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Technical
Super-Advanced Tactics

The 2010 President’s Cup competition, which featured the elite of the available UK players, was played under the trial “Super-Advanced” rules.   Below is a collation of the tactics which emerged.

[Is there a standard sextuple leave emerging?]

Stephen Mulliner  writes:

Three that have appeared are:

  1. enemy balls tightly and near-horizontally cross-pegged with own balls on W boundary with a easterly rush so that neither enemy ball has shot at your balls.
  2. one enemy ball in or just SSW of hoop 2, other 1-2 yards W and 12-14 yards N of C4, own balls on W boundary 12-14 yards S of C2 with SE facing rush.
  3. one enemy ball in hoop 2, other 9 inches NNE of 5 (rushable to 1), own balls on W boundary 12-14 yards S of C2 with SE facing rush.

Stephen

Samir Patel writes:

If you want an Sextuple Peel (SXP) ….

  • Reverse New Standard Leave (NSL) favoured by some.
  • Or a tight cross-peg and joining on West boundary.
  • Some are advancing upon the reverse NSL by putting the loose ball about a foot N of hoop 5 (obscured from A baulk, rushable to hoop 1). 

Only 3 players (2x Death, 2x Fulford, 1x Patel) have completed an SXP. Not sure if anyone other than Stephen has attempted one.

First ball to 4-back is popular, with TPO as the most common response.

Those attempting to progress to 4-back are doing so with 2 diagonal spreads; the first break is going to 1-back.

Samir

Robert Fulford writes:

Super advanced worked very well last weekend and I'm strongly in favour of the President’s Cup continuing to be played as super advanced for the foreseeable future if possible. 

I spent much more of the playing time doing more challenging things, sextuples with trickier starts, making leaves and trying to do POPs with very little time (maybe trying to place a ball behind a hoop I wasn't making towards the end of the turn), trying to go round off contact leaves, playing one ball games. The rules and conditions made these percentage things to go for.

Shooting was still important but if anything less of a deciding factor than under standard advanced rules.  

I probably would have won more openings with conventional rules by being more reliable than the field at going round third turn, but the first ball off the boundary rule certainly added variety. I think going second was starting to become the most popular choice for the toss winner by the end of the event.

I was making reverse diagonal cross peg leaves going to 1-back as my plan A. The leave is easiest made by doing the crosswire after 5, where if you can approach 1 from a yard with a stop shot you can be very close to the peg before you have even played your rush towards it. Partner wants to be a couple of yards north of the peg so you don't have to do much with the striker's ball to get a rush to 6. Then need a rush out of the hoop west. The opponent's most defensive reply is to shoot through partner towards corner 1 though the only player who took this shot against me was Stephen and he hit it, so never actually had a go at that pick up.

Playing 1 & 1 against 1 & 4-back the TPO becomes much more attractive compared to standard rules. Not doing a TPO will concede an extra lift with 4 balls on the lawn compared to standard rules. Doing a TPO the only extra downside is you concede an extra lift if you don't make 4 and 1-back in the same turn, and in that case there are only 3 balls on the lawn. Even if you think your odds of winning the TPO game are only 50%, it might still be your best option, hence lots of 3 and 2 balls games.

Rob

Phil Cordingley writes:

Just to recap (probably over-simplistically, and conceivably having failed to spot some stuff) the super-advanced strategies in use for the first break of the game were:

  1. go to 1-back with a lift leave for the hoop 1 ball, with the intention of attempting a sextuple, and being happy enough to finish for peg & something with a contact leave versus 1&1 if the SXP is not completed
  2. go to 1-back with a lift leave for the 1-back ball, with the intention of progressing the 1-back ball to 4-back with another lift leave
  3. go to 4-back with a contact leave

I didn't observe anyone doing anything else except in the last round when someone came up with the particularly droll 3rd turn ball to penult, conceding lift to position with all three balls in C3. If the likelihood of opponent having practised the four ball C3 cannon for hoop 1 being low entered into the calculation, this was a good move as the promoted hoop 1 pioneer ended up on the S boundary close to C1 and was missed when the subsequent croquet stroke landed short.

But I digress. Strategies (b) and (c) have excellent winning chances if opponent misses the second lift, gives you contact at some stage, or you hit one of your (generally two) lifts. Even if you don't get going off a contact, you should manage a leave giving a 30ydr with a laid standard tp if it's missed.

So conversely if opponent is already for 4-back when you get going with your first ball, s/he has excellent winning chances if in return you just go for one of these three options. And hence the TPO becomes very attractive, requiring a significantly lower chance of success to justify it than under normal advanced rules: Rob's estimate was 50% compared with 60%.

Some other random observations:

  • supershots were attempted, but by dribbling at the left hand wire of hoop 5 with the peg & possibly hoop 6 in the frame as backup
  • attempts at two-ball breaks all failed, leaving clips more disastrous under these rules, in addition to the usual easy 3rd turn ball round opportunity for opponent
  • I'm guessing before too long option (a) will become sufficiently attractive that players of this standard will become highly adept at the SXP turn, at least to the extent of having a high probability of finishing under control in OK conditions.
  • there was a lot of thinking, which will be temporary while people become more immediately familiar with all the positions
  • there was most certainly more interaction. As a spectator there were few occasions when you could sit back and read the paper waiting for someone to finish a break. With one possible exception, the players seemed to be reading their books and papers a lot less too
  • the fact that option (b) leaves only three hoops to do the second lift leave means the relatively defensive lift shot at the peg ball towards C3 is an option. Not seen that since the OSL days

President's Cup Peeling Stats (% col is success ratio of TPOs relative to OTPs)

Year

Venue

SXP

QNP

QP

TP

TPO

OTP

Tot.

%

2001 Nottingham
1
0
0
30
12
5
48
71
2002 Parkstone
1
0
0
35
3
0
39
100
2003 Surbiton
0
0
1
23
0
1
25
0
2004 Hurlingham
5
0
3
30
4
0
42
100
2005 Heaton Park
6
0
0
38
1
3
48
25
2006 Jersey
5
0
0
36
3
2
46
60
2007 Hurlingham
9
2
4
33
2
1
51
67
2008 Bowden
7
1
2
32
2
1
45
67
2009 Parkstone
4
0
0
30
6
6
46
50
2010 Hurlingham
7
0
0
22
9
6
44
60

 

Dave Kibble in 2014 summarises:

Making 12 hoops invites opponent to do likewise and peg you out. They get a lift to position (=easy start) but you only get contact.

The more aggressive top players seem to like going to 4-back and giving contact with the expectation that they will have at least one shot or have contact and can finish in that turn or after a missed long shot. The classic (4th+ turn) leave seems to be opponent balls on the S and E boundary a few yards from corner 4 and own balls in corners 2 and 3. the 4-back ball being in corner 3, mainly to avoid accidentally leaving a rush if a lift is taken instead of the contact.

Others take two breaks to 4-back retaining the innings and using a diagonal-spread after the first break with a rush for the 1-back ball. First break is usually to 1-back, but there's advantage in stopping earlier - it makes the second leave easier

A few others go to 1-back with a reverse-diagonal-spread-like tight cross-peg and rush into court from the West boundary with the intention of completing a sextuple - there is no shot available that does not give easy access to the fourth ball before hoop 2.

Many like going round third turn, by hitting hoop 5 on turn 1. I'm not sure if a "standard" good leave or clip position has evolved.

Second turn you can going to peg and peg out :)

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Updated 28.i.16
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