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The weekend of 4th to 7th December 2009 saw our return to Hemsby for our third annual Christmas Break.

Despite a couple of last minute dropouts due to illness which are inevitable at this time of year, we nonetheless had a record turnout for one of our holidays, with a grand total of 78 pairs competing across the weekend.

With so many people competing there was only enough time to give everyone 5 games apiece. And with only room for the top 16 to make it through to the knockout stages, that meant that the competition was going to be fierce and in all likelihood no one would be able to afford to drop more than a couple of points.

Round 1
The early leaders were Mike Walker & Kay Masters who got off to a stonking start with a 22 shot win. But behind them there were 37 other teams, all of whom had come away from their first games with 2 points.

Best of the rest were Joe & Irene Woodward who took a very respectable 16 shots from their first game. They were followed by Doris & Jim Ball who had 14 shots and behind them were three teams on 13 shots, Keith & Jenny Hull, Peter & Jean Woods and Jane Evans & Joan Fairs.

Round 2
Despite their fast start the leaders could not maintain their perfect record past their first game. So it was all change at the top as Gary & Rose Jackson charged up all the way from 21st place to 1st courtesy of a 23-0 win which left them fully 8 shots better off than their nearest rivals.

That second spot was now held by Peter & Jean Woods who had 25 shots from their two wins, as did Jane Evans & Joan Fairs.

Fay & Tony Turner were in 4th with 22 shots while there were a whole host of teams who were tying for 5th with 21 shots, they were Patricia Martin & John Hines, Chris & Linda Seall, Ray & Jenny Collins and David & Jenny Hambling.

These top teams were part of the group of those who had not dropped a point, they numbered a mere 15 now, so already it was confirm that a perfect record in the round robin games was going to guarantee a spot in the last 16.

Round 3
Time for a change yet again as the curse of the leaders reared it's ugly head once more in Saturday's final round of games.

After their strong start the Jacksons had an unexpected loss which reduced them back down into the gaggle of teams who could at best expect to finish on 8 points. Their consolation was that 8 points was going to be enough for some teams to make it into the knockout rounds and at least their first two games had seen to it that they were at the head of the pack.

Meanwhile Jane Evans & Joan Fairs were now taking their turn at the top of the standings as one of the increasingly small group of teams that had not yet dropped a point. Their tally of 38 shots put them one ahead of Peter & Jean Woods and 5 ahead of Ray & Jenny Collins and David & Jennie Hambling, while 5th spot was in the hands of Fay & Tony Turner who were just 7 shots behind the leaders.

So as we headed into Sunday's games the task for the 9 teams on 6 points was to drop now more than 1 point in their remaining 2 games to guarantee a top 16 place. While to 4 teams who had so far accumulated 5 points would definitely go through with 2 more wins. But any slip-ups and any of them could easily lose out to the pack of no less than 23 teams who were on 4 points.

Round 4
So close was the competition that, unusually, no one had done enough through the first 4 rounds to guarantee qualification prior to their final game. There were still a handful of teams that had managed to maintain a perfect record, but with so many teams still in contention, it was still the case that none of them could afford too much of a slip.

Having said that, those that had won four out of four, could get away with a draw in their final games and know that they were safe. And top most amongst those was yet another new name as this time around both of the top 2 teams at the end of the previous round had lost.

David & Jennie Hambling were the new leaders with 8 points and 47 shots, just a single shot ahead of Ray & Jenny Collins. The only other teams who had managed to maintain their 100% records were Fay & Tony Turner, Joan Arnott & Chris Tilbrook, Pat Chapman & Paul Daniels and Bernard & Marina Cuthbert.

Two other teams were on 7 points and were very much in the running and after them there was a group of 15 teams who had 6 points and who were going to be in the race for the final qualifying spots.

Round 5
Going into the final round of games there were a total of 23 teams who all had the potential to finish on at least 8 points. With that number in the running for just 16 qualifying spots, it looked as if it was going to need 8 points and a lot of shots.

As it was 8 points alone turned out to be enough as several teams stumbled, leaving just 16 of them on 8 points or better.

And for the 5th time in 5 rounds there were new leaders. Just 5 teams ended up with maximum points, the first of whom were Ray & Jenny Collins, followed by Fay & Tony Turner, Joan Arnott & Chris Tilbrook, Pat Chapman & Paul Daniels and Bernard & Marina Cuthbert.

Two more teams were also undefeated, having dropped just one point, Mike Walker & Kay Masters and David & Jennie Hambling.

The remaining 9 qualifiers were the pairs who had dropped just 2 points across the weekend.

Knockout Rounds

First Round
David & Jennie Hambling
took a comfortable 11-2 win over Alan & Josie Long and Mike Walker & Kay Masters were never headed as they finished 9-3 ahead of Chris & Linda Seall.

Joan Arnott & Chris Tilbrook finished 7-2 up on Betty & Lewis Claxton and Lin & Tony Cooke had enough of a lead over Jane Evans & Joan Fairs to be able to lose the last 2 ends of their match and still come home 7-5 winners.

Having started well Pat Chapman & Paul Daniels needed to take the last 2 ends of their game with Betty Johnson & Patricia Bunch to come from behind to finish 8-5 winners, while it was a similar story for Angela Newling & Margaret Clemmet who were also behind after 5 ends of their game against Bernard & Marina Cuthbert, but came through to win 5-6.

The remaining 2 games were even closer, both of them requiring extra ends to settle the ties. Fay & Tony Turner looked to be out of it at 7-2 down with 1 end to go against Ray & Margaret Soames, but took a remarkable 5 shots on the last end to draw level, only for Ray & Margaret to eventually hold their nerve to take the extra end and win 8-7.

The game between Ray & Jenny Collins, the top qualifiers, and David & Julie Hurr, the final qualifiers, was even closer as the lead went back and forth between the two of them. The Collins' were the ones who had to win the last end to keep the game alive, but yet again it was the team who were ahead after 6 ends that finished ahead after 8, as the Hurrs won 6-5.

Quarter Finals
Joan Arnott & Chris Tilbrook
were ahead of Mike Walker & Kay Masters from the first, not that they were ever very far ahead, but it was enough and they went on to win 7-5.

David & Jennie Hambling were 4-0 up against Ray & Margaret Soames after 1 end and 6-0 up after 2. That was as much of a lead as they ever got, but they were never headed and won 8-4.

David & Julie Hurr were 4-0 down to Lin & Tony Cooke after a couple of ends, but pulled it back to 4-3 after 5 ends, only for the Cookes to take the last 2 ends and finish 7-3 winners.

The game between Pat Chapman & Paul Daniels and Angela Newling & Magaret Clemmett was close through the first 3 ends, at 2-2, but Pat & Paul edged out to a 7-2 lead with one end to go before nearly losing the game as Angela & Margaret took 4 shots on the last end to just lose out 7-6.

Semi Finals
The pivotal end in the game between David & Jennie Hambling and Joan Arnott & Chris Tilbrook was the second on which Joan & Chris took 4 shots. On every one of the other ends only a single shot was scored, but since they were shared between the 2 teams, David & Jennie were unable to get closer than a couple of shots and finally lost 4-6.

Winning the first 3 ends and taking a 5-0 lead in the process should have been enough for Pat Chapman & Paul Daniels to see their way through to the final, but Lin & Tony Cooke had other ideas as they came back to just 5-4 down and then took 2 on the last end to win 6-5.

It was another slow start for Lin & Tony Cooke as they lost the first 3 ends to Joan Arnott & Chris Tilbrook, to go 6-0 behind. But again they fought back and went into the last end just 3 shots in arrears, however they could do no better than 2 shots which meant that Joan & Chris took the win 7-6.

And it was a win which Joan would certainly not have been expecting at the start of the weekend. She had only come along for the break and had not been intending to play, but had kindly volunteered to fill in for one of the players who had been unable to make it there at the last moment. Chris in particular was thankful that she was able to carry him through the weekend to his first win that he can recall in many a long year.

And Finally
All that remains to say is of course to once again thank everyone for their support in making this our biggest event yet and in particular for helping to set another record for one of our events by raising
£350 in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support and especially those who donated prizes and who gave up their time to help sell tickets.

7th December 2009

Seacroft Holiday Village in winter
(the same, very poor artist's impression)

or telephone
- 01728 602189
- 01728 830001

Our next event will be the 2010 Hemsby Pairs