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Dr Ian Plummer

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Advanced Play - Options after the 4-back Peel going to Hoop 6

The following question was asked on the Nottingham List about dealing with the triple peel in Advanced Play .

I'd welcome advice from experienced triplers on this situation, which seems to happen to me quite a lot but is hardly covered in Wylie [Expert Croquet Tactics, Author: Keith Wylie, Soft back, 154 pages. Illustrated with b/w diagrams. Published 1991]. I cleanly peel 4-back before hoop 6 and get a good rush to 6, so I can expect to get a rush as desired after 6. It seems to me that there are (at least) two possible options for what to do after running 6.

(a) Rush the hoop 6 pioneer into Corner III/east boundary alongside hoop 3, then stop it down towards 2-back, getting a rush on the peelee towards penult before taking off to the 1-back pioneer.

(b) Leave the hoop 6 pioneer more or less where it is and take off to the peelee, rush it off the north boundary behind 1-back and stop it down to 2-back going to the 1-back pioneer.

It seems to me that option (a) has the advantage of allowing me to have a go at the death-roll peel going to 2-back. [i.e. split roll in front of penult which peels the peelee whilst the striker's ball travels to the pioneer at 2-back]. However I find it very difficult to estimate the amount of pull required on that peel, and if it fails it is often much more difficult to get the balls in good position to peel penult going to 4-back. Option (b) precludes the death-roll, but makes peeling penult before 4-back correspondingly easier. It also usually allows for a better pioneer at 2-back.

I'd be very interested to hear what option reliable triplers would go for.



Summary of Responses

Option (a) offers the chance of completing all three peels before running 3-back, which is safer if you are tripling your opponent - you have done all the work before conceding the contact. It also avoids the 'all-or-nothing' straight rover peel. Option (a) is perceived generally as more difficult as the 2-back pioneer has to be placed from Corner III and an accurate rush is required to move the peelee to penult.

Option (b) appears generally favoured and it offers the chance of a penult peel going to 3-back as well as the more standard peel going to 4-back or straight at penult.

Option (c) (v.i., setting for the penult peel after 1-back with a long rush to 2-back). This is rated as too risky.


Option (b). Send the peelee down to 2-back leaving the hoop 6 pioneer near to hoop 6. Rush the peelee/'2-back' pioneer back to penult after 2-back giving yourself a 10% chance of a peel. If you are not in position for an immediate penult peel then set up for a delayed double, i.e. peeling penult before 4-back.


I'd almost always go for option (b), mainly because it's fairly rare that I get a rush into 3rd corner after hoop 6, and even if I do, I have to have peeled by less than a yard for my stop shot to be able to get a rush on the peelee and get the croqueted ball to 2-back with Barlow balls. Putting partner [peelee] to 2-back has the advantages that you generally are doing it from 10-12 yards closer and so are that much more accurate, and also there is the chance of rushing back after 2-back and getting the peel in then.

If I have a rush towards Corner III, then I will always take it, even though I intend to put partner to 2-back, there is no reason to play a take-off if you don't have to.

If you go for the death-roll option, then there should be no reason why you would not get the balls in position accurately, unless you don't go back to the peelee before 3-back (of course, just to contradict myself, here it might be worth playing a take-off rather than rushing the peelee back down to 3-back and croqueting it back again).


I go for option (b) almost all the time. Mainly because it's much easier and safer. One or two other advantages are

  1. You have a reasonable chance of rushing after 2-back to a position where you can peel or jaws at penult immediately.
  2. You do not need a rush after 6 so your rush to 6 doesn't need to be quite so accurate. I find this relieves the pressure significantly.
  3. After 1-back. You can place the escape ball for the penult peel reasonably accurately before going to 2-back. This guards against failing to get the rush out of 2-back or if your 3-back pioneer is poor, you can rush to it after 2-back and get a rush on it while sending the peelee to penult.

All in all, it's just much cleaner and neater and the only disadvantage is that you forego the opportunity to peel penult before 2-back which is an unattractive proposition with a poor 2-back pioneer. And since you are sending your 2-back pioneer from Corner III it is likely to be fairly poor.


After years of persisting with option (a), and losing many games as a result (duff pioneer at 2-back leading to giveaway of easy 4 ball-break for opponent with lift) I now favour (b). Only if lawn conditions are favourable for stop-shots and the peelee has just dribbled through would I go for (a) nowadays.


I prefer to keep option (a) open by at least going for the rush on the pioneer to Corner III or east of hoop 3 and seeing how good a stop-shot I can play to position that ball as a pioneer 3-4 yards short of 2-back. I don't want a rush on partner to penult, instead it is better to rush it off the middle of the N boundary. Only then you make your choice.

  1. 1. If the 2-back pioneer is in good position for the roll-peel after 1-back (i.e. 3-4 yards north and a little east of 2-back so that a roquet from up to 3 yards away will not knock it past the hoop), I play a roll/pass-roll as required to position partner 1 yard north of penult and get onto the 1-back pioneer.
    I think it is worth trying the roll-peel because there is then a reasonable chance of doing the Rover peel before 3-b or at least getting partner very tight to Rover for an eventual straight peel.
  2. 2. If the 2-back pioneer is either too close to 2-back (so a 3 yard roquet after the roll-peel will knock it past the hoop) or too far away for comfort, then I revert to loading 2-back with partner as well with the intent that the 1-back pioneer will go to 3-back and the other enemy ball will be sent back to just southeast of penult before making 2-back off partner, with the chance of rushing partner back to penult after 2-back and peeling it at once, before rushing the other enemy ball down south.

Horses for courses. I like rolling almost as much as stop shots.


The real advantage of peeling penult before 2-back is being able to peel rover before 3-back, avoiding the straight rover peel. A good peel is therefore necessary; dribbling it through has no real advantage.

Whilst I agree with the safely arguments advanced by the other contributors, a clean peel and a rush where you want after hoop 6 implies good control, so I see no real reason why you shouldn't take the rush to Corner III and place your 2-back pioneer, if it's good continue and place peelee in front of penult, if not use it for the 2-back pioneer - the places you need to rush it to for the two options are not far apart so it makes no difference to the previous croquet shot.

If before the "death-roll" attempt, you are too far from penult to be sure of at least hitting the jaws, leave it for later otherwise, as you imply, you risk not being able to get the balls organised for the penult before 4-back.

Having two 2-back pioneers is no problem - in fact it helps you get a good 3-back pioneer - if you are peeling penult before 4-back, a good rush out of 3-back is really helpful, possibly even crucial, and a good 3-back pioneer assures this.

Make sure that the auxiliary 2-back pioneer goes back to the penult box before 2-back - then you still get the speculative penult after 2-back and are covered if you don't get a rush out of 2-back at all.

There's no doubt that it's safer if you don't try to push the peels but take a relaxed approach - when you come onto sextuples though, getting the peels done early makes a great deal of difference.

The variety is what makes peeling turns interesting, so don't stick with just one way of doing it, you'll go out of your mind!


The stop shot in option (a) should not be too difficult, particularly if Dawson balls are used. If the death-roll peel to 2-back fails, provided the striker's ball is good then a second attempt going to 3-back is sometimes possible, where jawsing or better gives an easier finish than the delayed or straight double. There is also an option (c) which nobody has mentioned: rush to Corner III after hoop 6 (or take off after tapping hoop 6 escape ball) and then send it back to SSW of penult, making for an easier peel after 1-back. However, you need to be certain of getting a good rush to 2-back; over-running is fatal, making this option very risky. However, it is easier to set up. The important point is to concentrate on getting a rush to 2-back and not be distracted by the peel.


The problem with option (c) is that it is pretty pointless and adds risk; penult before 2-back is a good line of play in order to get rover before 3-back, avoiding the straight rover peel. Peeling penult and getting a rush on a nearby ball implies only peeling it a short distance - go for the roll every time.


If you're TPO-ing, the death roll (option (a)) may be more appealing because of the chance of a rover peel going to 3-back. The leave then becomes much easier than if you've got to do straight rover peel. Even ignoring that, the opportunity of getting a really tight peelee at rover makes organising the parity of balls for the leave easier than if you're arranging the rover peel after a later penult peel.


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Updated 28.i.16
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