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Champion of Champions 2014

For 2014 the annual Champion of Champions event moved to Wolsingham, County Durham and was played over the weekend of 7th & 8th June.

Representatives from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Durham, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Suffolk and Sunderland all competed in the Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours disciplines.

There was a familiar ring to the results as the Pairs, Triples and Rinks were all retained by the counties who won last year's competitions, albeit with different representatives.

Saturday began well for Sunderland, Essex and Bedfordshire who all won their opening pair of games. However that didn't last long and surprisingly it was regining champion who was the first drop out of the race for the lead as the remaining 3 games of the day yeilded just a single point for Sunderland.

For Essex it became 3 wins from the first 3 games to secure an early overall lead, but the day's final two games were both lost and that meant a two point deficit to the joint leaders going into day 2.

For Bedfordshire the day finished undefeated, however points were lost after twice been held to a draw which meant that Durham who had been beaten by Bedfordshire, but had won their other four games, had a share of the lead at Saturday's close.

Sunday began with the two leaders recording a couple of wins each, allowing them to draw away from the field as others faded and ensuring that as they went into the final two sessions that either Bedfordshire or Durham would be taking home the winning trophy.

It looked as if there was every chance that the two of them would go through Sunday undefeated and that the title would be decided on shots, but a break came in the penultimate round as Durham lost to Sunderland and with Bedfordshire winning the title was all but sealed.

The final games of the day saw wins for both contenders which meant that Bedfordshire secured the win by a margin of 2 points. And the record of 7 wins, 2 draws and no losses over the weekend finished with the only unbeaten record in any of the disciplines.

Winner: Neil Tuckey (Bedfordshire)

A closely fought competition was signalled early on as no one managed to make it through their second games without having dropped at least one point.

At that stage there were three joint leaders, but game later there were 4 of them, with Suffolk, Sunderland, Hertfordshire and Essex all on 4 points and with another 4 teams on 3 points there were fully 8 teams were covered by a single point.

But the fourth round of games saw a split beginning to emerge and by the end of play it was clear that Sunday was going to be a four horse race. Suffolk and Sunderland led the way with 8 points, while just a single point behind were Durham and Cambridgeshire.

With Suffolk having to play all of their closest opposition on Sunday they would have not only the toughest job, but also the greatest opportunity to knock their rivals out of contention.

But things did not begin well for Suffolk as they lost their first game on Sunday, dropping them down the standings, however the next session saw both Sunderland and Cambridgeshire do the same thing. All of this which left Durham in the lead by one point with two games to go, having started Sunday off with a pair of victories.

Durham won their penultimate game, as did Suffolk which left the two of them fighting it out for the title in the final game which saw the two teams pitted against one another.

With a one point lead Durham knew they could settle for a draw, but before long they had Suffolk on the ropes. Durham took each of the first 6 ends, edging their way to an 8-0 lead and leaving Suffolk with little hope. The final 3 ends went Suffolk's way to make the score more respectable, but the title was Durham's.

They came home with a 3 point advantage, ahead of Suffolk, Sunderland and Hertfordshire who were all tied on 12 points.

Winners: John Leonard & John Leonard Jr (Durham)

With 3 of Saturday's games played it looked as if two teams had made the break from the field. Suffolk and Essex both had maximum points and as a result were 2 points clear of the result of the field.

However that didn't last for long as both teams proceeded to lose their next games, while three teams behind them won to make it a 5-way tie for the lead.

And the slide continued for the same two former leaders as they also lost their final Saturday games, while in the meantime Sunderland and Bedfordshire, who just a couple of games previously had been trailing the leaders were now themselves out in front by two points.

Sunday started with the top two winning, but it was all change in their next games as Sunderland and Bedfordshire both lost, while Suffolk won, meaning that with just two games to go all three teams were now tied on 10 points.

The penultimate round once again saw mixed fortunes for the contenders. This time it was Bedfordshire who won while Sunderland and Suffolk lost. And just to add some spice to the proceedings Essex, Northumberland and Cambridgeshire also won, bringing them up to a five-way tie for second, all two points adrift of Bedfordshire.

A single point against Sunderland was all that Bedfordshire would need, but as one might have predicted, given the way the competition had gone so far, they fell short. An 8-7 loss left them on 12 points, while the win brought Sunderland up to the same tally.

And extraordinarily Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire also recorded wins to make it a grand total of 5 teams finishing on 12 points to be seperated by shots, the best of which was Suffolk, taking the title by 13 shots over Essex.

Winners: Clint Watling, Sam Runnacles & Tom Runnacles (Suffolk)

Despite a Saturday during which Cambridgeshire were never out of the lead, even if it was shared for much of the time, the Rinks looked as if was going to be the closest fought of the disciplines. The day ended with the 10 teams covered by just 5 points, although the leaders did have a 2 point advantage at the close of the first day's play.

And while there was no realistic chance that anyone from the bottom half of the field would come through to win the event, there was nonetheless plenty of scope for the order to be severely shuffled before the weekend was over.

Cambridgeshire, having already drawn clear of the field, only to lose and fall back into the pack, finished the day 2 points clear of Bedfordshire, Sunderland and Norfolk. And given that they had to face two of those teams on Sunday, this was where any challenge was likely to come from.

Cambridgeshire, though, continued their good form into Sunday, recording wins in their first two games, while their nearest rivals lost. With two games to go they had increased their lead to 3 points from Suffolk who were now their nearest rivals, and had the chance to wrap the title up with a win in their penultimate game.

And that they duly did, while the rest of the teams continued to do what they had done for most of the weekend and that was to beat one another. The title was already secured and with an 8th and final win the trophy, far from being closely fought, was subject to the most resounding victory of the weekend as Cambridgeshire came home winners by fully 5 points ahead of Suffolk and Sunderland.

Winners: Beryl Wicks, Barry Giddens, Maureen Giddens & Colin Wicks (Cambridgeshire)

Essex were off to a flying start with everyone contributing. With three sessions complete they had dropped just 4 points from a possible maximum of 24 and had a lead of 4 points. But all that good work was completely undone as they failed to score a single point in the in the day's final 2 sessions.

Cambridgeshire were off to a slow start, but as the day wore on and quicker starters faded, they came through to finish the first day in third place, only a couple of points off the lead.

Bedfordshire were perhaps the surprise package of Saturday, always there or there abouts, they finished the day just a point off the leaders and reigning champions Sunderland.

With just a couple of points covering these teams and a gap to the rest of the field beginning to emerge, it was hard to see the eventual winners coming from outside Saturday's top three.

And though it hardly seemed possible things got even closer on Sunday. With three sessions still to go the top three were all level on 37 points, while an improved Suffolk performance meant that they were closing in and were just 2 points behind the leaders.

But the final few sessions saw Cambridgeshire continue the momentum which had seen them moving step by step up the leaderboard since halfway through Saturday.

By the end of proceedings they were 3 points clear of Sunderland with Bedfordshire having stuck in there to come home a very creditable third place.

Winners: Cambridgeshire

A full copy of the results can be found here.

updated 09/06/14