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Re-Languaging the rules

by Bob Alman
layout by Reuben Edwards
Posted May 15, 2017

RELATED LINKS:
The 2014 CA edition of the 2013 WCF Golf Croquet Rules, with embedded commentary
The Bamford text and response of the CA Golf Croquet Committee


When Egyptian players emerged from isolation from the rest of the croquet world at the end of the last century, they brought into the World Croquet Federation a hard-hitting, fast-action sport called Golf Croquet, which has now begun to overtake in global popularity the traditional Association Croquet long nurtured, developed, and mastered in the British Commonwealth countries. Finding common language will likely take years as the respective committees for each code begin a comprehensive review of every aspect of the two games. At first glance, it might seem that most single-ball rules and conventions--along with refereeing prescriptions--can be expressed with clarity and consistency. But often "the obvious remedy" does not work at all in real-game situations. And sometimes "simple solutions" turn out to make things worse instead of better.


The process of alignment has already begun with the English Croquet Association's commentaries embedded in their 2014 edition of the WCF rules, which is used by many local jurisdictions throughout the world. This article invites readers into a complex process illustrated by the beginnings detailed below.

When Reg Bamford--the first simultaneous world champion of both Association Croquet and Golf Croquet--prepared in late 2016 a lengthy and detailed proposal for the English Croquet Association's Golf Croquet committee, the proposed solutions were based on his own long history as a competitor and on discussions with many other players. He requested that the English committee should first consider and then adopt a revision of their own Golf Croquet rules which could then be considered by the WCF Golf Croquet Rules Committee.

Nanci Hunt and Bob Alman appeal to referee Jim Taylor in a stage-managed dramatization of a rules conundrum at the National Croquet Center. Bob Van Tassell art directed and shot the photo.

The English Croquet Association's Golf Croquet Committee, chaired by Martin French, carefully considered the Bamford proposal and responded to each of his suggestions in detail. Ian Burridge, a top-level player active in the CA in many roles, published the complete annotated Bamford proposal on the Nottingham Board. That document comprises the heart of this article.

New rules should work for everyone

As a top-level competitor, Bamford focused on fine points of wording and interpretation that seem to arise mostly in national and world championships--perhaps because so much attention is focused on them. But the typical club member and the vast majority of new croquet players around the world are mostly interested in having rules that are clear, unambiguous, and easy to follow. The committees who revise the rules should probably focus their attention on those players--the ninety-eight percent. Perhaps the top-level players can be addressed in the embedded "commentaries" which club players would be free to ignore.

The typical club player wants clear and simple rules.

In responding respectfully to Bamford, the English Croquet Association committee proposed to forward his suggestions and the committee's own recommendation in the form of a "base text" to the WCF Golf Croquet Committee. The complete Bamford text and their responses (published verbatim below) is now in the hands of that committee. All of this constitutes the start of a process of producing a WCF-authorized and approved version of Golf Croquet rules that could take three years to complete.

Players at the Sarasota Croquet Club pause in mid-game while Michael Alpert consults the official rules of Golf Croquet.

In responding respectfully to Bamford, the committee proposed to forward the suggestions and the English Golf Croquet Rule committee's own recommendation in the form of a "base text" to the WCF Golf Croquet Rules Committee. In addition to their base text, they appended the complete Bamford text and their responses (published verbatim below.) All of this constitutes the start of a process of producing a WCF-authorized and approved version of Golf Croquet rules that could take as long as three years to complete.

INTERPRETATIONS ARE LOCALIZED

The referee ruling in Liverpool might be completely different from the one in New South Wales--which makes debates on the Nottingham Board about Golf Croquet rules especially contentious. Chris Clarke of New Zealand illustrated with this comment about timed games: "I've played GC events with...

  1. four turns after time.
  2. Eight turns after time.
  3. No turns after time, allowing a draw.
  4. Play until the next hoop is scored, allowing a draw.
  5. Play until the next hoop is scored and then play another hoop if tied.
  6. No turns after time unless the score is tied, then play the next hoop.
  7. Nothing stated at all by the manager, who then made up something random."
The extensive commentary embedded in the English Association's version of the WCF rulebook summarized as "official rulings" problems and solutions confronted in the course of using and trying to apply the rules in tournaments. Martin French, former longtime Secretary-General of the WCF and currently chairman of the English Association's Golf Croquet Rules committee, described the aims of the WCF committee as:

1. Clarifying the rules so most of the Official Rulings are no longer needed;

2. Fixing the known problems, such as the Wrong Ball rule;

3. Simplifying the rules and using standard text for aspects common to AC and GC (e.g. the specification of courts, mallets and balls).

Virtually everyone agrees that the Golf Croquet rules are most in need of refinement, and should not wait until complete agreement can be hammered out between the two codes. That probably makes sense in more than one way: The Golf Croquet rules are newer and more raw than the AC rules; and the majority of new croquet players throughout the world are playing Golf Croquet, not Association Croquet.

Golf Croquet rules are far less refined than the AC laws.

French also noted, "While Golf Croquet rules have long been the purview of the World Croquet Federation, bringing the Association Croquet Laws Committee much more recently into the WCF prompted the creation of this statute last year: 'Where the Laws and the Rules cover similar subject matter which does not relate to the essential differences between the two games, the ACLC should co-operate with the GCRC to develop common wording.' A similar statute has been created for Golf Croquet.

Flaws revealed and resolved by refs in "real-life" games

Ultimately, the changes adopted by the WCF Golf Croquet Committee will be considered by the WCF AC Committee and presumably those "laws" for single-ball shots will be adjusted--or not--in the official "laws" of Association Croquet.

Neither the rules of Golf Croquet nor the laws of Association Croquet will ever be absolutely complete and perfect. Contradictions and conundrums will continue to be confronted by players and appealed to referees, constituting a major topic of conversation at the bar after the games--as welcome respite from debates on politics and religion.

Golf Croquet referees in New South Wales take a break. When more than one referee in a major event agree in resolving a quarrelsome dispute between players, the force and authority of their ruling can be multiplied.

Referees will still be called upon to exercise their judgement in their interpretation of the rules, filling in wherever the rules or laws appear to be incomplete or contradictory. And the referees will still be expected to apply fairness and common sense in their decision making. With those new "official rulings" and commentaries appended to a single globally acknowledged rulebook, however, those conversations should become even more interesting and refined.

We're now prepared to examine the current state of the conversation, as offered by the entire Bamford letter to the English Croquet Association's Golf Croquet Committee. The committee's detailed response is published in green throughout. In cases where the GC committee agrees with the Bamford proposal, the type is red. In cases where the committee is not sure or suggests an alternative approach, the text is blue.

THE BAMFORD LETTER TO THE ENGLISH GOLF CROQUET COMMITTEE AND THE GOLF CROQUET COMMITTEE'S RESPONSE (in green)

Association Croquet has had the benefit of many years of an effective feedback loop--a long playing history, learning, feedback and improvement--and seems to have reached the point where few rule changes are being considered. Golf Croquet rules, on the other hand, are in relative infancy, particularly after the Big Bang rule changes allowing jump shots and hoop points scored in multiple turns. It is now so widely played that several pressing rule issues are becoming more noticeable and need resolving.

In addition, there are several glaring differences between the rules of both games--for example, where a fault in one game is considered acceptable in the other. Given that there is already a degree of antagonism amongst the more passionate proponents of each game, anything that accentuates the differences between the two games should be avoided unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

As a player who plays and enjoys both versions of the game, and having done so at a high standard, I feel that I write from a position of experience, and with a simple objective--to make the rules simpler and more effective. I have set out several recommendations to change some of these GC rules (and their equivalent in AC), and I ask the English Croquet Association to consider these for adoption. Whilst getting international agreement for all these changes might take more time, it would seem possible for the English Croquet Association to lead the way by adopting some (or all) of these suggestions for use in their domain from the start of next season.

The CA has invested considerable effort both to arrive at internationally agreed AC laws and in creating the WCF. Aside from trialling a specific rule change where evidence is needed of its effects before we can persuade the WCF, there is no desire to diverge from the international rules, in the hope the rest of the world will later follow. What if it doesn't? Many of these proposals are in the realm of improvements rather than radical solutions to urgent problems--so the best approach is to put them to the WCF GCRC through the current Rules Review process. Some of the suggestions we felt were good ideas but would potentially complicate--rather than simplify--the rules.

I believe the following suggestions are not only beneficial to Golf Croquet, but that they can also benefit Association Croquet. Accordingly, these have been identified and separately listed below. In identifying the potential synergies, I do so for completeness of my argument. However, I would not want any consideration of AC matters to slow the progress towards the adoption of the ideas covering GC.

I am confident that all the areas mentioned need attention and I believe there to be some good and workable solutions in each case. Of course, it might be that you can refine the wording, or the ideas, or even come up with entirely different solutions to the matters raised. The important objective is that improvements are made in the areas mentioned and that this is done as effectively - and expeditiously - as possible.

Applying to Golf Croquet

1. Running a hoop with a jump shot, where a scoring clip falls off the hoop.

If a jump shot succeeds, but a scoring clip has not been removed and falls off in the shot, the hoop point is not scored.

There appears to be almost no advantage to be gained by the striker in having clips on the hoop (in fact, I'd probably argue it has the opposite effect). In addition, a genuine sense of injustice can be felt having played a challenging, all-or-nothing shot which is widely regarded as the game's signature shot, only for it judged as not counting.

I recommend that the point should be counted. However, it should be considered best practice that any scoring clips be removed from the hoop before the jump shot is attempted, just as it is in AC.

Re-arranging the clips on a hoop before a jump shot is attempted, and then leaving them on the hoop, should be considered as unsportsmanlike conduct.

Rule 9h and Official Ruling 9.1. The issue is not whether a scoring clip falls off the hoop, but rather if the jumping ball contacts a clip still attached to the hoop - in which case the point is not scored. When playing with clips, it is simple enough to remove the clips before attempting a jump. Removing a cut-and-dry rule and replacing it with "best practice" and "unsportsmanlike conduct" seems a retrograde step and a recipe for bad feeling between players. The current rule works and players cope with it--the need for the change is small. This change would complicate the current rules.

2. Stopping a ball played off the lawn

The stopping of a ball that is about to cross a boundary line is a fault if it occurs before the ball has crossed the line. This often occurs as a gesture of goodwill by an opponent to both speed up play and save the striker the time and hassle of fetching the ball.

I recommend that this is not a fault, as the punishment does not fit the crime and appears overly pedantic in a situation where there is no consequence. Given that the ball-boys in Cairo do this often without consequence, it seems incongruous that a player should be penalised for it.

However, if the final position of the ball is considered critical because of the proximity of another ball (and the resultant ability and probable intention of the opponent to stymie or block from close range) or the possibility of getting a wire or block as a result of its final position, then the striker (and not their opponent) should have the decision to place the ball as close to where the striker [believes that] it would have crossed the line.

Rule 12a. It would complicate the rules to have a different provision for a ball about to cross the boundary compared to elsewhere on the court.

A ball boy is not a player and can gain no advantage from anticipating where a ball will cross the line. If a player is in position to stop a ball just before it leaves the court, they are also in a position to stop it just after it leaves the court. So why not do that and avoid any problem? If felt necessary, the rule could be amended to permit players to agree that balls may be stopped before they leave the court in non-material situations. Insufficient justification for a change.

3. Deeming a ball's position

Deeming is not permitted and a shot has to be played.

It seems unnecessary to have to play a shot when a player doesn't want to. I recommend that a player can deem a shot to have been played, as they can in AC.

Rule 6b. We agree it would be less contrived to allow deeming than to have players wonder whether it is better to tap a ball on the top or touch it very gently at the side. However, it may mean that GC will need an impasse rule when both sides deem repeatedly.

Deeming was originally not allowed because of the difficulties when the players did not speak the same language--an option would be to allow tapping a ball on the top as the sign it was being deemed (and clarifying this is not regarded as a fault).

The CA will propose this change to the WCF Rules Review.

4. Playing whilst a ball is in motion

It is a fault to play a shot while another ball is still in motion.

I recommend that it should only be a fault if the stroke played is, or could have been, materially affected by the moving ball, or if a player persistently commits this offence. However, it should be considered best practice that a player does not play a shot while another ball is in motion.

Rule 13a14. The suggestion has four unattractive aspects:

(1) Making the Rules more complicated:

It would complicate the definition of the turn in 6(a) which would have to accommodate the next player starting their turn early and hence introduce the concept of overlapping turns and two strikers in existence at the same time. It would also be necessary to add wording to remove the permission if the ball played second interfered with the first ball or ran the next hoop (because it was struck harder and travelled faster) before the first ball followed it through the same hoop.

(2) Creating marginal decisions and creating discord:

The change would create the potential for marginal decisions where the player of the first ball claims that the second ball interfered with the first ball and the other player disagrees.

(3) Interaction with the near-simultaneous play Rule:

It would interact unhappily with the near-simultaneous striking situations currently covered by Rules 6(e) and (f). Consider a situation where the striker plays a very gentle shot (which will therefore only last a second or so) and the opponent plays at almost the same time Is this a situation covered by the near-simultaneous play rule (which is penalised) or by the exception to 6(a) which removes 13(a)(14) and hence is not penalised? The Rules should not create that sort of uncertainty.

(4) A different rule would be required for Handicap Play:

As the player who played first may have Extra Turns and is entitled to consider the situation once their ball has come to rest before deciding whether or not to take an extra turn, a different rule would be required for handicap play--something the Rules try to avoid.

Overall, we think there is insufficient benefit from this change, which would ripple out through several other rules. The gain in terms of time saved is trivial and the drawbacks as described above are significant The time a GC game takes is far more affected by the clearing skills of the players.

5. Offside

I feel that the offside laws can be improved and simplified. I recommend that:

  • Either player can, at any time, request clarification of whether a ball's position is legal or not;
  • Either player can elect, at any time, that an opponent's offside ball is moved to a penalty spot of their choice before that offside ball has played its shot in the correct sequence; AND

A replay of a shot can be requested by the opponent (and subject to the normal sequence of play rules) if;

  • the ball just played was in an offside position before the shot was played; AND
  • the opponent has not taken their next shot (i.e. after the shot of the offside ball), whether this is with the correct ball in sequence or not.

This avoids the situation where the opponent plays the next ball in sequence after the winning of a hoop, and is asked to replay the shot because their other ball is in an offside position. It also (potentially) penalises a shot played by the opponent where they play a ball that is offside (knowingly or unknowingly), except where the opponent subsequently plays their next shot.

This proposal appears to be an improvement--removing the occasional need to replay a ball which was onside anyway--but our discussion of it suggests it may not prove to be a simplification of the rules, as was hoped.

The first bullet is already in the rules, under 8b--no change. The second bullet relaxes the time limit in 10c1 for the opponent to direct an offside ball, changing it from "before they play their next ball" to "before the offside ball is due to be played next".

Take the "classic situation" where Bab scores hoop 1 with B so that R and K are onside for hoop 2 but Y is offside for hoop 2. Currently if Ray plays R without asking Bab where she wants Y and Bab then plays K without giving a direction about Y, Bab loses her right. Bullet point 2 would extend that right until just before Y is played.

Hence, in the classic situation, if Bab wakes up after Ray has played R and before Bab has played K, Bab can currently require that R be replayed. Given that R was onside, this seems illogical and is presumably in the rule to provide an incentive for Ray to behave properly and ask Bab where she wants Y before he plays R. Bullet point 2 overcomes the disadvantage that Bab currently suffers if she fails to direct Y before she plays K and so also removes the need for Ray to have that particular incentive.

Bullet point 3 then provides a quid pro quo in that an onside R may no longer be required to be replayed but, as a further incentive to Ray to behave properly, allows Bab to require a replay of the offside Y provided that Bab has not played her next turn after Ray has played Y. A really dozy Bab can still lose her right but that does not matter.

A disadvantage is that, in the classic example, it would allow Bab to delay deciding whether to make a direction of Y until she has seen the outcome of both R and K being played. So at present, she might direct Y to the East penalty spot--but then if K runs the distant hoop 2, Bab would now wish she had directed Y to the West penalty spot instead. Encouraging this "wait and see" approach would probably slow the decision-making process after a hoop is scored--which would be undesirable.

This requires further consideration--would an alternative improvement be to change the onus onto the owner of an offside ball to ask the oppo "where would you like Red?"?

6. Penalty Spot

There seems - in practice - to be no such thing as a "penalty spot". Players are positioning the ball "somewhere near" the penalty spot. Just like we have the concept of the starting area in and around Corner 4, I suggest that the a shot that must be played from the "Penalty Spot" is played from the "Penalty Area", which is defined as being within 1 yard of the "Penalty Spot".

I don't not think that a player should be penalised twice by being sent to the penalty spot, if it results in them being wired from a critical ball.

Rule 10c1. The existing requirement is to play from the penalty spot, not somewhere near it. An advantage of changing to "within a yard of" is that it will obviate the need to remove a marker peg actually in place on the penalty spot. A drawback is that, in the classic situation, where Y is directed to the PS, K can currently try and play to a spot wired from the PS. This proposal will prevent this being worthwhile. It would avoid the difficulty of precisely placing the ball in the absence of a PS marker.

There are pros and cons-but the CA is happy to promote the proposal to the WCF Rules Review to see if there is wider support for the idea.

7. Tie breaks in blocks

I recommend that the order in which the positions are determined in blocks--irrespective of the format of the matches in the block--is, in order of primacy, matches won, net games, play-offs (if time permits, at the discretion of the manager), net hoops, and who beat whom.

[This is] a GC Tournament Committee issue.

8. Producing a Draw after block play

Currently, there are numerous methods--Grade Based Seeding (GBS), Block Based Seeding, (BBS), Block Seniority Method (BSM), amongst others--by which to produce a GC Draw.

I recommend that:

  • If possible, the results of block games are used to determine qualifying players' grades. In the absence of up-to-date grades, then the latest grades of those qualifying players be used, even if they exclude the block games; AND
  • A "Best Practice" method of determining positions in the Draw is adopted, and that this is stated in the CA Tournament regulations in order that all managers use the same approach.

I would strongly recommend that seeding the knockouts is not done based solely on the positions from the blocks, as it can:

  • reward "tanking" or deliberately throwing a block game,
  • result in an unbalanced draw.

[This is] a GC Tournament Committee issue.

Applying to both Association and Golf Croquet

I feel that there is an opportunity to consolidate both AC and GC rules that apply in the following circumstances:

9. Over the Line

In AC, a ball is judged to have gone out when any part of the ball hangs over the inside edge of the boundary line. In GC, a ball is judged to have gone out when the centre of the ball hangs over the inside edge of the boundary line.

Make this consistent across both games, by selecting one method. My personal recommendation would be to use the AC method, on the basis that:

  • Hoop points are judged by looking at the edge of a ball, not the middle; AND
  • My instinct tells me that judging a ball's position is more accurately done by looking at the edge of a ball, rather than its middle.

Rule 7. AC needs the precision of comparing the edge of the ball, which is a point, to the inner border of the immediately adjacent boundary because the decision will affect the fate of the innings and probably a break and possibly the game and match. Using the middle of the ball would be less precise and be more prone to causing arguments and discord.

GC does not have this sensitivity but it could adopt the AC approach without problem. It would be necessary to also amend the position of a ball replaced on a boundary to that where the boundary side of the ball was just touching the inner border of the boundary (interestingly, the current rules don't specifically define where a ball is to be replaced!).

There is a clear advantage in converging on the AC law (assuming that, in GC, balls are to be replaced where they first went off the court) in the case of string boundaries, or lined ones where the line is not at the same level as the court or there are obstacles just outside it. The CA will propose this alignment to the WCF GC Rules Review.

10. Fresh-air shots, touching or feathering a ball or accidently clipping a ball while casting.

In GC, any contact with the ball is considered to be shot, irrespective of whether it occurs during the striking period or whether the ball is in a critical position or not. In addition, a fresh-air shot is not considered to be a shot. In AC, any accidental contact with the ball, irrespective of the circumstances, is not a fault, the ball is replaced, and the striker continues in play. In addition, a fresh-air shot is considered to be a shot, and the turn ends.

I recommend that both AC and GC adopt the following:

  • Where a fresh-air shot is played with the intention of striking the ball, then this constitutes a shot and the player's turn is deemed to have been played and their turn comes to an end.
  • Where a ball is deemed critical (its position is critical because of wiring or blocking, or where the proximity of another ball or hoop makes the direction and nature of the shot a hampered shot, or the ball has been marked by a referee for any reason), then any feathering or touching of that ball is considered to be end of turn.
  • Where a ball is not deemed critical (its position is not critical with respect to wiring or blocking, or the lack of proximity of another ball or hoop makes it an unhampered shot, and the ball has not been marked by a referee), then any feathering or touching of that ball is not considered to be end of turn and can be replayed without penalty from its original position.

Rule 6. This proposal complicates the current GC position by a) introducing the notion of "intention", b) making "criticality" a factor in the outcome and remedy.

That said, it has been suggested before that in GC unintentionally clipping the top of a ball that a player intends to strike should not constitute a stroke, if only because the Egyptians usually ignore it or play "tap-a-ball" until the clipper's turn comes round again. It would not be difficult to amend the definition of a stroke in Rule 6(a) to import the accidental contact exemption in AC Law 5(h) in relation to the ball that the player intends to strike. This would unite AC and GC in this respect. We are happy to propose this to the WCF GCRC in the Rules Review.

An unintended consequence of combining proposal #3 with the first bullet about air shots, would be if the impasse rule introduced some limits on "deemed turns", then deliberate air shots would allow the player to escape the limits.

11. Making contact with a ball

Any contact with a ball (other than the striker's ball in the striking period) is a fault in GC, while it is not a fault in AC. Examples in GC include a) the accidental stepping on a ball or b) picking up a ball in the belief that it is an offside ball when it is in fact not.

I recommend that, in both GC and AC, this is not a fault, unless the position of the ball is in a critical position (involved in a wire or block, or close to a hoop or another ball), in which case, it becomes a fault and results in a loss of turn.

Rule 12a. The current GC situation is clear-cut. This change would make it less so. Picking up a ball incorrectly believing it to be offside is not an obvious common problem. There seems little benefit in this change.

Accidental contact with a ball in GC will usually happen when the players do not know whether the affected ball was in a critical position. It might be close to being wired from a ball it needs to clear but not actually wired.

We don't think the GC rule would work in AC, because of there are many more cases where balls need to be re-positioned between strokes in AC, and hence scope for moving a ball incorrectly.

One possible way of unifying the codes, though at the cost of introducing intention, would be to say that accidentally touching a ball (other than the striker's ball when attempting a stoke, see 10 above) would be a fault, but deliberately doing so, even if unlawfully or mistakenly, would not. However, the cure might be worse than the disease in this case.

12. Lawn damage

Lawn damage can be considered a fault in GC and AC in certain circumstances. From my experience, lawn damage is quite rare and when it does happen, the turf can be quickly and easily fixed. Here is an opportunity to converge the ruling in both games (GC and AC).

I recommend that, in both GC and AC, lawn damage should only be a fault if it is:
a. significant damage (to be defined and applied in both codes);
b. caused by the mallet head striking the ground; AND
c. intentional or was inevitable given how the shot was played.

Rule 13a15. Bullets a & b are already covered by the existing rule. The problem with the last part of c is that this is exactly the question: "Was it inevitable"? But how do you apply it consistently? Was a powerful boundary jump stroke on a wet lawn "inevitably" going to cause lawn damage if the mallet touches the grass? That's a matter of opinion

(c) is close to how the AC law used to be before the 2008 revision: "deliberately plays a stroke in a manner in which the mallet is likely to and does cause substantial damage to the court.". It was felt to be unenforceable and so was changed to one specifying specific types of stroke in which damage could be faulted.

We need to train refs better about what constitutes "significant damage" and the current GC refs course now covers this. We also want to avoid the NZ approach that any scuffing of the grass by the mallet is always a fault.

13. Winning the Toss

In GC, the winner of the toss at the beginning of a match defaults to Black and Blue and takes first play with Blue. This gives Black and Blue an immediate advantage, as they have first play to Hoop 1. This advantage is even more significant in a best-of-1 game.

In AC, the winner of the toss can elect colours or whether to take play (or second play). The opponent can then make their own election. Neither player gets a material advantage.

I recommend that in both GC and AC, the winner of the toss can elect colours or whether to take play (or second play). The opponent can then make their own election.

Rule 5a. While some stats produced a few years ago seemed to show there was little actual advantage in winning the toss, nonetheless most GC players believe there is an advantage in going first. The current GC rule is simple, especially when introducing new players. Surely, as at present in GC the toss-winner is rewarded with the putative advantage of going first, if instead you gave them the option of going first or choosing colours, everyone but an idiot would choose to go first? There seems no practical benefit from this change.

In AC, it is not clear there is "no material advantage" in going first or second - it seems 90% plus of AC players choose to go first and at least get the first chance to decide whether to shoot at a ball (in turn 3) with a realistic reak possibility. So there seems some justification for the difference between the two codes.

14. 1 FIRST SHOTS OF A MATCH

I recommend that in both GC and AC (including all forms of AC, like Super-Advanced and 14 Point):

  • After the first shot of a match, the opponent (i.e. the player playing second) can then make an election:
  • * Play their own shot with one of their own balls (and their correct ball in sequence in GC); OR
  • Elect to take over the ball played first by the opponent (i.e. the first shot played into the match) as their own, the players effectively swap colours, and the opponent then plays the second shot of the match with the correct ball.

14.2 FIRST SHOT OF A SUBSEQUENT GAME

The players keep the same balls that they played in the previous game. The loser of the previous game elects to play first or second, and play continues accordingly

My recommendation:

  • removes any material advantage given to the player winning the toss.
  • converges (to a large extent) the starting protocol of both games; AND
  • adds an interesting tactical element to the start of the match.

If this suggestion is adopted, then the ruling in Super Advanced requiring the first ball to be played off the lawn (or to make contact with a hoop or peg) can be scrapped.

Rule 5. 14.1 removes any incentive or reward in GC to try to get a well-positioned ball at hoop 1, having won the toss. Taking over the position after the first turn is too complicated to be the standard rule in either game. Top class GC games are getting longer as players get better at clearing--the last thing we need is longer duels at hoop 1. This is especially the case when double-banking, as it is usual for one pair to wait for the other pair to clear hoop 1 before starting their game. Managers are unlikely to approve of this idea for this reason.

14.2 has more merit--if there is any doubt that going first in GC is an advantage, then give the previous game loser the option of going first in the next. But "everyone" will surely prefer to go first anyway--just as in #13 the toss winner was said to have an "immediate advantage". So this rule change wouldn't actually result in any change of outcome. In which case, leave it alone.

Reg Bamford
November 2016

CROQUET WORLD wishes to thank Reg Bamford, Ian Burridge, Martin French, and the entire English Croquet Association Golf Croquet Committee for taking on this issue in a serious way, guided by an organized process targeted for completion within a few years to produce more refined rules that will serve everyone well, from novice club players to top-level competitors in major events.


 
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