In this Module you will learn:
Before the game the players toss. The winner selects either the choice of lead (to play first or second) or the choice of balls. The loser then chooses from the other option.
The First Four Turns
The first four turns of the game consist of the four balls being played onto the lawn. Each ball may be played in from any point on either the A or B baulk lines. Once a ball is played onto the lawn it may immediately, in that stroke, score hoops, make roquets, etc.
The Standard Opening
It is extremely unusual for a player to try and run the first hoop as they play their ball in during the first four turns. If they did and failed and their ball stopped at the hoop it would present an easy target for their opposition to roquet. There are many different types of openings (much like Chess) but the one termed the standard opening is as follows:
It would be nice to think that when you walked off the court at the end of a turn you had left all four balls just where you wanted them. On the whole this doesnt happen! However, some points worth considering are:
Balls Together: It is best not to leave your opponent an easy roquet. If possible you should ensure that their balls are left apart (how far depends on their roqueting ability) and well into the lawn, and that yours are together (within your roqueting distance) and near a yard-line.
Double Targets: When leaving your balls together ensure that they do not present themselves as a double target to either of your opponents balls. Even a gap of 23 balls between them can still give a useful target to aim at.
Balls Near Hoops: Try not to leave either (or both) your balls near a hoop that your opponent is for. If they roquet then they should have any easy hoop to make. Conversely, try to leave their balls at hoop(s) your balls are for.
Rush: If you cannot leave your balls near a hoop that you are for then try to arrange leaving one with a rush to its hoop.
Loading the Next Hoop But One (3-Ball Break)
If during the course of a turn you have the opportunity to load the next hoop but one you should do it. The ball loaded at the hoop is termed a pioneer. It will help because after you make the hoop you are for, you can simply roquet and take-off to the ball at that hoop. If you can, in addition, get a rush after making the hoop to the new next but one hoop you can continue making hoops in this fashion. This is called a 3-ball break.
For example, suppose you are for Hoop 1. You load a pioneer at Hoop 2, and then go and make Hoop 1. If you can get a rush to Hoop 3, and take-off to the pioneer at Hoop 2 then you can roquet it and make the hoop. Then get a rush to Hoop 4, take-off to the pioneer at Hoop 2, etc.
You will note that the getting a rush is the difficult part. You may be able to accomplish both the load of a hoop and going to the pioneer using a split croquet stroke, but it may be a long and difficult shot.
The 4-Ball Break
Bringing the fourth ball into play simplifies a break greatly. The pioneer is used in the same way as for the 3-ball break. But, in addition, you place a pivot ball somewhere near the peg.
After making a hoop, you simply roquet a ball. Then on the croquet stroke you load the next but one hoop while going to the pivot ball with a ½ roll, or similar. You roquet the pivot, and take-off to your pioneer. Having the pivot means you are playing straight line rolls and take-offs without trying difficult split shots, and all your shots are shorter.
The 4-ball break is the one to master, although you need to be able to play the 3-ball break as not all four balls may be easy to use in a game (one ball may be in a corner well away from you).