Intermediate Coaching Notes
Section 14. Advanced Play
In advanced play a lift is conceded every time that a striker's ball runs 1-back or 4-back. A lift is the option of starting the next turn by picking up one of their balls and shooting from either baulk line. If a player runs 1-back and 4-back in a single turn and their partner ball has not run 1-back in a previous turn then a contact is conceded. For a contact the out player can pick up one of their balls and take croquet from any other ball. The out player can either play the contact (if applicable), take the lift or play the balls from where they lie as they like. Lifts and contacts are not conceded if the ball is peeled through 1-back or 4-back. See Law 36.
14.1. If you peel your partner ball through 1-back in a turn you will still concede a contact if you then go on to run 1-back and 4-back with the striker's ball in that turn.
14.2. When first playing advanced, there is unnecessary apprehension over running 1-back. Balls lingering near baulk lines can add to the concern. Remember that even if there is a ball on each baulk you can always run 1-back then leave one ball say on the East boundary and one in corner II or IV. Your opponent will certainly have to work to gain a break.
14.3. The normal tactic is to take your first ball around through 3-back and then leave one of a few standard leaves. The leaves are such that the opponent has a long or suicidal shot. The partner ball can then be taken around, through both 1-back and 4-back, since only one lift is conceded, to rover or the peg and another leave set up. The first ball then runs its last few hoops, peels its partner and pegs both out.
14.4. This gives your opponent two chances at hitting in, therefore the aim of an A-class player is to peel their first ball through its remaining three hoops whilst taking their second ball around and peg both out. This is the Triple Peel which will be dealt with later.
14.5. Returning to reality. The crucial hoop in an advanced game is 2-back. It is essential to have a really good pioneer here as you give a great deal away if you break down in front of A-baulk with a lift pending.
14.6. Some players like to place the 2-back pioneer just after making hoop 5 by the following method. A 4-ball break is played until hoop 4. The reception ball from hoop 4 is sent to the South of hoop 6 as a pioneer whilst getting a rush on the pivot towards hoop 5. The pivot is left midway between hoops 5 and 2-back, the pioneer on hoop 5 roqueted and sent to the West of hoop 5 as a reception ball whilst obtaining hoop position. Hoop 5 is run and the reception ball rushed towards the displaced pivot and 2-back. A small, accurate stop shot places the pioneer on 2-back and gets a rush on the pivot up to hoop 6. The pivot is then croqueted to 1-back as a pioneer and the hoop 6 pioneer is then rushed to the hoop. Obtain a rush to the North boundary behind the pioneer for 1-back after hoop 6 and send the roqueted ball back to the middle of the lawn as pivot as the 1-back pioneer is approached.
14.7. The leave needs to be thought about when preparing to run 1-back - that early. The exact leave will depend on the state of the game, which balls are where and for which hoops. There are however two standard leaves for when all other balls are for hoop 1.
14.8. The Old Standard Leave (OSL) has one enemy ball shadowed from B baulk South-West of hoop 2. The second enemy ball is South-East of the peg, within 9" of it preventing a shot towards hoop 4. You leave your balls shadowed from A baulk by hoop 4 with a rush towards corner 3. The peg ideally should wire the ball at hoop 2 from your balls.
14.9. To achieve this leave you should not make 3-back off your own ball. After making 2-back rush the reception ball into the middle of the lawn to join the pivot. I leave the details of where the balls are left to the next paragraph. You roquet pivot, take-off and make 3-back, arranging a rush back towards the centre of the lawn. After making the hoop you rush short of the other balls and stop the forward ball into the shadow of hoop 1-back (i.e. South-West of it) about 6 ft from the boundary. There is a large target area. The striker's ball rushes the other enemy ball close to the peg and with a gentle stop shot places it against the peg wired from the other enemy ball (leaving it so that it can still be rushed to hoop 1). You then rush your partner ball to the East boundary by hoop 4 and set up your rush to the peg in the shadow of hoop 4.
14.10. The enemy balls in the centre of the lawn ideally lies South-East of the peg with your partner ball furthest out, south of the enemy ball. This allows you to stop the 3- back reception ball to 1-back whilst approaching the enemy ball along its rush line to the peg. After rushing it close to the peg you can then take off to you partner ball without spoiling the wiring, then rush your partner ball to the East boundary. In practice this is an ideal but any scattering of balls can be worked into shape.
14.11. The New Standard Leave (NSL) is as the OSL except the ball which was by the peg is instead left just North of hoop 4 about 2" to the East of it. This means that the ball cannot be hit to the East boundary. Consequently you can lay up a rush towards hoop 6 (giving the option of a rush to the ball at hoop 2 or the centre of the lawn), in the shadow of hoop 4 from A baulk.
14.12. The first part of this leave is to take the pivot into 1-back as well as the 1- back pioneer. You of course have a good pioneer on hoop 2-back. In the process of getting into the running position for 1-back you arrange to position the other two balls as follows. Your 'escape' ball is sent about 3ft South of 1-back and slightly to its West. The enemy ball is sent say 2ft forward of the hoop and again slightly to the West. The hoop is run and the enemy roqueted to the West into the shadow of 1- back. You then take-off to get a rush on the escape ball to set up a three-ball break.
14.13. You rush the escape ball to the West boundary, stop it to 3-back and approach the pioneer at 2-back.
14.14. After 2-back you arrange a rush to 3-back. At 3-back the enemy ball is placed as a reception ball on the centre line of the hoop and your partner ball is placed to the East of it. You run the hoop, roquet the enemy and gently stop it close to the hoop whilst getting a rush on your partner to set up your rush to hoop 6.
14.15. The diagonal spread. This is similar to the Old Standard Leave except that you place all the balls in a straight line. The enemy balls are in; in the shadow of hoop 2 and South-East of and very close to the peg. Your balls are on the same line by the East boundary so that your backward ball has a rush directly at the other two balls.
14.16. Rover Balls. Once a ball has been through rover it can be pegged out by the striker - sometimes accidentally! Your partner ball does not need to be a rover for this to happen under Advanced Rules. Steer clear of the peg if you are striking your rover ball and do not want to peg out. As usual only another rover ball can peg out a rover ball. If a side has pegged out a ball, either their own or an opponent's, they no longer receive any advanced lifts or a contact.
For further information on leaves see Expert Croquet Tactics, Keith Wylie, Eastern Rose Publishing, ISBN 1 874135 00 2
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