Croquet is viewed as an ideal game for garden parties or picnics, but croquet rules and regulations can change according to the occasion for which it is being played. Since it is primarily a social gathering game, people come out with different ways to play the game, to suit that particular event. The official rules can be applied at official tournaments and the like, but the game is flexible enough to suit a casual event as well.
The terrain also plays a part in these varying rules, and if it is played the right way, the game can get extremely competitive and exciting. A lot of tact and strategy is necessary to win, and knowledge of the basic rules will obviously be an advantage for everyone involved. Before we begin delving into the rules, let us first understand the setup, and the objective of the game.
The game of croquet requires a mallet, a colored ball, and 9 wickets that are inserted into the ground. The balls pass under these wickets after being hit by the hammer, and the objective is to pass the ball under all the 9 wickets in the correct sequence, from the right direction. It sounds elementary enough, but it takes a lot of practice and skill to actually get the hang of it.
The order of the wickets is decided beforehand, and this depends from game to game. Rules are flexible in this regard, and there is a lot of scope for alterations in the course and the sequence of the wickets. If a player passes the ball through the right wicket in the right order, he scores one point. The player or the team that has the most points at the end of the game is the winner. A player's game ends when he passes the ball through the final wicket, and hits the stake that is planted beyond that.
Though the game can be played anywhere, irrespective of the nature of the terrain involved, the official setup of the game is in a field of 100 feet x 50 feet. The standard setup is known as the double diamond setup, because the 9 wickets are set in a diamond shaped formation. The game can be played between 2 - 6 players, and the players either play individually or are divided into 2 teams. Each player plays when his turn comes, and if the game is being played between 2 teams, then each team plays alternately with each player taking turns to play.
Each player gets a colored ball assigned to him, which he must pass through the 9 wickets in the right sequence. It is important to remember that the integral part of the rules is that each player can only play their own ball.
Croquet Rules of Play
The person who goes first is determined by the color of the ball chosen, and the order of the colors is decided beforehand. A coin toss also helps determine who gets to pick the color first. There are no known advantages of going first, so it ultimately does not make much of a difference.
The first player now has to pass through the first 2 wickets in front of him in his first shot, and if he manages to do that, he gets 2 extra shots. Normally, an extra can be taken immediately, but it can be used at any point of the game. Other circumstances where an extra shot can be earned are, when the ball goes through a wicket, when it hits a stake, and for hitting other balls in play. The act of hitting another ball is also known as roqueting.
The rules state that roqueting gives a player 4 options, viz. to take the 2 extra turns from wherever his ball has stopped, to place his ball at a length of one mallet head away from the ball that he hit (in any direction), to place his ball next to the ball hit and move it further, or to place his ball side by side with the ball he is going to hit.
To make it interesting, each ball can only be roqueted once per turn, but 2 different balls can be roqueted in a single turn. If a player accidentally roquets the ball through a wicket, he does not get an extra turn for that, but the point is counted.
The rules can get very complicated, and can even be simplified at the same time. If you are playing at a family reunion, you can change some of the rules for kids, so that they have a good time. The overall purpose of the game is to have a nice time, unless you are playing at an official croquet tournament.