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by John Riches
Australian Correspondent


The Laws revision: what difference will it make?

 • STATE OF THE GAME #1: Identifying Flaws in the Laws
 • STATE OF THE GAME #4: Thirty-three changes and clarifications

Most croquet players will by now be aware that an international committee comprising laws people from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia are currently in the process of revising the Laws of Association Croquet. John Riches represents Australia on the committee. It is hoped that the changes will come into effect early in 1999.

Most of the proposed changes were accepted "in principle" when the committee met in Bunbury, Western Australia, during the World Championships in November of 1997. The final wording of the changed laws is still under discussion and as yet none of the changes is certain to go through; even after the committee reaches final agreement, the recommended changes still need to be accepted by each of the national associations.

We published a brief summary of 33 proposed changes (State of the Game #4 ), but readers have been asking for more information concerning the difference the changes will make in actual play.

To satisfy such curiosity, here are some hypothetical examples of situations where the revised laws, if accepted, will result in different rulings being given.

1. THE STRIKER ROQUETS TWO BALLS SIMULTANEOUS, then places his ball in contact with one of them, but changes his mind and wants to take croquet from the other.

PRESENT RULING: Unclear. Some would allow him to change his mind because under law 16 the roqueted ball has not been nominated until he takes croquet from it. Others would say that when he placed his ball in contact with one of the two balls he is deemed to have roqueted that ball and cannot change his mind.

NEW RULING: A player will be given the right to change his mind in all such situations until the stroke has been actually played.

2. THE STRIKER IS ENTITLED TO A "LIFT." He takes his ball to a baulk and places it in contact with a ball which is on the baulk line, then changes his mind and wants to play it from some other position on the baulk.

RULINGS: The same as for #1 above.

3. AT THE START OF HIS TURN the striker has his two balls in contact on the yardline. He picks up one of the balls, starts to place it for a croquet stroke, then changes his mind and wants to play the other ball.

PRESENT RULING: He cannot change his mind. By moving one of the balls he has nominated it as the striker's ball for that turn. If he replaces it and plays the other ball, he will have played a wrong ball and law 28(a) will apply.

NEW RULING: Law 28(a) will be deleted from the Laws. In such a situation the striker will not have committed any error. He may replace the ball he moved and play the turn with the other ball.

3. THE STRIKER HAS THREE BALLS IN CONTACT in the 4th corner at the start of his turn. He starts to arrange a cannon by picking up two of the balls and moving them, then changes his mind and wants to play the ball he has not yet moved.

PRESENT RULING: If one of the balls he picked up was a ball of his side, he has nominated it as the striker's ball, and has nominated the unmoved ball as the roqueted ball. He cannot change his mind.

NEW RULING: He can replace the balls and start again. The principle on which the proposed change is based is that there is no reason to prevent the player from changing his mind in such situations, as he cannot gain any unfair advantage by doing what he could have done in the first place anyway.

4. THE STRIKER BELIEVES HE IS ENTITLED TO A WIRING LIFT. The referee is called, looks at the situation and says that the striker's ball is not wired from one of the other balls. The striker is unwilling to accept the decision and asks the referee to perform a wiring test. The referee reluctantly agrees to perform the test and announces (to his surprise) that the ball is in fact wired, but the striker then says he does not want to take the wiring lift anyway.

PRESENT RULING: Unclear. Most say that the striker is not committed to take the lift merely because the referee has decided that he is entitled to do so. Others see law 48(b) as requiring the player to "claim" (= take ?) the lift, saying that if he did not intend to take it, then in asking for the test he was only wasting time.

NEW RULING: In all such situations the striker will be able to decide after the test has been performed whether or not he wishes to take any lift to which he is entitled.

5. THE STRIKER SHOOTS AT A YARDLINE BALL AND MISSES. When his ball is measured onto the yardline, the other ball prevents it from being placed in the position on the yardline nearest to where it went out. He asks where he is entitled to place it.

PRESENT RULING: He can place in on the yardline in contact with the ball that is already there on whichever side he chooses.

NEW RULING: In all cases where a ball has to be measured onto a yardline and is prevented by other balls from being placed in its correct position, it must be placed on the yardline in the position nearest to where it went out (or came to rest in the yardline area). The only time the striker will have a choice is when two positions are considered to be equally close to the correct position.

6. THE STRIKER HITS HIS RED BALL (A ROVER) INTO THE PEG, but it rebounds from the peg and hits the blue ball which had stuck in hoop 6, sending blue through its hoop. Is the hoop scored for the blue ball?

PRESENT RULING: No (law 15d).

NEW RULING: Yes. Until the pegged out ball comes to rest it is still in play and will be able to cause other balls to score hoop or peg points.

7. THE STRIKER IS ENTITLED TO A "LIFT", so he picks up his ball and instead of playing if from a baulk line he places it on the yardline near the 4th corner and rushes a ball from there into the lawn. What happens when the adversary points out that the ball should have been played from a baulk line?

PRESENT RULING: Once the stroke has been played it is too late to do anything about it. The opponent's only remedy was to realise what was happening and forestall the stroke. Since he failed to do so, the stroke was valid and the striker continues his turn.

NEW RULING: Instead of being handled under law 29(d), this situation will be handled under law 30 with a limit of claims "before the next stroke but one" (or "before the third stroke of the turn"). The same limit of claims will apply if the striker takes a "lift" which he is not entitled to, and plays his ball from a baulk line (present law 29b) before the error is discovered.

[Publication of information on proposed changes in the Laws permits the broadest possible critical review by croquet players around the world, to help ensure that the final wording is clear, inclusive, and unambiguous. You may direct your comments to:]

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