Kai Kiernan wins IOMSRA 2019 Christmas Handicap Tournament
The IOMSRA Christmas Handicap 2019 Squash Tournament was played on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th December. The event is an annual event that utilises the ‘Monrad’ method so that players are will get a match in each round of the tournament. It is seen as a fun tournament as players have handicaps applied to their starting points so that the games are much more even.
The UK national ranking system ‘Squash Levels’ was used to determine the handicaps as this system can accurately predict the result between two players. The handicap value is completely dependent on the two players in the match so is recalculated for each opponent a player meets. There were twenty competitors which meant a small preliminary round followed by four full rounds of matches.
The first round saw some of the better players fall by the wayside as they had massive points differences to make up to win matches. Top 50 ranked players like Steve Baker, Liam Townsend, Shaun Wyllie and Marc Taggart all struggled to make enough points and lost to their lower ranked opponents and made their way into the group of players ranked 9 to 16.
In the top half of round two Harry Douthwaite, Charlie Beard, Callum Larkin and Kai Kiernan all made use of their points advantages to progress to the top four places. Callum and Kai are both under 13 players and produced good performances in their first senior tournament. In the lower half of the draw Taggart, Townsend and Wyllie got their first wins. The other player to make the 9 to 12 grouping was Ian Duffus, playing in his first tournament, who used his athleticism to get his first tournament win.
There were three matches that went to five games in the third round. Alan McNair (-7) v Stephen Pitts (7) went all the way with Alan just winning the fifth game 15-14. Ian Duffus (8) got his second tournament win against Marc Taggart (-8) gaining the final game 15-5 as Marc tired from having to bridge that 16 point gap in each game. The third five game match was between NSC Staff members and regular sparring partners Liam Townsend and Shaun Wyllie. All their games ended with 15-14 score-lines but as Liam got three of them he won the bragging rights.
The final round of matches would determine the players finishing position in the tournament. Tournament organisers Les Callow and Steve Baker battled it out for the last spot with Baker getting the wooden spoon. Terry Holt overcame Fatheha Essa for the 13th slot. Marc Taggart got the 11th spot and Ian Duffus won again to claim the 9th position. Julien Uzzell (-5) v Stephen Pitts (5) determined the 7th place. Both players managed to battle it out for five games despite it being their fourth squash match in two days with Julien running out the eventual winner. Dave Johnson claimed the 5th place after playing a good tournament as he only lost one match.
The 3rd and 4th place play off was Fraser Dorling (-5) v Harry Douthwaite (5), this match produced four very close games with Fraser taking the honours. The final was between Kai Kiernan and Racketeers player Charlie Beard. There was a six point gap between these two players with Charlie starting on -3 to Kai’s +3 and despite trying hard he couldn’t quite bridge that gap, losing 15-12, 15-9 and 15-11.
Kai Kiernan was awarded the tournament prize by Steve Baker the tournament organiser. Kai learnt his squash through the Junior Academy here on the Island and it looks like the squash coaches at Millfield are building on those good foundations.
The photograph above shows winner Kai Kiernan in the foreground with competitors from the tournament in the background.