Anatomy of a thriller… how Mike Blew his big chance

MIKE KAY, Caversham’s lowest-handicap AC player, has filed this fascinating blow-by-blow account of his match in the club’s SCF Handicap League showdown at Blewbury…

The thing about AC is, you can play well, and lose, and go home feeling you had a really good game.

Against Blewbury, I was drawn against Anthony Hardwicke — his handicap is two, mine is four, so I had two bisques.

Conventional opening: he played green and brown, and started by going to the East boundary; I laid pink as a tice in the usual place; he roqueted his partner and came over to pink, but went off the boundary. 

So I was in with a chance! The tice was now a double target and I hit in and created a break for white, which got me as far as hoop six; with the help of a bisque I got a bit further, to two back (or eight as we’re supposed to call it these days). 

So close: Mike Kay suffered a narrow defeat

Then he got the innings and took green all the way round to the peg. These things are going to happen when you’re playing a two — don’t let it get you down. 

I hit in, but failed to get into a running position for my next hoop — and decided instead to use my one remaining bisque to collect brown from the far boundary and use it to set up a break. A great decision! It resulted in a textbook four-ball break for pink all the way round to peg. 

But I made a mistake! I wanted to peg him out after making rover (sorry, 12) but I blundered by thinking brown was for the peg when it was actually green. I ended the turn with a decent leave, but he managed to hit in, and took brown most of the way round before blobbing a hoop. 

So with the game level (green and pink on peg, brown and white on four back, sorry, ten) I got back in and pegged him out. 

Tense moments while he checked the rule-book to see if this is allowed in handicap games — it is. There’s nothing like a pegged-out game to get the adrenalin flowing, but it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a win. 

Unfortunately when I pegged out green, I left brown wired from everything, and he found a position for the lift shot that gave him a double target 20 yards away, which he hit. That left him nicely placed for a mini-break through the last three hoops; but he made a bad approach to rover, and after a lot of thought, he decided to leave his ball nestling in the jaws. 

Nail-biting stuff — I had one last chance if I could hit his partially-obscured ball from six yards away. Could I keep my nerve? Yes, but could I hit his ball? Sadly, no, and the rest was a formality. 

As so often happens in AC, it could have gone either way right until the end, and the score of 26-22 doesn’t indicate quite how close it was.

Any morals to the tale? (1) Use your bisques — even the last one — to create opportunities, not to recover from errors. (2) You can peg your opponent out and still lose. (3) Relax and enjoy yourself, even if you’re behind.

With Mike’s team-mates Chris Pegrum going down 20-23, Brian Jamieson 19-21 and Charles Briggs 8-26, Caversham ended their league season with a 4-0 defeat.