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Dr Ian Plummer

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Introduction to 6th Edition Laws


This 6th Edition of the Laws of Association Croquet has been prepared by an International Laws Revision Committee (ILRC), which was established by the Australian Croquet Association, Croquet New Zealand, the Croquet Association and the United States Croquet Association.

It has been approved by the respective governing bodies for use in Australia and New Zealand from 1st September, 2000 and in the domain of the Croquet Association from 1st January, 2001. The ILRC met during the MacRobertson Shield in Christchurch, New Zealand, during the early part of 2000, and published a draft for comment at the end of February. They are grateful to those who contributed to the discussion of this, and to the editorial committee, Graeme Roberts, Merv Dunkley, Jerry Stark, myself and, in particular, Stephen Mulliner, who assimilated the comments and prepared the text.

The purpose of the revision has not been to make radical changes to the game, but rather to reflect those that have taken place since the last revision ten years or so ago and to remove the anomalies that have been exposed by close analysis of the wording of previous editions.

A document to be called the Official Rulings on the Laws of Croquet (ORLC) is being prepared. This will contain commentary, examples and any rulings found to be necessary when games start to be played under these laws.

Dr. Ian Vincent,
Chairman, C.A. Laws Committee
June, 2000.


A. Re-ordering

1. The order of the old laws has been improved.  The main sections are:

Law 1 An outline of the game
Laws 2-3 Court and equipment
Laws 4-7 Definitions
Laws 8-21 Ordinary level singles play
Laws 22-28 Errors
Laws 29-35 Interferences
Laws 36-43 Advanced, handicap and doubles play
Laws 44-46 Modified games
Laws 47-51 Conduct and refereeing
Laws 52-55 Special laws

B. Changes which bring the laws into line with current practice

1. Laws 4(e)(2)(B) and 5(a) (a stroke)
It is now permissible to play a stroke before the preceding stroke has ended provided that the outcome of neither stroke will be affected.  This extends to a player beginning a turn before the previous striker has finished replacing a ball providing that permission has been given.  Players may agree to give each other such permission at the start of a game.

2. Law 13 (wiring lift)
A ball is now definitely wired from another if it has to pass through a hoop to hit it (13(c)(1)).  A player cannot claim a lift on the basis that an abnormal swing (e.g. a sweep shot) is impeded (13(d)).  It has been clarified that a player cannot claim a lift by changing to a different mallet.  The test has to be performed using the mallet that he used in the turn before his ball was placed in the allegedly wired position (13(d)).

3. Advanced Games
The new 14 point advanced game with lifts at 3 and 4 has been recognised (45(b)).  Semi-advanced play (old 37) has been abolished due to lack of use

C. Changes which apply to all games

1. Law 6 (states of a ball)
A new term, ball at rest, has been introduced to assist in clarifying when a ball is deemed to come to rest.  A ball at rest is simply a stationary ball in play and is therefore not a ball in hand.  A ball is now deemed to come to rest when it appears to stop moving (6(b)(4)), although in critical positions, it must appear to be stationary for 5 seconds (6(b)(5)) and, if its position needs to be tested, only when the test has been carried out (6(b)(5)).  Taking up the stance has been discarded as it was open to abuse.

2. Laws 9 and 19(c) (election of striker's ball and roqueted ball)
No election of the striker's ball is now made until a stroke is played or the striker lifts a ball when entitled to do so under Laws 13 or 36.  No election of the roqueted ball is made until a stroke is played.  This simplifies the wrong ball law and removes the risk of inadvertent election by moving balls for a croquet stroke or a cannon.

3. Law 12 (replacement of a yard-line ball)
Replacement of a ball on the yard-line when one or more balls interferes with its normal replacement has been simplified by adopting one principle for all cases.  The striker is now free to place the striker's ball on the yard-line in contact with any interfering ball.  This is the same as the old law except for the former requirement that a would-be corner ball should always be replaced as close as possible to the corner spot.

This represents a change from the original proposal outlined in CG 265.  The ILRC felt that the change adopted will cause the least waste of time by reducing the frequency of marginal decisions.  It also gives slightly greater tactical flexibility to the striker when replacing a ball after missing a roquet.

4. Law 18(a)(2) (consequences of a roquet)
A ball may now cause other balls to score hoop or peg points before coming to rest in the stroke in which it is pegged out.  It only becomes an outside agency at the end of that stroke.

D. Changes which apply to games with errors or interferences

1. Law 5 (striking period)
The striking period now begins when the mallet head leaves the ball on the final backswing.  This avoids accidental disturbance of the ball while casting being considered a fault.  The striking period ends as before when the striker quits his stance under control which is a matter to be determined by the referee.  However, three faults involving ways of holding the mallet or resting the arms cannot be committed after the striker has completed the swing in which he hits the ball as he cannot gain any advantage.  Should the striker play two strokes without quitting his stance in between, the first striking period ends when the second stroke begins.

2. Laws 22-29

2.1 The error laws have been given a thorough overhaul.  The word "condoned" has been dropped and strokes in error are no longer deemed not to have occurred.  If an error is discovered before its limit of claims has passed it is said to be "rectified" which means that the balls and clips go back to their last lawful position.  If an error is discovered afterwards, it is ignored.  The restricted remedies have been eliminated.  If a hoop is physically scored for a ball when the striker was playing when not entitled or when playing a wrong ball, the point counts if the error is discovered after the limit of claims.  This prevents much later discovery invalidating subsequent points in order.  Bisques taken in such circumstances are not restored.

2.2 Law 25 (playing when not entitled)
This has been split into two sub-laws to recognise that it can apply to both the striker and his adversary.

2.3 Law 26 (playing a wrong ball)
This has been shortened and simplified. 26(c) provides a simple remedy if the players realise that they have played the whole game up to the time of recovery with the wrong colours.  They simply carry on with the choice of balls reversed.  The limit of claims has been changed to the first stroke of the next turn started with a correct ball.  This is the same as before in normal cases but deals with the case where the players exchange colours unwittingly for two or more turns.  Play then reverts to the position before the first wrong ball was played.

2.4 Law 28 (faults)
Rectification of a fault may now be waived in all circumstances, not just when a ball goes off in a croquet stroke.  This prevents the striker from gaining any advantage if an unsuccessful stroke is also a fault and removes any incentive to play with that possibility in mind.  The only exception is in handicap play where the striker intends to play a bisque (not a half-bisque).  Then the fault must be rectified so that the striker can play a bisque from the original position, usually to have another attempt at a hoop.

3. Law 27

3.1 Playing when a ball is misplaced has been completely re-organised.  27(a) states how the law is to be applied, 27(b) covers minor misplacements and 27(c) defines a new term "purporting to take croquet" which is used to describe what happens when the striker plays a stroke which is intended to be a croquet stroke but is in fact unlawful.

3.2 27(d) covers purporting to take croquet from a dead ball (i.e. one that has already been croqueted since the start of the turn or running the last hoop).  This error can give the striker a significant advantage if the adversary is not present to forestall before the next stroke but one.  The limit of claims has therefore been extended to the first stroke of the adversary's next turn.  For this reason, the penalty is now end of turn and, as with running a wrong hoop or playing a wrong ball, if the adversary sees that the striker is about to commit the error, he must not warn.

3.3 27(e) covers purporting to take croquet from a live ball and removes the option of interchanging the balls.  This greatly simplifies the law and avoids the striker benefiting from the error in certain cases.

3.4 27(f) and (g) extend the limit of claims to the third stroke of the turn when the striker plays from baulk when not entitled to or wrongly plays a ball from other than baulk.  Under the old laws, the adversary had to forestall play before the error was committed or not at all.  Now, while he should forestall play before the error if he sees what is about to happen, he has a reasonable period in which to do so afterwards if he does not notice anything amiss until after the stroke has been played.

3.5 One of the defects of the old law was that a striker who committed two errors could be better off than one who only committed one.  Now, if the striker commits a non-fatal error under Laws 27(e) to (h) and, in either the first error stroke or the following stroke, suffers what would have been a turn-ending event in lawful play, his turn ends (28(j)).  Examples include committing a fault or sending a ball off the court when purporting to take croquet from a wrong live ball, playing a wrong ball, failing a hoop or missing a roquet.

4. Laws 33 (interference with the position or motion of a ball)
The striker may be entitled to a replay if a ball has been interfered with by the adversary or an outside agency such as a double-banker.  This is an equitable remedy which will be available only if the referee (or the adversary) agree that it would be unfair not to award a replay.  It is not possible to decide every possible case in advance but, generally, the striker is expected to know where the balls of his game are supposed to be and, if a double-banker moves a ball with his permission, the striker is unlikely to get a replay unless the misplacement was difficult to detect from where the striker was located.

5. Law 35(a) (Turn wrongly ending)
If the striker ends his turn prematurely and quits the court, he does not lose his turn until the adversary has played a stroke. If the adversary realises that the erstwhile striker is still entitled to play, he is obliged to inform him.

Stephen Mulliner

Author: S. Mulliner & I. Vincent
All rights reserved © 2004

Updated 28.i.16
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