Talking About Fourth Turn Finishes (and a Half!)
by David Openshaw, May 2003
I remember a match I played some years ago at the Resort against Tremaine Arkley.
Red went first and made hoop 1, then ran hoop 2 with a bit of left hand wire.
An ambitious attempt at hoop 3 failed but left the ball in the jaws.
BB 0 - 2 RY
Black then played (or was it blue? I sometimes find it hard to remember my games) and roqueted red. Sending it through three and very unfortunately through four as well.
Black played a long roll up to the first hoop and got good position however the croqueted ball went through five to end up near the peg. After running one, black roqueted red and then attempted a roll to hoop two. Another good shot except that red went through hoop 6. Four peels on the opponent and two hoops made, black was feeling very blue.
However he had a straight seven-yard rush to 3, which went well, and he continued on a two ball break without any further mishaps through three, four, five and six. Just when he was feeling good about his game and gaining confidence his rush on red to 1 back sent red right in front of 1 back.
He thought of playing defensively but then remembered that his coach had told him to forget about defence and just go for it. So he peeled red and made the hoop with a perfect rush to 2 back. For one horrible moment it seemed as though the rush would send red straight through 2 back, fortunately at the last minute it veered slightly (pull?), caught some wire and ended up in the jaws. Then he realised that to progress further he really ought to peel red and try for a rush to 3 back. But perhaps this was the time to do a clever leave. Just put red behind hoop 1 so it could not be hit from A-baulk and leave the opponent a 19-yard shot. Well he should have done that, but he was obsessed by the thought of finishing in the fourth turn. Something no one would in fact ever accomplish.
So he peeled red again and made 2 back with black. However he didn't get a good rush to 3 back. All that thinking about what to do hadn't helped.
Another long roll gave him a difficult hoop. With a typical nervy shot black hit the near wire and stayed in the jaws. So he quit the lawn believing quite rightly as it turned out that his turn had ended. He was very upset. Such a good opportunity to finish on the fourth turn but now he would have to complete an extremely difficult quadruple. Since he found triples hard enough this was a disaster.
BB 8 - 8 RY
So its yellow to play on the third turn with red and black both for 3 back and blue well he hasn't even played a shot. It's a very cunning waiting game.
Yellow played from B-baulk giving himself a longer shot. He did not want to peel black, which if you are following this ball-by-ball commentary you will know is in the jaws of three back. He had learnt quickly from his opponent's mistakes. Never peel the opponent by accident.
However he hit red the ball he wasn't aiming for. Isn't it incredible how often that happens? Is it just luck or is there a skill to it? Anyway he said sorry to make sure his opponent really felt upset at things.
Since the black ball in three back was not rushable to 1, yellow had to cannon it through and give black the hoop. He wasn't concerned about this because he knew his opponent only went for difficult breaks like triples in extreme situations.
So he thought just three ball round to the peg with a good leave and make the last four hoops with red later. He was playing really well and felt nothing could go wrong. There was no need for him to attempt any peels. After all there had been far too many in the game already.
But isn't it just the way of things, when you think croquet is too easy disaster strikes.
His split shot sending black to four back was hit too firmly and he watched in horror as it went closer and closer towards the hoop. It entered the jaws and slowly ever so slowly came to rest. Was it through or not? It wasn't possible to say.
If it were through then black and blue would have only a moderately difficult double peel to complete to win the game. If it weren't through then yellow would still be favourite. Triples were very difficult back then.
Either way yellow knew he needed a forward rush after 3 back. Then would you believe it not one disaster but two? His rush on red sent the ball immediately in front of 3 back. Why does that always happen just when you are playing well? Perhaps croquet really was first played in Ireland. ..... by the three Murphy brothers. Is that how you spell Murphy. I know it begins with M and ends with why.
Now where were we? Oh yes yellow must peel red so that he can get a forward rush after 3 back. Those forward rushes are so important.
So with that accomplished what next. Well is black through 4 back or not? Perhaps its time to have a look and plan ahead. Well its touch and go, better ask for a ref. He looks at things from every angle. Eventually he takes a pound note out of his wallet (or was it a dollar of uncertain nationality) and runs it tightly down the wires. It does not touch the ball. Black is through. Just through. Oh dear thinks yellow, how unlucky can you be. Just a matter of millimetres.
Yellow sadly completes his break to the peg. His partner ball is for four back and opponent is for Penult. But wait there is still time for further problems. He decides on a defensive leave. But when shooting for corner four at the end of the turn he hits hoop four and leaves blue a nice short 7-yarder from A-baulk. Oh dear things should have turned out much better than that. Really much better.
BB 10 - 21 RY
Blue picks up his ball. He only has to hit a seven-yarder and complete a double peel to win the game on the fourth turn. What a fool he will look if he misses that seven- yarder. He wishes he had been using the swing trainer much more. Indeed he wishes someone had invented a swing trainer. He wishes it were a longer shot say 12 yards. It doesn't matter if you miss those. He hopes we wont miss.
Well despite his best endeavours he does in fact just clip yellow on the side. After a further 21 nervy shots, he settles down and completes the double peel after 2 back. Well that's great I should finish on the fourth turn. How fantastic will that be?
No, No he doesn't break down this is not a predictable story! He notices his opponent's clips. Peg and four back. He realises that if he pegs out yellow as well as his own balls then he will win +4 (26-22 in metric) in the fourth turn. No one will ever do that again. Not even David Maugham nor any of Kenster's opponents. Sometimes fiction is stranger than fact. To win +4 that's real croquet. Exciting, unforgettable, near perfect croquet.
One thing still puzzles me. I cannot remember if I played black and blue or was it Tremaine. No doubt one of the spectators at the Resort that day will be able to tell us. What an unforgettable game. And it wasn't a friendly, Tremaine and I never play friendlies!
BB 26 - 22 RY