Monday 16th February
GONZALEZ – BARRIOLA beat OLAIZOLA I – PATXI RUIZ 22-20
Asier Olaizola and Patxi Ruiz yesterday became the first partnership to exit the Pairs Championship, losing 22-20 to Sebastian Gonzalez and Abel Barriola in an error-strewn encounter at Beotibar. Both pairs committed multiple infelicities but a win was all that the Aspe pair needed to maintain their standing in the table, and it was with grateful hearts that they must have welcomed the continuing poor form of their rivals. Asier and Patxi have won only two matches from seven attempts but even in their victories have failed to set the competition on fire. Both are former txapela winners and more chances may come to them, but this, emphatically, has not been their year.
Abel Barriola had some considerable excuse for his less than exciting play; with the score at 4-3 he requested a break, complaining of pain where the ball had struck the base of his right forefinger. With qualification on the line there was nothing to be done but continue as best he could when his allotted two minutes was up, with modified protections on the offending hand, but it was clearly a hinderance. However, Asier and Patxi were ultimately unable to capitalise on his misfortune. They created their chance to take the match, clawing their way to a 20-16 lead, but errors were their downfall and the Aspe pair managed to find a way back before registering one gantxo apiece to take their point with grateful relief.
So, we bid farewell to Patxi Ruiz and Asier Olaizola, but Barriola and Gonzalez must now concentrate all their energies on next weekend and their critical encounter with Asier’s younger brother Aimar Olaizola and Oier Mendizabal, the defending champions. Barriola’s hand injury must be a major worry; there will be prayers said at Aspe HQ for its speedy recovery. The defender from Leitza will now have until Sunday for healing however, as the match, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been moved to avoid a clash with a Real Sociedad football game, their ground being a stone’s throw from Atano III.
Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3, 4-3, 4-4, 5-4, 5-6, 6-6, 6-8, 8-8, 8-9, 9-9, 9-14, 11-14, 11-15, 13-15, 13-16, 14-16, 14-19, 16-19, 16-20, 19-20 and 19-22.