Blitz Tournament Mar 17, 2017
St. Patrick’s Day. It amazes me that anyone can start drinking so early in the morning. I struggle to put my pants on the right way around when I get out of bed, lucky I don’t poke my eyes out when inserting my contact lenses, and it’s remarkable that I cheat death and not slit my throat every time I shave. Hmmm… maybe I should drink…?
I’m as Irish as I am Chinese, so the day doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me, but apparently it does to just about everyone else who claims “Hey! I’m 1/24th Irish on my mother’s nephew’s daughter’s side twice removed”, the perfect excuse to annihilate one’s self as soon as the sun comes up and the bar’s open. It should be, by all accounts, a public holiday.
So when I arranged the Blitz Tournament for March 17, I was blissfully unaware of the significance of the date, was told after I advertised it what a mistake it was, was awfully worried I wouldn’t get the registrations to run it despite the offering of the keg that accompanied the event, and then was appreciably grateful that we did in fact get 21 players. One of which cancelled last minute, probably drowning in some green-colored, booze-filled, shamrock drenched establishment singing thick-accented Irish folk ditties - but at least I got the notice - the other just failed to present themselves at all. Maybe the green booze had actually gotten the better of him by 5pm.
In the preliminary round, the four groups of five players each (1 group ended up with four due to the no-show) went at it to determine which 2 players of each group would advance to the all-important knock-out finals. Derek Aguirre accepted the challenge presented to him like a man on a mission. Like Superman who is impervious to 99.99% of anything thrown at him, the handicaps were virtually useless against him. In games to 15 points, I may as well given everyone 14 points head start, it wouldn’t have mattered. In three of his matches, he didn’t lose a singles rally. He did lose 2 points in his 4th game, but the handicap was only 9 anyway, so it didn’t matter. What could possibly be his Kryptonite on this day? Greg Jones also advance from this group winning 3 of his matches, one of them being 15-14.
The second group ended up with a 3-way tie. Sante Fratarcangeli, Mike Parker and Han Peng all took away 3 wins and would have to draw straws to see which 2 could advance. It was a tense moment. The three players having a stare down, the three straws appearing identical but one of course being the eliminator. Neither player willing to take the first pull… The tumbleweed rolled past the court. A familiar whistle in the background, crows cawing, sun beating down, the town clock struck high noon… Until Mike stepped up and whipped out the middle straw, relieved to see that it was not the short one and would live on to the next round. Inspired, Han then also took the initiative and jumped forwards and without blinking yanked the second straw from my hand… and… tragedy! The sharpened end was a dead giveaway. Han was done. Off to the keg with you. Sante survived the carnage and made his way to keg anyway.
|Jon Diewald and Paul Gormley|
Jon Diewald takes home the “3-leaf-clover” award for being the unluckiest player of the day. He came away in group 3 with zero wins, but he could easily been in the finals mix had a couple of rallies just bounced his way. He lost 2 games 15-14, another 15-13 and the fourth 15-12. Jon needs to work on the frame-winner a little more. Paul Gormley was also just 1 rally away from advancing. He won 2 matches and lost a third 15-14… Dane Fossee and Chuck Doyle came away with 3 wins each and even though both of them were into the finals, they still needed to draw straws to see where in the knock-out bracket they would be placed. They decided on a sudden-death “rock-paper-scissors” contest instead. Now, I am no expert of this activity, but I have never seen 2 people make the simplest of games into one extraordinarily complex process. What should have taken 10 seconds at most, took 5 minutes of explanation, trial runs, false starts, and re-dos. Dane won in the end, I think his paper was the defining factor. What a move it was too.
The final group was the one that fell a player short and also had this tournament’s sole female competitor. Gina Greer was well up to the challenge, not to be overshadowed by her alpha male counterparts and she ended up with 2 from 4 wins. Jordan Dean joined her into the finals round also taking 2 wins. His only loss was a 14-15 score at the hands of Justin Winkelman. Gina and Jordan also need to draw straws to see where in the finals bracket they would be positioned and after witnessing the train wreck of the previous “rock-paper-scissors” debacle, it was a very straight forward exercise. Gina won. Gina also receives the “quote of the day award” when she remarked during one of the matches, “what a great shot!” - a remark that was spoken a little too quickly considering that shot then hit the tin. “Except for that”, was her attempt to save face. Sorry, the egg hit you squarely in the nose.
The finals bracket. Blowing wind up my own chutzpah, my handicapping here was pretty darn good. Derek took on Jordan Dean and I gave Jordan 12. Derek of course was still on his saving Louis Lane mission, but cracks were appearing in the armor as he managed to drop one point. 15-13 to Derek, hardly a smudge on his flowing red cape as of yet.
Sante v Dane. Before I could announce a handicap at all, Sante chimed in with “4!” followed by a quick retort from Dane with “6!” So, with logical assumption I split the difference and gave Dane 5. Dane should have thought that through a little better and said “8!” or “9!” I was leaning towards 6 or 7 at the beginning, Dane shot himself in the foot and can only blame himself here. Sante controlled most of the rallies and took it 15-10.
|Sante and Derek|
Gina v Chuck. Gina jumped in with 8 points, a confident number I was sure given the way she was playing this day. And she did the most wonderful thing and prove me to be spot on. Thank you! Unfortunately for her, she ended up on the wrong side of that 14-all sudden death rally, and nothing against Chuck but it would have been terrific to see a woman in the semifinals for the first time. Chuck’s one point experiences were just starting.
Greg v Mike. This one was difficult to judge a fair handicap. Greg is fairly new to the squash program and Mike has only been around for a year or so. I decided the best way to go was to make them play from scratch. That should tell what the handicap should have been afterwards! Brilliant! So, from my unflappable argument, it was clear that Greg should have had 3 or 4 points head start. And now I know. Which of course doesn’t help Greg one iota after the fact.
|Chuck Doyle and Mike Parker|
The two semifinals were nail-biters. Sante took 3 points into the match against Derek and was off to a flying start. Derek, it appeared had come across his one weakness - fluorescent lime green (or is it yellow?) t-shirts! Superpowers waning, he was playing way too conservatively, scared to lose points rather than playing to win them. But he turned it around half way through and began chipping away at the lead. He did get back to 13 before Sante (Lex Luther in disguise?) managed to close it out. So much for Louis Lane. Oh well. She was annoying anyway. The second semi was even closer. I also gave Mike 3 points heading into the match with Chuck. The hustle between the 2 players was something to behold, I can’t say it was postcard squash but it certainly was captivating. Chuck once again defied the odds to win the sudden-death rally, another 15-14 win.
3rd / 4th play-off between Mike and Derek had us all rooting for Mike of course. His 12 points was another magnificent move from yours truly, Derek was keen to put the Sante episode behind him and at least save himself from further defeat from some other super villain. He may get dropped from the Justice League after this performance, or maybe Mike is part of the Legion of Doom… either way, Mike takes the game 15-14, a noble showing!
For the final, Chuck also stepped on court with a 12 point buffer. Sante was confident coming off destruction of Superman, but things did not go as planned early on Chuck took 2 of the first 6 rallies and suddenly held 11 match-balls. Uh-Oh. No room for error for Sante. Chuck just needed one miss-hit, one framer, one lucky nick… but alas, it was not forth coming. With grim determination, Sante made sure he was faultless and worked himself back to 14-all and with it another sudden death point. One to decide it all… There was no lucky shot from Chuck, but he did -it seemed - have the opportunity to take a ‘stroke’ in the front left corner. He called the ‘let’, but ignored the cries of “STROKE!!” from the crowd, and insisted to Sante on playing a just a ‘let’. A true gentleman in every sense of the word. Now, I will let the people watching decide whether it was a stroke or not, understanding that everybody was naturally cheering for the underdog to win, so some bias is involved here. Chuck’s generosity was not rewarded, Sante took the game 15-14 and with it, his 4th Blitz title! Hats off to the victor, one must admire the competitiveness! I must make a note for the future to really exaggerate his handicapping….