A disappointingly low entry of 4 teams took part in this year’s English Mixed Doubles Championship at Fenton’s Rink. This required a double round robin and a final to decide the winners, though a final would not be necessary if one team remained undefeated all weekend.
Play began with two games on the Friday evening, followed by 3 on Saturday and one planned for Sunday followed by the final. In the end, the last round robin games were not necessary as the top 2 teams by that time were clearly identified and so the final took place earlier than programmed.
As with all ECA Championships there were to be no tie-breakers played (a stance that the World Curling Federation is still trying to implement in all of its Championships) and the ranking of teams at the end of the round – robin would be based upon firstly, games won and then the results between any tied teams and then, if necessary, by each team’s Draw Shot Challenge score.
This means that before every game the teams each play a Last Stone Draw which determines which team has the choice of going first or second in the first end. At the end of the round-robin the Last Stone Draws for each team are totalled and averaged (after the removal of the worst individual LSD). This average (the Draw Shot Challenge) then determines ranking if necessary. This would be an important element in this Mixed Doubles Championship.
Last year’s runners-up, Alan MacDougall and Lana Watson (M/W )headed the entry with challenges from Lorna Rettig / Ben Fowler (R/F), who had played together as England in the New Zealand Winter Games last summer, Bryan Zachary / Angharad Ward (Z/W) and John Brown / Jean Robinson (B/R). To save space I will use the abbreviations above in this report!!
When the teams went to bed on Friday night the scoreboard showed that M/W led the way on 2 wins followed by R/F and Z/W on 1 in and 1 loss and B/R on 2 losses. The best score of the night was Z/W’s 13-1 defeat of B/R while other games were on average decided by 4 or 5 shots over the 8 ends.
The first session on Saturday opened the competition up with Z/W defeating M/W meaning that a final would now be necessary as there were no undefeated teams left. In the second session R/F then defeated Z/W while that result was reversed in the second game between the two teams leaving the situation at the end of Saturday as M/W on 4 wins, Z/W and R/F on 3 wins and B/R on 0 wins.
Unfortunately, the Brown / Robinson pair now had to withdraw from the competition owing to a medical issue and thus Z/W were given a walkover in the final game of the round robin, putting them on 4 wins and meaning that R/F would therefore need to defeat M/W in their last game to reach 4 wins and thus be equal with the other two teams.
At this point it became clear that each of the three team’s possible DSC score would be vital as it would decide the ranking of the three and identify the top 2 that would go to the final. Even if R/F defeated M/W they would be ranked behind them on DSC and the current DSCs would mean that they would also be ranked behind Z/W – so would the game between R/F and M/W actually be meaningful?
The issue would be decided before the last round robin game would start as all three teams would have a chance to modify their DSC with their last LSD. Even though Z/W were not playing they had to undertake the LSD for the game – a bad LSD for them and a good one for R/F could reverse their possible ranking and mean that R/F had to play M/W to see if they could beat them, get 4 wins and thus finish 2nd.
So it was a tense situation on the Sunday morning as Angharad threw her LSD for Z/W as their continued participation in the competition could be affected by it. However, cool as a cucumber she drew it to 13 cms and sealed the place in the final as, no matter what LSD the R/F duo threw, they could not overtake Z/W to qualify. So the last round robin session was cancelled and it was straight on to the final.
This game went down to the last stone when an attempt by Alan MacDougall to score a one to tie the scores failed, but only after a measure, and Bryan Zachary and Angharad Ward were crowned English Mixed Doubles Champions, the prizes being presented by Angharad’s mother, Rosaleen Boardman, the Vice-President of the ECA.
This completes an amazing feat for Angharad – when she competes for England at the World Mixed Doubles in Dumfries she will have played at International level for England at Junior Women, Women, Mixed and Mixed Doubles (not forgetting GB at Youth Olympic level) – and all while still in her teens – mind you she will have to wait 31 years to complete the Grand Slam by playing at Senor Women level as well!!