The three AC Invitations events took place over the last week and weekend of March in Auckland and Manawatu-Wanganui. These events were the last AC events in the tournament calendar for 2022/23.
The Top 8, competing for the CA Silver Tray, took place from 25-29 March at Epsom Remuera CC. The format was a double round robin, with all eyes on Logan McCorkindale (South Canterbury) and defending Top 8 Champion Paddy Chapman (Thames Valley) after their phenomenal play at this year’s NZ Open.
The weekend began with some inter-Macrob matchups, as Logan beat Aaron Westerby (Auckland) 26-9, while Paddy defeated Josh Freeth (Auckland) 26-9 with his first of many triple peels for the event. John Christie (Thames Valley) and Peter Filbee (South Taranaki) also got off to winning starts. Paddy then made another triple peel in win against Aaron, and Logan got his first of the weekend in a 26-1 win over Steve Clarke (Bay of Plenty). Paddy went on to get two more, starting the tournament with 4/4 triple peels and wins. Aaron also got his first of the week and Logan his second.
Sunday’s play saw Logan and Paddy continue their great runs, until Peter Filbee produced some excellent play to beat Logan 26-22 with a triple peel. Paddy extended his lead at the top of the log after a 26-0 win over Logan with yet another triple peel.
This seemed to be a major motivation for Logan, who started a run of four 26-0 triple peel wins on Monday and early Tuesday. On Wednesday, Aaron opened the door for Logan, with a 26-13 tpo win over Paddy, meaning that Paddy was on 11 wins and Logan on 10, with the two facing up against each other in the final round of matches. Paddy Chapman would come out on top, winning 26-18 tpo to finish the event with 12 wins and 229 net hoops. This was Paddy’s fourth CA Silver Tray win. Logan McCorkindale finished second with 10 wins and 192 net hoops, ahead of Aaron Westerby in third with 8 wins and 58 net hoops.
The Second 8 took place at Orewa CC over the same dates as the Top 8, and like the Top 8, had a double round robin format to compete for the Edwina Thompson Silver Tray.
Defending champion Vincent Commarieu won his opening match against fellow Aucklander Frank Robinson, while Stefan Horrer (Wairarapa), Jarrod Coutts (South Canterbury) and Jim Wardle (Auckland) also got off to winning starts. Vincent, Stefan and Jarrod all got wins in the second round of matches, with Jarrod being the only player to finish unbeaten on Saturday, beating Stefan, while Cindy Clarke (Bay of Plenty) joined the chasing pack with two wins after beating Jeff France (Counties-Manukau). Cindy gave Jarrod his first loss on Sunday morning, creating a very close table.
Graeme Fisher (Wellington) got into his stride on Sunday and Monday, with some important wins before falling 26-22 to Stefan. Meanwhile, Vincent demonstrated why he won the title last season, also going on a good run of wins in the middle of the event.
Tuesday would be a crucial day in the context of the tournament, with Vincent getting a 26-2 win over Stefan to take a lead at the top of the log, while also beating Jim Wardle (Auckland). Stefan lost to Jeff France, giving Vincent a clear advantage.
Going into Wednesday’s final round of matches, Vincent had 10 wins and Graeme had 9, with Vincent only 1 net hoop ahead with all to play for. Ultimately, Vincent Commarieu would win convincingly, beating Jarrod 26-8 to defend his Second 8 title. Despite losing his final game, Graeme Fisher finished 2nd with 9 wins, ahead of Stefan Horrer in third with 8 wins and 54 net hoops.
The Third 16 was competed by 12 players this year at Rose Gardens CC from 24-26 March. The players were divided into two sections of six for round robin matches, with the top three from each section going into a Super Section, and the bottom three into a 7-12 place section.
In Section 1, Bonnie Johnstone (South Taranaki) and Callum McKinnon (Manawatu-Wanganui) both had four wins out of five, with Callum’s only loss coming against Bonnie, who herself lost to Carolyn Fordyce (South Canterbury) 14-13. This narrow win ensured that Carolyn progressed with Callum and Bonnie to the Super section, finishing ahead of Peter Richardson (Hawkes Bay) and Owen Evans (Canterbury) on net hoops.
In Section 2, Mike Newport (West Coast) put himself forward as an early favourite for the event, winning all five matches. However, Nicholas Flood (Manawatu-Wanganui) won his other four matches, and had a better net hoop total than Mike. Joining them into the Super Section was Baubre Murray (Wellington), who had two wins and better net hoops than John Hershaw (Canterbury).
The 7-12 Section became a 7-10 section, with two players pulling out. Mike McClure (Nelson) ultimately won the group, finishing with 2 wins and 19 net hoops.
In the Super Section, with previous results against other top 6 players being carried forward, each player only had three matches to play on Sunday. Nicholas Flood beat Bonnie Johnstone 26-25 in a thriller, with Callum and Mike Newport also getting wins. In round 2, Bonnie put herself just behind the leaders with a dominant win, while Callum and Nicholas also won, giving them 3 wins in the Section along with Mike.
In the final round Callum McKinnon beat Nicholas 19-11 to secure the Roger Murfitt Trophy and show why he won the Most Improved AC Player at last year’s CNZ AGM. Bonnie Johnstone finished in 2nd place after winning her final match, with 3 wins and an impressive 55 net hoops. Nicholas Flood finished third, with 3 wins and 1 net hoop.
Thank you to all the organisers and tournament managers. We’ll see our AC players at CNZ tournaments next season.