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I finally have had a chance to read and study your "time trial" experiments. ["The American Time Trials - Reinventing Croquet Time' and Ending Last-Turn Craziness"]

I'm not so sure there's really as big a problem here as some people make (there is, of course, if you believe "last-minute madness" is bad). Players in trouble at the end of a game probably deserve it! (How many times have you seen a player at mid-game lollygag about, not going through 1-back, for example, or otherwise being careless about timely play?) However, I do take issue with your statement in Point 3 that "it is in the spirit of the game to play for points and ultimately for peg-out, not simply to prevent opponent's gaining points or practicing delaying tactics."

Although our rules state that it is the OBJECT of the game to score 26 poitns, that is not necessarily the GOAL in the American tactical, time-limited game. Beating your opponent is is the goal. (Going to the peg might be said to be an anachronism of the 19th Century Association game!) And while going to the peg may be one of the best and surest of ways to beat an opponent, there are other ways, too, especially given our carry-over deadness, 9-inch boundaries, rotation, AND TIME. Quite frankly, if I beat you 3-2, that's good enough for me under our rules. It's a win. That's most important. In fact, I may analyze you as a reckless player and set traps for you. Or I may realize you're very conservative, and so I play to that characteristic. You may be timid, and so I may try to intimidate you. Or I may ignore you totally and try to beat you 26-2, if I'm good enough and confident enough.

What choices! What tactics! How interesting! Mano-Mano. Mind against mind. Tennis uses tie breakers, golf sudden death, football sudden death. Only baseball has "extra innings" - i.e. playing through a normal, full rotation (and look how boring THAT sport is!). I might even opt for eliminating croquet's "last turns" altogether, if reliable time could be kept and in view of the players at all times! Some serious backyard croquet is played that way. When the bell rings, it's over. What a tournament director's dream that would be.

This whole time "controversy" arises from the old "customs & etiquette" sections of American rule books with roots in English gentlemanness and sportsmanship and fair-play-old-chap. Poppycock! When time is a factor, that's all out the window. The American rules say you have 45 seconds. So you HAVE 45 seconds - at ANY time in the game.

As I said earlier, beating you is WHY we play our match; I would never cheat and I'll subscribe to calling faults on myself because that's a characteristic of croquet worth sustaining, but I will never bear the burden of giving you an edge you may not deserve or that I might be shamed into giving because of some weird concept that the end of the game is more important than any other part - or because old traditions linger from a time long past!

Nevertheless, your idea of multiple final rotations looks interesting for other reasons, and I look forward to trying it out.

--Bert Myer, Hampstead, New Hampshire




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