Andre Geelen, Liliane Vintens win ISBT season-opening event in Reims, France


    2014 International Seniors Bowling Tour

    2014ISBT01LilianeVintensAndreGeelan2.jpgBelgium's Andre Geelen and Liliane Vintens (pictured r-l) started the 2014 International Seniors Bowling Tour with victory in the 3rd Plaza Senior Open, which was held from January 23-26 at Plaza Bowling Thillois in Reims, France.

    The first out of ten tournaments of the 2014 ISBT season drew 87 men and 21 women representing 17 countries. The qualifying format for the tournament was two blocks of six games with the lowest block optionally being replaced by a better re-entry score.

    For those not able to qualify through the main leaderboard, there were additional opportunities through Early Bird squads, Turbo Games and a Desperado Squad. Age bonus started at age 51 (1 pin per game), then increased a pin for every additional year of age with no limit. As with all ISBT events, there was a separate division for ladies.

    The pattern used during the 2013 Plaza Senior Open caused some controversy as it departed from that generally seen on the ISBT. This year, the Brunswick Inferno pattern was used, which was much more in line with the patterns normally used for the Senior events.

    2014ISBT01PlazaBowlingReims.jpgThe first squad showed than this pattern allowed easier scoring than in 2013 with Ulf Lönngren of Sweden leading with 1406 scratch and 1514 with age bonus. He was some distance ahead of Robert Vallons of France, who finished with 1422 total. The highest lady in the squad was Nadine Robert of France with 1167.

    The second squad was won by Italian bowlers by some considerable margin. Santo Provenzi had 1628 (1544 scratch), including a 298 game. Fellow Italian and defending women's champion Alessandra Morra shot into the ladies lead with 1265.

    There is always some drama during an ISBT tournament, and once again it was the lane conditioner which caused the problem. It failed to operate correctly, so a two-hour delay occurred while a replacement machine was driven in.

    Unfortunately, it was immediately set to work, and the first lanes it dressed seemed to have much less conditioner applied than the others in the center. As a result, scores on this pair were much lower than across the rest of the house. As bowlers complete two games on a pair before moving, some bowlers felt considerably disadvantaged by this.

    However, some still managed to score well with J√ľrgen Preuss (Germany) leading this squad with 1508, 61 pins ahead of Giovanni Galetti (Italy) on 1447. Morra had another good block of 1255 to comfortably lead the overall standings.

    Squad 4 saw familiar faces at the top of the leaderboard, with Andre Geelen of Belgium scoring 1486 in the men's section, and Angie Brown of England scoring a 1383 block to post the highest ladies series by far.

    With the squads now running around two hours late, the 8:30 pm squad didn't take to the lanes until 10pm, meaning a very late finish for those still bowling.

    Danny Berardi of the United States proved he is a night owl, scoring 1440 to win the squad, well ahead of Frank Stander of England. His fellow countrywoman Kimberley Oakley was the best of the three women in this final squad of the day, improving with 1163 over her first entry.

    At the end of Friday qualifying, Provenzi with 2943 had an 81 pin lead over Lönngren, with Galletti in third place. Not all bowlers had completed 12 games by this time, so there were still likely to be significant changes at the top. The ladies section was led by Morra with 2520, ahead of Liliane Vintens of Belgium.

    There were three more squads on Saturday. The first was very tight at the top and was won by Alain Aubert of France with 1390, a single pin ahead of Geelen with Werner Laun of Germany and Senior Team USA member Ed Roberts just a few pins behind.

    This moved Geelen into second place in the overall standings. Brown had another strong block of 1223 to move into a comfortable lead in the women's overall standings.

    The second Saturday squad was also closely contested, with Ernst Berndt of Austria winning with 1490, just ahead of Frank Linsey of England. Jan Hodge, England, won the ladies section, with her 1232 looking certain to get her into the finals.

    The final qualification round saw the usual scramble for players trying to make the top 24 male positions and automatically qualify for the finals or trying to move up into the top six to avoid the 8am start on Sunday morning.

    Top man in the squad was Laun with a huge 1638 total, almost 200 pins ahead of Patrick Rolland of France. Roberts was in third place with 1431, but this was not quite enough to make the top six. Top lady was again Brown, who improved slightly to extend her lead at the top of the overall rankings.

    Laun's last entry meant he was now standing at the top of the men's overall qualification with a total of 3025 just ahead of Geelen and Provenzi. Preuss, Berndt and Frank Lindsay of England made up the top six who received the bye.

    Björn Bergvall of Sweden took the important 24th and last qualifying place. These 24 qualifiers were joined by six turbo qualifiers, and two desperado qualifiers. 18 male bowlers entered the desperado, which was won by Les Grant of England with 243. He would be joined in the final by Krzysztof Olesinski of Poland, who shot 236.

    Brown led the overall women's standings with 2609, some 80 pins ahead of Morra, with Hodge, Nadine Lavrut of France and Vintens making up the five automatic qualifiers.

    Nadine Robert of France also made it to the finals from the Turbo qualification. In the ladies Desperado Squad, only three entered, and it was a low scoring affair, won in the end by a single pin by Yvette Murrath of Belgium ahead of Oakley.

    Sunday morning saw the start of the finals for the men with all scores resetting to zero. The men bowled six games starting from scratch in the first final round, with the top 16 progressing to the second final round, where they would be joined by the top six qualifiers.

    Lol Ellis of England didn't find the early morning start a problem and took top spot in this round with 1480, a few pins ahead of Laya Djouad of France with Christer Danielsson of Sweden and Mick Ince of England close behind. The cut for 16th place fell to Ron Deacon, England, with 1337.

    Scores then again were reset to zero and the 16 who made it through Round One were joined by the top six from qualification for a further six games. Multiple ISBT champion Ron Oldfield of England took top spot in this round by a single pin from both Danielsson and Roberts.

    Eighth and last place to make the finals fell to Lönngren with 1408, just six pins ahead of local favorite Rolland.

    Onto the final, and the eight-player round robin started with half the pinfall from the previous round. Andre Geelen soon found his form and a string of good games put him into the top spot averaging over 246 for his seven games and finishing a clear winner.

    2014ISBT01Top3.jpgThe battle behind him was close with Ernst Berndt and Ulf Lönngren battling for podium positions. However, in the very last game Ed Roberts had a great 279 game to leap into a well deserved second place, 30 pins ahead of Berndt.

    L-R Morra, Roberts (2nd), winners Vintens & Geelen, and Berndt, Brown (3rd).

    The ladies final got off to a slow start, with only one game over 200 on the first set of matches. However, the scoring pace soon increased and a run of high games established a clear lead for defending chhampion Morra, ahead of Angie Brown and Liliane Vintens.

    Going into the last game, Brown and Vintens were tied, some 60 pins behind Morra. Good games from both Brown (235) and Vintens (268) looked like reducing the lead. Unexpectedly, Morra lost her final game to her compatriot Maria Grazia Locatelli by just three pins.

    Morra's loss of the 30 pins bonus for winning the game was enough for Vintens to take the overall lead and to win the women's division by just 22 pins, with Angie Brown just 12 pins behind Morra in third place.

    The next stop is a return to Osnabruck in Germany for Arthur's Senior Open Open at Vegas Bowling. The tournament runs from the 8th to 16th March 2014.

    Full details are available at the ISBT website.

    Report by Tony Brown.


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