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Players Agree to More Colour in Croquet Clothing but Make Little Headway on Other Points

Posted November 11, 1997

Although Payne has unfortunately been eliminated from the main event, having lost all his games in his very tough block - against Stark (USA), McInerney (Ireland), Openshaw (England) and Jackson (New Zealand) - he still has much to look forward to and much to report to the world on this seventh WCF World Championship in Bunbury, Australia. While the main event continues with the 32-person Knockout Round, Payne plays on in the "plate" tournament which gives first-round losers a second chance to compete.

Wolly Featherflower
Why is it always windy at the WCF World Championship? This is the third championship I've attended, and the third time that it's been very windy. Admittedly, it hasn't been quite so cold as at Carden Park {England in 1994] or Fontenay-le-Comte [France in 1995}, but there is a definite chill in the air and pullovers and track-suits have been put to good use. The wind was so strong on Tuesday morning that it blew over a large and heavy players' shelter right onto the lawn on which I was playing! The weather is expected to remain cool and windy and there is a chance of rain.

The preliminary rounds were completed on Monday, the last play-off match being transferred onto the floodlit lawn in order to stick to the programme. The eight weakest players (myself included, sniff sniff!) have been dutifully banished to lawns 9 and 10 for the start of the plate, while the remaining 32 start the best-of three-knock-out on Tuesday.

Royal Robe
The seeding, based on the WCF ranking list, has had to be modified in several places in order to ensure that players coming from the same country, or the same preliminary round block, don't meet in the first round. The draw has possibly been kind to some, and unkind to others, but has been generally accepted to the best of my knowledge, the only potentially controversial decision being the seeding in 32nd spot of the winner of the play-off match between Andrew Hope and Edoardo Lualdi, but for practical reasons (as mentioned above, this match went on long into the evening) this was deemed the best solution.

A players' discussion forum was organised after tea on Monday, and the size and format of the championship, as well as the method of qualification was on the agenda. I unfortunately missed this due to on-court commitments, and so arrived just as the possibility of a WCF Team Championship was being evoked. But little headway was made yet again on this apparently controversial subject.

The question of clothing was also discussed. The traditional whites are confusing for spectators since, not only is it impossible to distinguish the players from different countries, but also the referees and even many of the spectators themselves are dressed in white. It appeared that the players present at the meeting were mostly (all?) in favour of more flexibility, possibly allowing more colour on the shirts, but preferring that other items of clothing should remain white. A distinctive uniform for referees would be useful, but potentially costly to the organisors.

All in all, Monday was a quiet day on the social front, allowing us a breather before the Westralian Sands wine & cheese evening on Tuesday. Based on the local Western Australian wines that I have managed to try so far, I'm definitely looking forward to this (and I come from a wine producing village in Switzerland)!

[Peter Payne is a player in the World Championship representing Switzerland. Click here to read the last installment of his journal.]

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