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Day Five in The World Championship - Brits and the Kiwis Rise to the Top
by Hartley Slater
Posted November 14, 1997

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By the end of the "Round of Sixteen," there remained only three Englishmen, four New Zealanders, and a South African. The winnowing had produced a list of contenders straight off the latest WCF World Rankings, with every one of the Bunbury players in the top ten of the rankings still playing for the World Championship: #3 Fulford, #4 Jones, #5 Mulliner, #6 Bamford, #7Maugham, #9 Jones, #14 Baker, #16 Davis. For his exclusive play-by-play report, Hartley Slater chose the games that saw the elimination of an old English champion and a young American one.

Robert Fulford (England) v David Openshaw (England): Game One

The game begins with a lot of manouvering.
Former World Champion Robert Fulford of England is the top contender for the 1997 title.
Openshaw lays a Duffer tice from A baulk. Fulford lays a normal tice from B baulk, i.e. opposite 6 on the east boundary. Openshaw fires on that ball from an angle, missing, and giving Fulford two separated balls, to make a double, but missing. Openshaw shoots down to B baulk with the boundary ball, again missing. Fulford retreats to corner four, with a rush along the south boundary. Openshaw fires his Duffer tice to these two balls, missing.

Fulford does not get a corner cannon, still he rushes over to 1, only just clearing the hoop, then returning to corner four. Openshaw fires on these balls with his ball in the field, hitting the far ball, making 1 after a rush, but missing the return ball.

Fulford hits in, and collecting Openshaw's ball which has ended up on A baulk, has three balls and a break - four balls before 3. In the break, to make it more difficult for the opponent to do a triple, Fulford peels Openshaw's ball for 2 at 1-back, and then puts Openshaw's other ball in the hoop. After 3-back - Openshaw's free ball ends up opposite the peg on the west boundary. Fulford is in the fourth corner.

Openshaw takes the ball in 2, checks the green from A baulk to the fourth corner, and fires from that baulk at the two balls, hitting. A rush across to his partner follows, and that is then rushed to 1, allowing him to pick up all four balls. But he gets mixed up after 2, trying to lay the green before he makes his point. Openshaw leaves all four balls in the green.

Fulford chooses to play his forward ball, but does not lay the green he would have liked, since a ball hits the stick. He ends up, effectively, with a reversed standard leave.

With his ball at the stick Openshaw plays on the balls in corner two and again hits, again laying the green for one of his balls at 3. Fulford misses. Openshaw proceeds on two balls, three by 5, which hoop he misses. Fulford hits and starts play With his backward ball on 2, doing the rover peel on his way to 3-back. FINIS. One game to Fulford.

Jacques Fournier(USA) v Richard Baker (New Zealand): Game One

Fournier goes to the boundary behind 3-back. Baker starts by putting a ball just out from corner two, on the east boundary. Fournier play into corner four. Baker fires from B baulk into the fourth corner, missing.

Fournier hits Baker's ball, getting a rush on his other ball to corner two, and then a rush on the ball there to his point. He makes it, but goes through so hard he has shoot at his ball near 2, missing. Baker, scenting a break, fires at the resulting two balls - not with the ball at 1, but with the other ball - and misses.

Now Fournier has all four balls, and with the ball on 2 he goes to 4-back with a very cool break, ending with a 2-4 leave. Baker lifts the ball at 2 and fires from A baulk, missing all balls to the east.

Fournier starts his second break, rush peeling 4-back on the way to 5. He faults at 1-back, however, giving away an easy roquet, with balls left at 1 and 2.

Baker sticks at 6 in the following break, with Fournier's penult ball on the other side. Fournier makes penult, and tries rover, while laying the green for his other ball, on 1-back. He fails at rover, however.

Baker shoots at Fournier's two balls with his ball at 1, but misses. Fournier plays the ball on 1-back, and gets to 2-back, but fails at the hoop. Two balls are there, it is Baker's hoop, and Baker has a lift. But in trying to lay the green before making his point, Baker goes out on A baulk - near Fournier's ball which is for rover.

Fournier blobs in rover. Baker, from 1 again, misses the two balls at rover and lays the green for his other ball, still on 2-back. Baker fires from 2-back to his other ball, beyond 3 back, missing, and giving Fournier two balls there.

But Fournier misses his cut rush from corner two! Baker rushes over to the west boundary, where there are the other two balls. He lays the green, but sticks in 1, Fournier's 2-back hoop.

Fournier hits, but has to peel the ball at 1 to get position for 2-back; the peeled ball goes to one side, so he hits it afterwards. He makes it to 4-back, but sticks in the hoop. Baker hits and lays the green, but jaws in 1 again.

Fournier hits, makes 4-back, but misses the return, giving Baker an easy baulk lift shot, which he takes, making hoop 1 at last. He has control of all the balls by 3. After 3-back he leaves a ball there, and goes to 1-back, placing a ball directly behind it, With his balls further behind, With a rush to 6. Fournier takes the ball in the hoop, and fires on Baker, missing from B baulk.

Baker makes 6, but does not get position at 1-back, and so retreats to the corner there. Fournier joins up in corner, Baker hits his ball in corner two and takes off to the two others, making 4- back, penult and rover. He leaves one ball in rover and another at 3-back, before returning to corner two.

Fournier takes the ball at 3-back and fires into corner two, missing. Baker does not attempt his point at first, but goes up to clear the ball in rover, which is rushed down to B baulk, then stopped to 2-back, With his own ball getting position at 1-back. He runs the hoop well up the green, and has to hit the ball at 2-back, which is therefore displaced. So he returns to get a rush on the ball just out of corner two, and does so!

After making 2-back, however, he attempts a split which puts him out near Fournier's ball in the middle of the west boundary. Fournier takes off and tries penult using his other ball, but hitting the wire. Baker fires on the two balls at penult With his ball for 3-back, hitting and going on to win the game. One game to Baker.

Fulford v Openshaw: Game Two and Match

Fulford, in his second game, tries a Duffer tice from A baulk. Openshaw tries to hit, but misses. Fulford fires on the double from A baulk, but misses. And his ball goes through to B baulk!

Openshaw has all four balls in the field immediately, and swims along until he hits the wire at 3-back. Three balls there and one at 2 give Fulford nine points, with a standard leave following.

Openshaw takes the ball at the stick, and fires on Fulford, going into corner four. Fulford rushes over to the ball at 2 and starts his break. Not much chance of a triple - especially when he jaws in 3!

Openshaw gets in but again jaws in 3-back. Fulford misses that ball in the hoop. Openshaw makes the hoop and joins his partner ball in corner four. Fulford's last ball went to A baulk, so he fires on Openshaw in the corner, but misses. Openshaw gets a cannon, and goes to 4-back, without attempting a peel. But he misses a rush after 3-back, so there is no clear leave.

Fulford fires from B baulk at a double, and hits with his forward ball, just setting the green for his other one. Openshaw plays safe, putting his open ball in corner one. Fulford uses his rush to move the two balls off the west boundary, getting a further rush to his point at 3, and finishing the game.

But his 'delayed triple' is very delayed! He does the 4-back peel after 6. He sets up to do the penult peel before 4-back, sticking it in the hoop, in the event, and finishing the peel with a rush when at penult, stopping that ball to rover, and coming back to make the hoop off another ball. He tries to half jump the ball almost peeled at rover, but jumps it fully, so the peel is not completed then, and so he has to come back and bombard it through before rushing it to the stick. Match to Fulford, in 4 hours, 10 minutes.

Fournier v Baker, Game Two and Match

Baker goes behind 4-back, Fournier to corner two, at the start of their second game. Baker hits Fournier and puts him before 2, with a rush for his ball on the other boundary. Fournier fires at him and misses. Baker thus has all four balls, and goes to 4-back, with a not-quite-wired standard leave.

Fournier lifts his ball at 2, hitting the ball at the stick. He goes to 4-back, with a 2-4 leave. Baker fires from B baulk, and misses, going into corner four. Fournier sets off on a break, but his hoop approach does not get to 1, and he retreats to his partner ball on the east boundary.

Baker hits one of these balls, with his ball at 2. He does not get a good rush to his point, however, which is also 1, and the following roll does not get there either, so he joins his partner behind 2. Fournier joins up, too, back on the east boundary.

Baker hits his partner ball and gets going from 1, but after setting up for a triple at 3 he fails at the hoop. It's Fournier's 4-back ball there, but he does not make the hoop, instead laying the green for the ball still on 1, putting a ball at 1 and another at 2. Baker fires from 1 to 2, missing, and giving Fournier all the balls.

Fournier sets up for a triple, but his approach to 1 is to one side, so he retreats to corner three, where his partner is. Baker fires from 1 to 2 again, again missing. Fournier then misses his partner ball a short way off, hitting 3 and staying there.

Baker hits in with his ball for 3, and sets off on a triple, completing the penult peel on the way to 2-back, and attempting the rover peel after 3-back. A straight rover peel finishes the game, although he has to jump the peeled ball and bombard it to one side to get a clear rush to the peg.

Match to Baker in 5 hours, 15 minutes. The pace is quickening!

[CROQUET WORLD's coverage will continue with complete coverage of the 1997 WCF World Croquet Championship in Bunbury, Australia, and links to related Web pages.]

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