Once, Twice, Three Times A Fives Player
14/12/21: Having missed out in 2020, the Fives players of North Oxford were back on the Three Code Fives trail on Sunday.
The Three Code Challenge V followed the format laid down in the previous four editions: sixteen players and three mini Fives tournaments - Rugby Fives at Rugby, Eton Fives at Eton and Winchester Fives at Winchester - all sandwiched between an early morning fry-up at the Bell Inn in Rugby and the club Christmas curry at Gandhi's in Winchester.
There were one or two variations this year - only 14 players were brave enough to take on the whole day, requiring a little bit of doubling up at Rugby and some guest appearances at Eton (Will Seath & Jake Turcan) and Winchester (Will again and the uberveteran himself, Nigel Cox). There was also the added bonus of Karen Hird generously cashing in her World Fives Day raffle prize, creating the pleasing scenario of the club curry being heavily subsidised by G.Coren esq.
The rules were as opaque as ever, but the seeding and pairings committee did a fine job in producing three exciting competitions as Three Code debutants Matt Chinery, Rachel Wood, Alex Abrahams and Noah Caplin joined veteran campaigners Gareth Hoskins, Karen Hird, Harry Asquith, Andy Bishop, Stefan Nowinski, Mandie Barnes, Ian Mitchell, Spencer Chapman, Stephen Thatcher, Nick Shaw and timekeeper/scorer extraordinaire Michèle Leveque-Shaw on court at the three locations (with only a moderate amount of drama by Three Codes standards in terms of finding keys and door codes). Noah Caplin showed his cross-code skills with wins at Rugby and Winchester in the company of Andy and Stefan respectively, but bombed out in spectacular fashion at Eton, allowing club treasurer Spencer Chapman and guest player Jake Turcan to take the Eton prize. The overall winner - scorer of the most points across the whole day - was Stefan Nowinksi, who added his name to the distinguished roll of honour featuring Andy Bishop (2012), Ralph Morgan (2014), Francesca Turnbull (2016) and Nick Shaw (2018).