Sunday, 23 August 2015

As ready as I'll ever be!

Tuesday evening's quarter-final will be the most challenging match of my short bowls career. Up against the club's best player for the first time. He's won 38 club titles, 11 of which are the competition I'm playing him in.

The men's four bowls singles is our most prestigious championship. The winner represents the club next year at county level in the Champion of Champions competition, playing against other club champions. Win that, and you're through to the national competition at Skegness against other county winners.

Back to reality. I've seen many players beaten by my opponent before they even bowl. Last week a friend who's a decent bowler lost to him in another club competition 21-2. So what am I going to do to win?

For a start, I've already knocked last year's winner out in an earlier round. That person beat my opponent in the final. So that gives him something to think about.

Secondly, it's his choice of rink and I know he'll choose 1. It's the most consistent part of the green and virtually my opponent's home rink. So this evening, with no-one around, I'm having a solo practise on rink 1.

Thirdly, rain is forecast for late Tuesday afternoon. We've had rain this afternoon, so conditions on the green are about as close to what they'll be on Tuesday as I could wish.

Finally, throwing every variation I can think of into my solo practise. Normally I mimic what happens in a real game by continuously bowling to whatever hand is working best. Not this evening. For the first eighteen I alternate between forehand and backhand on each end. For the second eighteen ends I throw in some variation of length. I bowl to a maximum length jack, then move the mat right up the green to play the minimum length.

What is the result? Not bad actually, in spite of the variation. On the second eighteen I exceed my target of half the bowls within three feet. There are two things I do identify.
  • I'm bowling most accurately to the longest jack. That's valuable information. Most players don't like a long jack and my opponent prefers a medium length.
  • On almost every end I waste one bowl by delivering short. That means many times I'm only playing with three bowls. The game may be won or lost on my ability to get that fourth bowl nearer the jack.
What I'll certainly do is follow my usual strategy of mainly focusing on drawing the jack and ignoring what my opponent does. Here are the updated graph and scorecards following this evening's practise.

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