A Synopsis of Association Croquet
Association Croquet is a game played on a court measuring up to 35 by 28 yards, laid out as in the diagram. The game consists of a series of turns, each of one or more strokes, which are played by hitting a stationary ball with a mallet. There are four balls: one side has Blue and Black and the other Red and Yellow (or Green and Brown versus Pink and White).
The game can be played as singles, in which each player has two balls, or one of two forms of doubles: traditionally, each player plays with a particular ball throughout the game; alternatively, the partners play alternate strokes. Each ball must run a set course, as shown in the diagram, going through each hoop twice in a specific order and direction and then hitting the peg. The side which first completes this course with both its balls wins the game. Thus the winning side has 26 points to score (12 hoop points and the peg point with each ball). Shortened games, with a reduced number of hoops, can be played.
A ball scores a hoop point when it passes through its next hoop in order ('runs a hoop'), which can be done in one or more strokes. The point is scored whether the ball is struck directly by the player or by another ball. Clips coloured to match the balls are placed on the hoops or peg to indicate the next point for each ball. The clips are placed on the crown of a hoop for the first six hoops and on the side of the hoop for the last six.
The sides take alternate turns. In the first four turns the four balls are played from one of the starting lines ('baulk lines') at each end of the court. There is no strict order of playing the balls. Once the four balls are on the court a side chooses which of its two balls its player, known as the striker, shall play in each turn. The chosen ball, known as the striker's ball, is then played throughout that turn.
A turn consists initially of one stroke only, but extra strokes can be earned in two ways:
- If the striker's ball runs a hoop, the striker is entitled to another ('continuation') stroke with that ball from where it lies.
- If the striker's ball hits another ball ('makes a roquet'), the striker's ball is said to become a 'ball in hand' and is placed in contact with the roqueted ball and then struck so that the other ball moves or shakes ('takes croquet'). After this the striker is entitled to one further stroke ('a continuation stroke') with the striker's ball from where it lies.
A ball that may be roqueted is known as a 'live' ball; one from which croquet has already been taken, a 'dead' ball. The striker must not attempt to take croquet from a dead ball; if this occurs, the turn ends. When a new turn is started, and on each occasion the striker's ball runs its hoop in order, all the balls become live again.
The striker's ball may roquet and thus take croquet from each of the other three balls in succession in any turn; each time it runs a hoop it may repeat this process. Thus, by a combination of taking croquet and running hoops, a series of points can be scored in a turn ('making a break'). A turn ends when the side has made all the strokes to which it is entitled; if a ball is sent off the court when taking croquet; or a fault is made as defined in the Laws. A turn does not necessarily end if a ball is sent off the court in any stroke other than when taking croquet.
At the end of each stroke any ball which has been sent off the court is placed a yard inside the boundary ('on the yard-line') nearest to where it went off, and any ball lying between the boundary and the yard-line, except the striker's own ball, is also replaced on the yard-line. When a ball has scored its last hoop point ('becoming a Rover ball') it can score the peg point either by the player hitting it onto the peg or by being hit onto the peg by another Rover ball. The ball is thus 'pegged-out' and removed from the court.
The game of Association Croquet is in essence a tactical struggle with each side trying to manoeuvre both its own and its opponent's balls to make points for its balls whilst restricting the opponent's chances of doing the same by careful positioning of the balls at the end of its turn.
Various publications for both the beginner and more advanced player can be purchased from the shop. The full laws of Association Croquet are available on this site, as is a simplified basic set of laws and the official Garden Croquet Rules.