English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : September, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : September, 1911

Croquet for Billiard Students

The croquet championship of the United Kingdom has
just been won and lost at Roehampton, and the present
writer went over to the attractive grounds at Barnes to
witness the final, and to endeavour to gain therefrom, if
at all possible, some lessons for the billiard table.

As was pointed out a month or two ago in an article
published in The Billiard Monthly, the affinities between
billiards and croquet are strong, and there is little doubt
that billiards was originally played on lawns with a sort of
mace, and that both games have a similar origin.

The outstanding feature in croquet is position play, and
in this connection a singular circumstance may be noted. In
billiards, ordinary players rarely, and lady players scarcely
ever, play primarily for position. The immediate score is
everything. In croquet, on the other hand, the veriest
novice grasps at the outset the vital necessity of position
play, and almost instinctively drops into it. Indeed, one
may venture to assert that the same person who, at billiards,
would smash up a break opening, would play the necessary
gentle position stroke at croquet as a matter of course,
and where equally failing to apply double strength for
position purposes at billiards would not dream of neglecting
this essential aid to continuance at croquet.

This being so—and there can be little doubt of the fact—
a few lines may be usefully devoted to recalling what position
play in croquet actually is, as revealed by the play in
the recent championship match. And championship at
croquet, be it noted, is all amateur. There is no such thing
as professional croquet. If there were, certain strokes
might, as in billiards, have to be controlled, otherwise the
professional exponent would frequently peg out in a single
turn, so simple, when scientifically played—and with the
push in, as understood at billiards—is the game.

In croquet, as in billiards, the game opens with safety
misses, the first player sending his ball to the extreme
transverse corner, and the second player a few yards along
the court to the left of the starting hoop. Then the first
player sends his second ball to keep the first one near
company in a favourable position, and the second player,
let us suppose, goes courageously for the hoop, fails to
negotiate it, and sticks there. It is now that the game
really begins. The first player has an easy roquet on to
his own ball, and may possibly be able to rush No. 2 to
the centre of the ground with the same stroke. If so, he
takes croquet from there gently down to the starting hook,
and proceeds to toy with his adversary’s No. 2 ball much
as a cat doth with a mouse. In the roquet he is careful to
send it back nicely behind the hoop, so as to get elbow room
for his first position shot, which is a gentle stun, sending
the croqueted ball well forward whilst his own remains
just behind the hoop. When the hoop is run he turns his
attention to his opponent’s No. 1 ball, which he croquets
up to No. 3 hoop, and then proceeds to use the other, which
is quietly awaiting him at No. 2 hoop. This hoop he runs
so as to get below the nursed ball, and when he roquets
this up to No. 3 hoop, where it has the further company
of the adversary’s No. 1, the rest—especially remembering
that his own second ball is lying in the centre of the ground
awaiting contingencies—is simple. Practically all that has
to be done is to provide for a hoop or two hoops ahead, as
well as for the immediate hoop, just as in billiards the
great essential is to provide for a stroke or two strokes
ahead, as well as for the immediate stroke.

Not only is the position principle identical in the two
games, but the methods by which obedience on the part
of the balls is enforced are also practically the same. The
split stroke in croquet is neither more nor less than the
stroke which, in billiards, sends the object ball in one
given direction after impact and the cue ball in another.

True, the stroke in croquet is easier, as it is neither more
nor less than the “plant” stroke.

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