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Dr Ian Plummer

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Setting up a Delayed Triple Peel from a Diagonal Spread
Starting situation after diagonal spread
In this case Blue has been lifted to corner 3 and misses Yellow into corner 4. Yellow will play a 3-ball break to hoop 3 starting by sending Red to hoop 2 and rushing Black to hoop 1.

Matt Holmes asked:

After a season grappling with triple peels, it has occurred to me that to make things easier next season the whole thing should be broken down into systematic bite-size chunks.

I've been pondering on the most likely triple peel following a diagonal spread. The last two peels are easy enough to plan from 2-back, but when you have an opponent ball in corner 4 after the missed lift, after making hoop 3 with partner what is the best way to go to corner 4. Clearly you want to set up the corner 4 ball at hoop 5 going to pioneer at hoop 4.

Do people favour taking off to corner 4 leaving partner right near hoop 3 (seems to make sense to me) or would you rather knock partner to half way and give up good early position for the peel in favour of a marginally easier take-off to corner 4?

I would rather have a very good chance of peeling going to hoop 6 by taking on the long take-off without having to revisit partner to nudge to hoop 3 into peeling zone while going for hoop 5.

Dave Kibble responds:

From a diagonal spread, you are usually making hoop 3 off opponent, partner having gone to hoop 2 and then to hoop 4.

I used to be happy taking off from hoop 3 to corner 4, but it can get tricky to get close enough (actually, I started taking off short because people told me that's what was likely :); my preferred option now is to rush off the East boundary after hoop 3 and send that ball to hoop 5 going to corner 4 (aiming to be a yard or two away on the line to hoop 4 - practice this stroke from various positions on the East boundary, it's surprisingly easy but is not a stroke that will be in your armoury normally. Some people say they like to rush up the court (past peg high) and take-off, but I don't see that often and having played it a number of times, it does not suit me. Others have good control at hoop 3 and rush the pioneer to hoop 5, but that's so likely to go wrong if you don't have really good control.

Taking croquet from corner 4, think about where to send the ball to make things easiest when you run hoop 4 - if you try and send it to the 4-back peel escape position but send it too far (which is easily done), it's very difficult to recover. I think 2-3 yards due South of hoop 3 is my optimum if I'm reasonably sure of a rush out of hoop 4.

And don't forget the position of your hoop 4 pioneer is determined by the fact that you'll be playing this stroke - it's so easy to have it NW of hoop 4, which makes getting a controlled hoop and therefore good rush to 4-back difficult.

The next critical thing is getting a rush out of hoop 5 since, following the line of play described, you'd be taking off to your pioneer from 4-back - think about where you want that pioneer - SW of hoop 5 is bad!


Jonathan Kirby writes:

You are quite right that the secret to learning how to do triple peels is to break them up into little pieces and learn how to do each piece separately, then put them together later.

There are other things you might want to practise first:

  • the straight rover peel and pegout,
  • the penult peel after hoop 6,
  • the penult peel before 4-back,
  • from a missed short lift shot, setting up the break and doing the 4-back peel after hoop 3.

and most importantly:

  • the 4-back peel before hoop 6 (so you know where you want the balls to be, otherwise there is no point practising putting them in the wrong place)

Anyway, for your problem: I have never seen you play so I don't know what strokes you are good at and what you prefer. However, I'll give you my personal view, which is best suited to a player who is a reasonable shot but whose croquet strokes are perhaps not very precise. I suggest you take-off from hoop 3 to corner 4. This is because:

  1. you don't have to worry about getting a rush out of the hoop, so are less likely to break down, and
  2. you don't have to play a croquet stroke from distance to get the balls back to 4-back for the peel.

Then roquet the ball in corner 4 and croquet it to 2 to 3 feet NE of hoop hoop 5, going to your pioneer at hoop 4. After hoop 4, rush partner back to 4-back, and leave the two balls there in position for a peel attempt, then take-off to hoop 5. The position of the pioneer NE of the hoop makes this take-off safer.

Now this line of play is not necessarily the best one, but if your single balls strokes are better than your croquet strokes I think it is about the safest and most likely to give you a reasonable chance of setting up the peel. I play this line when I don't get a rush out of hoop 3. When I used to play (!) I would try to get a rush out of hoop 3 and then try the lines that Dave Kibble suggested. But I suggest practising this one line of play first, unless you are a player who can regularly get a forward rush out of hoop 3.


Samir Patel writes:

I think the general response is that there's no right answer. There are plenty of players who (as a preference) will leave a ball near 4-back and take-off to corner 4, and plenty more who (as a preference) will rush South after hoop 3. Some will rush about half-way between hoop 3 and hoop 4, other will go all the way to South boundary. I'm in the "between hoop 3 and hoop 4 camp".

I should point out that you're usually making hoop 3 off opponent, in which case it really doesn't matter how well placed it is - and there's enough time to adjust it into a good escape ball position when placing partner after hoop 4 (assuming you go back to it, rather than sending peelee into position with a big stroke from South of hoop 5). I like the "between hoop 3 and hoop 4" since if you do it lets you put peelee into position from about 10 yards, which is nice and tidy. I don't like leaving it at 4-back partly because I don't really like the take-off and partly because if you contrive to not get a rush out of hoop 4 it can be a bit messy.

The only possible consideration is if you want to give yourself the option of playing a good rush after hoop 4 and peeling immediately, in which case you might want it nearer 4-back (so you can be 100% certain of hitting it after the early peel!) I would probably only choose this line if I have a really good hoop 4 pioneer, although clearly if you don't get a rush after hoop 3 it has to be a consideration.

If for some reason you are making hoop 3 off partner (maybe turn 5 after a missed long shot against a defensive leave), I think the same line applies. Unless there's a good reason for not wanting to go back up peelee after hoop 5 (and I can't immediately think of one), there's more than enough time to get the position sorted out for a peel before hoop 6 - apart from the immediate croquet stroke when going to corner 4, you've still got two rushes and a croquet stroke to get it into position. The same sort of position between hoop 3 and hoop 4 allows you to rush back after hoop 4 (with the backup of no rush), and send the escape ball into position, this time from about 12-13 yards, while getting a rush on peelee to the right sort of area, adjust it in the take-off to hoop 5 and you're all set.

Your final comment is a bit odd. Why are you happy to put partner into peeling position with a 25 yard take-off from 4-back to corner 4, but with a shorter, 16 yard, take-off from 4-back to hoop 5?


Dave Kibble queries Samir's idea

> I like the "between hoop 3 and hoop 4" since if you do it lets you put peelee into position from about 10 yards

And are you planning to rush it South or North?

South means the hoop 5 pioneer needs to be a bit further NE than otherwise, but you are putting in the 4-back escape ball from too great a distance (IMHO)

North means you are rushing to escape ball position (very dodgy), since the take-off back to hoop 5 gives little correction opportunity

These are the reasons I abandoned that line, despite the advantages you identified (which are worth having).


Samir Patel responds:

If the "between hoop 3 and hoop 4" ball is the escape ball, then I'm generally planning on rushing it South. And yes, I agree that this impacts where the hoop 5 pioneer should go. I accept that there's a risk of the escape ball being somewhere horrid, but I'm usually not trying to place it tight to 4-back (I'm confident enough with a three yard tonk towards hoop 6), which means that there's quite a large landing area.

If the "between hoop 3 and hoop 4" ball is peelee, then yes, I want to be rushing North almost(*) every time. And as a preference, the "between hoop 3 and hoop 4" spot will be further North than in the first case, for the reason you give. Clearly though, if the rush goes badly, you can get into a bit of a mess (although there's still another rush to come on peelee - although controlling that one is dependent on a good rush out of hoop 5).

(*) I suspect I'd only want to rush South if (a) my rush after hoop 4 goes far too far, or (b) if my hoop 5 pioneer sufficiently rubbish to need to return focus on keeping the break going.

Overall through, I'm willing to trade some of these risks for taking circa 10 yards off the take-off to corner 4. There are lots of ways that can go wrong.


Chris Clarke writes:

All sorts of good helpful replies so far. I've just got a few additions.

  • I like having my hoop 5 pioneer 2 feet East of hoop 5. This gives better flexibility in a variety of potential positions if your preferred line of play goes wrong.
  • I always encourage players to avoid the take-off to corner 4 which I describe as "the most difficult shot in croquet!!" That said, it will still be the optimal line for a group of players. Jenny still prefers it and her croquet strokes are now pretty decent.
  • The key parts of your delayed triple peel once you understand the range of ball positioning are obtaining a rush out of hoop 5 and a rush out of 3-back. Getting rushes out of hoops jeopardises breaks and minimising how many rushes you require is helpful.
  • So much more could be said - get your club to buy a copy of "North to South" in 2014. (Chris Clarke making a shameless plug for his 'purported' book)


Matt says:

Thanks for all the great replies.

At first glance it all looks very pressured to dig out and get the 4-back peel done after hoop 5.

I quite like the idea of rushing from hoop 3 down to halfway, it does reduce the need for a backward rush after hoop 4 which has not been very reliable for me.

Still, placing the peelee from hoop 4 accurately at 4-back and rushing the escape ball to a good position is no mean feat before hoop 5. But overall odds better than a long take-off to corner 4and placing peelee with a split stop shot going to hoop 5 ... I agree.

It can still be attempted after hoop 6 too I suppose.

The other peels in Wylie [Expert Croquet Tactics] although explained I have found not to my liking at this stage, so I'll try to perfect this 4-back routine and setting up for penultimate after 2-back.



Samir writes:

Jonathan has pointed out that people may be taking the "long shot" because you're joining too far North, and perhaps it's not that much longer.

The other possibility is that your opponents may have noticed that you're not confident with a delayed triple peel, and so "always" take the long shot. If so, you can afford to join even further South, but expect everything to change as soon as you start to demonstrate competence at the delayed triple peel.


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