Our boys have done it again! Yesterday, Gareth Jarvis, Tony Mann and Jeff Mitchell (Goldsmiths PC, Crowborough) qualified (out of 36 of many of the best teams in the country) for the 8-team squad to represent England in the Home Nations Championship later in the year.
Hearty congratulations! All power to your elbows.
Tony writes: “The Qualifier was held at Mansfield PC which is a relatively new club who together with their local Council have built a fantastic pétanque facility in the beautiful surroundings of Titchfield Park in the centre of the city. Mansfield PC will also host the Home Nations in August.
The qualifiers are played using the Swiss System playing format. There is a random draw in the opening round but the second and subsequent rounds are played so that winners play winners and losers play losers. This is one of the best playing systems for providing a ranking order for teams. With 36 teams and 5 rounds to be played it guarantees there is one team on 5 wins, a number of teams on 4 wins and a number of teams of 3 wins and so on.
Splitting the number of teams on the same number of wins is not done through points difference. It is done using a system called BHN points where your team gets a point for every win each of your 5 opponents gain over the 5 rounds. There is also a further split if teams have both the same number of wins and BHN points. This is called fBHN and is the sum of the BHN points each of your 5 opponents has amassed.
Confused? Most people are with this system and computer software is normally used to run it. However it rewards teams by giving them extra points (BHN) if they beat a strong team or lose to a strong team.
Our opening game was against a team of seasoned players from Kent who took 5 off us in the opening end but we slowly fought back to win 13-11 and were the second last game to finish. (The draw for the next round cannot take place until every game from the current round is completed.)
We then drew a team from Sussex (Hastings) who we all know well and were staying in the same hotel as us. They had just beaten one of the top and most experienced teams in the competition much to everyone’s amazement. It is often difficult for a team to sustain their focus and energy after such an historic win and unfortunately for them we did not throw a bad boule in this match and won 13-0.
Our third-round game was against a top class team from the Chiltern Region who played in the Home Nations last year and were the only unbeaten team. This was a terrific match and very closely fought where in three consecutive ends, with them on 12, we were forced to play amazing defensive points to stay in the game. We emerged victorious 13-12 and were the longest match of that round.
In our fourth-round match we played a team of players from the Northern and London Regions. It was yet another tough, tight match, with both teams knowing if they won they were guaranteed a place in the top 8. Alas, despite having opportunities to win, we lost 11-13 and yes yet again we were the longest match of the round!
By this stage there was only two teams on 4 out of 4 wins and so they played each other in the final (fifth) round. We were on 3 wins and drew another team also on 3 wins. A win for either team would guarantee them a top-8 spot. This time we were drawn against another team made up of two very experienced adults and two of our Association’s top juniors. Once again it was a tightly fought close game and by far the longest game of the round (if not of the whole day!). Once again we had chances to finish the match with a win but failed to do so and lost 11-13.
So along with most of the other teams we then waited for what seemed like an excruciatingly long time (but was only a matter of minutes) for the organiser to announce the top 8 teams. There was the one team on 5 wins followed by 6 teams on 4 wins who were all announced in order, leaving just the one remaining eighth-placed vacant spot. This was to go to a team on 3 wins but they had to have a very high BHN tally as there were eleven teams with 3 wins. Of these, two had the highest BHN tally of 18, and we were one of them. So this meant splitting the two teams by using fBHN points: our team had 69 and the other team had 63. So we qualified for the final eighth spot by the narrowest of margins.
All the teams we played against finished in the top 12. We had wins against the 12th, 11th and 4th placed teams and losses against the 2nd and 6th placed teams. This was why our BHN and fBHN points were so high.
For Jeff and me it’s our second Home Nations success having qualified to play for England in 2011 in a different team, but for Gareth it’s his first time and as such is really special for him. All three of us are really looking forward to representing our Association and country in Mansfield in August.”