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The Introduction of the Advanced Rules

Roger Wood writes: The following, from p96 [from David Prichard's "The History of Croquet" ], discusses the re-emergence of tournament croquet after the Great War - and seems to be a catalogue of all too familiar themes which have continued down to the present day! As ever Prichard, writing in 1981, is trenchant and informative. Perhaps this snippet will tempt those who have never dipped into this wonderful book to sample it further delights!?

"When croquet started again after the war it was a different game from the pre-war version. The either-ball game had come to stay, closely followed by the Willis one-peg setting, and the width of the hoops was reduced from 4 to 3 3/4 inches. Gradually, however, a feeling arose that all was not well with the game. For the majority of players there was little cause for complaint. The high-bisquers might feel that the game was too difficult, but there was little that could be done about that except encourage them to improve their skill; for the medium-bisquers it was about right, but for the small band of experts at the top some reform was necessary. Far too many games were being won +26 without the opponent having a look-in at all. Too high a premium was laid upon snatching the first break, when the in-player would go round to the peg, leaving his wretched adversary cross-wired at the first hoop and himself with a rush out of the third corner. If the 30-yard shot was missed, the game was over. This was too one-sided and dull.

The first glimmering of a cure came from the Rev. G.F.H. Elvey, who in 1924 proposed the lifting system, although he did not link it with the running of any particular hoop. The idea simmered in the legislators' minds till in 1929 the single lift to either baulk after 4-back was introduced. This discouraged a player from going to the peg with his first ball and he now stopped at 4-back. It did nothing, however, to alter the same monotonous leave as before, although the in-player was now confronted with the more difficult task of a triple-peel. Something more was needed; it came in an odd way. During the Second War, experiments had been carried out at Roehampton with the 'Whichelo variation', comprising a lift after 1-back as well as 4-back and a contact if both were run in the same break by the first ball. Satisfied with its merits, the Council imposed the reform in 1946. No important croquet reform can ever have been introduced with less opportunities for trials and discussion. Nevertheless, the fait accompli was accepted by most players with equanimity, Miss D.D. Steel being a notable exception. Whether or not this is the final answer remains to be seen. Modern techniques and ingenious leaves which minimise the chance of the out-player taking advantage of the lift, combined with triple-peels, have to a large extent brought back the monotony of the one-sided games. It is curious to note that in one respect the wheel has turned full circle and the leave customary before the introduction of the lift has been revived as a prelude to the delayed sextuple-peel. Old dogs do not easily learn new tricks and at first the lift was frequently forgotten even in the championships. The main effect of the new law was to revive the art of triple-peeling, which had fallen into disuse. Now it became a necessity rather than an embellishment."

Book Details


Prichard, D. M. C. 


The history of croquet / D.M.C. Prichard


London : Cassell, 1981


239 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


Includes index
Bibliography: p. [233]-234




Croquet -- History 


Author: Roger Wood
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Updated 28.i.16
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