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by Bob Alman

Nowhere else has Golf Croquet advanced to such a level of perfection - in the rigor of the rules, in the exactness of the refereeing, in the refinement of tactics - as in Egypt, where "Egyptian Golf Croquet" has been the official national game since the founding of the Egyptian Association in the 60's. Of the 48 players in the championship in Cairo, October 13-18, eight will be Egyptian. Egyptians won most top places in the first World Golf Croquet Championship , held in Italy last year, and they will be just as hard to beat in 1997. [See our story titled "Croquet by the Nile is Hard, Fast, and Thoroughly Egyptian".]

The Egyptian Croquet Association has opened up the 2nd WCF World Golf Croquet Championship in Cairo to all comers by announcing its intention to hold a qualifying tournament immediately prior to the main event. The qualifying tournament is open to any non-Egyptian player who wishes to compete, the only requirement being that the player comes from a country that is a member of the World Croquet Federation.

Eight players will come out of this qualifying tournament to join forty other starters in the main event - eight of them pre-qualified by placing high in the Italian championship last year, and another 32 being nominated by the official selectors of 19 member nations of the WCF.

Of the eight pre-qualified competitors, five are from Egypt; England, Ireland, and Italy have one each.

Three additional player selections are open to Egypt and England; two selections each are available to Australia, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States. One selection each is open to Canada, France, Guernsey, Japan, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, and Wales.


The rules to be used are Egyptian Golf Croquet, and the referees will be appointed by the Egyptian Association, drawn from their official list. (Last year's WCF championship in Italy was played under the Association Laws of Golf Croquet.)

The Egyptian rules are not difficult to understand, the only complexity being the rules governing the allowable zones from which balls may be played in rotation, if they are not near the next wicket to be scored. To learn these zones and to be clear about the instances in which balls must be returned to designated "penalty points", some study of the zone charting and at least a few practice games will be advisable to enable someone new to the game to compete successfully.

The rules are rigorously codified, and allow for advancing to the pioneer hoop in some instances - on scoring from a jawsed position, or on a roquet of an opponent ball, for example. The Egyptian rules admit of no uncertainty on this point, distinguishing them from the Association Laws and the older version of U.S.C.A. golf croquet, both of which give rise to murkiness of interpretation in language which states that one "should never play solely to gain an advantage at the next hoop."


Egyptian players are fully aware that most croquet players in the world - even the best ones - do not fully appreciate the subtleties of tactics and strategy one learns only with years of Egyptian rules play. Outside Egypt, golf croquet is seen almost universally in the croquet world as a simple game, unworthy of serious attention. They tend to smile indulgently and to comment modestly, "It's really a little more sophisticated game than you may realize." In laying down a challenge to the world - "Come and beat us at our own game!" - they hope to raise the competitive passions of the world's championship-level players and thus gain greater respect for their traditional national game.

Preliminary matches in eight all-play-all blocks of 6 will be played on Monday and Tuesday, October 13/14, reducing the field to 32 competitors. These 32 will proceed to best-of-three knockout matches for the next three days, culminating the final on Saturday, October 18 - a best-of-five match between the two survivors of the knockout rounds.

The Egyptian Association is extending an extravagant welcome to the croquet world in its first major international event, and is also bidding to host the WCF World Croquet Championship in Cairo in 1998. With 27 lighted courts in Cairo alone and 5,000 due-paying members of the Egyptian Association, there is little doubt that Egypt is fully equipped to produce a world championship of the highest quality. To sweeten the invitation for broad participation, the Egyptians are providing free accommodation to all the nominated players.

According to Chris Hudson, Secretary-General of the WCF, "The Egyptian Croquet Association is commissioning a permanent Trophy for the World Golf Croquet Championship, to be awarded successively to each new Champion in the same way as the Wimbledon Cup in Association Croquet. The new Golf Croquet Championship Trophy is to be designed and crafted by a nationally-known Egyptian artist, with a strong Egyptian motif, and I expect it to be something quite unique in the croquet world."


Hudson invites inquiries for more information and details on projected tours and entry rules to his E-Mail address: Each national association will have its own rules and procedures for its members to qualify for nominated spots.

Players in the U.S. are invited to contact the USCA or the head of the USCA Selection Committee, Bob Kroeger. Kroeger confesses an admiration for both the Egyptian rules and the hard-hitting, aggressive style of play seen at top level in Egypt. "I have a recent video that shows the top Egyptian players in action. World-class players like Fulford, Clark, and Maugham would be very impressed with their dynamic and deadly accuracy in single-ball shots."

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