Seven of the top 12 AC players in New Zealand on current rankings came from as far away as Auckland and Dunedin to play in the CNZ Top 8 AC Invitation tournament at Rose Gardens club from 17-20 March.
The format was intended to be double round robin, squeezing 14 rounds into 4 days. However, time limits weren’t used and the fast tricky lawns meant several games went well past 3 hours. Therefore, after the first round robin the format for the remainder of the event was changed to knockout, with seeding based on positions after the round robin. At this point four players were tied on 4 wins each and were ranked according to net points. Unusually for AC two players were also tied on net points: Aaron Westerby (Auckland) and Edmund Fordyce (Canterbury) both on +50. So top seed went to Westerby, who had won the game between them. Westerby received the bye in the first knockout round and winners were Fordyce, Paddy Chapman (Waikato – King Country) and Chris Shilling (Otago).
In the semi-finals Westerby beat Shilling, and Chapman beat Fordyce in a game where Chapman pegged out a ball of each side giving the spectators an interesting one ball game. So the final was between NZ number 1 and 2018 AC World Champion, Chapman, and NZ number 3, Westerby. Westerby got off to a good start in an absorbing game that could have gone either way for much of it. But Chapman picked up crucial roquets and prevailed 26-23.
The Second 6 AC Invitation event, also at Rose Gardens, was run as a double round robin. The winner was Vincent Commarieu (Auckland) from Nelson Morrow (also Auckland) on countback of net points after both had 7 wins from the 10 games. Stefan Horrer (Wairarapa) was a close third on 6 wins.
The Third 6 AC Invitation event at Feilding club involved three players from local clubs, Levin, Marton and Rose Gardens, and three from other parts of the Lower North Island. The winner was Carissa Price (Rose Gardens) on 8 wins from 10 games from Bonnie Johnstone (Stratford) with 7 wins and Doug Van Belle (Levin) third with 6 wins.
The 0+ AC Invitation was held in Otago, with Cantabrian Steve Costigan who was crowned champion who won 6 of 7 games in the round robin format. Costigan won the event on net hoops over fellow Cantabrian, John Hearnshaw, with +62 after Hearnshaw (+17) also finished with 6 wins.