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Playing Out of Sequence in AC Alternate Stroke Doubles

[<<] [>>] by Ian Vincent
29th June (CqE Official News)

Summary: A trial amendment to the AC Laws comes into effect on 1st July, which will give an unconditional replay of stroke(s) played out of sequence in alternate stroke doubles, if the error is discovered before the limit of claims.

If your opponents are playing Association Croquet Alternate Stroke Doubles and you suspect that the player who played their last stroke is about to play their next one, then you should forestall immediately, so that their partner plays it. If neither side notices the error before they have played two further strokes (or, if their turn ends, you have played the first stroke of your turn) then play continues as though the strokes had been played by the correct players. If, however, the error is discovered after they have played one or two strokes out of sequence, then the balls and clips are replaced to where they were before the first stroke was played by the wrong player. The question is, which side then plays?

The current Law 48.4 generally treats the error leniently, allowing the pair who played out of sequence to resume their turn, but with one, seemingly little known, exception: there is no replay if any of the strokes played incorrectly resulted in the turn ending. At first sight, that seems reasonable enough: if the pair broke down, e.g. failing to run an easy hoop, then why should they get another go at it? However, the mistake usually occurs at the start of a turn, or by playing two strokes in quick succession when laying up at the end of one, and the exception means that the pair effectively lose their last stroke, leaving the balls in an unnatural position.

The World Croquet Federation's AC Laws Committee has considered various suggestions to improve this law and is currently minded to amend it to require the first stroke in error to be replayed by the correct player irrespective of the previous outcome. This would treat the error analogously to playing when not entitled, though with a shorter limit of claims.

Croquet England's AC Laws Committee has agreed that this should be tried, so the AC Laws for play within the domain are amended as follows from 1st July until further notice:

  • Law 48.4.2 has the words "and the player who should have played the first stroke in error then plays" appended.

  • Law 48.4.3 is deleted and the subsequent clauses renumbered accordingly.

  • Law 24.3.2 is amended to replace the sequence "26 to 29" by "26, 48.4, 27 to 29".

The effect is that Law 48.4 will read:


48.4.1 A player who observes that another player is about to play out of sequence by playing two strokes consecutively or playing the first stroke of a turn after having played the last stroke of the side's previous turn must forestall play immediately.

48.4.2 If a player plays out of sequence as defined in Law 48.4.1, except when the player is required to play consecutive strokes under Laws 48.5 or 48.6, and the error is discovered before the limit of claims, the error is rectified and the player who should have played the first stroke in error then plays.

48.4.3 If the error is discovered after the limit of claims, it is not rectified and play continues according to the sequence established during the strokes in error.

48.4.4 The limit of claims is when the offending side's third stroke in error is played.

Please address any comments or queries about this to the chairman of our AC Laws Committee, Peter Death.


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