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Dr Ian Plummer

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Intermediate Coaching Notes

Section 9. Using Bisques

Bisques are free turns awarded to the weaker player in handicap play. The weaker player is given the number of bisques which is the difference in the handicaps of the two players. A bisque can be taken at the end of any turn whether it is a normal or bisque turn. Bisque turn can immediately follow bisque turn. In every new turn all the other balls can be re-roqueted again. The only constraint is that you have to continue playing with the same coloured ball. There are also half bisques, these are bisque turns in which no points can be scored for any balls. They are very useful for positioning balls prior to taking a full bisque. You should also read Section 11: Giving Bisques to have an idea of the strategy which is probably being used against you.

9.1. The only way to cope with a lower handicap player is not to give them a chance and, when you have to give them the innings, make it as difficult as possible for them.

9.2. As you will be receiving bisques you should put the opposition in to play if you win the toss. To win you are going to have to maintain a four-ball break to the peg. By going second all the balls will be on the lawn at the end of the fourth turn, when you can start to build your break. If you let them in second then there is the chance of them hitting in fourth turn and gaining many hoops.

9.3. You must prepare yourself to build breaks by taking bisques. You must play knowing that you are going to take bisques. As an example you do not shoot hard at a ball if you intend to take a bisque should you miss - you will end up far away and could waste the bisque if you subsequently miss the return roquet.

9.4. You cannot afford to 'get used to the lawn' before taking your bisques - this gives your opponent the chance to do the same! You must start to take your bisques at the earliest opportunities.

9.5. There is a saying that it is possible to build a four-ball break from any position of balls on the lawn using only two bisques. This is almost right but there are some situations ...

9.6. How you use your bisques depends on how many you have. They can be used to attack, repair and defend, preferably in that order. We start by assuming that you have 10 or so.

9.7. Attack. To build a break using bisques the general recipe is: identify a hoop ball and a bisque ball. A hoop ball is the ball which will be sent accurately to the hoop you want as a pioneer during the first bisque turn. The bisque ball is the ball you end up next to at the end of the first bisque turn ready to start the second turn. Unfortunately you are going to have to think and solve the problem as to how to make the break from the scattering of balls you are initially presented with.

9.7.1. A typical start of game with 10 bisques could be; the opponent lays up on the East boundary, you knock your first ball into the centre of the lawn - because you know that you will be taking bisques later (figure 9.7.1). The opponent shoots at their partner ball and misses, you then shoot at the opponent's balls. The ball in the centre of the lawn is to make building your break with bisques easier and leave your opponent with a long shot which, if they miss, will feed the opposite baulk.

taking bisques
Figure 9.7.1. Using bisques at the start of the game: A. Fourth turn red aims at black and takes a bisque to roquet it. B. A roll or take off gains a rush on blue towards yellow. C. Blue is accurately stopped as a poineer on hoop 1. (continued in Figure 9.7.3).

9.7.2. We'll assume that you miss in the fourth turn. You now take your first bisque and roquet one of the opponent balls. One of these will be your bisque ball. It is a good idea, but by no means essential to have your bisque ball just off a boundary - you will see why shortly. Let us make this first ball the bisque ball - if we play a small roll we will be able to move it from the boundary and place our striker's ball near to the other opponent's ball to get a rush anywhere into the middle of the lawn. This ball would be suitable as your hoop ball. We now rush to the middle of the lawn.

9.7.3 The aim of the first bisque turn is to accurately stop shot the hoop ball to be a perfect pioneer on your hoop. From the centre of the lawn we stop shot the opponent to hoop 1 and end up anywhere near our partner ball. This we roquet and place in a position useful for the four-ball break. We can stop it up to hoop 2 as a pioneer, or leave it in the middle as a pivot. After doing this we shoot back to our bisque ball so as to get a rush on it to bring it into the break. In summary, in the first bisque turn we have placed an accurate hoop ball and returned to another (bisque) ball leaving ourselves a rush into the lawn.

taking bisques
Figure 9.7.3. D. Yellow is roqueted and sent to hoop 2. E. Red shoots behind the bisque ball, black, getting a rush into the lawn. F. Second bisque turn, black is rushed into the lawn, then takes off to pioneer at hoop 1.

9.7.4 By leaving the bisque ball near a boundary we can shoot off behind it with little care for the strength of the shot, whilst getting the correct position when it is brought back on to the yard line. We are now ready to take our second bisque and start the break.

9.7.5. Had we put a ball to hoop 2 in the previous bisque turn then we would get the rush on the bisque ball to the centre of the lawn to make it the pivot. Alternatively had we already got a pivot we would plan to rush the bisque ball to the centre of the lawn and stop it to hoop 2 whilst going to pivot. Once at pivot you take-off to your pioneer at your hoop and start the four-ball break.

9.7.6. Having established the break you use bisques to repair any accidents - however you can gain full value from these bisques by leaving off from the break pattern, shepherding the other balls into accurate positions then resume the break. See the paragraphs below on Repair.

9.8. Repair. We have discussed how to use bisques attackingly above, but some inevitably end up being used for repairing a break which has gone wrong.

9.8.1. The time to consider the use of a bisque is your penultimate shot of a turn.

9.8.2. A frequent mistake is not to take a deep breath and look around the lawn when you make a mistake. The first (incorrect) thought is to repair the damage that your mallet has just inflicted.

9.8.3. You see frequently players roll into a hoop and fail to get into a hoop running position. The line of options you see tried are, starting from the brainless to the more sophisticated: a). Stab the ball at the hoop then take the bisque. b). Knock the ball in front of the hoop then take the bisque to run it. c). Play the ball to get a fresh rush on your pioneer then take the bisque to re-approach the hoop. d). Obtain a rush on a remote ball, take a bisque rushing it into position then take-off to your hoop and re-approach the hoop.

9.8.4. You should generally look up when you make a mistake and review the whole lawn. You should look for the balls which are out of your break, say at a boundary. You would get full value from your bisque by aiming at that boundary ball intending to get a useful rush on it. You will then take your bisque, rush the boundary ball into the lawn, then take-off to your reception ball at the hoop at where you broke down. There may also be the opportunity to go via the other ball to the reception ball giving you the opportunity of also improving its position.

9.9. Defence. You will on occasion be forced to use a bisque to prevent an opponent gaining an advantage. A good example of this is where you use a bisque to create a good leave. This could involve a cross-wiring. A good leave is worth a break.

9.9.1. At the start of a turn, when faced with a joined-up opponent, you should aim to get both of their balls away from the boundaries - otherwise they will just rejoin in the next turn. You should aim at them, then use a bisque to rush one of them away from the boundary. You then take-off back to the other one and play a croquet shot to place it in a position useful to you - typically at your hoop. You are now probably one bisque away from a four- ball break. Even if you do not have bisques to spare you have prevented your opponent joining-up again.

9.10. The above paragraphs have assumed that you have an ample supply of bisques. When you have a small number left you should always weigh up the power of keeping just one bisque standing. This will still modify your opponent's tactics. They will not be able to set up easy breaks when they know that if they fail the bisque will let you in. It will also deter them from joining-up too close to their partner ball, etc. In short it will cause them to play tactics which make their game more difficult. See Section 11: Giving Bisques to appreciate the effects of this standing bisque.

9.11. It is VITAL to realise when you are facing the prospect of playing your last turn. That is, from which position can your opponent stand a good chance of pegging out? This detail is crucial in dictating whether you must use your bisques for all you are worth, or chance getting another turn.

9.12. Remember also that bisques cannot be used in the extension period after Time is called in a Timed Game. If Time has been called during your turn you may not use bisques at the end of that turn. If Time was called during your opponent's turn then you may not use bisques in your following turn. These turns are the extension period. If both sides still have the same number of points at the end of these turns, then bisques can be used in subsequent turns starting with the player in whose turn time was called. Therefore you should plan some intense bisque activity just before Time is called. There are no prizes for having any bisques left at the end of a game you have lost! The following section attempts to indicate from which positions you can expect different classes of players to finish.

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Updated 10.iv.16
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