1-back tactics (c. 1968-1974)
Extracted from Keith Wylie's 'Expert Croquet Tactics' pp78. Advanced tactics from one of the masters.
The standard sextuple leave is shown in Fig. 2.4. I have personally seen just one standard sextuple completed in genuine match play, as against dozens of attempts that have ended in (often bitter) failure. In theory the standard (or "ladies") sextuple is not much more than a quadruple, but stating that does not make it any more remunerative in practice. In my view the success rate is not high enough to justify laying the standard leave. The leave itself can go disastrously wrong, and even when completed it leaves UK a shot of only 22 yards or so with a laid break if he hits.
Almost by accident it emerged from numerous attempts to conquer the sextuple (then the unclimbed Everest of croquet) that there are attractions in the idea of stopping at 1b with your first ball even if you do not go on to finish the sextuple. For example, if you get in for the first time when your opponent is for peg and 4b, you can stop at 1b, peel your partner ball to penult and peg out your opponent thus gaining a superior position without having had to concede a lift shot. The natural extension of this is to stop at 1b even when your opponent is stilI for 1 with both balls.
Fig. 2.5 shows the leave which I recommend when you-stop at 1b, a leave which is not so much "the delayed sextuple leave" as "a 1-back leave": you use it to save lifts and not to do sextuples. (It is of course an ancient leave, having been the natural leave in the days before lifts.) It is easy to make and you can even tidy up U and K after making 6 if the wiring has not quite worked first time. During the second break (with Y) you do not have to press for peels, though you may if you are in the mood. Four peels are usually easy to achieve with safety if UK has shot and missed: 1b after 2; 2b before 4 or 5; 3b straight; and 4b after 4b. However, peels are not essential. You might be disappointed if all you could manage was a straight peel at 1b, but even then 1b tactics would have served their purpose.
Further 1b leaves are shown in Fig. 2.6, U1/K1 version, (introduced by Solomon in about 1971) and Fig. 2.6, U2/K2 version, and Fig. 2.7 (variations of mine). It is not entirely clear whether on balance they are any better than the two main ones.
In this Article I am mainly concerned with the situation where UK is for 1 and 1, but a few words are appropriate about the use of 1b tactics when UK is for 1 and 4b. Here, you can consider stopping at 1b and then triple peeling your opponent and doing a double peg-out. By switching pioneers at 3 or around 6 and 1b you can also peel R straight at 1b, with a possible further peel through 2b. The reasoning in favour of this idea is that R, for 2b, ought to win the 2-ball ending against U or K, which is for 1. I can only say that, in my limited experience and rather to my surprise, these tactics have not been a complete success. The more expert the players, the more unpredictable the 2-ball game becomes. You should consider not pegging out Y. Possibly a better plan for you is to peel UK's backward ball to 3, at the same time peeling R to 3b; but perhaps the truth of the matter is that when UK is for 1 and 4b you have better whole-game tactics than to stop at 1b, such as (a) the NSL, (b) going to 4b peeling UK's backward ball as far as possible or (c) the immediate triple peel of the opponent.
If you are off form, it is tempting to use 1b tactics because you thereby avoid the triple and concede no lifts. I have found such tactics to be dangerous, as you get into all sorts of trouble if you cannot get the first peel to work. I advise you not to use 1b tactics in this situation unless you are sure that you can keep your head, which is not easy when you are playing badly.
Material supplied by Stuart Lawrence
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