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Letters & Opinion

by John Riches
Australian Correspondent


Thirty-Three Changes and Clarifications Proposed by the International Laws Meeting in Bunbury

 • STATE OF THE GAME #1: Identifying Flaws in the Laws

The International Laws Meeting, which has responsibility for making changes to the Laws of Association Croquet when considered necessary, consists of representatives of the four MacRobertson Shield countries - the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and United States. It meets during MacRobertson matches or World Championships, and between times negotiations are now conducted by E-mail. John Riches, the Australian representative to the ILM, has provided the first detailed report of recommended changes and clarifications to come out of the ILM meeting in Bunbury, Australia, in conjunction with 1997 World Championship. Riches' first STATE OF THE GAME column for CROQUET WORLD, titled "Flaws in the Laws," was a plea for the action that now - a year later - is taking place, and in which Riches himself is playing a major role. Thoughtful readers will note that many clarifications could shed light on refereeing situations in the American game as well.

Although many things were agreed to in principle in the International Laws Meeting in Bunbury, nothing has yet been finalised. Even when the ILM has reached agreement on the final wording of all the changes, they will still be subject to acceptance by the four national associations. The earliest date at which any official change could conceivably be introduced is January 1999, and it will probably be later than that.

The main changes agreed upon were as follows:

(1) Include a statement that the peg extension is not part of the peg.

(2) Allow the option of setting hoops to one sixteenth of an inch wider than the diameter of the largest ball to be used in the game.

(3) Redefine when a "stroke" and the "striking period" begin and end, in order to remove doubt and cater for people who indulge in "casting" (i.e. taking practice swings above the ball).

(4) Disallow the playing of a stroke until all balls set in motion in the previous stroke have come to rest.

(5) Allow the striker to change his mind about the nomination of the striker's ball or roqueted ball in situations where these have not been determined by the playing of previous strokes, up until the stroke has been played (or the striker has lifted a ball he was entitled to lift under law 13 or law 36).

(6) Clarify that a player who claims a wiring lift and is awarded one is not committed to take it.

(7) Simplify the law governing the replacement of balls on the yardline. When other balls interfere, the ball will always be replaced on the yardline as near as possible to its correct position.

(8) Clarify the law regarding when a hoop point is actually scored, and specify that a double-hit caused by making a "hoop and roquet" is not a fault.

(9) Remove the concept of "ball in hand".

(10) Allow a pegged out ball to cause other balls to score points.

(11) Allow the referee to repair an area of damaged lawn as an alternative to moving the balls to avoid it.

(12) Require that a ball which has been moved in and not affected will be replaced as soon as its previous position is unoccupied and its replacement is judged unlikely to affect future play. (Thus no set number of strokes is specified, nor is end of turn taken into account.)

(13) Replace the concept of "condoning an error" (considered old-fashioned and somewhat misleading) by a statement that the error, if discovered before its limit of claims has been passed, is to be "rectified" by restoring the position that existed before the error was committed.

(14) Remove "restricted remedies", and state that if an error is discovered after its limit of claims has been passed the error cannot be rectified and all points scored for any ball in any stroke are counted.

(15) Simplify and clarify the method of handling compound errors, e.g. "If compound errors are discovered, then only the first of the errors whose limit of claims has not been exceeded is rectified, but the turn ends if such penalty would have applied to any of the errors."

(16) Change the limits of claims for various errors as follows:

(a) Playing when a ball is misplaced: No limit of claims. Forestalling remains the only remedy.

(b) Before the next stroke but one (or end of turn if that occurs first) for faults, taking a lift from other than on a baulkline, or taking a lift when not entitled to do so.

(c) Before the first stroke of the adversary's next turn for playing when not entitled, playing the wrong ball, taking croquet from the wrong ball, taking croquet when not entitled to do so, or failing to take croquet when entitled to do so.

(17) Allow the adversary to waive the replacement of the balls after any fault, and require the striker to ask the adversary whether or not he wishes to do this.

(18) Clarify the "lawn damage" and "pushing" faults. Also redefine a "hampered" stroke.

(19) Require that after an error has been discovered, the striker's turn ends if it would have ended "naturally" had all strokes been legal.

(20) Remove "wrongly removing a ball from play", "wrongly leaving a ball in play", and "misleading the adversary" as errors, and instead handle such situations as "interference with play". (Thus these things are not to be handled under the compound error law.)

(21) If it is discovered before the end of the game that a player has been misled by a clip misplaced by the adversary (including balls wrongly removed from the game or wrongly left in play), then the game is restored to the position where the misleading (or incorrect removal or failure to remove) occurred. This may possibly mean that play is once again within the limit of claims of an error which had been committed previous to that time.

(22) If a player is misled by false information supplied by his adversary, he will be entitled to a replay provided the misleading occurred earlier in the current turn or (if the adversary is in play when it is discovered) the previous turn.

(23) Remove the last sentence of Law 38(b) and add it instead to part (a), to close the current loophole which allows a bisque to be taken as two halves in handicap doubles play [see law 43(a)].

(24) Make adjustments to the law governing restoration of bisques, to accommodate the changed limits of claims.

(25) Include a statement that the players should be permitted to be present on the lawn during a wiring test, provided they do not interfere.

(26) Add words to allow the referee to use unaffected game balls in a wiring test (after marking their positions) if test balls are not immediately available.

(27) Allow the clock to be stopped at any time at the discretion of the referee, or of the players as joint referees. (This should mostly avoid the need to allow extra time for double-banked games.)

(28) In Appendix 2, delete the reference to small coins used as markers.

(29) In Regulation 5(d), delete the sentence "When adjudicating whether one ball is wired from another the benefit of any doubt should be given to the claimant", and replace it by a statement saying that where two test balls are used, and the line through them and the asking ball is straight, the asking ball is wired.

(30) Allow a player to appeal to the Tournament Referee against any decision by the referee made under Regulation 7(c).

(31) Revise Regulation 8. The general feeling was that a Spectator Referee (i.e. our "Referee on call") should not be able to draw attention to any misplaced clip which had been misplaced before he was called. (Whereas the current laws and regulations require him to do so.)

(32) Introduce a new regulation to cover the handling of impasses, e.g. -

(a) An impasse occurs when both players are declaring their turns or playing shots which make no noticeable progress.

(b) The referee is to decide when an impasse exists.

(c) If an impasse is declared, then each player is to have ten more turns, after which:

A. if scores are level, players toss and the winner decides whether to play first or second from the baulk furthest from the next point in order as decided by the referee, with both players to play from same baulk;

B. if no further point has been scored, the player who is ahead wins;

C. if a point has been scored, the impasse is broken and the game reverts to normal state.

(33) It was also agreed to consider the desirability and practicality of introducing regulations to govern the role of a team coach or captain during team events, but it is unlikely that agreement on any such change will be achieved in time to have it included in the current revision.

The above summary is based on my personal notes and recollections, and is not official in any way. It is intended simply to give interested people some idea of what has happened so far. We have also reached agreement on an actual draft wording for many of the laws affected by the above changes, but negotiations are likely to continue for some time before a "final" version is achieved.

[John Riches is Chairman of the Australian National Laws Committee and National Coach of the Australian Croquet Association. He can be reached via E-Mail at:]

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