Just eight more squads to bowl, or 'ocho' as they say in these parts, and there are several bunfights taking place as players tangle for places from waiting lists.
Squad 8 opened the day with an amazing total of 19 women the larger total of the 28 taking their places at 09:00.
Scoring was definitely not going through the roof for these early starters but by criminy the pace was so s-l-o-w from a couple of groups of women, bowling at least four frames behind the men and really eligible for yellow cards had they been available.
However, it was a man that took the squad honors - Jesper Agerbo, a pro shop proprietor from Copenhagen, Denmark ruled the
roost with just 1333. He missed a 4-pin in the tenth frame of his last game and left the door open for Dutch girl Bianca Wikeraad but she did not take the advantage and finished second, nine points back.
Jesper's wife, Rikke, was one of the slow-coach group and finished in ninth place on the squad, perhaps lacking encouragement from the boss.
"I am not usually a morning person, but I suppose that all went well today," joked Agerbo. "I had one bad game and that was the last one. When I came yesterday my biggest problem was the approach so I thought it may be better to play the morning squad to get better conditions. I missed the 4-pin in the last frame, which was bad. spares on the left side of the lane were a problem because I was sticking a lot on the approach and dropped the ball, probably the humidity, I don't know.
"On this squad it was kind of easy to move from pair to pair as the way the lanes developed was the same across the house, so basically I could follow what was needed. There were a lot of ladies on this squad but I was following five men. I tried to watch what my wife Rikke was doing but her group was so slow. The first two games we tried to wait for them so that we followed the same rhythm but they were just too slow, so we just started to bowl at our pace. However, I think I am one of the fastest in the world, so maybe actually that's why I played so good because they slowed me down."
After covering Barcelona tournaments for the past six years and perching squad winners on the ball returns for photos. There is a blue sign there: No Se Sientten En El Retornabolas" which had always been ignored. Yesterday, Oriel Ros, the genial proprietor of Bowling Pedralbes, approached and asked if I understood the sign. Evidently is says 'Do not sit on the ball return'.
Ignorance is bliss.
Full results and video interviews on: www.tbowling.cat
We've talked of the big guns firing broadsides already in this year's Ciutat de Barcelona (Barcelona Open to you and me) but it was not much of an exaggeration when squad nine took to the lanes. Want to know the cast? Well, how about Venezuelan Amleto Monacelli, the first foreign player to be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame, for starters. Add Dominic Barrett, Martin Larsen, Mik
Stampe, defending champion Gery Verbruggen, Robert Andersson and Barcelona veteran Nicole Sanders and you get the idea of the firepower available for the six-games.
But, sadly, despite all the talent on display, there was no challenge to Zulmazran Zulkifli's pole position of the leaderboard, which came as quite a surprise and a relief to the Malaysian group.
An opening 268 from Danish star Thomas Larsen, Catalonia Open champion last year on these lanes, saw him set the pace and hold that spot through to the end, despite a strong challenge from Monacelli. The Venezuelan fell just 19 pins short of Larsen when the dust of battle had settled, 1369 to Denmark, 1350 Venezuela.
Another Dane, Mik Stampe, took third place, keeping up his pace of being there or thereabouts in recent tournaments.
Of the five women on this squad, Aussie Cassie Staudinger, partner of Dominic Barrett, topped the scores with 1307.
"It was really good today and n ice to win the squad," commented Thomas Larsen. "I had 268 in my first game and then hit a couple of bad pairs (of lanes) and dropped to 207 and 202. I managed to keep out of trouble and bowled really well over the last three games.
"I don't know why Barcelona is so special for me, I think I just have more confidence when I bowl here. Maybe the lanes just suit my game pretty well. It just seems to be good every year. I don't haveto bowl again until Sunday, so I think I will try and see something of the city."
A large selection of tournament photographs is available on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bowlingbarcelona/
We've been a long time awaiting but now the bridge has been crossed, a woman has topped the squad. Joline Persson-Planefors, now from Gothenberg in Sweden, swept to the top of the 28-player squad with a 1336, the only player to be over 1300, despite an all-star cast.
The opening squad at 9:00 this morning has 19 women on the roster. This squad nearly equaled that total with 18, so the gals are well represented in this year's event. many here with national teams to bond for the upcoming Women's World Championships scheduled for Hong Kong in September.
Joline is currently second-placed to Mai Ginge Jensen of Denmark in the European Bowling Tour rankings, just 11 points aback of the Dane, but
"We are here to practice for the Women's World Championships in Hong Kong in September," explained Joline, "but we don't know
the whole team yet, just four have been named. We will know the full team next Wednesday.
"I bowled really good this squad. I bowled this morning (1122) which wasn't very good but I had a good feeling for the lanes. This evening I changed balls and moved left the whole squad."
So Joline joins the elite to have won squads and will enjoy her pass into the finals on Sunday.
So we came down to the last squad of Friday and it must have felt like Friday the 13th for a couple of the Cypriot players as they retired from the fray after the first game but then decided to continue, complaining about the approaches being sticky. There is definitely more than a hint of humidity in the center as it seems to be the rainy season in Barcelona this week, but 170 other players have passed through the qualifying rounds without any severe problems, although a couple have commented that they had difficulty sliding.
Not quite so many women on this squad but there were three Malaysians and Danish star Britt Brondsted, truly forces to be reckoned with at any time of day.
Among the male stars, most likely PBA player of the year Mika Koivuniemi was determined to get into the finals, as was three-time WBW world bowler Dominic Barrett and EBT champion Paul Moor. Leftie Alex Liew from Malaysia, champion last week in San Marino, and ten thousand euro richer, has yet to catch up with a couple of his team-mates at the top of the leader board, but keeps trying.
There has not been a 1400 since yesterday, the guys and gals have not been trying hard enough so needed a giddy-up. But that was all changed with the last two frames of the sixth game when Mika Koivuniemi, a Finnish native now living in Hartland,
Michigan, put together 1433 with as neat a scoresheet as ever you would want to see.
"I'm pleased to have bowled well this evening after a relaxing day," he told us. "I'm having a really good year and it would be nice to do well here. I have been coming to Barcelona for three yearsnow and it is a great tournament."
For a while, young Zandra Aziela from Malaysia kept pace with the tall Finn but she faded in the home straight and ended up 82 pins adrift of Koivuniemi. "It was neck and neck for a while," said a disappointed Holloway Cheah, the Malaysian coach.
With so many of the women's national teams competing this year, it may not come as much of a surprise that there were 51 female entries over the four squads today, but only one, Joline Persson-Planefors from Sweden, has won a squad and booked her place in the final.
Full results on: www.tbowling.cat. for interviews, click on 'youtube' above video window.
TOP 25 STANDINGS AFTER SQUAD 11:
|15||Jean Marc Samain||Belgium||225||223||210||221||222||237||1338||0||1338|
|16||Mai Ginge Jensen||Denmark||243||184||213||198||215||235||1288||48||1336|
|22||Marcial Ovide Marron||Catalonia||230||207||259||209||212||212||1329||0||1329|
|25||Moi Perez Ibañez||Catalonia||178||214||237||244||252||198||1323||0||1323|