Platinum Merit Award Badge announced for a Sextuple Peel
More people than ever before are trying to do the sextuple peel, previously only in the armoury of top international players like Robert Fulford and Reg Bamford. Since the WCF World Championship was last held in England at Hurlingham, the standard of play of A-class players has increased significantly, and this is shown by the number of triple peel victories being achieved, and the likelihood that failure to complete the triple will lead to defeat. Players like David Maugham set out to learn the mechanics of the sextuple, and, as has been seen in many sports over many years, once a feat becomes regularly achievable, everybody with ambition to improve wants to try to achieve it.
Because the CA Merit Award Scheme was designed to recognise improvement, it itself has to improve to take account of the increasing level of skill. So, with effect from 1 March 2004, a newly designed "Platinum Award" badge is being introduced, as a reward for the player's achievement of his or her first sextuple peel.
This adds to the family of badges that players may be awarded as their skill level increases, the original three being designed to be a tangible indicator of progress towards becoming an A-class player. The conditions are the same for all four.
The match has to be a singles game, in one of the recognised CA Calendar Tournaments or competitions, or in a representative event, with hoops set correctly. You also have to win the match to qualify for any of the Awards.
The Bronze Badge is awarded for making a ten-hoop break, using bisques if necessary. This is your target once you have grasped the idea of using your bisques to build and continue a break, therefore starting to attack opponents positively and confidently.
The Silver Badge comes at the point in your development where you are conceding bisques most of the time, or are taking the first steps into the Advanced game. This award is given for achieving a twelve hoop-point break, sometimes with one or two peels, without using bisques either to set up the break or to continue it, while winning the game.
The Gold Badge is for your first winning Triple Peel in qualifying competitions. The manoeuvre comprises peeling a ball through 4-back, penult and rover, while playing the appropriate break with the second ball, and pegging both out for the direct victory (if it was your partner ball) or going on to win the 3-ball ending if it was your opponent's. It is more often seen in Advanced Play, as one of the standard tactics to avoid giving one of the lifts or contact, but it is also used by the experienced player faced with a fence-full of bisques in a Handicap Tournament. Naturally bisques cannot be used to hit in, or to set up the break, or to carry it out, but that does not preclude qualification in a game in which the player has previously used bisques.
The new Platinum Badge is for your first winning Sextuple Peel in qualifying competitions. Usually Merit Awards are given to recognise the first time the feat is achieved. Because this new Award is being introduced to players, some of whom may have achieved one or more sextuples previously, the usual conditions are relaxed so that the claim may be made by any player achieving one on or after the start date, whether or not this is actually the first one he or she has ever done.
The aim of the CA Coaching Committee is always to encourage enterprising play. Many members have won their first badge after attending one of the Regional Bronze or Improvers Courses - both concentrate on setting up and maintaining breaks, and positive use of bisques. The National Silver Course and the Silver-Gilt (Introduction to Advanced Play) Course both concentrate on the kind of break management and tactics that naturally lead the player to win the Silver Badge. The National Gold Course is designed to prepare players to achieve the Triple Peel and therefore obtain the Gold Badge. It suggests tactics for the standard triple and the delayed triple, and covers the attacking leaves after the first ball has reached four-back, in order to make the lift shot as difficult as possible for the opponent. A workshop covering the Sextuple Peel will be run for the first time in August - this will go into the mechanics of the usual break required, the leaves required to set up the situation, and the difficulties that may follow if things do not go exactly to plan. It will be interesting to see how long it takes people who attend to claim their Platinum Badge.
Details of all of the courses on offer in 2004 are in the Fixture Calendar, are listed in newsletters to Clubs, and can be found on the CA website. So why not get your new season off to a winning start by seeing what the CA Coaching Courses can do for you? And if you are a badge-collector and sextupler, then do it again, and make your claim.