GAMES WE PLAY
Basic explanation of how croquet as a game works. Come and make yourself known at our club if you want a live demonstration!
CROQUET – A Game To Play
At Waimarie Hutt Valley we play two main forms of croquet. The older is Association Croquet (AC). The younger is Golf Croquet (GC). Generally, new members will start with the faster, simpler GC.
Here is a basic overview of the two forms of the game, but we are always open and invite you to come on down and give it a go. We hope the explanations can give you an idea of how the games work, but there's no substitute for grabbing a mallet, hitting a ball, and giving it a go!
As the explanations below are meant to be just a basic overview of the game, there is so much more finer details and tactics our members would be more than happy to show you!
So first things first, what ball will you be hitting? There are four main colours- Blue, Red, Black, Yellow. Blue & Black go together as partners, as do Red & Yellow. Balls are hit sequentially Blue-Red-Black-Yellow and so alternates between pairings. One way to keep track in-game is the centre peg- if you look to the left, you can see that colour order going down the peg.
The game can be played as both a singles and a doubles, so in singles you play two balls (Blue & Black or Red & Yellow) while in doubles you have one ball throughout the game and your partner has the other. Both Singles and Doubles keeps the Blue-Red-Black-Yellow sequential order.
However, if you've noticed the peg on the right you'll notice there are four colours underneath the aforementioned four- Green, Pink, Brown, White. Like those above it, these colours are played in the same order as the Main Colours, and are used when two games are being played on the same lawn. One way to remember the order of these colours is as off-colours of the main ones
Blue=Green ; Red=Pink ; Black=Brown ; Yellow=White
Now that we've sorted what ball to hit, where will we be going? Golf Croquet starts in the corner with the yellow flag. Flags won't always be put out, so remember it as the corner that means going the long way to go straight in front of the blue hoop.
From there, the order can be remembered as around the outside four hoops and up the middle in a natural flow, then around the outside four hoops again before once more going up the middle in the same kind of natural flow- it's straight down for even hoops or going across for odd hoops, as can be seen on the two images to the left.
To remember which way to go when doing the reverse hoops, just remember that it starts on the same side as the first hoop (the one with the blue top), so closest hoop going left.
However, there is one exception to the natural flow- the 13th
Why the exception? Golf Croquet is played as first to 7 hoops, so the 13th is outside of the normal rule because it serves as a tiebreaker. To remember which is the 13th, bear in mind that hoop 13 goes through same as the third, so 13=3.
A hoop is scored when either ball from a pair goes through a hoop the right way. This hoop counts for the pair as a whole, and all four balls move onto the next hoop once a hoop has been scored whilst keeping the order (e.g. if Red scores a hoop, Black will be next to play). Once a pair has reached 7 hoops, they have won the game. If a game is timed, whoever is leading when the timer goes has won. Should a game be tied when the timer goes, whoever scores the next hoop wins the game (although non-competition games may allow for ties). A timed game will generally be between 40 minutes and an hour, so that's about how long a game should be expected to go on for.
These are the basics of GC, but be sure to come along if you would like to learn more about how the game works!
So, what balls do you hit in Association Croquet? While Blue & Black and Red & Yellow are still paired together respectively and play still alternates between the two pairings, unlike Golf Croquet there is no set sequential order the four balls must be hit in. A coin toss winner can decide whether to go first or second, and their opponent(s) then choose whether to use Blue & Black or Red & Yellow. Even if the coin toss winner chooses to go first, the opponent(s) can choose Blue & Black. Once all four balls have been played for the first time, a person (in Singles) or pair of people (Doubles) can choose to play either of their balls, and it is important to note in doubles that each person only plays the ball they started with. Also important to note that unlike GC, there is only one person playing on the lawn for an AC game, as will be explained below.
For starting an AC game, two things need to be explained- A/B Baulk, and the yardline. A Baulk refers to the boundary from the Green Flag going along to the middle of the boundary line level with the red hoop, while B Baulk is the mirror image at the other end going from the middle of the boundary line to the corner with the other Green Flag. Flags will be Blue & Black respectively in real life, but are green here to show baulks.
Play starts for each of the four balls from either of these two baulks (it's up to the player of each ball which one they choose). However, also notice a line infield from the flags going around the court. This line is an imaginary one, and it is called the 'yardline', so called because it is a yard from the boundary. A player must measure their ball in a yard from the baulk on the boundary before starting. The yardline will come up again, so its purpose will become clearer.
All four balls are now on the lawn, so what happens now? The important thing to remember is Roquet-Croquet-Continuation. Roquet means hitting another (live) ball. Once that happens, 'croquet' can be taken. This means placing your ball in such a way that it touches the ball you roqueted. From here a number of 'croquet shots' can be taken, and the main ones are:
Once a Croquet Shot has been taken, there is one more shot- the continuation. This can be used to roquet another ball, run a hoop, or do a leave.
And now we get to scoring hoops. Unlike GC, each ball must go through each hoop as opposed to everyone moving on once one ball has gone through a hoop. Until your ball has gone through a hoop, the other three balls can only be used for a Croquet Shot once, and become 'dead' once used. After you have run a hoop, all balls become 'live' again and once more can be used once for a Croquet Shot until another hoop is run. Hoops go around and must be run in the same order as GC, although some terminology is different. Hoops 7, 8, 9, and 10 are called 1-Back, 2-Back, 3-Back, and 4-Back respectively, while Hoops 11 and 12 are called Penult and Rover respectively (think 'penultimate hoop' and 'red rover').
Once 12 hoops have been run, the last point is the peg out, where you hit the middle peg with your ball. Once this has been done, the ball is taken out of the game, hence 'peg out.' As this must be done with both balls, 26 is a winning score. However, games also generally have time limits of between 2 and a half and 3 hours, so that's about how long a game should be expected to go for. When the timer goes, the person on the lawn can finish their turn and an opponent off it has one more turn, and the ball pairing leading after that wins the game. Should a game still be tied, whoever scores the next hoop wins the game (although non-competition games may allow for ties).
And the final paragraph bringing everything above together- the Four Ball Break. Let's say you have your ball in front of the hoop, a ball close by, a third ball in the middle, and a fourth ball at the next hoop- that's a Four Ball Break. Here's how it works:
- Roquet the close ball
- Do a croquet shot that puts your ball in good position to run the hoop and the other ball behind it
- Run the hoop
- Roquet the close ball again,
- Do another croquet shot that puts your ball in the middle and other ball near what will now be the hoop after the one you're up to- your Pioneer as it's the pioneering ball at the next hoop
- Roquet the ball in the middle- this is the Pivot as it allows you to pivot around the lawn.
- Croquet Shot that leaves Pivot in the middle and your ball near ball at next hoop- the original Pioneer
- And from here it repeats. While not the only way to stay on the lawn and score a number of hoops in one turn, it is the most effective.
As mentioned at the top, this page is meant as an intro to the basics of croquet. If it has piqued your interest and feel like hitting a few balls and scoring a few hoops, be sure to head to Waimarie Hutt Valley Croquet Club!