Both Colquhoun Trophy titles successfully defended


Colquhoun Trophy (South West Schools Regional Tournament)

Sherborne School, Dorset, November 26th

For the second year running, history was made in the Colquhoun Trophy: a year after we saw the first player follow a Colts title with the Senior title, and the first boy from Sherborne win a title, in 2017’s event, for the first time, both 2016 winners successfully defended their titles.

In truth, both players – Blundell’s Addie Chai in the Open event and Benedict Mercer from Sherborne in the Colts – were firm favourites from the start, but they had to work hard for their titles this year. Indeed, in his first round-robin game, Addie was well behind Marlborough’s Harry Powell before eventually coming through 15-9.

After that, though, he made ominously good progress to the final, comfortably topping his round-robin group and only conceding two points in the semi-finals.

By contrast, the second pool in the Open category was far closer. The three players were very closely matched, as the scores showed: no one scored less than 13 points in any one game; and, even the third-placed boy, James Maclaurin of Blundell’s, scored 27 points in losing his two games, so it seemed just reward for his efforts that he went on win the Plate.

In the end, Marlborough’s Arthur Rigg topped the group, winning his games 16-14 and 15-13. Effectively, it was a repeat performance of last year, when Arthur had also reached the semis after a series of hard-fought games. However, at this stage this year, he went one better than in 2016, winning 15-10 against fellow Marlburian Harry Powell to claim a place in the final.

That game was far closer than the scoreline suggests, with lots of long, hard-fought rallies and some excellent play from both boys. However, by the same token, the scoreline doesn’t lie, and Addie was a clear winner, again displaying all the qualities that won his first senior title last year: a very mature and calm game, working his opponent hard with excellent line and length.

Equally comprehensive was the way in which Benedict won his way through to the Colts final. For the second year running, he had a 100% record in the round-robin, only once conceding more than two points in any game. His semi-final against fellow Shirurnian was also over very quickly, meaning he would face Blundellian George Gibbs (2016’s runner-up) in the final.

George, like Benedict, had a 100% record in the round-robin, but it was much harder work. However, his 12-10, 11-9 and 11-8 wins showed a great deal of mental resilience, and he secured his place in the final with a solid semi-final win over fellow Blundellian Boris Ames.

The final was a cracking encounter, and in the first game there were never more than a couple of points between the two boys. However, Benedict just sneaked it 11-9 and that seemed to boost his confidence, as he went to take the second game more comfortably, with his power in particular telling towards the end. He full deserved his second title, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in the Open category next year.

As ever, the RFA wishes to express its thanks to Sherborne School for allowing us to use their courts, and for the hospitality shown to players, coaches and parents alike.

Round robin results to come
Knockout section
Semi-finals: Chai (Blundell’s) bt Conte (Marlborough) 15-2; Rigg (Marlborough) bt Powell (Marlborough) 15-10
Final: Chai bt Rigg 11-0, 11-1
Plate: Maclaurin (Blundell’s)

Round robin results to come
Knockout section
Semi-finals: Mercer (Sherborne) bt Harvey (Sherborne) 11-0; Gibbs (Blundell’s) bt Ames (Blundell’s) 11-4
Final: Mercer bt Gibbs 11-9, 11-2
Plate: Peck (Marlborough)