Croquet club

Ian Sexton wins the 13th Swiss AC Open

The 13th Swiss Open was held over the weekend of 31st July - 2nd August. Eight players from three different continents and six different countries turned up. First timers, David Houston (Scotland) and Cesar Miranda-Reyes (Mexico), second timers Dennis Bulloch (New Zealand) and Wolfgang Usbeck (Germany) joined Swiss regulars, Ian Sexton, Dave Underhill and Norman Eatough and the usual Luxembourg manager, John Davis. The croquet lawns are located at CERN (Centre Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) where the recent discovery of the “pentaquark” has created great uncertainty in the local croquet world!

The usual format of an all-play-all block was adopted and, despite one late arrival and two players visiting CERN on Saturday morning, was completed by tea time on Saturday. This was vital in order for us to enjoy the Swiss National Day celebrations at Coppet but more of that later! The top four would go into the semi-finals and the other four into the Plate. The games went more or less to form with Ian winning all his games and Dennis only losing to Ian. Each of them completed one triple with several other efforts failing due to all the usual reasons plus relatively fast lawns and very “honest” hoops.

The other two semi-finalists were John and the winner of the last round match between Norman and Wolfgang. Wolfgang’s superior shooting told in the end as he won fairly easily. Other notable performances included Cesar’s form getting better and better as he learned very quickly and David Houston demonstrating an amazing ability to “up his game” as time approached. Dave Underhill was multitasking as the catering manager but still managed a very good win against Norman.

Saturday evening saw the first games in each semi-final with Ian beating Wolfgang and John, somewhat to his surprise, beating Denis. We also played the delayed block game from the CERN visit with Cesar beating David in an epic tussle +1T.

Sunday morning saw the completion of the two semi-finals, with Ian and John both winning 2-0. As this was finished fairly early it was somewhat foolishly decided to make the final best of five! In the meantime, Wolfgang beat Dennis in a one game 3rd place playoff and the block was underway. Cesar took all before him, beating the three others, to take the Plate home to Mexico (in fact Cambridge where he is studying).

So to the final. Ian won the first +26 and was looking like doing the same in the second, until he let John in. Ian still won the second +10 but it allowed John some play. The third game was much more like a traditional Sexton v Davis tussle, with both players trying to lose it and then getting it back with consistent long hitting. Finally John came out on top +5. It was getting late, about 5.30pm, so the other tournament duties were performed, presentations made and thanks given before everyone, except Norman, left and the final carried on. The fourth game was an epic but I will not bore you with the details. Ian hit “the last shot” three times and John once before Ian triumphed +3 at about 8.45 pm. I must confess to being a little disappointed but, from a manager’s perspective, it was just as well as we would have had no time for the fifth game!

So Ian won for the first time since 2004. It was a deserved victory as he only lost one game all weekend and his consistency was better than everyone else’s. He is also an incredibly good shot.

Next year will be the 14th Swiss Open. This event should be tried by all those who have never played here. The timing to coincide with the Swiss National holiday means lots of activities and a free firework show. CERN is well worth a visit for anyone who has never seen a pentaquark and who understands the finer points of “rocket science”. Finally, the hospitality offered by the hosts is second to none.


par Croquet club