THE STATE OF THE GAME
A PROFILE OF THE WRITER
by John Riches
The Laws revision: what difference will it make?
Most croquet players will by now be aware that an international committee
comprising laws people from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United
States, and Australia are currently in the process of revising the Laws of
Association Croquet. John Riches represents Australia on the committee. It
is hoped that the changes will come into effect early in 1999.
Most of the proposed changes were accepted "in principle" when the committee met in Bunbury, Western Australia, during the World Championships in November of 1997. The final wording of the changed laws is still under discussion and as yet none of the changes is certain to go through; even after the committee reaches final agreement, the recommended changes still need to be accepted by each of the national associations.
We published a brief summary of 33 proposed changes
(State of the Game #4 ),
but readers have been asking for more information concerning the difference
the changes will make in actual play.
To satisfy such curiosity, here are some hypothetical examples of
situations where the revised laws, if accepted, will result in different
rulings being given.
- 1. THE STRIKER ROQUETS TWO BALLS SIMULTANEOUS, then places his ball in contact with one of them, but changes his mind and wants to take croquet from the other.
- PRESENT RULING: Unclear. Some would allow him to change his mind because under law 16 the roqueted ball has not been nominated until he takes croquet from it. Others would say that when he placed his ball in contact with one of the two balls he is deemed to have roqueted that ball and cannot change his mind.
- NEW RULING: A player will be given the right to change his mind in all such situations until the stroke has been actually played.
- 2. THE STRIKER IS ENTITLED TO A "LIFT." He takes his ball to a baulk and places it in contact with a ball which is on the baulk line, then changes his mind and wants to play it from some other position on the baulk.
- RULINGS: The same as for #1 above.
- 3. AT THE START OF HIS TURN the striker has his two balls in contact on the yardline. He picks up one of the balls, starts to place it for a croquet stroke, then changes his mind and wants to play the other ball.
- PRESENT RULING: He cannot change his mind. By moving one of the balls he has nominated it as the striker's ball for that turn. If he replaces it and plays the other ball, he will have played a wrong ball and law 28(a) will apply.
- NEW RULING: Law 28(a) will be deleted from the Laws. In such a situation the striker will not have committed any error. He may replace the ball he moved and play the turn with the other ball.
- 3. THE STRIKER HAS THREE BALLS IN CONTACT in the 4th corner at the start
of his turn. He starts to arrange a cannon by picking up two of the balls
and moving them, then changes his mind and wants to play the ball he has
not yet moved.
- PRESENT RULING: If one of the balls he picked up was a ball of his side,
he has nominated it as the striker's ball, and has nominated the unmoved
ball as the roqueted ball. He cannot change his mind.
- NEW RULING: He can replace the balls and start again. The principle on
which the proposed change is based is that there is no reason to prevent
the player from changing his mind in such situations, as he cannot gain any
unfair advantage by doing what he could have done in the first place anyway.
- 4. THE STRIKER BELIEVES HE IS ENTITLED TO A WIRING LIFT. The referee is called, looks at the situation and says that the striker's ball is not wired from one of the other balls. The striker is unwilling to accept the decision and asks the referee to perform a wiring test. The referee
reluctantly agrees to perform the test and announces (to his surprise) that
the ball is in fact wired, but the striker then says he does not want to
take the wiring lift anyway.
- PRESENT RULING: Unclear. Most say that the striker is not committed to take the lift merely because the referee has decided that he is entitled to do so. Others see law 48(b) as requiring the player to "claim" (= take ?) the lift, saying that if he did not intend to take it, then in asking for the test he was only wasting time.
- NEW RULING: In all such situations the striker will be able to decide
after the test has been performed whether or not he wishes to take any lift
to which he is entitled.
- 5. THE STRIKER SHOOTS AT A YARDLINE BALL AND MISSES. When his ball is
measured onto the yardline, the other ball prevents it from being placed in
the position on the yardline nearest to where it went out. He asks where
he is entitled to place it.
- PRESENT RULING: He can place in on the yardline in contact with the ball
that is already there on whichever side he chooses.
- NEW RULING: In all cases where a ball has to be measured onto a yardline
and is prevented by other balls from being placed in its correct position,
it must be placed on the yardline in the position nearest to where it went
out (or came to rest in the yardline area). The only time the striker will
have a choice is when two positions are considered to be equally close to
the correct position.
- 6. THE STRIKER HITS HIS RED BALL (A ROVER) INTO THE PEG, but it rebounds
from the peg and hits the blue ball which had stuck in hoop 6, sending blue
through its hoop. Is the hoop scored for the blue ball?
- PRESENT RULING: No (law 15d).
- NEW RULING: Yes. Until the pegged out ball comes to rest it is still in
play and will be able to cause other balls to score hoop or peg points.
- 7. THE STRIKER IS ENTITLED TO A "LIFT", so he picks up his ball and
instead of playing if from a baulk line he places it on the yardline near
the 4th corner and rushes a ball from there into the lawn. What happens
when the adversary points out that the ball should have been played from a
- PRESENT RULING: Once the stroke has been played it is too late to do
anything about it. The opponent's only remedy was to realise what was
happening and forestall the stroke. Since he failed to do so, the stroke
was valid and the striker continues his turn.
- NEW RULING: Instead of being handled under law 29(d), this situation will
be handled under law 30 with a limit of claims "before the next stroke but
one" (or "before the third stroke of the turn"). The same limit of claims
will apply if the striker takes a "lift" which he is not entitled to, and
plays his ball from a baulk line (present law 29b) before the error is
[Publication of information on proposed changes in the Laws permits the broadest possible critical review by croquet players around the world, to help ensure that the final wording is clear, inclusive, and unambiguous. You may direct your comments to: