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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
Second Turn 4-back Leaves

In top-level play a player occasionally establishes a break in second turn and can make as many hoops as they wish and finish their turn under control. Playing under Advanced Rules there is a lift conceded after running 1-back and a contact or lift after running 1-back and 4-back in the same turn.  A contact is rarely worth giving away especially in top-level play hence it is sensible to stop after running 3-back.

What are Viable Leaves after Running 3-back?

Chris Clark offered:

I usually opt to make one of two leaves. Please note that both of these leaves are equally applicable if I have hit the supershot (or some such) and chosen (as usual) not to try and go round.

  1. If I am shooting very well or my opponent is very strong, I will play the balls 6" North of Corner 4 and 6" South of Corner 2. This means that they are very unlikely to go round 3rd turn and that if they shoot at anything and miss, they will probably leave a double. I used this leave against Robert Fulford in the 2009 Opens.

    Robert comments:

    Chris's option (1) is a great defensive leave but has one main weakness, that is the opponent can simply join up close with you without shooting and it isn't really that bad for them unless you are a truly great shot.

    My logic would be to put one of these balls closer to baulk, maybe only 9 yards from baulk and make the opponent hit something to avoid leaving me a very short shot and risk giving a double. If they hit they are still likely to leave a 13 yarder at the end of the turn (or even better fail 1).

    However really depends on the man you are playing. In this case I think logic fails to find the right solution for most opponent, as most opponent are going to shoot even if the balls are perfectly placed near the corners. They just don't like to have to rely on the opponent missing, even if it is percentage play, particularly if they have just seen the opponent play an all-round 2 ball break. 

    Chris replies:

    A couple of points about Rob's option. If you need to croquet the ball into position from distance (as usual), it is risky to try and send it 9 yards off baulk because if it is too short or long, there will be insufficient penalty for shooting at it. Secondly, if the opponent just joins up with the ball near the corner, I don't find much difference between

    • Hitting a 13 yarder, and

    • Hitting a 9 yarder and then taking off to 2 balls 38 yards away and making a roquet.

    As Rob says, the key is that most of the time, oppo doesn't take the right option anyway.

  1. If I am shooting worse and my opponent isn’t that strong, I tend to cross-wire at the peg, leaving a double. Any miss gives me the game and it is important to note the variety of targets that you can opt to make.

    For example, you can leave a full double from the end of either baulk or you can make the double only available from Corners 1 and 3 to lengthen the shot. Perhaps of most significance is the opportunity to leave both balls in positions where the peg interferes with the rush to hoop 1 (not easy to get, but worth trying for, even if you only get 1 ball perfect).

  1. I should also mention Corners 1 and 3 which is pretty tricky to achieve, particularly of you haven't made any hoops. This is massively powerful against all but the best players on all but the easiest lawns.

My opinion is that all other leaves are inferior to these three.

I should add another possible alternative that is worthy of discussion and may be easier to achieve than some of the others

  1. Croquet the opponent ball into duffer tice position (you decide the length) and then play your own ball 6" North of Corner 4. It has the weakness that against a very strong opponent, you risk them going round 3rd turn, but that still requires some good strokes.

Others have Offered the Following Leaves, not all are serious:

  1. Leave one ball a few inches out of Corner 2 on the West boundary and the other a few inches out of Corner 4 on the East boundary.
  2. In court if you expect to finish 4th turn, or on the boundary if you expect to finish sometime after the 4th turn.
  3. One ball 6 inches South of Corner 2 and the other 7 1/2 yards North of Corner 4 so the roll to hoop 1 from that location is obstructed.
  4. Opponent ball 15 yards North of Corner 4, partner in Corner 2.
  5. Safer to peg out on turn 2, then the two-ball dodecuple is a bit trickier.
  6. Both balls in Corner 3 to encourage the third turn TPO, so you can finish on turn 4.
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Updated 28.i.16
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