Category Archives: Cuatro y Medio Championship

Cuatro y Medio Final: Invincible Aimar leaves Benogetxea reeling

Sunday 16th December, Vitoria-Gasteiz


Cuatro y Medio Final

This should have been a contest. Oinatz Bengoetxea had a legitimate chance to add the Cuatro y Medio to his record, to finally grasp the prize which so many believed would fall his way by right sooner or later. Bengoetxea’s game, so quick and infused with energy, is ideally suited to the short court form of pelota mano. He has won the Navarrese title for the past two years and only months ago defeated both Olaizola II and Irujo in the process. However, it has been his great misfortune to have been born when he was, fated to play in the same era as two of the greats. While Irujo and Olaizola have succumbed to the occasional off day in the Navarrese championship, in the one which really matters they have seldom been so careless. In both 2009 and 2011 Bengoetxea was knocked out of the Cuatro y Medio in the quarter finals, by Irujo. In 2012 he dodged this bullet, unexpectedly finding himself up against Berasaluze VIII in the semis instead, but there was no light at the end of the tunnel; Aimar Olaizola awaited. Olaizola wasted no time in despatching Irujo in the last four, almost toying with him before powering away. Bengoetxea, while he had his theoretical chances, proved a mere play thing.

If Olaizola feels the weight of expectation, the stress of favouritism, he never shows it. His march is relentless, his eyes steely, his demeanour utterly controlled. Fifteen minutes in and there was no doubt whatsoever as to the outcome of this final. The crowd clearly wanted a fight and fell silent in the face of Goizueta’s clinical winning machine, mustering only the occasional shout of encouragement to the vanquished Bengoetxea. While not thrilling as a contest however, this match was something to savour. There is something awesomely beautiful about Olaizola in full flight and something wondrous about any sportsperson so completely in control of their chosen medium that they make the extravagant look normal. Aimar Olaizola is a champion to be cherished.

Bengoetxea won the toss and with it a golden chance to take first blood with his serve. However, in an act which foretold the remainder of the final, Olaizola snuffed him out with immediate effect. The defending champion took the first point with a pass down the wall and strode up to the service line to lay down his own law. Twelve times he served, and twelve times Bengoetxea was forced to turn round, walk back and try again. 13-0. There was no comeback. Six of these first thirteen points came directly from service winners. Some Benogetxea hit though failed to return within the legal bounds, some were so well directed that he stood no chance at all. Of those he did manage to return, a further two were won with Olaizola’s second touch, one a drop and one a hook. Bengoetxea tried to gain the initiative by volleying his returns, but nothing he could throw at Olaizola was sufficiently potent to net a point. Only once in this astonishing sequence was Olaizola stretched, in the point at 7-0 in which he was forced to scramble to return a hook, but he turned his defence into attack with a ball to the corner which his opponent put low. Asier Garcia, Bengoetxea’s botillero, tried to work some magic by cajoling his charge, massaging his legs and slapping his back. Olaizola by contrast sat and sipped his drink calmly and chatted with his brother, who was surplus to requirements. This was business as usual.

Even fans of Olaizola must have become worried for Benogetxea that he would fail to register a single point, so it was met with some considerable relief when the Leitzarra got on the board with a deft drop to the corner. He then advanced to two with a textbook serve and then hook routine. However, even if Bengoetxea found his touch, all Olaizola needed to do was accumulate the odd point here and there to reach the finishing line. A total miss from Bengoetxea for 14-2 took him another step closer and even three errors in a row, rather staggering in their context, were in no way sufficient to cause his camp worry. Such was his control over the destiny of the game that he could afford to push the margins, to take chances. Briefly, Bengoetxea scored at a faster rate and happily for his future confidence he demonstrated why he is a pelotari of the top flight. His dos paredes on 16-6 and 17-7 were as beautiful and as brutal as anything Olaizola produced, and he also displayed his ability to pass Olaizola down the wall, out-manoeuvring him cleverly at 16-5. However, it was far too late and Olaizola did not allow him to come any closer than nine. He forged ahead once again from 17-8, running rings around his opponent before putting the ball over his head. A low strike from Bengoetxea, followed by a trademark hook and the lead was twelve. It probably should have been extended to thirteen in the next play when his shot was probably inaccurately adjudged long, but this was a tiny blip in a relentless march to the line. A dos paredes gave him match point before, rather aptly, the championship was sealed with a serve. Bengoetxea, resigned to the inevitable, was gracious in defeat and in his acknowledgement of a master.

This was an unprecendented sixth Cuatro y Medio crown for Aimar Olaizola. The next most successful proponent of the art, the great Retegi II has four. It is also his fourth txapela in all major championships in the past twelve months, a staggering record. The only big wins which have eluded him in the past two years have been the 2011 Manomanista, which he lost to a comeback from an emotionally charged Xala in the final, and the 2012 Pairs, in which he and Beroiz set a record by winning all of their round robin matches before Beroiz succumbed to injury woes in the semis. He is so far ahead of everyone else, Irujo included, currently that he has a thousand point lead in the rankings. Since turning professional in 1998, he has won eleven major titles, an average of one a year for the past eleven years. Oinatz Bengoetxea must surely feel stunned by his heavy loss, faced with the wall that is Olaizola there was little he could have done. In another era, he too could have won multiple titles. At 28 Bengoetxea has more time on his side than does his 33 year old conqueror, but worryingly for all his rivals Olaizola seems to be getting better with age. As 2012 draws to a close, they can only salute and hope for luck in 2013.

Scoring sequence: 13-0, 13-2, 14-2, 14-5, 16-5, 16-7, 17-7, 17-8, 20-8, 20-9, 22-9
Service winners/errors: Olaizola 8/0, Bengoetxea 0/0
Winners/errors: Olaizola 11/3, Bengoetxea 5/3
Balls hit: 188
Match time: 46 minutes with 7 minutes of actual play

Olaizola II took his sixth Cuatro y Medio crown

Olaizola II took his sixth Cuatro y Medio crown

Photo: mine

Bat, bi, hiru! Jaunarena nets historic third txapela

Saturday 8th December, Pamplona


Promocion Cuatro y Medio Final

Jon Jaunarena lived up to his billing as the hottest young talent contemporary pelota mano last Saturday, becoming the first player ever to win all three Promocion championship titles in the same year. He adds the Cuatro y Medio crown to the Pairs title he won with Cecilio, and the Manomanista. This tournament has not been plain sailing for Jaunarena; he was forced to fight hard by Ongay in his first round match, coming from behind to win 22-19, and was beaten heavily by Gorka in the first round of group matches. However, Gorka’s dip in form coupled with a brace of excellent wins, one over the eventual runner up who qualified from the same group, saw the favourite through. Debutante Elezkano, who was impressive in reaching the semis, was easy prey and a final therefore awaited against Untoria who had come through a tough encounter with Jorge Rico in the last four. Jaunarena was the clear favourite at Labrit, especially given his 22-15 defeat of Untoria in the group stages, but the pressure was immense. The 20 year old knew that history beckoned and that a win would likely provide a launch pad into the elite echelons of the sport. The final was a tense one, played with great passion in front of a capacity crowd. Jaunarena raced to a 7-0 lead as if to eschew once and for all any notion that the expectation might get to him. However, Untoria proved a tougher adversary than this early discrepancy suggested and came roaring back into contention at 11-11. The rivals could not be split in the ensuing passage of play, finding themselves tied at 12, 13 and 14 before Jaunarena edged ahead again, taking an 18-15 lead. Again his opponent retaliated, coming to within a point at 18-17. In a developing pattern, Jaunarena surged once more, this time to 21-17 and match point. He made his army of supporters sweat however, ceding three straight points to a determined Untoria before finally seizing the championship, and with it the record, 22-20.

With this victory comes adulation but also expectation. Jaunarena is now seventh in the rankings, above such established luminaries as Xala, Barriola and Laskurain, and his youth points to a career of greatness. However, Aspe will need to handle him well; his potential is clear but in order to deliver he will need astute management and a solid head. For now though, Leitza’s new champion can enjoy his success and growing celebrity while Oinatz Bengoetxea attempts to give the town its fourth txapela of 2012 against Aimar Olaizola on Sunday.

Scoring sequence: 7-0/ 7-2/ 8-2/ 8-3/ 9-3/ 9-8/ 11-8/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 17-14/ 17-15/ 18-15/ 18-17/ 21-17/ 21-20/ 22-20
Service winners/errors: Jaunarena 4/1, Untoria 4/0
Winners/errors: Jaunarena 13/7, Untoria 6/4
Match time: 74 minutes
Balls hit: 286

There is a good post match interview with Jaunarena in Noticias de Gipuzkoa, if you understand Spanish or have Google Translate to hand. There are also some pictures on Aspe’s Flickr (I can’t find any pictures of Jaunarena at all which are out of copyright so can’t post any directly!).

Cuatro y Medio final postponed, as Berasaluze takes third place

The Cuatro y Medio final, due to be held in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Sunday, has been postponed. Aimar Olaizola recovered from his back problem in time to play, but this time it was Oinatz Bengoetxea who fell by the wayside, succumbing to a viral infection. He requested a postponement which was granted. The final will now be held next Sunday, the 16th December.

Meanwhile, Pablo Berasaluze won the play off for third place, beating Juan Martinez de Irujo 22-19 at Labrit.

Aimar Olaizola defeats Irujo for shot at sixth Cuatro y Medio title

Sunday 25th November, Bilbao


Cuatro y Medio Semi-Final

There is little one can say about the intense rivalry between these greatest of modern pelota players which has not been said before. Olaizola and Irujo have, in the past few years, been head and shoulder above their rivals so it is natural that matches between them should arouse so much interest. Coupled with that, their opposing playing styles, Irujo so fiery and Olaizola so cool, lend a human element to proceedings, inviting the fans to adopt their personal favourite. So it was that Bizkaia was packed last Sunday, and full of atmosphere. The two champions obliged with a stormer of a match, with Olaizola pulling away only at the last to seize a place in his sixth Cuatro y Medio final.

After a brief opening flurry from Olaizola, thanks to his strong serving from the gun, it was Irujo who looked the sharper early on. Olaizola looked, by his standards, out of sorts and unable to find a rhythm, resulting in three errors in a row to gift his rival a 3-6 lead. He looked to have found his touch in the next point with a virtuosic cross court winner at full stretch but then, infuriatingly for him and his fans, served a falta. He failed to make any significant inroads, despite closing to within one point on 6-7 and Irujo, with the bit between his teeth, raced to 6-12. Olaizola seemed unable to read Irujo, or if he could then unable to do anything about it, and the man from Ibero punished him with a wide range of shots, the apotheosis of which was a stinging hook on 6-10. Irujo showed no signs of the virus which had caused the postponement of the match from the previous week and it was hard to see how Olaizola, looking unusually flustered and constrained, could turn matters around.

However, Olaizola is a great champion and has the cool to come from behind as well as annihilate from the front. Slowly but surely the defending champion began to find his mojo. With the serve back, he punished Irujo early to reduce his deficit by half at 9-12, and then he profited from an extreme moment of carelessness on the part of his opponent who missed a complete sitter in the next play. Another Irujo error and it was 11-12 and all to play for. Olaizola fell behind again with a pair of near misses but then came back once more with a glorious dos paredes. A low strike from Irujo and it was 14-14. Again Irujo battled forward through force of will, and again Olaizola pegged him back as deadlock was resumed at 16-16.

From here on though, a switch appeared to flick. An error from Irujo meant Olaizola was ahead for the first time since 2-1 and once there, he had no intention of sliding into arrears. The next two points brought vintage Aimar as a hook and a dos paredes landed him in view of the finishing line. An increasingly ragged Irujo could not respond as his opponent changed gear, gifting a point for 20-16 before Olaizola hammered his superiority home with a service winner to give him match point. Irujo pulled two points back with a late flurry, offering a reminder of who he is, but it was too late; as he pushed the last ball of the game low, Aimar Olaizola’s calm exterior gave way to a brief celebration before his mind turned forwards, towards another final and dreams of a sixth title.

The final was originally scheduled for this weekend but a back problem for Olaizola has resulted in a postponement. He will now face Oinatz Bengoetxea on 9th December in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Likewise, the Promocion final between Jaunarena and Untoria has been postponed, due to an injury to Untoria. It will take place in Pamplona on 8th December.

Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-3, 3-3, 3-6, 4-6, 4-7, 6-7, 6-12, 11-12, 11-14, 12-14, 14-14, 14-16, 16-16, 21-16, 21-18, 22-18

Cuatro y Medio: the State of Play

Many apologies for the lack of updates, right in the middle of the Cuatro y Medio Championship; I have been away and things rather got on top of me. I promise that after this brief catch up on where we are in proceedings, normal service will resume!

In the main championship, we know the identity of one finalist but the second semi-final has yet to be played. Oinatz Bengoetxea is through after his semi-final defeat of Pablo Berasaluze in Pamplona last weekend. The man from Leitza, who has won the Navarrese 4 ½ championship for the past two years, won 22-16 to reach his first ever Cuatro y Medio Championship final. The second semi, between Aimar Olaizola and Juan Martinez de Irujo, was due to take place last Sunday at a sold out Bizkaia. However, Irujo’s immune system proved unequal to the task and a virus for the winner of 2006 and 2010 necessitated a postponement. The match will now take place this Sunday in Bilbao.

In the Promocion Championship, both semis took place as planned. First through to the final was Alvaro Untoria, who beat Jorge Rico 22-19 last Friday. Joining him will be Jon Jaunarena, who dispatched new professional Danel Elezkano 22-11 in Tolosa on Monday. This is the third Promocion final in a row for Jaunarena, who has already won the Pairs and Manomanista titles this year. A third win would be some achievement. It is also worth noting that of the four finalists across the two competitions, two come from Leitza, a small town of only 3000 inhabitants. Given Jaunarena’s rise, we could see a local derby like the 2008 Manomanista final in which Bengoetxea defeated fellow Leitzarra Barriola, before too long.

The final awaits Oinatz Bengoetxea

The final awaits Oinatz Bengoetxea

Photo: mine

Cuatro y Medio: Irujo wins Barriola shoot out to set up semi-final classic

Sunday 11th November, Eibar


Of all the Cuatro y Medio quarter final league matches this weekend, this was the one which mattered. The equation was simple; the winner would go through and the loser would be out, each having won one and lost one in the previous two rotations. For the winner, the dubious privilege of meeting multiple champion Aimar Olaizola in the last four. Irujo it was who stepped up his game in devastating fashion, so bringing about the encounter most expected to see in the final.

Barriola is unusual in being a defender with a live fighting chance in this tournament. He made the final in 2010 and beaten by Irujo 22-17 there was no disgrace. However, one sensed he had a mountain to climb at Astelena on Sunday against a rival in no mood to fold in the wake of his last ditch defeat to Berasaluze the previous weekend. Although Barriola snagged the first two points, almost everything subsequently went the way of the favourite. Irujo bossed the show and Barriola proved incapable of matching his furious pace. The Leitzarra was in touch at 6-7, but from then on his deficit only grew. In a mere 174 strikes of the ball, the whirlwind of Ibero was through. He plays the defending champion on Sunday in Bilbao, where the atmosphere will surely top even the enthusiasm displayed in Eibar, where the crowd was in full cry. It is not to be missed.

Scoring sequence: 2-0/ 2-6/ 4-6/ 4-7/ 6-7/ 6-10/ 7-10/ 7-15/ 8-15/ 8-16/ 9-16/ 9-17/ 10-17/ 10-22
Service winners/errors: Barriola 2/1, Irujo 1/1
Winners/errors: Barriola 4/7, Irujo 13/4
Match time: 34 minutes with 7 minutes of actual play
Balls hit: 174

Irujo marches on

Irujo marches on

Cuatro y Medio: the Qualification Fight Intensifies

The Cuatro y Medio Championships, both the main competition and its Promocion counterpart, and nearing their endgame. As the semi-finals approach, we take a look at what happened this week. Who is through, who is out and who must play for their survival?

There were two thrillingly close games in the main championship last week. The first of these took place in Leitza on Friday, where BENGOETXEA VI beat XALA 22-20. The Navarrese town of Leitza, which sits a short distance over the border from Gipuzkoa, is something of a pelota hotbed. Bengoetxea is one of three current professionals who hail from there (the others being Barriola and Jaunarena). Home support can act in one of two ways, either putting further pressure on a player or pushing him to greater heights, and fortunately for Bengoetxea, the latter scenario played out. It was, however, desperately close; neither player managed a lead of more than three. In the middle portion of the game, Xala briefly threatened to put Bengoetxea on the rack with a quick fire run of four points, consisting of two errors from his opponent and two crunching hooks of his own. However, just as at every point where one or other pelotari found themselves with a lead, it was cancelled out. The game was not a vintage one from the point of view of consistently staggering shot play, although both proved why they are top tier professionals on various occasions, but for sheer tension it would have been hard to beat. The home favourite looked like he had finally broken from the shackles in the closing stages, going ahead 20-17 with the line in sight, but Xala fought back to 20-21 before a commanding txoko sealed the day. Bengoetxea now has one win and one loss in the quarter final league, so his fate depends on what happens this weekend. Xala, with two defeats, is out.

In Pamplona on Saturday, affairs were even tighter when BERASALUZE VIII pulled a 22-21 triumph against MARTINEZ DE IRUJO out of the fire. Whatever Berasaluze’s multitudinous merits, this result ranks as an upset, especially given the circumstances of the play which unfolded. Irujo went ahead 10-1 and 14-4 and to fall this far behind to a player of his quality should be terminal. However, Berasaluze, proving once more that in tenacity he is second to nobody in the world of pelota, came roaring back with a display littered with stinging hooks and audacious volleys. Irujo appeared utterly powerless as his Bizkaian rival took an unlikely 18-14 lead. There was a further twist when Irujo looked to have restored order, seizing the lead back at 19-18, but having come so far, there was no way Berasaluze would let the victory slip away. The players tied on 19, 20 and 21 but it was the underdog who dealt the final blow, winning by the smallest possible margin before the crowd rose in a standing ovation richly deserved by both. This result means Berasaluze is assured of a place in semi-finals, having defeated Barriola last weekend. Irujo, with a narrow victory and a narrow loss to his name, must beat Barriola on Sunday to go through.

Things were rather easier for the defending champion OLAIZOLA II, who was pushed hard in the early stages but in the end registered a comfortable 22-13 win over ARRETXE II.  Iker Arretxe has been something of a revelation in these championships, reaching the quarters by beating Titin and then backing this up with an easy win over Xala. Keeping pace with Olaizola at the mid-point of this game alone would have represented an improvement on his Pairs Championship form of earlier this year, but Aimar found a fifth gear when pressed and eased into the semi-finals with his second win, having beaten Bengoetxea by the same margin last week. Arretxe and Bengoetxea will play off this weekend for the second semi berth from Group A.

Back in Group B, BARRIOLA fought off RETEGI BI, winning 22-15 in Bilbao. The match was extremely tight in the early stages, with the protagonists locked together at 11-11. However, from this juncture it was the defender, unusually in Cuatro y Medio, who imposed himself. Barriola took seven points in a row to lead 18-11 and although Retegi closed to 18-14 he found the route back barred to him. Barriola therefore lives to fight another day, though he must defeat Irujo this weekend, while Retegi is out whatever the result of his game with Berasaluze VIII.

This weekend’s fixtures are:
Friday 9th November, Beasain: Berasaluze VIII v Retegi Bi
Saturday 10th November, Pamplona: Bengoetxea VI v Arretxe II
Sunday 11th November, Eibar: Barriola v Martinez de Irujo
Monday 12th November, Tolosa: Olaizola II v Xala

In the Promocion Championship, the semi-finalists are all set. From Group 1, Elezkano and Rico IV go through. Elezkano won his place thanks to an impressive 22-8 win over a far more experienced opponent in Jon Apezetxea. His only defeat in the tournament has been a narrow loss to Olazabal, and making it to this stage is quite a coup for the teenager who has only been a professional since September. Rico IV beat an off-colour Olazabal 22-12 to book his berth. In Group 2 everything came down to the final weekend but it was Jaunarena and Untoria who received their tickets to the last four. Gorka needed a win over Lemuno to progress but he fell three points short, losing 22-19. Jaunarena, playing in his home town of Leitza as a curtain raiser to fellow local Bengoetxea, did what he needed to do in defeating Untoria, but needed to wait until the other match was completed before absolute confirmation of his progression. Untoria goes through despite his loss, thanks to Gorka’s defeat. Both the semi finals take place next weekend. Rico IV plays Untoria in Najera on Friday 16th while the details of Jaunarena v Elezkano are yet to be confirmed.

Cuatro y Medio: the week that was

Shell shocked Xala beaten 22-12 by Arretxe
The quarter final rotations got underway last Friday, across the bay in Iparralde, when Arretxe II took on Xala in Hendaia. Nobody would have made Arretxe favourite for this game; Xala is by far the more decorated, the more experienced at this level and had near home advantage to boot. However, the upset happened. Xala was simply never in the game and looked utterly lacklustre, but nothing must be taken away from the underdog, for this was not a simple case of the favourite being dramatically off colour. Arretxe bossed almost every point, finishing with a whopping sixteen winners. That Xala made only six errors in a match where he was so comprehensively beaten is testament to Arretxe’s dominance. The final score is flattering to Xala, and came about thanks only to a relatively late rally from the former Manomanista champion, who mustered six winners in a row on the way from 3-18 to 12-19. However, any hope of an extraordinary comeback was dashed by some further Arretxe shot play. Xala appeared stunned, along with his legion of fans, and now has work to do to make the semis.
Scoring sequence: 0-5, 1-5, 1-10, 2-10, 2-14, 3-14, 3-18, 10-19, 12-19, 12-22.
Winners/errors: Xala 8/6, Arretxe 16/4
Balls hit: 197
Match time: 39:42 with 7:13 of actual play



(Image by Patrick Janicek under Creative Commons)

Olaizola II beat Bengoetxea VI 22-13. The following day it was the turn of the defending champion to take the stage in Pamplona, and he demonstrated to the public in no uncertain terms why he has won this title on five occasions. Bengoetxea, although he has never been Cuatro y Medio champion, is a great exponent of the short court game, having won the Navarrese title twice, including the last two editions, but he found the going tough here, despite fighting every inch of the way in his customary style. Olaizola punished him with a physical game, littered with trademark left handed hooks, and although Bengoetxea pushed him close in the mid part of the game, closing to 8-10, he had little answer in the latter stages.
Scoring sequence: 3-0, 6-3, 10-3, 10-8, 13-10, 15-10, 17-11, 18-13, 22-13
Balls hit: 259
Match time: 46 minutes



On Sunday, the pelota cognoscenti gathered in Eibar, where Martinez de Irujo beat Retegi Bi 22-18. In contrast to Friday’s game, this one appeared to be matching the form book from the start, when Irujo stormed into a 10-1 lead. Playing with more speed and vigour than Retegi could handle, the man from Ibero was in complete control. However, spurred on by his great father in the botillero’s chair, the less lauded player fought his way back, first to 4-10 and from thence to 5-13, 13-14 and 15-15 before seizing the lead at 15-16 with his second service winner in a row. His lead grew when Irujo hit low for 15-17 and an upset looked on. However, Irujo snapped into action when it really mattered, breaking his opponent’s heart with a run of five straight points. Retegi pulled on back at 20-18 to restore a little hope, but when he hit high in the next point, Irujo wasted no time in producing a winning serve to take a win which was far less comfortable than it should have been.
Scoring sequence: 2-0, 2-1, 10-1, 10-2, 10-4, 12-4, 12-5, 14-5, 14-13, 15-13, 15-17, 20-17, 20-18, 22-18
Winners/errors: Irujo 16/10, Retegi Bi 8/6
Balls hit: 234
Match time: 40:40 with 9:51 of actual play



Berasaluze VIII beat Barriola 22-11. On Monday it was the turn of Abel Barriola and Pablo Berasaluze to strut their stuff as they clashed at Santanape in Gernika. This looked on paper to be a potential close run thing, but Berasaluze proved by far the stronger. He prevented Barriola from unleashing his left arm by taking many balls on the volley and defended like a terrier. With the score at 20-5 in Berasaluze’s favour, Barriola looked to be in for an embarrassing evening but the Leitzarra managed to rally to a degree, saving face by adding six further points. This was nowhere near enough however to prevent the Asegarce player from seizing the day.
Scoring sequence: 1-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-7, 4-11, 5-20, 11-22
Balls hit: 200
Match time: 52 minutes



In the Promocion Championship, the results were as follows:
26th October, Arrigorriaga: OLAZABAL beat ELEZKANO II 22-19

27th October, Pamplona: JAUNARENA beat LEMUNO 22-16
27th October, Ezcaray: UNTORIA beat GORKA 22-18
28th October, Eibar: RICO IV beat APEZETXEA 22-12

This week, the main championship fixtures are:
Friday 2nd November, Leitza: XALA v BENGOETXEA VI
Saturday 3rd November, Pamplona: BERASALUZE VIII v MARTINEZ DE IRUJO
Sunday 4th November, Bilbao: BARRIOLA v RETEGI BI
Monday 5th November, Tolosa: OLAIZOLA II v ARRETXE II

The Promocion Championship games are:
Friday 2nd November, Leitza: JAUNARENA v UNTORIA
Saturday 3rd November, Pamplona: GORKA v LEMUNO
Sunday 4th November, Bilbao: APEZETXEA v ELEZKANO II
Monday 5th November: Tolosa: OLAZABAL v RICO IV

Pelota on ETB, 26th-28th October

Friday 26th October, Hendaia

22:10 on ETB Sat, 22:30 on Deporte en Directo (CEST) IDOATE  – ZABALETA v EZKURDIA – PASCUAL

Followed by XALA v ARRETXE II Cuatro y Medio quarter final league

Sunday 28th October, Eibar


Followed by MARTINEZ DE IRUJO v RETEGI BI Cuatro y Medio quarter final league

To watch, go to http://www.eitb.tv

Promocion Cuatro y Medio success for Gorka, Olazabal, Untoria and Elezkano

The first rotation of quarter final league matches in the Promocion Cuatro y Medio took place this weekend and while two saw easy wins, two were very tight indeed. First in the easy winners category came Gorka Esteban, who thumped Jon Jaunarena 22-9 in Logrono on Sunday. This was another superb performance from the 22 year old Riojan, who had eliminated Ezkurdia in a nail biter to get to this stage, against arguably more fancied opposition. He gets home advantage in his next game on Saturday, when he plays Untoria in his native town of Ezcaray. Equally impressive in victory was Mikel Olazabal who dispatched Jon Apezetxea 22-5 in Tolosa last night. Olazabal was probably the favourite here, but given Apezetxea’s impressive defeat of Zabaleta in the first round the signs were that this would be closer than it was. In the first of two cliff-hangers, Danel Elezkano a professional for less than two months, showed great character in coming from behind to snatch a 22-21 win from Jorge Rico in Balmaseda. Rico looked to have things sown up, but a combination of several errors on his part and the determination of his young opponent put paid to his hopes. Also grabbing a 22-21 win was Alvaro Untoria who beat Stephane Lemuno in Bilbao on Saturday. As with Rico on Friday, Lemuno seemed home and dry, but the Riojan proved why you should never relax until the line has been crossed. The fixtures for the next rotation are as follows:

Friday 26th October, Arrigorriaga: OLAZABAL v ELEZKANO II
Saturday 27th October, Ezcaray: GORKA v UNTORIA
Saturday 27th October, Pamplona: LEMUNO v JAUNARENA
Sunday 28th October, Eibar: APEZETXEA v RICO IV