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How many hoops have to be gone through in the course of a game?

-   Both balls of a side have to be played through 12 hoops in a precise order and direction and each ball must then be made to hit the centre peg. One point is scored for each hoop and for the peg, a total of 26 points for the two balls. The side which first scores 26 points wins. However, in timed games, the player with the most number of hoops wins.


In what order do the hoops have to be played?

-  The first hoop is the one with its top painted blue. The order and direction of the twelve hoops is shown in the diagram on the right. To score a point a hoop must be played in this sequence and from the direction shown: you cannot skip a hoop and come back to it later.

Page Hi_Bisquers_Page4_Hooporder


Does a player have to put both balls through the first hoop before he can go on to play through the second?

-  No. At the start of every turn the player (or the side in the case of doubles) can choose which ball to play
   with. He will normally elect to play with the ball which is most favourably placed. It is quite normal for one
   ball of a side to go through many hoops before the other ball has even made the first hoop.


What are the clips on the hoops for?

- As it would be difficult to remember which of the 12 hoops each ball has already run, coloured clips are
   used to show how far round the course each ball has gone. A clip on the top of the hoop means that the
   ball  is still on the first circuit; a clip on the upright of the hoop means that the ball has been through the
   first six hoops and is now on the second circuit.
   When a ball has made all twelve hoops the clip is placed on the centre peg, and when the ball has hit the
   centre peg the clip and ball are removed from the lawn. By looking at the position of the clips anyone can
   work out how many hoops each side has made and, thus, who is in the lead.


How is the game started?

-   At the start of the game the clips are placed on the blue
    painted top of the first hoop. Players then take alternate
    turns to play their four balls on to the lawn. A ball may
    start from any position on either of the start (or baulk)
    lines, which are shown in the diagram on the right. The
    first four turns must be used to play the four balls on to
    the lawn. The balls do NOT have to be played in any
    particular order of colours; the sides simply toss for
    start and the starting side can play either of its two
    balls first.


    Opening tactics are usually concerned with leaving the balls in a safe position. Most beginners are puzzled
    why players do not try for the first hoop. With only about th inch clearance it is very unlikely that a
    shot from the baulk line would go through the first hoop. The minimum distance is 6 yards away – and
    accuracy of th inch in 18 feet is impossible except by a fluke. The most likely result of trying to go
    through the first hoop would be to hit the hoop. This would leave your ball very near to the hoop. Now
    to hit a ball which is 3⅝th inch in diameter from 6 yards away is a different proposition and your
    opponent would have a good chance of hitting in and scoring.

    N.B. There is a widespread belief among garden-croquet players that you cannot hit another ball until you have been through the first hoop. There is no such restriction in Association Croquet.


What is a Break?

-  The term is used, as in snooker, to describe a turn in which the player has the balls in a favourable
    position to score and from which he should be able to play a series of scoring shots. As in snooker, he
    may lose the break through making a poor shot or he may give up the break because of the need to play
   a safety shot.

    N.B.  It is, perhaps, worthy of mention that the maximum number of strokes that can be made in a snooker break is 38, which clears the table. In Association Croquet a break of 60 or more shots is quite common – the maximum number of strokes in a break is 91.


What entitles a player to play so many strokes

-  A turn consists of one stroke – but extra strokes can be earned in one of two ways:

a).  when a player runs his ball through a hoop he becomes entitled to play another stroke;

b).  when a player hits another ball with his, he becomes entitled to two more strokes: the first of these is called ‘the croquet stroke’ and the second is called ‘the continuation stroke’.

   In order to play the ‘croquet stroke’ the player must pick up his ball (from whatever point it stopped rolling) and place it in contact with the other ball wherever that ball ahs stopped moving. If the other ball has been driven off the lawn it is brought back on to the lawn exactly one yard in from the boundary line and the player’s ball is placed in contact with it.

   So the croquet stroke is always played with the two balls touching. The player can only hit his own ball with the mallet (it is a fault if he allows his mallet to hit the other ball and his turn ends) but because the two balls are in contact the act of striking his own ball naturally causes the other ball to move as well as his own.

   N.B.  In the very old days in garden croquet, it was permitted to put your foot on your ball and to hit it hard so that the ball with which it was in contact was sent into the shrubbery – this is NOT part of the game of Association Croquet.

   A player is allowed to hit and thus take croquet from EACH of the other three balls (friend and foe alike) on the lawn in any turn to help him go through a hoop ….. and each time his ball runs through a hoop he can repeat this process. Perhaps now you can begin to appreciate how, by clever use of these strokes, a player can manoeuvre his ball around the lawn and take many hoops in a break.

   The croquet stroke is one of the great manoeuvring strokes in the game. One of the uses of this stroke is, for instance, to move your ball so that it stops in front of its hoop – you can then use the ‘continuation stroke’ as mentioned in a) above. You can use this other stroke to hit any other ball on the lawn and thus become entitled to TWO more strokes which, in turn, you can use to go through a hoop thus becoming entitled to another stroke and so you can go on making hoop after hoop.

   But, of course, you are not always able to croquet your ball in front of its hoop – for instance, you may be having to take croquet from a ball which is on the other side of the lawn and far away from your next hoop – you could not be sure of playing the croquet stroke so as to put your ball so accurately in front of its hoop as to be able to go through it in the continuation stroke. In these circumstances you could use the croquet stroke to move your ball near to a third ball which is much closer to your hoop and then use the continuation shot to hit that ball, which of course entitles you to two more strokes. Now, because you are much nearer to your hoop you have a better chance of being able to get accurately in front of the hoop in the croquet stroke so that it can be run through in the continuation stroke. Think of it as using a series of stepping stones to reach your destination! 


What happens when a ball crosses the boundary line?

-  Except for the player’s own ball, any ball touching or crossing the boundary line or stopping within the
   yard of the boundary line within the lawn, must be placed immediately and before the next stroke is take,
   exactly one yard within the lawn. This line one yard within the boundary line is not marked and you will
   need to use your mallet as a yardstick to measure the exact spot on which the ball is to be replaced.

   A player’s own ball is also placed on the yard line if it touches or crosses the boundary line without hitting
   another ball, or if it goes off in the croquet stroke. If a player’s own ball crosses the boundary line after
   hitting another ball that it is entitled to hit then, of course, it is simply moved into position to take croquet;
   the fact that it has crossed the boundary line is immaterial.


How does a turn end?

-  There are a number of ways in which a turn comes to an end.


a).  If a player fails in his attempt to hit another ball or to go through a hoop.

b).  If, in the croquet stroke, he sends either his ball or the croqueted ball over the boundary line. However, there is one exception to this rule and that is when (before crossing the boundary line) his own ball roquets another ball.

      N.B.  It is only in the croquet stroke that the turn ends when either ball crosses the line; in an ordinary hit both balls may be sent off without penalty.

c).  There are also numerous faults that a player can make during the act of striking his ball, any one of which brings his turn to an end. This is not the place to list these and they are quite numerous and technical – these are all detailed in the Laws of the Game, a copy of which can be obtained from the Croquet Association. It is something that is always useful to have handy in case of dispute in a game you may be playing when there is no one else around to ask; however, a copy is usually hanging up in the clubhouse near the notice board. Normally if a player is about to play a stroke in which he may commit a fault he will call for a referee to watch the stroke and adjudicate. He calls for a referee by raising his mallet in the air.

N.B.  You will observe that a referee will use plastic markers to mark the positions of the balls; this is simply because the balls have to be replaced in the event of the stroke being a fault. Coins should NEVER be used on the lawn in case they are inadvertently left and remain there when the lawns are next mowed, causing insurmountable damage to very expensive club lawnmowers.


    d). A player can, of course, voluntarily decide to end his turn at any time. If he finds himself in such a
         position that he has gone as far as he wants to go with that ball or the only possible shots are difficult
         and if unsuccessful would leave the balls very favourably placed for his opponent, he will often
         choose to play safe by finishing his turn in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible for his
         opponent to be able to
start a break.


What do you mean by ‘wiring an opponent’?

-  One interesting and skilful tactical weapon is to interpose a hoop or the peg between two balls so that a
   direct shot from one ball is not able to hit either side of the other ball. This is called ‘wiring’ and, of
   course, has some resemblance to the art of snookering. It is, however, always disconcerting to find that
   your opponent has left your two balls wired from each other either side of HIS next hoop. Whichever
   ball you elect to play, you are bound to leave the other near to his hoop. His own two balls will have
   been left in the furthest corner conveniently near to one another. Your only course is to try a long shot at
   him if you do not want him to benefit from this position.


Is there any limit to the number of hoops a player can make in one turn?

-  No, a player can, if he wishes, make all twelve hoops but this is usually only done when the second ball
    has previously made its twelve hoops, in which case it can be pegged out thus leaving himself with one
    ball. However, a player who is left with only one ball on the lawn and a number of hoops to make is
    seriously disadvantaged for he must hit one of his opponents balls in order to get a break going and this
    is very difficult against an opponent who can skilfully hide behind hoops and make it impossible or, at
    best, very difficult.

    The most likely course in a first class game is for the first ball to be taken through the first nine hoops after
    which the player will lay-up in such a way as to give the opponent a long shot only.


What is a ‘lift’ shot?

-  Very good players are able to go round the lawn and run all 12 hoops in one turn, should they so desire. Such people prefer to play to advanced level rules in order to give the opponent a chance otherwise the game would be over very quickly should a player then take his second ball right the way round and peg out both balls in his next turn.

    In Advanced Level Play, if a player goes through either of the 7th (1-back) or the 10th hoop (4-back) it gives the opponent the choice of starting his next turn with a ‘lift’. A ‘lift’ allows the player to pick up either of his two balls and to play it from any position he chooses on either baulk line. This makes it more difficult to lay up safely at the end of a turn – but it does at least give the opponent a chance of hitting in and starting a break.

    There is another rule in Advanced Level Play such that when a ball goes through the 10th hoop in the same turn as it goes through the 7th hoop this automatically gives his opponent the considerable advantage of being allowed to start his next turn by picking up either of his balls and putting it in contact with any other ball on the lawn. In effect, starting his turn with a croquet stroke. This is tantamount to handing the initiative over to your opponent. So serious is this disadvantage that very, very rarely will a player accord it to his opponent by running the 7th and 10th hoops with his first ball in the one break.

    The existence of the rules which give a ‘lift’ or ‘contact’ has created the skill of peeling.

-  Whenever a player enters the lawn and finds himself ‘wired’ from all the other balls (see Question 10. above) as a result of his opponent being responsible for the position of the balls, then that player is entitled to a ‘lift’ and may play it from any position he chooses on either baulk line, should he so desire (as per above).


What is ‘peeling’?

-  As you are aware, it is a perfectly legitimate exercise to use the ball with which you are playing to hit
    another ball (friend or foe) through its hoop. This is usually done in the croquet stroke, although a ball
    can also be peeled through its hoop by being roqueted through. When a ball is ‘peeled it scores its point
    for that hoop and the clip is moved on to the next hoop.

   A very attractive and highly skilled manoeuvre is often attempted in the first class game – this is the process of peeling your partner ball through its last three (or more) hoops whilst you are taking your second ball around the course. The ‘perfect’game is one in which a player makes nine hoops with his first ball and then lays up; his opponent hits in, makes nine hoops and then lays up himself; the first player hits in, makes all 12 hoops and the peg whilst peeling his partner ball through its last 3 hoops causing it to hit the peg, thus winning in two turns.

-  Of course, you can also peel your opponent through his hoops and some exciting games result from peeling your opponent’s ball through its last 3 hoops and pegging it out, thus leaving him with only one ball – which, as has already been said, is a disadvantage to him.


Do players ‘concede’ when they are far behind, as in snooker?

-  This does not happen. Association Croquet is a remarkable game in that no game is lost until your
   opponent has made 26 points so that there is no such thing as a hopeless position. Some of the most
   exciting games arise when a player who has not yet scored suddenly gains the initiative from an
   opponent who ahs made 24 or 25 points. Many games have been won from this position.