Gerrard Super 8 Grand Prix
National Squash Centre, Manchester
22-25 October 2004
Day Four, Mon 25th:

Thierry Lincou
bt John White
11/10(3-1), 5/11, 11/9, 8/11, 11/7 (98m)

James Willstrop
bt Karim Darwish
11/10(3-1), 11/9, 10/11(5-3), 11/5 (66m)

David Palmer
bt Nick Taylor
    11/9, 11/6, 11/3 (32m)

Peter Barker
bt Simon Parke
   11/10(4-2), 11/4, 11/7 (39m)

Day Three, Sun 24th:
Head Group:
Thierry Lincou bt David Palmer
  11/9, 11/4, 9/11, 3/11 (conduct game
  at 3-2, language) 11/10(2-0) (92m)

Karim Darwish bt Peter Barker
   11/5 11/4 11/9 (31m)

1:Lincou  2:Darwish  3:Palmer  4:Barker

Hi-Tec Group:
John White bt  Nick Taylor
   6/11, 11/7, 11/5, 11/6 (44m)

James Willstrop bt Simon Parke
   11/9, 11/9, 11/9 (45m)

1:White  2:Willstrop  3:Taylor  4:Parke

Women's Final:
Jenny Duncalf bt Becky Botwright  3/0

Day Two, Sat 23rd:
Head Group:
David Palmer bt Lee Beachill
    11/7, 11/9, 4/5 (rtd) (42m)
Thierry Lincou bt Karim Darwish
    11/7, 7/11, 11/9, 11/10(2-0) (55m)

Hi-Tec Group:
James Willstrop bt Nick Taylor
   8/11, 11/6, 11/6, 11/8 (40m)
John White bt Simon Parke
   11/7, 11/8, 11/10(2-0) (50m)

Women's Semi-Finals:
Becky Botwright bt Jenna Gates
   11/6, 11/9, 11/8 (20m)
Jenny Duncalf bt Rachel Willmott
   11/6, 11/4, 11/2 (17m)

Day One, Fri 22nd:

Head Group:
Lee Beachill bt Thierry Lincou     
   11/10 (2-0), 11/4, 11/3 (39m)
Karim Darwish bt David Palmer  
   11/10 (3-1), 11/7, 11/9 (37m)

Hi-Tec Group:
John White bt James Willstrop    
 11/4,7/11,11/10 (2-0),11/10 (9-7)(64m)
Nick Taylor bt Peter Nicol           
 11/9, 3/11, 2/11, 2/1 rtd (36m)

Day Three Report:

The third day of the inaugural Gerrard Super 8 Grand Prix was filled with high emotion and a tense atmosphere for players and spectators.

Peter Barker, a World Junior runner-up and replacement for Lee Beachill, the newly crowned World No1 who was forced to retire yesterday mid-way through his qualification match with David Palmer, was beaten 11-5 11-4 11-9 by the impressive Egyptian and former World Junior Champion Karim Darwish.

The next match of the final round of qualification proved to be a highly controversial and emotionally charged confrontation between two former World No1’s Thierry Lincou and David Palmer.

Both players were vying for a place in the Final and the heat of battle resulted in constant clashes between each other and referee. In a bruising 92-minute encounter, Lincou won the first two games, Palmer fought hard to take the third, and was given the fourth following a conduct game awarded to him for an audible obscenity from his French opponent.

Palmer, whose frustration resulted in him receiving constant warnings throughout an exhausting deciding game, served for the match three times but was denied by Lincou who eventually won 11-9 11-4 9-11 3-11 3-2 (conduct game) 11-10 (2-0).

Local favourite Nick Taylor started strongly in his match with John White, but after taking an entertaining 1st game, eventually succumbed to White’s fierce hitting and supreme fitness. White earned his place in tomorrow’s final with a deserved 6-11 11-7 11-5 11-6 victory.

In the final match of the afternoon, Simon Parke fought valiantly for 50 minutes but was denied by World No12 and former World Junior Champion James Willstrop 9-11 9-11 9-11.

Day Two Report:
Beachill Crashes Out
In Manchester

The second day of the inaugural Gerrard Super 8 Grand Prix started as the first day had ended, with the retirement of one of the event’s star players.

Newly crowned World No1 Lee Beachill, who in his first match had been in irresistible form against World No2 Thierry Lincou, was forced to pull out of the event with a torn abductor, and looks likely to join Peter Nicol as an absentee from next week's British Open in Nottingham.

David Palmer of Australia had looked impressive in securing the first two games against the World No1 and had looked destined to close-out the match before Beachill was forced to concede in the 42nd minute, trailing 7-11 9-11 5-4.

Thierry Lincou defeated Karim Darwish 11-7, 7-11, 11-9, 11-10 (2-0) in a bruising 55-minute encounter, whilst local hero Nick Taylor, who benefited from Nicol’s withdrawal in his opening match, played with his trademark flair and invention against James Willstrop before the former World Junior Champion’s superior fitness earned him an 8-11 11-6 11-6 11-8 40-minute victory.

In the final match of the afternoon, Simon Parke fought valiantly for 50 minutes but was unable to take a game as the World’s hardest hitter John White won 11-7 11-8 11-10 (2-0).

Day One Report:

Nicol Crashes Out In Manchester

The final match of the opening evening of the Gerrard Super 8 Grand Prix  at the National Squash Centre in Manchester ended in disappointment for Peter Nicol after he was forced to retire midway through the fourth game of his match with Nick Taylor.

Local hero Taylor had played spectacularly to take the first game 11-9 and Nicol had responded in emphatic style, overcoming a spirited performance from the popular Mancunian to win the second and third games before disaster struck.

Nicol, the sport's most recognized and consistent performer of his generation, fell heavily in the middle of the court at the beginning of the fourth game, and as well as crashing out of the Super 8 Grand Prix, may also miss next week's British Open in Nottingham.

Newly crowned World No1 Lee Beachill  defeated World No2 Thierry Lincou  11-10 (2-0), 11-4, 11-3 in the opening match.

After a tentative opening game, Beachill dominated the second and third games, seeking every opportunity to take the pace away from his opponent by combining floated high length with clever deception. The combative Frenchman was unable to extend the length of the rallies as he had wished and the World No1's exquisite touch forced a series of uncharacteristic errors from his opponent.

Egyptian Karim Darwish caused the first upset with a stunning 11-10 (3-1) 11-7 11-9 win over the reigning British Open Champion David Palmer of Australia. Darwish attacked the front of the court with adventurous angles and floated drop shots, and exposed an inconsistency in Palmer's play.

John White defeated World No12 James Willstrop 11-4, 7-11, 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (9-7) in the most entertaining match of the evening. In 64 minutes of high quality, high tempo squash, 21-year-old Willstrop matched the world's hardest hitter for pace, accuracy and invention, with White eventually prevailing in a closely fought four game battle.

Event roundup from
Malcolm Willstrop

Event Details   

Lincou comes through marathon
France's Thierry Lincou won the inaugural Gerrard Super 8 Grand Prix in Manchester, eventually winning a marathon tussle with John White 11/7 in the fifth after 98 minutes.  Framboise talks to the finalists

Malcolm Willstrop
in Manchester ...

Neither Thierry Lincou nor John White had an easy ride to the final. Lincou was well beaten by Lee Beachill in his first match, but tenaciously recovered to beat Karim Darwish so that everything hinged on his match with David Palmer. It didn't make for the prettiest viewing, as they are both big boys and there was plenty of pgysical to-ing and fro-ing.

Cruelly Lincou had a conduct game, with the score at 3/2 awarded against him, but he recovered and won the decider 11/10(2-0), despite some theatrical diving by Palmer. It seemed a fair outcome.

White just survived his first round meeting with James Willstrop, after two tie-breaks in his fist one and he reached the final after that more comfortably.

There was no way the final was going to be one-sided, but Lincou's heavy match with Palmer did appear to be in White's favour.

Once more there was a lot of physical contact and too many lets for the match to be called a classic.

Lincou won the first on a tie-break, lost the second, won the third, lost the fourth, all well contested and no advantage easily gained.

The durable Frenchman however, realised that getting on with it was the best policy. He did that, the fifth game was more open and Lincou led early, always held sway, and got home on a stroke.

After a first match loss and  a long 90-minute encounter with Palmer no-one could deny Lincou's right to win this very successful and prestigious event.


Views from the Finalists: talking to Framboise in the early hours of Tuesday morning, just after the final ...

John White: "Obviously I’m a bit disappointed, but it’s a very good warm up for the British Open next week.

The tournament was very good from start to finish, very well organised, great sponsorship, great backing from the local people, they set the bar in order for people to be able to walk around, , besides the court, have a drink, they can socialise while the match is going on, which is what they need instead of everyone having to sit down and not being able to move. He (Paul Walters) did it very well, and he is going bigger and better next year.

I had Tyler with me all week, and Suzie and the babies came down Saturday night to stay the night, so the family could have a weekend together, and it was great."

Thierry Lincou: "I was very strict and stuck to my game plan. During the whole match, I found good lengths, I alternated fast and slow, I was very tight, very near the side walls. If I compare this match with my other meeting with John, I think I was more on the attack, I played more boasts, I volleyed better, and played more volley drops as well, and that may have made the difference.

At the end, John was a bit tired, so he gave me a few points, but if I eased the pressure ever so slightly, he would seize the opportunity, and would hurt me with his short kills. He got many points that way.

Overall, the whole match was a war from the T. John hits low, he tries to volley past you. The plan for me was to straighten everything, to try and contain him near the wall, and to not open the court up.

Sometimes, I had to cross court, and that would be when John would just place his racquet and find the nick every time.

I succeeded to play very tight, and I think that maybe John got a bit frustrated because he couldn’t volley as much as he would have liked. I didn’t give him much opportunity to play his own game, and he had to spend a lot of energy getting the ball from the back wall.

My tactic worked, but the match was very tight, and it could have gone either way. The whole game was more of a mental game, and who didn't make the mistake…

But anyway, I came here with no real ambition, I was lacking games, took a good beating in the first match, and then, little by little, it got better, and at the end, I just had a fantastic time…"

Malcolm Willstrop
in Manchester ...

Day Four, FINALS:

Willstrop Wins for Third

James Willstrop took on Karim Darwish in the 3rd/4th playoff and the Junior World Champions of 2000 and 2002 gave the crowd a real feast of racket skills.

Swapping shots, both moving freely, it was Willstrop who won the first on a tie-break, 2-0, and established a 2-0 lead, 11/9 in the second. Darwish was 10/7 down in the third, but fought back brilliantly, saved five match balls and won the tie-break 3/1 to put himself back in contention.

But Willstrop was undeterred and went to 8/4 in the fourth before Darwish took an injury break due to blood after a collision. Willstrop wound matters up 11/5 for another splendid win, a reward for the form he showed throughout the event.

Palmer Finishes Fifth
Nick Taylor has acquitted himself well as the wildcard and he gave another spirited display in a 3-0 loss to David Palmer in the play off for 5th and 6th. The Aussie will not be too happy about finishing 5th, but Sunday night's match with Thierry Lincou was crucial and he lost it by the narrowest of margins.

Young Barker beats Parke
The 7th & 8th play-off saw revitalised Simon Parke take on Peter Barker, the two replacements. Parke's match with James Willstrop the night before was testing and his legs didn't look too lively as the younger player made a sharp start, before Parke recovered to a tie-break. Barker took it 2-0 and from then on he was always in control, winning 3-0, a win that will have done him no harm.


Day Three:
Lincou survives game
penaltyto make the final ...

Peter Barker deputised for the injured Lee Beachill, but got little change out of the skilful Karim Darwish, who notched his second win 11/5, 11/4, 11/9 in 31 minutes.

Darwish then had to wait for the outcome of the second match of the day to find out just where he would finish in the Head group. The David Palmer v Thierry Lincou match would decide everything, and a monumental match it turned out to be.

Lincou won the first two closely, both to 9, and Palmer took the third to the same score. Then, drama of dramas, at 2/3 Lincou uncharacteristically swore, not at anybody in particular, more in frustration. Referee Peter Kramer astonished everyone by awarding a conduct game against Lincou, a pretty harsh decision in the circumstances since Lincou hadn't done much else to deserve censure. Indeed, he is a well-behaved player.

The crucial deciding fifth saw Palmer on the deck several times, but the crowd thought he was making a meal of it and after one spectacular fall the physio was summoned, only to be dismissed by the Australian.

Palmer led 10/7, but oddly enough recoveries are commonplace with this new scoring system and Lincou reached 10-all. After a series of cagey rallies the Frenchman was home 2-0 in the tie-break after 92 minutes.

Lincou was now in the final and Palmer playing for 5th and 6th place - major issues hanging on a few points.

So Darwish is second and he awaits the outcome of the James Willstrop v Simon Parke match to discover his opponent in the third-fourth position playoff.

With big prize money at stake all these matches count a great deal.

In the Gerrard Women's Challenge Jenny Duncalf beat Becky Botwright 3/0 in a thoroughly good advertisement for the women's game. Duncalf's shot-making prowess just too much for Botwright's athleticism.

White takes top place

Although John White's place in the final was guaranteed he wanted to head the group unbeaten and although Nick Taylor put up stubborn resistance, as he has throughout, winning the first game was the most he could do and White ran out the 3/1 winner.

The last match was well worth waiting for: James Willstrop v Simon Parke. As everyone knows, Parke has been in the form of his life this season, but Willstrop was back to his best, showing great range added to the spectacular movement of both players. There was scarcely a loose ball, but Willstrop put the ball in all parts of the court and gradually opened it up to run out a 11/9 11/9 11/9 winner in a match the spectators and players alike thoroughly enjoyed.

It will be fascinating to see Barker taking on Parke in the battle of the deputies and the top two matches promise a great deal with prestige and prize money to play for at this prestigious event which has been such a success.

Day THREE Preview:
The Gerrard Super 8, under the direction of Steve Evans of Gerrard, assisted by Manchester Leisure chief Jim Quigley, has already been a marvellous success.

The setting created at the Squash Centre has warmth and intimacy, the crowds have been large and responsive, the players have produced the goods and been accessible.

Injuries to Peter Nicol and Lee Beachill have been unfortunate, but splendid replacements, Simon Parke and Peter Barker, have been found.

So where does it all stand as the later stages are reached?

John White has won his group, James Willstrop and Simon Parke play for second place today, and that should be another crowd pleaser, especially since Parke has said one of the things he wants to do now that he has rediscovered himself is to beat Willstrop - they are good friends, I assure you.

Nick Taylor brings up the rear, but he has acquitted himself well and he and Willstrop, mutually respectful, played every ball in sight yesterday.

Beachill will be replaced today by Barker, so any one of David Palmer, Thierry Lincou and Karim Darwish could head the group.

Today sees Palmer v Lincou, both after good wins yesterday and Barker will get a shot at Darwish.

Both Palmer and Lincou lost their first matches, but came back strongly, as you would expect from them, to win their second.

So another splendid day is promised, today and again tomorrow for the final placings.

With the British Open only a week away, the players will have been grateful for the match play and hopefully Nicol and Beachill will recover in time. They both sound optimistic.

Day TWO:
Last night ended with quite a nasty injury to Peter Nicol and Saturday began with one to Lee Beachill, less serious, but causing him to retire at 0/2 5/4.

David Palmer having lost to Karim Darwish last evening looked a different prospect even at the early start time of 11am. Playing with purpose and despite some controlling play by Beachill, he won the first two games well. Beachill felt his leg when 4-2 up in the third and at 4/5 took time out and physio advice to not continue. Whether he plays tomorrow looks doubtful.

Thierry Lincou, who lost 3/0 to Beachill last night, also came out with renewed purpose against Karim Darwish and the two of them served up high quality squash, Lincou precise and persistant, Darwish, with his great hands, firing in regularly from deep in the court. Lincou led 1-0 and 2-1 and was behind in the fourth until recovering to a tie-break, which he won 2-0.

That meant that each player in the Head group had won one match, with Beachill's future participation uncertain.

James Willstrop and Nick Taylor, who regularly do nights in clubs together, then gave the crowd plenty of entertainment in a free-flowing match in which every ball was played and nothing asked for. Taylor, as he did against Nicol, won the first and continued to resist, but Willstrop took the next three games well enough, though it did look as if the previous night's match with White had taken something out of him.

The last match saw Simon Parke, replacing the injured Nicol, against John White.

Victory for White would guarantee a final place for him, and making up for early season disappointments he was not likely to miss such a chance.

Parke has been in splendid form with a series of fine performances this season and he was eager to make the most of the opportunity.

Nevertheless White had control of the first two games, winning them 11/7 and 11/8, but Parke fought hard in the third, called a doubtful ball against himself down to level at 10-all and it was White who took the tie-break and the match 3/0.

In this group Parke will play Willstrop to decide second and third places and with all four level in the other group there is all to play for.

Lincou plays Palmer and Darwish plays whoever. If Darwish gets a walkover then Lincou, if he beats Palmer, makes the final. If Palmer beats Lincou then David will make it.


Day ONE:
Gerrard, as befits their status as a leading wealth investment company, had produced a most attractive setting for this new prestigious event, transforming the Manchester centre into a warm and welcoming venue.

The evening began with the world's 1 and 2, Lee Beachill and Thierry Lincou, the two winners of recent important PSA events in Hong Kong and Boston. In truth it was no contest. Beachill, looking confident, held sway in the first and then drew clear with ease, finishing in deadly fashion in the third against a dispirited looking Lincou.

Although it was much closer, Karim Darwish was always calling a marginal tune against David Palmer, whose best efforts never looked quite good enough. I suppose the surprise was that it was 3/0.

After two interesting, but non-combative matches, John White and James Willstrop were required to perform as they usually do against each other, and they did.

Willstrop, after a wearisome 3 hour car journey from Pontefract, was still driving in the first, but recovered to win the second and generally looked in control in the third before losing it 11/10(2-0). The fourth was monumental and after seven match balls, White eventually won 11/10(9-7) after some pulsating rallies and high excitement. The crowd loved it, as they had done at The Crucible.

Sadly the night ended with an injury to Peter Nicol. After a spirited first game which Nick Taylor won, Nicol led 2/1 comfortably when he fell heavily, tearing ligaments it seems. There is little chance he will be appearing on court on Saturday and his British Open prospects look doubtful.

So White looks secure in one group and Beachill certainly looked the part on Friday, though he has Palmer and Darwish still to play.

The crowds were large and the Gerrard Super 8 was off to a flying start, only marred by Nicol's untimely injury.

Event Details