Team Cambridge go down fighting… again…

Last weekend turned out to be eventful, but not in quite the way we wanted! Cambridge assembled a team of 5 for the UK Clubs Championship in York, hoping to do better than our previous attempt last year. For those who don’t know, the format is world-cup-style – round-robin groups, with the top teams progressing to the last 8 knockout, and the rest into a consolation knockout. 2018 saw us dumped out in the first round of the consolation…

On paper we had a good team from divisions 1 and 2 Рmyself, Roger, Mark, Michael and Phil. Sadly near to the day Roger had a family commitment come up and so our Cambridge Open Champion Beginner  РAnna Hayward Рstepped in as a substitute. Train tickets and hotels booked, we sat down for a Friday night G&T with hopes up.

Clearly we had offended the gods big time, as there were power cuts across the country caused by the power station in St Neots going pop… so few trains and no seats at all; then I ended up in York A&E all day Saturday with a very painful infection in a leg wound; our taxi to the venue was an hour late, so we also nearly missed the start, then Phil turned out to be in a completely different city. Fortunately we were able to recruit a fifth player on the day, but Lisa turned out to be a complete beginner…

All eyes on the deciding one-pointer playoff for the final Last 8 place. Not us.

Liverpool Movers 4-1 Cambridge

First up for us in group F were the Movers, sister team to the Shakers… and Anna got her first ever experience of a clock. Her opponent clearly took pity and ignored it hitting zero, resulting in a very long match while the rest of us commiserated, only Mark coming away with a win.

Cambridge 3-2 Aberdeen

Hopes picked up again as I won a quick match with a spectacular 44; Anna chalked up her first victory at this level by beating Aberdeen captain Brenda, and another for Mark sealed the match. Michael lost a very close game at DMP to miss out… but suddenly a qualification wasn’t out of the question again.

Glasgow 4-1 Cambridge

The door to the last 8 slammed firmly shut this time as we took on the strongest team in the group. I lost a frustratingly close 5-pointer from 3-3; Lisa was brusquely swept aside 5-0, and everyone else put up a good fight but four close matches only produced one win by Michael. Anna’s match was on camera and we await the eXtremeGammon verdict… The Glasgow side were clearly on top form as they sailed through top of the group, unbeaten, and went on to win the Championship outright.

So on into the consolation, where we came unstuck again. With match length down to 3 points at this stage, luck was going to play a bigger part.

Coventry 4-1 Cambridge

Another win for newbie Anna, but no joy for anyone else. The rolling that helped me out earlier deserted me at the very end as my seemingly safe game turned around rapidly against one of my regular online opponents… so our campaign ended at the same stage as last time. At least we hadn’t suffered any whitewashes this time. And just to rub salt into the wound, we just missed one train home and had to stand all the way back to Peterborough on the next.

We’ll definitely be back – despite the lack of success it’s a great fun tournament and I’d encourage everyone to think about going; if we can raise two teams next year then we’ll certainly try to get them in. The tournament rotates around the country from year to year, so I can’t say where it will be just yet… though I don’t have plans to bid to bring it back to St Neots (the 2017 venue) just yet!


One thought on “Team Cambridge go down fighting… again…

  1. Commiserations to the team. Perhaps the lack of matching t-shirts was a strategic error!
    It would be great to see this evolve into a proper two day tournament, with a longer group stage on the Saturday (say 4 groups of 6, 5×7 point matches, clock mandatory), and the knockout phase on Sunday.

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