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Dr Ian Plummer

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When to POP

Nick Parish asked the question below on POPping. A POP is a Peel On Opponent where you advance their ball by a hoop or two to make your leave stronger or lower the chances of them triple peeling you out. Dave Kibble (DK) and Samir Patel (SP) offer some responses.

Assume that its level advanced play, the opponent is for 1 and 4-back. I hit the lift but it takes a little time to get the break under control so I don’t pick up opponent’s hoop 1 ball from the East boundary until after I’ve run hoop 3 (this seems pretty realistic for my standard). I’m assuming for now I’ll be happy with one POP, with the second being a bonus. Some questions/thoughts:

  1. I assume the best time to try the first POP is before hoop 5?

DK: yes, on the way to the hoop 5 pioneer.

SP: Yes.

  1. What is the best position for the hoop 5 pioneer?  Presumably not at hoop 5 but somewhere NE of hoop 1? Grateful for more specific suggestions. I’m also very aware that I’m likely to be putting this pioneer in place from some distance away (East boundary level with the peg seems pretty likely) so plenty of room for error is necessary.

DK: well, think about it: typically (at your level of control) you will be peeling 1 from up to yard and 10-30 degrees from straight in front. Your best chance of the peel is to play a straight drive, so your hoop 5 pioneer needs to be a yard or less SE of hoop 1. If that puts a risk on making hoop 5 then it needs to be a yard or so W of hoop 5 - how far N or S of hoop 5 depends on the shot you  want to play going to it - if it's N then the peel angle is reduced and so pull is reduced but you need to hit the shot harder, so pull is increased :)  [Room for error?] then aim for just W of hoop 5 (that's what I normally do)

SP: I prefer near hoop 5; about 2 feet W by preference, but south of that is better than north. There will be a lot of personal preference here.

  1. If the peel before hoop 5 bounces off, is it worth the risk of having another go by death-rolling the peel going to hoop 6, or is it better to wait until running 2-back?

DK: what's the risk? Surely you'd expect to be able to play a roll from in front of hoop 1 going to a ball at hoop 6 and making 6? If you haven't got it by 2-back you are risking the leave. Opponent's clip on hoop 1 with a good Diagonal Spread is MUCH better than the clip on 2 with a B-spread.

If you POP, then propping the 4-back ball on the peg is good - it rushes to 1 (your hoop) but not to 2.

SP: Yes. Provided you've put the hoop 6 pioneer somewhere sensible (i.e. west of the centre line) there isn't much risk.

  1. If the peel before hoop 5 jawses, the obvious solution is to rush back after hoop 5 and then rush peel up to 1-back. Assume I do that but then can’t get a second POP before hoop 6. Is it worth trying to do the second POP after 1-back? Should be easy enough to do but it strikes me that this may jeopardise a decent leave, and is a disaster if I don’t get a northwards rush out of 2-back.

DK: this really risks the leave - you will need a rush to corner 2 after 2-back and a good croquet stroke and rush - perfectly playable, but perhaps not for you yet. If either rush goes wrong you're in trouble with the leave.

Remember that the reason for POPing is to make it more difficult for your opponent to get a triple going - if you then make a leave that gives them all the balls for hitting a short shot...

SP: This probably needs a long answer, but that's the line of play for the second peel. You can still get a decent leave if peeling hoop 2 after 1-back, but there's a lot of rushing involved, and you've got to decide if it's worth the risk.

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Updated 28.i.16
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