicholls shot and missed, but Murray over-rolled position. Nicholls played an excellent positioning shot to north of 4, in which direction Murray had a hampered backswing. This led to a long sequence of positioning turns intermixed with roquet attempts by both players. Most of these attempts were successful but led to a failed hoop or failure to get position. Finally, with Murray's ball in 3" position, Nicholls hit from about 14 yards, luckily snicking the ball (a rush peel was a definite possibility) which then deflected off the hoop, ending about 4' to the side. He played a stop shot sending Murray's ball eight yards or so north, achieving two-and-a-half foot position, which he ran through by about 30 yards for the win.

The draw ceremony was delayed while awaiting the result of the Block B playoff. With three players playing for two spots, three games were required. As always there are many intriguing match-ups in the first round of the knockout. Were I free to spectate I'd have a hard time choosing between Riva vs. Webby and Chapman vs. Freeth.

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