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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
The Triple Peel - Peeling Opportunities

The purpose of this article is to point out the opportunities when the peels may be done easily.

A peel is where you cause a ball, other than the one you are striking, to run its next hoop and thereby score a point. The mark of an 'A' class player is being able to complete the triple peel. To qualify the player must peel another ball through 4-back, penult, rover and peg it out, whilst taking their own ball through its hoops in one turn.

A 'straight' peel is when you peel a ball just before you run that hoop yourself. Hence in a straight triple peel you peel 4-back before running it yourself, then penult, then rover! When a straight peel is to be done be careful not to send a pioneer to the same hoop so that it blocks the approach of the peelee or the peel itself. Also remember your turn ends if your peelee flies through the hoop and leaves the lawn!

There is a discussion on peeling and one route by which a triple peel may be achieved elsewhere on this site ("Peeling"). The principal things to remember are your priorities; 1) make your next hoop, 2) keep the break going and, finally, 3) do fancy things (e.g. peeling). There is no merit in snatching a peel if your break fails. Another thing to remember is that there is no agenda for the triple peel - you do not have to peel 4-back when making hoop 3, penult when making hoop 6 ...

For the complete treatise on the triple peel and advanced tactics the reader is encouraged to read Keith Wylie: Expert Croquet Tactics (currently around £15 from the Croquet Association). Unless your handicap is below one or so much of what is there is esoteric, however the sections on openings and leaves should be recommended reading for all croquet players. In what follows it is assumed that a four-ball break is in progress. The detail is deliberately light as it is assumed that the people for whom this article will be useful will be able to follow the gist. The ball positions indicated are vague and are not intended to be more than an illustration - the precise positions are left as an exercise to the player! The player is also left to ensure that the correct colours of balls arrive at the right places!

Notation for diagrams: Red is the peelee, Yellow the striker's ball, and Blue the escape ball (E). Black is a pioneer when relevant. Hoops indicated by numerals or 1-b for 1-back etc., P for Penult and R for rover


Peeling 4-Back

4-back may be peeled readily at the following stages of the break

4-back after running hoop 3

The aim here is to get the peelee and a pioneer to hoop 3. This can be done by croqueting the pivot to hoop 3 as you approach the pioneer at hoop 2. Alternatively the pivot can be rushed to hoop 3 after making hoop 2. Given two balls in the vicinity of hoop 3 you need to place the peelee in front of 4-back and have the other ball as the escape ball. Hoop 3 is run, then the peel made and the break continues by rushing the escape ball into a three-ball break position prior to making hoop 4.

The escape ball can be in two places;

1). Off to one side of the hoop about level with it (figure 1). The peel is achieved with a roll shot, the striker's ball obtaining a rush on the escape ball down the lawn to near the pioneer on hoop 4, or
2). South of the peelee leaving sufficient room to play a stop shot peel (figure 2), then turn around and rush the escape ball to near the pioneer on hoop 4.
4-back after hoop 3
Fig 1. 4-back after hoop 3. Escape ball (E) beside 4-back
4-back after hoop 3
Fig 2. 4-back after hoop 3. Escape ball South of peelee

The advantage in the latter is that 'pull' is not a factor in stop shots. In a roll shot however the forward ball has top spin which will help it run the hoop.

Penult can subsequently be peeled easily after hoop 6 or straight.

4-back prior to running hoop 6

After hoop 4 the reception ball and pivot are sent to 4-back. The escape ball is sent to the West of 4-back and the peelee positioned near the playing side of the 4-back. After running hoop 5 a rush is obtained on that reception ball to corner three or the East boundary near 4-back. It is stopped to 1-back (see below, it can be wise to place it North of 1-back if this current peel looks unlikely), whilst getting in a position to rush the peelee closer to 4-back. The peel is made with the striker's ball obtaining a rush to hoop 6 on the escape ball West of 4-back (figure 3).

The penult peel would normally be considered on going to 4-back, although could be 'risked' going to 2- or 3-back.

4-back prior to running hoop 6
Fig 3. 4-back going to hoop 6

4-back prior to running 1-back

This needs precise positioning of the peelee in front of 4-back, generally not more than about 1 foot (30cm) away. The peelee may already be close to position if you failed a hoop 3 peel and continued with a three-ball break, similarly if you failed the peel prior to hoop 6.

After hoop 5 you need to croquet the reception ball North of 1-back and ensure that the peelee is close to the 'doorstep' of 4-back. Hoop 6 is run with a rush on its reception ball to corner three. The reception ball is stopped down to 2-back with the striker's ball arriving close to the peelee. This is roqueted in front of the hoop and a take-off peel is used to drive it through 4-back (figure 4). You need the pioneer on 1-back deep (North) so that you can do a moderately thick take-off and hence put some energy into the peelee.

4-back going to 1-back
Fig 4. 4-back going to 1-back

The penult peel can be done going to 4-back or straight.

4-back prior to running 4-back

This is a straight peel. Note that if you are unlikely to complete a straight triple, it can be questionable whether it is worth the bother of just 'knocking off' the 4-back hoop. Given a good advanced leave you will finish next turn anyway.

After 2-back you should aim to get the peelee in front of 4-back. The reception ball from 3-back should be croqueted to the West of penult and the pivot rushed close to the peelee on 4-back. The penult pioneer should be to the side of penult to allow a clear passage for the rush of the peelee from 4-back to penult if the straight triple peel is attempted. If you place it plumb in front of penult your further peels will be frustrated.

The pivot is croqueted to the North East of 4-back as an escape ball whilst obtaining a rush on the peelee to position it in front of 4-back. The intention is that the peel will be achieved (figure 5), the hoop run by the striker's ball then the escape ball rushed to corner three (figure 6). Care needs to be taken not to roquet the peelee when running the hoop with the striker's ball! With the escape ball rushed to corner three, it is then stopped to the East side of rover whilst obtaining a rush on the peelee to penult.
 

4-back peel on 4-back
Fig 5. 4-back peel on 4-back. The peel is done with a stop shot
4-back peel on 4-back
Fig 6. 4-back peel on 4-back. The hoop is run carefully to give a rush to corner 3

The penult peel can be done 'straight' after this.


Peeling Penult

Penult prior to running hoop 3

Using the peelee as the pioneer on hoop 2 (figure 7). On going to hoop 2 move the pivot close to hoop 6 as an escape ball. The escape ball can either be North or South of penult. Run hoop 2 with a rush on the peelee just North of penult. Peel with a stop shot obtaining a rush to North boundary on the escape ball. From the boundary the croquet stroke sends the escape ball to hoop 4 and the striker's ball to the pioneer on hoop 3.

Using the peelee as pivot (figure 8). Position the pivot (peelee) near penult, place the pioneer (escape ball) for hoop 3 South West of hoop 3. After running hoop 2 the reception ball is croqueted to hoop 4 and a rush obtained on the peelee to peeling position in front of penult. The peel is made obtaining a rush on the escape ball to hoop 3.
 

Penult peel with the peelee being the pioneer on hoop 2
Fig 7. Penult peel with the peelee being the pioneer on hoop 2
Penult peel with the peelee as pivot
Fig 8. Penult peel with the peelee as pivot

Penult prior to running hoop 5

This an opportunistic and often risky peel, it can be safer to position the balls nicely for a peel after hoop 6. If, after running hoop 4, you gain a good rush on the reception ball it can be possible to croquet the reception ball to hoop 6 and get a rush on the peelee to penult peeling position. The peel is achieved with a roll shot going to the pioneer on hoop 5.

Penult after running hoop 6

This is when the penult peel is most often made in a triple. The peelee is brought to penult either after running hoop 4 or 5.

If peelee taken to penult after hoop 4, then you rush the reception ball to North boundary, cast it as a pioneer on hoop 6 whilst rushing the peelee closer to penult. Take off, make hoop 5 and then croquet the reception ball to 1-back whilst getting amongst the peelee and pioneer.

If peelee taken to penult after 5, then the reception ball is rushed near to corner 3 and croqueted to 1-back whilst getting a rush on the peelee to penult. The peelee is placed in peeling position with the croquet stroke that approaches the hoop 6 pioneer.

The aim in both cases is similar to '4-back after running hoop 3'; the escape ball is placed so that after the peel a rush is obtained on it to North Boundary (figure 9). With this peel the peelee either wants to travel well through the hoop or end up in the jaws. It can be awkward if it gets through the hoop by only a couple of inches. If it is jawsed it can be rush-peeled after 1-back.

Penult after running hoop 6
Fig 9. Penult peel going to 1-back

The peel can also be made similarly to figure 8 where the escape ball is the pioneer on 1-back.

Penult prior to running 2- or 3-back

These are opportunistic peels which normally follow a failed hoop 6 peel attempt. As an example, after 1-back the reception ball is croqueted to 3-back and a rush obtained on the peelee to penult peeling position. The peel is attempted with a huge roll shot going down to the pioneer on 2-back. The escape ball is the pioneer on 2-back! Similarly a good rush North after 2-back will allow a pioneer to be croqueted to 4-back (see figure 10  for the belt-and-braces position for this pioneer), and a rush on the peelee to peeling position obtained. The peel is attempted with a huge roll shot going down to the pioneer on 3-back.

If the peel is achieved before making 2-back there is an opportunity to do an early rover peel going to 3-back. There seems little especial benefit in doing the peel going to 3-back since there is no opportunity to do the rover peel other than straight. The balls may be better moved around to do the penult peel on going to 4-back.

Penult prior to running 4-back

After 2-back, the 4-back pioneer (escape ball) is placed South West of 4-back (figure 10). After 3-back the reception ball is croqueted to the side of penult and the peelee rushed into peeling position. The peel is achieved obtaining a rush on the escape ball to 4-back. Again this peel should send the ball well through the hoop. It is messy if the peelee only rolls through penult by a few inches.

Samir Patel adds:

In a discussion about TPs, someone asked about how you continue if, when peeling penult before 4-back, you only just peel penult.  I challenged that this didn’t seem to be a problem, unless you’d put your penult pioneer in the wrong place (probably too far north).

With black as shown above (Fig 10), it would be a mess.  Without risking rushing Red into (or getting wired by) Black, where would you rush red to, in order to send it to Rover whilst getting a rush on Black?  Much better is to have black a bit further South.

Wylie agrees with me (or perhaps I agree with him).  See the position of Blue in Wylie's Figure 1.47. With that position, you can rush peelee due West, and then it’s a comfortable stop shot.

Having the pioneer further north is better if the peel jawses (or fails), but we’re only talking about a yard, and to misquote a phrase from that section of Wylie, a one or two yard rush "really should not hold any terrors by this stage of the game".  But the need for a 20:1 stop shot might!

Penult prior to running 4-back
Fig 10. Penult peel going to 4-back
Penult prior to running 4-back - pioneer south
Fig 10a. Penult peel going to 4-back - pioneer south

Penult prior to running penult

This is for the straight peel. Depending on the position of the balls the peel can be done pre- or post-roqueting the pioneer on the hoop. If the peel is done after roqueting the pioneer the pioneer is placed as an escape ball level with the hoop out to one side. The peel is made and the hoop run carefully so that the peelee is not roqueted and the escape ball roqueted. Subsequently a rush is obtained on the peelee to rover. If the peel is done before the pioneer is roqueted is the opportunity of cannoning the successfully peeled ball away from the centre line of the hoop with the pioneer whilst obtaining hoop-running position for the striker's ball.


Peeling Rover

Rover may be peeled readily at the following stages of the break

Rover after running hoop 5

The peelee and another ball are brought to hoop 5; one may have been the pivot, the other the pioneer. The peelee is positioned in front of rover and the escape ball a little to the East of hoop 5 (figure 11). Hoop 5 is run and the peelee roqueted. The peel is made with the striker's ball gaining a rush on the escape ball North close to the pioneer on hoop 6. A three-ball break is used to make hoop 6.

As an alternative the escape ball can be North of the peelee prior to the peel allowing a stop shot peel and the subsequent rush North as before.

Rover after running hoop 5
Fig 11. Rover peel after hoop 5

Rover prior to running 2-back or 3-back

This is particularly useful if you are attempting to triple peel an opponent. You know that you have only to peg them out before committing yourself to giving away a contact, i.e. running 4-back yourself.

The principle is the same for both 2- and 3-back; the pioneers (escape balls) for the hoops are placed deep (South) of rover (figure 12). After running 1-back (or 2-back) the peelee is rushed in front of rover. It is peeled as the striker's ball gains a rush on the escape ball to the next hoop.

Rover prior to running 2-back or 3-back
Fig 12. Rover peel going to 2-back

Rover prior to running rover

This is dealt with in detail in the accompanying article "Peeling".

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Updated 16.iii.16
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