It was Star Wars day, May 4th and the first Crokinole UK Masters was being held at the Dice Cup in Nottingham. A new venue. Those of us that had seen the line up and worked out the seedlings realised it was going to be very competitive. 13 of the top 15 ranked players were coming. The format was set up for a full second group stage , this meant everyone would have tough second round games against similar level players.

I parked my car opposite the venue only to meet Mark Thurling and  Steve Burrows who had both parked next to me. By the time the venue opened at 10 there was a crowd of us eager to get going. 

It was a home venue for Chris Robinson who I believe will run this event next year. After detailed meetings on how to seed people before we have a complete season it was nice to see the top 9 seeds make it into pool A for the afternoon. 

The afternoon groups proved to be very competitive. Top 4 from each pool qualifying for semifinals. In pool C only 4 points split 4th to 7th. In pool B five points split 4th to 7th. In the top pool it was a little more clear cut with myself winning the group with Tom Curry second Brian Cook 3rd and Mark Thurling 4th. Steve Burrows just missing out in 5th. 

After a break we had the first to 11 semifinals. 

In the C semi finals Sam Breeze literally breezed past Helen Temby  12-0 and Ben Roylance beat Katie Hunter-Choat in a 12-10 cliffhanger 

The C final Sam continued his strong performance and justified his one seed wining 12-2 against Ben.

The B semifinals saw 2 committee members make it through Terry Brown and Ryan Anthony. Terry lost to Tom Lawton the number one seed and Dean French beat Ryan. This set up another great final with Dean winning 12-10.

Having finished 4th in the original pool A , which justified its pool of death status with both Brian and myself coming out that pool to reach the top group semi finals. As an aside I had a first when I played Steve Burrows, not only did I leave a disk standing vertically in the 20 hole but incredibly Steve not only took it out but left his disk in the 20 !! (see the picture)

The top pool semi finals proved to be two close affairs, having topped the group and being one seed I played Mark , who was the only player to beat me in the round robin. He did so again winning 12-8 , winning the last two games from 8-8. I did have the privilege of beating Brian 7-1 in the round robin, which was the reason I won the group and he dropped to 3 seed. So in the second semifinal Brian played Tom. Another close affair with Tom winning the deciding game to edge it 11-9,  having come from 6-0 down. 

So Mark reached his second final of the season to play Tom who was looking for his third tournament win. Mark started brightly and was quickly 5-1 up. It soon got close and the eventually ended up 9-9. In a tense decider both looked like they would win only for them to tie, making it 10-10. Another end and another incredible close game, Tom edged it but I think we all need to see those last two games again when the video is published. Unlucky for Mark and congratulations to Tom who secured the first year’s tour championship with 3 wins from the 5 events played so far.

A special mention to Alan Woods a newcomer to the Crokinole scene this year, having made it to the top 9 he played out a perfect game (16 twenties) with Tom Curry. This is only the second perfect game we have seen in the competitive era of the UK.

We now move on to a sold-out UK Championships at the NEC. Ranking points to play for as everyone ( except Tom!) jostle for their final year 1 positions. A big well done to Terry for organising this event and I think many will look forward to this next year, I hope you bought a lot of Green caps as I think this event will only get bigger each year.