Chaos reigned supreme at the end of the Preliminary Round encounter between local rivals Torquay Utd and the Paignton based team of Torbay in this season's much coveted Egham Trophy – a mixed club-based national competition.

The number of ends to be played in this event was the cause of the confusion. And whilst you can condemn both sides at the Torquay venue for not checking the rule book before they got under way, I lay the fault for this one firmly at the door of the EIBA. The English Indoor Bowling Association Ltd.

Imagine the scenario. A small man with official status and an overwhelming desire to make a significant impact on the ancient game of bowls comes up with the big idea of changing the previously accepted rules of the sport forever. It will be a legacy of which he can be justly proud in the centuries to come. And his reasoning for insisting on such a change?

Someone – could it a friend of more advanced years – had complained that the playing of a national competition on an away green in the middle of the week often meant that the travellers did not get home until after eleven. Or even later!

The obvious solution according to the EIBA administrators? Cut down the number of ends being played from a traditional 21 ends to a less time-consuming 18 ends. That should save at least half-an-hour.

But that rule only applies to national competitions that are not specifically due to be played at the weekend. Most of the time.

In the National Top Club competition, played on a Sunday, all the team disciplines are restricted to 18 ends when 21 ends would be the obvious choice. Perhaps someone needed to get home for lunch?

Now, I must admit I have been playing this game for a long time. If I entered a national individual competition during a time when the draw was regionalised rather than localised as it is now, an away tie in mid-week in North Devon when you bowled in Torquay was something you accepted if you wanted to progress further in the competition. You simply got on with it - or did not enter.

I do not oppose the more local approach, as it is now, to the early rounds – though the inclusion of the World Indoor Singles Champion and the World Champion of Champions champion in the draw does make life more difficult for those bowlers who live in the same neck of the woods as the two title winners previously mentioned. But I do oppose messing around with the established rules simply to make an impact. Naturally, I must state quite categorically at this point, that any similarity between my scenario and any persons living or currently involved in the administration of bowls, is purely coincidental.

When a problem is more perceived than real, any solution to it is going to be totally unnecessary and, in this case, confusing as well. Perhaps the desire to shorten the game a little is not such a bad idea but there are easier ways that do not interfere with the essence of the sport. And one of them is simply and more practically, to cut out dead ends and go for the re-spot. Then, we can all be home for the ten o'clock news!

But I digress. At ten ends in the Torquay match, Torbay led 36-35 on aggregate. The main reason for that was the disastrous start at Torbay by Will Stevens' rink who trailed 4-16 on ten ends to the Torbay rink of Kate Asher, Sue Coffield, Dave Vinnicombe and the in-form Gerry Coffield. But Stevens was not done with the game at the half-way stage and he gradually reduced the deficit to get within 17-19 at 21 ends. He had done his job

Meanwhile, the other Torquay four of Emma Cooper, Moira Webber, Bob Condon and the truly sublime Ian Lesley were completing a hatchet job on Derek Singleton's rink finally running out winners by 35-9.

Back at Torquay, all was quiet. The protagonists had gone home after incorrectly curtailing their half of the match at 18 ends.

At that point, Charlotte Aspinall, Barb Bellamy, Tim Lock and Geoff Bellamy for Torquay had a healthy 22-9 lead over Mark Powell whilst the visitors in the other game led superbly by Sam Davis and ably backed up by Denise Clark, Sue Bywaters and skip Rob Honeywell, led Harry Aspinall 19-13.

That all added up to an 87-56 advantage for Torquay with, technically, six ends to play following the premature finish. Fortunately for all concerned, Torbay deemed the advantage too great to ask for a recall of the rinks who had gone home.

Torquay now play Exmouth Madeira on Sunday October29th in round one proper after they unexpectedly defeated the Exeter based Isca side by 89-56.

The winners of this tie then play the winners of the match between Newquay and Plymouth after Newquay beat Carnmoggas in Cornwall by 103-60 and Plymouth drifted through on a bye. ENDS