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Advanced Play: Laying up for the Sextuple
1-Back Leaves

Robert Fulford gives some thoughts on croquet leaves at the top level of play. From the Nottingham Croquet News Group. The diagrams have not been vetted by Rob and are just to give a quick idea of the layout.

Having seen Reg Bamford in practice and then in the Men's final I thought there was a serious chance Reg might be hitting virtually everything by the Worlds Final. In between I did some thinking about tactics in such a scenario.

I had 3 basic ideas for variations on the standard 1-back leave, two of these were in the Croquet Gazette but not as I would have expressed them;

A. Make it difficult for Reg to get going if he hits.

The first leave involves peeling Reg to hoops 2 and 2, leaving one ball near the South boundary a yard East of hoop 1 and the other wired as close to hoop 1 as possible without making running hoop 1 from the boundary an option. I then lay up with the 1-back ball in hoop 3 having sent partner to near the North boundary in front of hoop 3.

A simple cross wire at hoop 1 (as in the Gazette) is not much defence against Reg.

case a
Case A.

B. Lengthen/Discourage the shot

One of Reg's balls is left in Corner 4, the other close to the North boundary 1yd West of 2. My balls are roughly 7yds from hoop 2 wired from Reg by hoops 2 and 4, with a rush pointing towards hoop 5. (The diagram in the Gazette is a similar position but I want the ball actually in Corner 4 so I'll get a cannon if Reg misses from hoop 2 to Corner 4).

The length of shot is increased from say 32 to 38yd.

The leave is easy to make (in comparison to placing a ball accurately in 1-back or hoop 3).

I think Reg's best play would then be to hit the ball behind hoop 2 into Corner 3. I would probably then go round with a few peels and end up giving contact.

Clearly there is a risk I won't go round.

In general if I get the first break on the 4th turn and go to 1-back and then Reg hits in, my position is very poor. If I get in with the hoop 1 ball, I'm unlikely to be able to get the 1-back peel in after hoop 2 and will end up giving Reg another turn.

Getting to 4-back and peg without Reg taking a shot looks pretty good.

case b
Case B.

C. Make Reg peel me through 1-back if he hits

I cross-wire at hoop 4 and lay up with the 1-back ball in 1-back and partner near the North boundary in front 1-back.

This has the advantage that if Reg hits he will have to peel me through 1-back to get going, giving me a significantly better position if I get in again.

case c
Case C.


Author: Robert Fulford
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Updated 28.i.16
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