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What is Croquet?

Snooker on grass?
Croquet is a game that can be played by all ages, with men and women competing on equal terms. A handicapping system also ensures that beginners can play experts and enjoy an even match.

The modern game of Association Croquet has many similarities to snooker, and indeed has sometimes been referred to as snooker on grass. The most obvious thing it shares with snooker is the idea of striking a ball so that it hits another ball to make it go to a particular place. But it also shares some of the less obvious things, like the concepts of a break, in which more than one point is scored in a turn, and safety shots, in which a player will simply try to make things difficult for the opponent rather than try something difficult himself.

Whereas in snooker compiling a decent-sized break is not easy, a good club croquet player will be able to score a significant break if the balls are well set up. The player’s difficulty is in getting the balls set up into a good position in the first place. It is worth noting here that although the largest break under normal circumstances is 12 hoops, this is likely to need 80 or more shots.

The object of Association Croquet
The object of croquet is to put your balls through the hoops in a particular order (see diagram) and then hit the centre peg with them before your opponent does so with his/hers balls. The winner scores 26 points (one for each ball through its course of hoops and one for hitting it on to the centre peg). The loser scores anything from 0 to 25.

One player has the red and yellow balls and the other the blue and black. (In order that two games can be played at once on the same lawn, a secondary set of colours is used, green and brown playing pink and white).

The players take it in turns to play, as in snooker, with the “outplayer” sitting on the sidelines waiting for the opponent to finish either by making a mistake or by playing a safety shot.

At the start of a turn a player may play whichever of his two balls he/she likes. A turn consists basically of one shot, but just as in snooker, a player can earn extra shots. In snooker there is only one way to do this (by potting a ball of the right colour) but in croquet there are two quite different ways of earning extra strokes: by hitting your ball through its hoop or by making your ball hit one of the others – a “roquet”.

Roquets and Croquets
A “roquet” is made when a player makes his/her ball hit one of the others. He/she earns two extra strokes by making a roquet: a “croquet” and a “continuation” shot.

When he has made a roquet the player picks up the ball he/she has been playing (let’s say red) and puts it down in contact with the ball he/she has roqueted (let’s say blue) wherever it has come to rest. He/she follows this with a croquet stroke in which he again hits red with his/her mallet, moving both red and blue.

He/she takes one further shot called a continuation stroke, in which he/she may either run his hoop or else make another roquet. However a player cannot go like this forever, because he/she is not allowed to roquet the same ball again until either he/she has run his/her hoop or his/her opponent has had a turn.

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