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« Clarke: Bamford and Chapman for the Title #09 | Main | Clarke: Top Four - Chapman, Mulliner, Bamford and Riva #08 »
Friday
Feb092018

Soo: Riva Back from 0-2 to Advance #08

DAY 7: FINAL FOUR IS SET

Plate, Bowl, and of course Main KO quarterfinals were played today. The Shield (for players knocked out in the round of 16) has a doubtful level of interest. The widely dispersed venues are probably a factor (participation in the Bowl was also on the low side). Now that the tournament is in its final stages it feels like a unified event again. Those on hand to watch the Main KO quarterfinals were treated to four great matches, each with its own character.

With matches running longer than expected in the first two rounds of the Main KO, and with the requirement that the event is best-of-five from the quarterfinals on, the manager opted to impose time limits. The decision seems both reasonable and wrong. Had the wind picked up again today it would have been no surprise to see games going to time. As it was, no games went to time and yet the clock was probably a factor in the tactical choices players made in at least a couple of games.

2018 AC Worlds KO | AC Worlds Articles | KO Forum Discussion | Soo Photo Gallery

Having played (and lost, to Alain Giraud of England) a Plate quarterfinal match at Waikanae today, I did not arrive at Kelburn until 3:30. At that point three of the matches stood at 2-1: Paddy Chapman (NZ) leading Samir Patel (ENG), Ed Wilson (AUS) leading Jose Riva (ESP), and Reg Bamford (ZAF) leading Simon Hockey (AUS). In the other match Greg Bryant (NZ) and Stephen Mulliner (ENG) were tied 1-all. The Chapman-Patel match was the first to finish. Chapman's triple peel came undone when he had to roquet partner first after barely scoring penult, but he finished soon after for a +26tp, +26, -13, +17 win.

Two hours later, two other matches finished a few minutes apart. Mulliner had won game 3 after a TPO on Bryant's forward ball, and in game 4 he notched his third triple on the day, the only player to do so in the quarterfinals. The final score: +24tp, -23, +9tpo, +23tp.

Ed Wilson, the Australian teenager who had just won the NZ Open, used his remarkable single-ball skills to go up two games to none before Riva clawed back to equalize the match. In the decider, Wilson had the first potential finishing turn, but a spot of carelessness around 3 led to a surprising breakdown. Riva went round but Wilson, predictably, hit in. Starting with clips on 3 and 4-back he opted for a more conservative line of play, a controlled four-ball break with no peels and ending with a tidy diagonal spread. Riva took the short shot and roqueted, center ball. After running 3 a few yards past partner he too was faced with the choice of whether or not to attempt a delayed triple peel on the challenging lawn. Given Wilson's shooting it was probably an easy choice to make. The first hair-raising moment came when Riva took off a good five or six yards past his pioneer at 5. He just snicked the roquet, the luckiest possible outcome. Six hoops and two peels later, another hairy moment came when he rushed into the back of penult, the ball stopping in about the worst possible spot. After calling a referee to level the ground so he could place his ball for the croquet stroke, he croqueted both balls backward through the hoop, then ran the hoop past the peg to the other two balls. His rover peel from four feet went through cleanly, but left him with a tough angled hoop shot, which he jumped through. Now he had an eight-yard return roquet on partner, which he snicked. Finally, a peg-out from seven yards, which he played with a hard straight drive shot. His partner ball slammed into the peg and he raised his arms in relief and triumph, -11, -17, +19, +15, +5tp.

The fourth and final game in the remaining match featured an intriguing combination of outstanding shooting and defensive leaves. Hockey, who had won the first game and had a good chance to win game 3, continued to play well, but his final leave was just open across the peg, and Bamford hit. Bamford's leave was better, and Hockey missed. Final score: -17, +26tp, +3tp, +12.

So in the semi-finals the defending champion (Mulliner) and the four-time champion (Bamford) will be joined by two other strong contenders for what should be two exceptionally high-quality matches.

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