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Handicap Guidelines: Automatic Changes to Handicaps (the AHS)

The Automatic Handicapping System (AHS) is the principal method by which handicaps are changed.

Starting Indices

All players carry forward their index from season to season. When a player's handicap is altered outside the AHS, their index is reset to the trigger point corresponding to that handicap [see Tables 3 and 4 below].

Qualifying Games

Games Played Within the Croquet England Domain

All singles games in Croquet England Calendar Fixtures, Federation Leagues, inter-club contests, and Designated Club Competitions qualify for the system (excluding One-Ball and Short Croquet). See also

Designated Club Competitions are competitions for which all the following apply:

  1. run by Croquet England Affiliate Clubs
  2. hoops set to Croquet England Tournament standard
  3. clearly publicised prior to the start of the tournament as consisting of qualifying games.

Short croquet, One-ball, golf croquet, doubles, friendly games within a club, ad hoc games and abandoned games are specifically excluded from the system.

Friendly matches between clubs are included in the system unless both clubs agree prior to the start of the match that the games will not be included.

The Tournament Handicapper must assign a handicap to each player who is not a Croquet England associate prior to the start of the player's first event in the Domain.

Games Played Outside the Croquet England Domain

  1. In countries with an equivalent automatic handicap system, all singles games are included
  2. In countries without an equivalent automatic handicap system
    1. All handicap singles games are included
    2. Level games are included where the non-associate has a World Ranking Grade greater than 1600. The player's handicap must be estimated using the World Ranking Grade as a guide.

Index Changes: Handicap Play

For all qualifying games, a player's index increases by 10 for each win and decreases by 10 for each loss.

Full-bisque, advanced-handicap and bisque-difference games are treated the same way by the AHS.

Index Changes: Level Play

The change to each player's index is calculated from Table 1 using the number of steps difference between their handicaps.

A step is two bisques from handicap 12 upwards, one bisque between handicaps 5 and 12, and half a bisque between handicaps 0 and 4½. For minus handicaps, use Table 2 first to calculate the step difference. These rules apply to both ordinary level and level-advanced games.

Example 1: Roy (handicap 3) and Bab (handicap 14) play each other in a 26-point qualifying game. There is a 12-step difference between their handicaps. Thus, if Roy wins his index increases by 1 and Bab's index decreases by 1. However, if Bab wins her index increases by 19 and Roy's index decreases by 19.

Example 2: Roy (handicap -1½) and Bab (handicap 0) play each other in a 26-point qualifying game. There is an 8-step difference between their handicaps. Thus, if Roy wins his index increases by 3 and Bab's index decreases by 3. However, if Bab wins her index increases by 17 and Roy's index decreases by 17.

Table 1: Level play index changes for 26-point, 22-point and 18-point games
Handicap Steps Difference Index Change
Higher Handicap Wins Lower Handicap Wins
0 10 10
1 11 9
2 12 8
3 13 7
4 14 6
5 15 5
6 16 4
7 or 8 17 3
9 or 10 18 2
11 or more 19 1
Table 2: Notional steps for minus handicaps
Handicap 0 to -½ -½ to -1 -1 to -1½ -1½ to -2 -2 to -2½ -2½ to -3
Notional steps 2 3 3 4 4 5

Handicap Changes under the AHS

Whenever a player's index is on or past a trigger point for a handicap change [see Table 3] their handicap changes accordingly at the end of that day except that all games within an event should be played off the same handicap. However, note Regulation H1(a), which states that for tournaments that run over several weeks, such as the Longman Cup or Mary Rose, each round counts as a separate tournament for the purpose of triggering a handicap change.

If a tournament (other than at a Croquet England Calendar Fixture) lasts no more than four days then a handicap change can only be triggered at the end of the Tournament.

Within a Croquet England Calendar Fixture, if one event is played to a finish before a separate event is started then a handicap change can be triggered at the end of the first event. However, if several events overlap a handicap change can only be triggered at the end of the Tournament.

Croquet England Associates are required to update their handicaps in the Subscribers' Area of the website - the office is not responsible for this. Players who do not have the means to do this should contact their club secretary.

Table 3: Handicap and index trigger points
Handicap Index Handicap Index Handicap Index
-3 3050 2 1800 9 1300
-2½ 2800 1750 10 1250
-2 2600 3 1700 11 1200
-1½ 2400 1650 12 1150
-1 2250 4 1600 14 1100
2100 1550 16 1050
0 2000 5 1500 18 1000
½ 1950 6 1450 20 950
1 1900 7 1400 22 900
1850 8 1350 24 850

When a trigger point is reached at the end of a day then the handicap will change. A player's handicap changes when they reach a trigger point for a handicap that is different from the handicap they currently have. For example, if your handicap is 7, the trigger point to move to 6 is 1450. The trigger point to move to 8 is 1350.

If a player reaches a trigger point and their handicap changes, it cannot immediately change back again as a result of the next couple of games. For example, if a 7-handicap player with an index of 1440 wins 10 points from a handicap game, their index becomes 1450, the trigger point for 6. Once the handicap has changed, that player would then have to lose a nett 5 games (i.e. 50 points) for their index to drop down to 1400 before they again reach the trigger point for 7, and so became handicap 7 again.

Handicap Record Card

All players who compete in qualifying games are required to record their results on an official handicap card. Players should bring their handicap cards to all tournaments in which they play. See the example for an illustration of how to complete a handicap card.

Index Change Lookup Table

Table 4 summarises the information presented in the handicap system description and provides a simple lookup for all level-play games: the intersection of the winner's and loser's handicaps shows the number of index points that change hands.

Table 4: Index Change Lookup Table

Winner's
h/c

Loser's handicap
5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 -0.5 -1 -1.5 -2 -2.5 -3
5 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 17 18 18 19 19 19 19 19 19
4.5 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 17 18 19 19 19 19 19 19
4 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 17 18 19 19 19 19 19
3.5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 19 19 19 19
3 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 19 19 19 19
2.5 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 18 19 19 19 19
2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 19 19 19
1.5 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 19 19 19 19
1 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 17 18 19 19 19
0.5 2 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 16 18 19 19 19
0 2 2 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 15 17 19 19 19
-0.5 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 13 16 18 19 19
-1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 7 10 13 17 19 19
-1.5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 7 10 14 17 19
-2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 6 10 14 18
-2.5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 6 10 15
-3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 5 10

David Harrison-Wood has also produced a single-page guide to the AHS that can be kept alongside your handicap card.