Highlights from the CNSW Newsletter, June 2007


From the President
NSW Drought Broken At Last!
Australian Championships Perth 2007
Peter Landrebe Wins 2007 Men's National Championships
A Little History of Dubbo City Croquet Club
Forster Croquet Club
Hazelbrook Croquet Fun Day At Glenbrook
Sawtell Croquet Club
When The Blue Mountains came to Sutherland
Seniors Week Garden Tea Party at Sydney Croquet Club
Champagne and Croquet Evenings at Wagga Wagga
Are there any problems with playing Croquet in a Cold Climate?
The Test, the Mac and the Bisque
Broadening our Horizons

and more articles in the Country Croquet NSW news and history pages:

Seniors Week Celebrations at Jamberoo Croquet Club
Jamberoo Croquet Club's Tenth Anniversary Celebrations
News from the Southern Highlands Croquet Club
Taree Croquet Club's 70th Anniversary Celebration
History of Taree Croquet Club

From the President

We Won. We Won. We Won!!!

Congratulations to all the members of the State Team for their success in winning the Eire Cup for the first time in twenty eight years. Congratulations also to Peter Landrebe who won 2007 Australian Men's Open Singles Championship and also to the other players from NSW who had varying degrees of success.

I attended the Annual Meeting of the ACA (at the conclusion of the Interstate competitions) and NSW figures prominently in the new ACA Executive. The following office bearers are from NSW:

John FransenPresident
Stephen Meatheringham  Senior Vice President
Max MurrayJunior Vice President
Tony HallTreasurer

To cap it off, two of the three Australian Selectors are from NSW.

The NSW Golf Croquet Doubles and Singles Championships have been conducted with a pleasing increase in the number of participants - 16 pairs in the doubles and 20 individuals in the singles. There was a strong representation from country areas - 9 pairs in the doubles and 13 in the singles.

Robyn Wallace and I have attended a course called the Member Protection Information Officer that was run by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Robyn has agreed to be the Member Protection Information Officer (MPIO) for CNSW. Information about the role of the MPIO and its implications will be presented in future editions of the Newsletter. My thanks to Robyn.

I have just returned from Taree where the Croquet Club celebrated its 70th Birthday. There were plenty of past and present members from Taree there and also members from Forster, Port Macquarie, Sawtell, Gloucester and Jamberoo. It certainly was a very enjoyable day with games, barbeque and good fellowship. Congratulations to Taree - may your club continue to prosper.

Jacky McDonald


This issue of the Newsletter devotes particular attention to the well earned and tremendous victory of our State Team in the recent Eire Cup, so I will say no more of that.

Instead I will draw your attention to some other features of what I hope you will agree is a very appealing newsletter. Here you will find contributions from many of our clubs... from Dubbo, Jamberoo, Sydney, Hazelbrook, Sawtell Southern Highlands, Cheltenham, Wagga, Taree and also some individual articles including the ever welcome contribution from Betty Brown to coaching matters. In future issues I do hope that those clubs which so far have contributed little will be inspired to take up the pen (or the computer), and write to us. For the September issue we need copy by no later than the first week of August and since there is little in this issue of your activities in May or June, it should be possible to contribute in good time.

I make special mention of three articles from non-members. Firstly you will find an article here stressing the importance of handicap play with bisques. This was sent to me as a result of a somewhat heated discussion on what is known as the Nottingham Email list in which I took the view that most players in Australia preferred to play levels games. There were many responses to this and Richard Dickson (a top English player) agreed to put the situation as it is in England.

Also as a result of discussion on that email list, Elizabeth Fleming (Queensland) has agreed to write for us. She assisted our State Team with some fine coaching and I asked her if she would agree to write on croquet tactics and in particular the Supershot opening. If you are an Association player and you have not seen this then it starts with the first ball being played near the centre of the court which, at first thought, seems a daft idea but do read on.

Also I am pleased to have an article from Judy Cleine. Judy was a former member of Sydney and of Mosman clubs but moved back to New Zealand with her partner John Ballantyne.

Finally, there is much interest at present in another revision of the Rules of Golf Croquet. We may be able to say something about this later on but one hopes the Rules will be published later this year or early next year.

Wendy Fothergill and John Hanscomb (Joint Editors)

NSW Drought Broken At Last!

No, Warragamba dam is not overflowing
but our State Team has won the Eire Cup for 2007

After a 28-year hiatus NSW has won the annual interstate croquet competition, know as the Eire Cup, which was held in Perth from 28 March - 1 April. The last time this occurred was in 1979, when Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister and the present PM was just a humble Treasurer; disco music was king; and at least one of the NSW team - Chloe Aberley from Bathurst - had not even been born.

The NSW team emulated Ricky Ponting's Ashes winning Australian team with a 5-0 result from its 5 matches. Victoria (3-2) finished in second place followed by SA (3-2), WA (2-3), Queensland (2-3) and Tasmania (0-5). The team comprised Chloe Aberley (Bathurst - VC), Rosemary Graham (Blue Mountains & Marrickville), Mike Jenner (Marrickville), Peter Landrebe (Marrickville), Tim Murphy (Canberra & Queanbeyan), Stephen Richards (Canberra - C), Alison Sharpe (Killara & Chatswood) and Robbie Stock (Lismore). Dick Smith (Lismore) managed the team. All members of the team made important contributions throughout the competition and a number of players, including men's # 1 Peter Landrebe, and Eire Cup debutantes Mike Jenner, Tim Murphy and Alison Sharpe, played consistently high quality croquet through the 5 days.

We started with an 11-9 win over a strong Victorian team, which set up the next few days very nicely. Key performances that day included good doubles wins from our number one men's and women's pairings (Jenner & Landrebe, Aberley & Graham), and some fine singles performances from Pete and Chloe (2 wins each), Mike, Tim, Rosie, Alison and Stephen (1 win each).

Next up was Queensland. After splitting the doubles we pulled away in the singles to win 12-8. The day featured strong play from Pete, Mike, Tim and Alison (2 wins each) and good wins from Chloe (with a fine and fast tp) and Robbie. We took out Tasmania 19-1 on day three with everyone playing well before a hard fought solid encounter with WA on day 4. Taking the doubles 3-1 was a handy start, which was built on by some singles play from Tim, Stephen, Alison and Robbie (2 wins each) and a couple of clutch singles wins from Rosie and Chloe. We eventually took the day 13-7 and contemplated what lay ahead - SA on day 5.

SA knew it could take the title if it had a big win against us and started out with all guns blazing. We wanted a clean sweep but knew a 7-13 loss would just get us over the line to claim the Cup on net games won. So, nerves slightly jangling (we'd not been in this position before!), we started out... We managed to square the doubles 2-2, but found ourselves half-way through the 1st round of singles play looking down the barrel as the South Aussies were on the lawns much more than we would have liked and in many cases in the ascendancy. The team dug deep amidst the tension to end up taking 6 of the 8 singles matches with Pete, Mike, Tim, Alison, Robbie and Rosie (with a clutch 3- ball break come from behind win) all raising their games to record W's. The 6 singles wins were enough to secure the minimum 7 wins we needed to win the Eire Cup. This saw a release of quite some level of emotion from players and spectators alike. It also made for a much more relaxing 2nd singles round which we also took out by 6-2 to win the day 14-6 and record the clean sweep.

In a sport like croquet that is so often an individual sport it is wonderful to be part of a team, to share a common goal and to make individual and collective contributions to achieving that goal. To win the Eire Cup was a wonderful experience - both at the instant it was realised and when later reflecting on the 5 days of competition play and the preparation beforehand. For some it has taken quite a while for the experience to become a reality, for our debutantes... well, these things just happen, don't they?

I'd like to acknowledge the financial and other support of the CNSW for helping the team prepare properly and travel to Perth. I'd also like to thank the (sizeable) band of NSW supporters who were also in Perth to share the team's journey and provide enthusiastic support along the way. I'd also like to thank every member of the team for their commitment to the task, acknowledge their excellent play, and express the hope that one day I might again experience the strong camaraderie and good humour that permeated the team. Everyone provided support for one another throughout the competition with encouraging words and positive actions. I think this was an important contributing factor to our success.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the wise counsel provided by the Vice-Captain, Chloe Aberley, and the Team Assistant, Dick Smith, and thank them for their support and assistance over the last 4-5 months, which made the job of Captain very much more straightforward.

Stephen Richards

PS The Interstate Cup started in 1950, the first full year of operation of the Australian Croquet Association. The Eire Cup trophy (which is a pretty impressive piece of silverware) was presented to the Australian national team by an Irish team in 1937 when The Australian team visited Ireland for a trial match prior to the MacRobertson Shield event in England. NSW won the Cup for the first two years, in 1950 and 1951, and again in 1979. I understand CNSW President, Jacky McDonald, is hoping to visit as many NSW clubs as possible in the next 12 months to give as many NSW players as possible the opportunity to see it.

PPS - All players recorded at least 50 per cent Eire Cup singles victories, with different players making important contributions on each day. Final singles results were as follows: Chloe Aberley - 7 of 10 including 2 tps, Rosie Graham - 5 of 10 including clutch wins in Victorian, SA and WA matches, Mike Jenner - 7 of 10 including 3 tps, Peter Landrebe - 8 of 10 including 4 tps and 1 tpo, Tim Murphy - 9 of 10 including 1 tp, Alison Sharpe - 8 of 10, Robbie Stock - 6 of 10, and Stephen Richards - 6 of 10 with 1 tp. The doubles pairings also performed solidly (Jenner/Landrebe - 5 of 5; Murphy/Richards - 3 of 5; Aberley/Graham - 3 of 5; and Sharpe/Stock - 2 of 5).

Australian Championships Perth 2007

It was worth it. How could one complain about the inconvenience of 'cattle class' when NSW won the Eire Cup after 28 years. There were ten representatives from NSW all told. For those of us who were just watching the matches the term 'croquet isn't exciting to watch' is a complete misnomer. I have heard that some players had the shakes, spectators had the shakes and I always have the shakes but who cared. So congratulations to all the team on a job well done,

This had been my first visit to Perth in 35 years and fortunately Jacky and myself stayed with a cousin. When not playing croquet it was a case of 'remember when?' My old home was visited, it wasn't as large as I remember, the old school the same and two temporary demountable classrooms that were set up in about 1948 disappeared around five years ago. When we were driving down the roads it was a case of I remember... - it just about drove Jacky crazy. It was great to drive down freeways that were toll free.

The NSW players had various success in their games with the highlight being Peter Landrebe's win in the Men's singles. Rosie was third in the Women's while Nerida won the plate. I just made up the numbers.

The facilities in Perth were marvelous and many comments were made about the difference to what we have in NSW. The championships were well organized and I would think that everyone enjoyed themselves.

Finally a blast from the past. My cousin Barb and her husband Murray had come down to see me play Ian Dumergue and after the game we were watching another couple playing when a lady walked past us. 'Hello Chell' said my cousin and Chell replied, 'why what are you doing here?' Barb in all innocence said that she was here with her cousin Geof McDonald. An accusing arm shot out and Chell said 'Geof McDonald you threw a stone at me'. In retrospect I think I did.

What a memory as it happened 54 years ago!

Geof McDonald

Peter Landrebe Wins 2007 Men's National Championships

Congratulations to Peter Landrebe on winning the 2007 Men's Open Singles Championships, which were held in Perth from 24-27 April. Peter's win follows on from his win in the same event in 2006.

Peter played wonderfully well throughout the 4 days, not dropping a game and recording 3 tps and 2 tpos along the way, and winning the final against Stephen Forster 26tp-0, 26-21.

Other NSW players also recorded some good results in the Men's and Women's events, including Rosie Graham - 3rd (women's), Mike Jenner - 10th (men's), Tim Murphy - equal 11th (men's), Nerida Taylor - won the Women's plate event, and John Levick - semi-finalist in the Men's plate event.

Stephen Richards

A Little History of Dubbo City Croquet Club

Dubbo city bowling club put in two full sized croquet courts at the back of the clubhouse for the ladies ( I suspect to keep them happy ?), in 1906. At that time Dubbo city bowling club prided itself on being a MALE ONLY rather exclusive club.

Croquet didn't really get going as an organized sport until 1926 & many inter club tournaments were held over the ensuing years bringing great pleasure to all concerned. I know that Young croquet club was a visitor & that Dubbo club helped the Young croquet club, in some way, to get themselves established. Over the years with very few new members coming along our existing numbers started to slow down. With this being a rural area, we are not geographically situated to attract retirees, so we do find it a little difficult to build up our membership but we keep trying!

We have two really well kept croquet courts in a beautiful setting within Victoria Park where we can gaze at the lovely gardens whilst plotting our next move to outwit our opponents on the court! We have our own little clubhouse with all the facilities needed and are attached to the bowling club where there is a restaurant along with everything else bowling clubs have to offer.

Our members are very welcoming & love to have visitors call in as they pass through our city. Dubbo has many attractions for visitors, the most well known, of course, being Western Plains Zoo. Dubbo boasts fine accommodation and great facilities for shopping and dining. We have a current membership of 39 with keen players of both Association & Golf croquet.

I guess our message is this:- WE ARE ALIVE & WELL and WE LOVE OUR CROQUET SO, PLEASE REMEMBER WHERE WE ARE ! This photo shows some of our members in the beautiful setting we gaze at during play.

Barb. Heffernan, Secretary

Forster Croquet Club

It is hard to believe it is the middle of the year already. Our club has been busy with some club championships in the earlier part of this year. The Association Championships Division 1 was won by June Nixon. Division 2 winner was Archie McCulloch, Division 3 winner Barbara McTiernan and Division 4 winner was John Coates. The Cedar Bat Golf Croquet handicap singles was won by a fairly new member Don Scifleet.

Some members traveled to Port Macquarie in April. Forster was victorious over Port Macquarie in Association winning 3 games to 1. In the Golf , Forster won 2 games. Coming up next on our calendar in early May we are the host club for the Golf Croquet Carnival. Approximately 60 players will have competed, mostly from visiting clubs. It is a great opportunity to renew friendships when other club members come to our courts.

Our Association Winter Carnival takes place from June 2 through to June 8... another big carnival with approximately 30 entries. As with other clubs, I'm sure, competitions, championships, carnivals, challenges and social games keep us all on our toes with mallets in hand, on the ready to address the courts and play this wonderful game of Croquet.

Forster Croquet Club Gardens

This next article was written by our club member Noel Moore. Noel maintains our beautiful gardens and it is a credit to her dedication that our gardens bloom in glorious array throughout the year. Noel writes:

Section of the grounds at Forster Croquet Club
"There are tall paperbark Melaleucas shading Lawn 1, fiery red-flowering bottlebrush trees around lawn 3, and gnarled Banksias provide welcome shade to the east of the courts hanging over a bed of blue westringia bushes, agapanthus, Green Goddess and rainforest lilies. The garden beds around the lawns display a variety of flowering shrubs and multi colored foliage plants. Many of the plants in the garden have been contributed over the years by members of the club and are a delightful way of remembering these older members.

"An unusual purple and white chrysanthemum in the garden was grown from a slip, cut from a birthday gift plant give to Lex Leek who is one of our oldest and most loved members but who no longer plays croquet. Marion Ellison has provided many of our plants over a long period of time.

"We have the great advantage of having a very expert and devoted Green Keeper who provides us with lawns equal to any in the State. Come and enjoy our gardens".

More news next time, until then enjoy your croquet, friendships and the scoring of those tricky, narrow hoops.

Anita Campbell, Publicity Officer, Forster Croquet Club

Hazelbrook Croquet Fun Day At Glenbrook

The Hazelbrook Croquet Club held an informal day playing croquet at Whitton Park, Glenbrook, on Tuesday, 20th February. Local residents came to see how the game was played and appreciated taking part.

A beautiful day after the recent rains was enjoyed under the gum trees in the park.


This is the site of the club's proposal to build two purpose-built croquet greens in the near future.

Rosalie Padgett

Sawtell Croquet Club

On Easter Monday we had 30 members playing both Association & Golf Croquet on half lawns. For something different we actually placed the hoops in the most haphazard way for the Association players to see their reaction.

We were not disappointed. The looks of frustration were something to behold. However, they saw the funny side and we promised to desist in the future.

The photo of Captain Coralie says it all!

Jane Anderson

When The Blue Mountains came to Sutherland

Seven members of The Blue Mountains Croquet Club visited Sutherland Croquet Club for a day of Golf Croquet on Sunday 22nd April. After a well earned cup of tea, they were welcomed by our captain Ron Johnstone, who then sorted them out into mixed teams. 13 point games were played on all 3 courts. After each game, two players moved on to another court. Tea and coffee was also available all day.

Lunch was taken at 12.39, with everyone sitting in a circle in front of our club house. This was a time to renew friendships and to make new friends. Listening to the discussions, it was evident that everyone was enjoying the day. Bill Haines, from The Blue Mountains had just returned from playing in the NSW Golf Croquet Doubles and Singles, pleased with his efforts in this competition. He took heart from the fact that even the best players could play the wrong ball. Hopefully, we will see more players prepared to tackle competitive play outside their own club, as this is the only way to improve their game and to make new friends. Edith Turnbull was delighted with the coaching tips which she received when playing with Wall. John & Lorraine Friends have family in the Shire and often visit us on a Saturday.

After lunch there was time for another game and all who still had the energy returned to the courts. A challenge match was played between the Johnstones and the Mills, again some tactical skills were learned. I don't know if Ron played a wrong ball as he seems to have earned himself a reputation in this skill.

After a final cup of tea and a thank you all round for a wonderful day, The Blue Mountains returned home just before the heavens opened up

Mary Fernance

Seniors Week Garden Tea Party at Sydney Croquet Club

The Seniors Week Garden Tea Party for 2007 organised by Woollahra Council at Pruniers Restaurant in Chiswick Park, Ocean Street Woollahra, featured an introduction to the game of Croquet. The well maintained lawn in Chiswick Park was adequate for members of Sydney Croquet Club to set up the hoops and instruct interested visitors in the challenging game of Croquet.

The Woollahra Council chose a perfect venue for the Garden Tea Party. The visitors enjoyed a sumptuous spread of sandwiches, cakes and scones provided by Pruniers. The musical entertainment was provided by "Viva the Band" playing an outstanding collection of "World Music" while outside on the lawn those that dared enjoyed an introduction to Croquet.

The Croquet Club members were pleased with the response and hoped that those interested would follow up with a visit to the Club which is situated within the Woollahra Golf Club Complex in O'Sullivan Road Rose Bay. Mention was also made of the Club's Open Day being held on Sunday 17th June with everyone welcome.

Champagne and Croquet Evenings at Wagga Wagga

During February and March Wagga Wagga Croquet Club held Champagne and Croquet evenings. This proved a wonderful way to promote the sport of Croquet and to raise awareness with the community of the Croquet Club.

Beginning at 6.00pm with the basic skills, those attending were briefly shown how to grip and swing the mallet to allow some success in hitting a ball. After practising running a hoop the participants were onto the lawns for Golf Croquet. A great deal of fun was had, particularly after the champagne appeared.

One pleasing aspect of the evenings was the young age of those attending. Some returned for a second session. It was only cheap champers so it must have been the croquet that brought them back.

Sandra Foehr (pictured) a visitor from Winnipeg Canada with her partner, Willie, travelled the furthest distance for the croquet (or was it the champagne?)

Peter Lloyd, Secretary, Wagga Wagga Croquet Club

Are there any problems with playing Croquet in a Cold Climate?

Basically none. Not because of the cold itself or the possibility of playing with frost or ice on the lawns (Southland winters are quite mildly tolerable, or perhaps I protest too much, it can get rather nippy) but rather the drenching rain that comes with winter which rapidly turns the lawns into lakes, or worse, something resembling a football pitch after a few scrums. So the croquet season in the South Island is short and sweet, running from September to the end of April, with the usual last minute scramble to get club champs finished in time adding its own drama to the round of interclub meets, club tournaments & NZ-wide Opens on offer.

Interclub play is a major element in the Southland calendar in keeping the local competitive side of the game going. As the joke has it, there are definitely more sheep (and deer and rabbits) in Southland than humans, let alone croquet players, of which there are 4 clubs and 63 players in the province. Our club, Winton, has 20 members, all players, and our club captain, a lovely lady, is also very handy with a shotgun, so apart from organising us all to play in this that or the other interclub event every week in Gore or Invercargill, or at home, she also enjoys sitting on her patio in a lingering twilight and addressing the imbalance between rabbits and humans. Rabbit stew for dinner?

If the thought of that scares you a bit, consider this. What better venue to play croquet in than Queenstown? Sunsets to die for, The Remarkables (quite remarkable!) looming up behind the clubhouse, birds singing in the trees, the paddle steamer cruising the lake, a gondola to take you to dinner up a mountain, great trout fishing, good shopping, train enthusiasts might also enjoy the Kingston Flyer, and exceptionally cheap flights from OZ. The Wakatipu (as in Lake Wakatipu) Croquet Club holds its annual tournament (HC doubles and Championship {Advanced} Singles) at Kelvin Heights circa March 2 - a 3 day event - Friday to Sunday.

John and I went this year. The weather was excellent. Stayed at a Baptist Camp which was a laugh. The beds were clean and tidy but the ablutions block was a bit of a concrete-floor segue back to the 1950's.

I beat John at table tennis, he beat me at shuffle board, and I furtively fed the Manager's guinea pig who, I thought, was looking a bit sad and lonely. John won all his games and then fluffed the final against a very sharp lady from Dunedin (Ann Sharp) and my handicap did a serious spiral down the ladder from 9 to 10 and still counting.

See you there next year?

For details click to email us.

Judy Cleine

The Test, the Mac and the Bisque

Will Australia ever have a chance in the Mac if they don't start playing with bisques? Probably not, their loss will be the gain of the other nations involved and a loss to the AC game as a whole. To quote a UK T-shirt; Real men play Handicap!

Imagine entering your first competition, open handicap, your first opponent is another 18, the next; a middle of the road handicap 7, your third game of the day is against a scratch. Does this sound a more interesting day than a couple of games against players of the same ability as you?

When you enter a tournament in the UK, as a beginner, this is what you get. You are expected to play three games a day, with a 3 1/4 hr. time limit. The opposition will vary from minus players to handicap 20. Games are handicap 26 pointers.

This forces players to use their bisques to play breaks from the very start; they must learn different styles of the game. Aunt Emma may work against another 18; it's suicide against the minus players. The games you are playing vary tactically and each presents a different challenge.

In the UK rapid improvers, who might one day get to the Mac, are being coached by the best. This is not in a formal session, but in the course of a normal handicap game, losing or winning against the good players inevitably leads to a chat about what went wrong or right. They learn by observation what can be done with a croquet ball, with practice and imagination.

Only when the beginner has got their handicap down to single figures will they start to enter level advanced rules events. The B level circuit, h'cap 0 to 8 is where they go next. Importantly they will not be subdivided into flights, they'll play whoever is on the list. If knocked out of the main event they play another unfortunate, win that, they play another 1 from 2 and so on. By this stage they will expect to easily finish three games a day and sometimes get four or more.

When they get to the upper end of the B level, handicap 2 or better, they start on the next journey playing the best. Throughout this time they have been playing the full range of other players, exchanged ideas, learnt a lot, they will have been kept interested and importantly, still be playing.

The AHS, Automatic Handicap System, runs this in the UK, the same as your system, ten points exchanged for handicap games and a sliding scale for level games. This makes the learning process slightly less painful, if a 7 loses to a 1 they lose 2 points, win, they gain 18. The system relies on the correct handicapping of every player. Every club has a handicapper and each event has one or more, who should step in to correct disparities. In the UK the handicap is not a badge of honour, it's an accurate reflection of your current ability.

I started playing in 2002, off 14. I was adjusted once in 2002 and again the next year, by the end of 2006 my handicap was -1.5. Would that have been possible in the Australian set up of flighted level games and would I have stayed interested?

Seniors Open Handicap Final 2006 gave 19!

I won both the open level advanced and the open handicap in the 2006 UK National Seniors. In 2001 Rob Fulford was both Handicap and Adv. Level Surbiton Champion, and World No.2, so the answer to the question, do the good'uns play handicap? Yes, they do, and yes, they enjoy it.

In the UK there are around 130 clubs, about 3,000 players take AC seriously enough to play in their club events at least. From that player base the top 200 players in the world are 45% UK players.

Compare those figures to Australia, which has 25% of the top 200.You have more clubs, about 300, so have more facilities, spread over a vast area, but there are concentrations in major cities. How many play AC? Whatever the figure there are many more playing other forms of Croquet.

If it is possible to try the UK system out in areas where there is a reasonable concentration of clubs, you might find it makes for a different experience.

I'll end with a simple question, which I hope will provoke some thought or maybe even debate.

Could it be that there is advantage in the way the game is structured in the UK, which helps the individual, clubs, and the health of the AC game?

Richard Dickson, March 2007

Broadening our Horizons

By Elizabeth Fleming

All too often players will say they do not like or do not want to use a particular Opening or Leave. Perhaps what is really being said is that they are unsure of the reasons or benefits of such things. I would like to encourage players to take a more pro-active approach to their game instead of, in the main, relying on a less threatening re-active one. I hope to inspire players to look more closely and try a little harder to take the initiative and practice with a purpose - that being: to have answers quickly, readily and not be thrown off course by something they are unfamiliar with because of a lack of experimentation or practice drill. Take control of how you want to play the game - don't always wait to see what is thrust upon you by your opposition.

The opening to a croquet match is not only a contest for the innings, it is also a contest for the first break. An ability to shoot well is a required skill to ensure that you can gain the innings on the third, fourth or fifth turns without exposing yourself to an easy break for your opponent if he manages to hit on one of these turns.

Super-shot Opening
As its name suggests this opening is employed by accurate shooters. The object is to gain a third turn break which leads to aggressive leave setting and on to a fifth turn triple peel finish.

If you are not setting this opening yourself and are, therefore, not well practiced at obtaining the break from it, then in reviewing your game it is wise to look at how you may respond if faced with such an opening. After all you may not like it but you would have to have answers and the confidence to know what you are capable of from such ball positions. You never know, it may become one of your preferred Openings - you'll never, never know if you don't give it a go.

The first ball is usually played from the end of the A Baulk (aimed along a line heading one or two yards to the right of hoop 2) landing on a point about halfway between hoop 5 and the peg. The second ball now has to decide whether to shoot or play defensively. You must look ahead. Shooting will not gain much: a two ball break or a leave. Taking this shot is only indicated if the Super-shot ball has been played shorter than normal.

The best defensive shots for the second ball (those are options which do not shoot at the first ball) will either: give you chance of a double with your fourth ball, (if their third misses) or simply make their third turn shot as long as possible. Normally the best responses are: seven inches out of the second corner or on the eastern boundary about peg high.

If the third ball hits your second corner ball option, the subsequent roll to hoop 1 and a rush on the Super-shot ball to start the three-ball break is difficult, but is playable with practice. If the third ball misses it will almost certainly leave you a double for your fourth ball and an easy break.

If the third ball shoots at your ball on the eastern boundary it should (most likely) be from the B Baulk at a slight angle, such that it will go out on the eastern boundary about level with hoop 4 - if it misses! This provides a counter threatening position for the fifth turn, if your fourth turn ball misses. So if faced with this situation your best option for the fourth ball would now be to shoot at the Super-shot ball. It is the shortest shot on the lawn!

There are many other tactical options available in this opening and Robert Fulford has described them in detail in an article on the Oxford Croquet web site.


Shooting       Shooting       Shooting       Shooting!

Take a look at each option and drill them obtaining a break from each of the possible options assuming a ball has been hit/or missed.

Can you obtain a break - and a leave?