The Hamm Horseshoe Tournament

Who could have said that throwing a horseshoe at a metal spike in a sandbox could be so fun? We had been intrigued by a horseshoe competition we saw in California but hadn't participated. This time we formed part of the 32 boy/girl teams vying for the top price in the day-long knockout. Last night's controversy was that the teams had already been drawn (traditionally it is done with the early birds present on the Friday night). The fact that I was paired with Susanne and Esther with Gus indicates it might have not been entirely left to chance.

The format is knockout, but you are allowed to loose one game. If you loose you go over to the "dark side" and compete for a place in the final. If you win all your games you go into the final with a game in hand. The men shoot uphill and from a greater distance. The aim is to get the horseshoe round the metal spike (a "ringer"). You can also get points for being one horseshoe's length from the spike. Boys and girls take turns, with each player throwing two horseshoes in succession, to tot up points. The first to 21 wins. Ringer's are worth 3 points and near spike 1, so in one turn you can get 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or (the near-mythical double-ringer) 6.

As expected I was pretty pathetic in the first game, adding a grand total of 0 points to my team's score. Luckily Susanne is an ace and she brought us through to victory. Esther fared better, but lost her first game. We lost the next game but I made my first point. Esther won hers. If we both won our next 3 we would meet for the couple's confrontation. Sadly it was not to be as Esther and Gus crashed out of the competition on their third game. On our third I made a few more points, though still no ringers.

The games are very exciting. The teams get harder to beat as the bad players get eliminated and the good players get warmed up. Luckily beer helps level the playing field a bit. I could see us going all the way (it really brings out the competitiveness in you) but after a terrible fourth game we were out. At least this time I got my first ringer so I was over the moon!

In between the games there is banter, beer, food, swimming in the lake and running after the kids. You also spend a lot of time watching the actual games and cheering the ringers and oohing the near misses. There are diggers (horseshoes buried or half-buried in the sand or grass) and leaners (leaning on the spike, at one time worth 2 points but now relegated to one, though with a lucky knock they might become ringers). There is a lot of scientific measuring (with a stick) to see which horseshoe is nearer the spike. Even some ringers are controversial and have to be measured.

There are other prizes at stake. Biggest and largest fish for one. There is also the weekend idiot for the person who does the craziest thing on the day. And the golden marshmallow for the best toasted marshmallow. Tomorrow we will also be fighting for the golf championship, aiming for a big floating ring in the lake.

After a very exciting 2-game final (the dark side team won the first game) while the kids (and some adults) watched a film on an big-screen outdoor cinema it still was not over. Now came the fireworks extravaganza. A whole bunch of them were let off and soon the sky was sparkling. The tranquil lake boomed with a thousand bangs and whistles for a few minutes (luckily no complaints from the neighbours) and the 20th edition of the tournament closed it's first day. We took the kids to the tent where we promptly fell asleep and missed the afterparty.

No comments:

Post a Comment