Spectator’s Guide to the Game


General tactics




Pegged-out endings


Know American rules but not “International rules”? Here's a short guide.


The out-of-bounds rules are much more forgiving. A ball going out of bounds doesn’t end the turn unless it’s one of the two balls in a croquet stroke. Hoops may be run out of bounds and balls may be roqueted or cannoned out of bounds without penalty. Also, balls are replaced one yard in from the boundary (i.e., on the yard-line).


There is no carry-over deadness. All balls are live at the start of every turn. (Consequently the deadness board is not used.)


The blue–red–black–yellow sequence is not used. Turns alternate between sides, and except for the third and fourth turns of the game, the side to play may choose either ball as the striker's ball for that turn.

Minor rules differences

Advanced play

This is a variation for championship-level play, and all games in the Series will use it. When the striker’s ball scores 1-back or 4-back, on the next turn the opponent may lift a ball to either baulk-line and play it from there. If the striker’s ball scores both 1-back and 4-back in one turn, and its partner ball had not yet scored 1-back at the start of that turn, on the next turn the opponent may lift to baulk as above, or may take a contact lift.

General Tactics

Players will attempt breaks at every reasonable opportunity. A player without the innings—that is, facing only long shots at the start of a turn—will almost always attempt to hit in. A player with the innings will usually attempt to create a four-ball break even from what may seem to be an unpromising position.


Standard Tice

A misnomer at this level, where it is seldom used. The first ball is played to the east boundary several yards north of corner IV. The second ball is a tice, played to about 13 yards north of corner I. The player of the third ball will usually attempt to roquet one of the first two balls, hoping to set up a break for the fifth turn (sometimes even attempting a break on this turn). The player of the fourth ball will usually take the shortest available shot.

Duffer Tice

As above, except that the tice ball is played to a position near the sixth hoop. This can be quite a bit shorter than the standard tice, because the player of the third ball can hardly afford to shoot at it and miss—look where the ball will end up.

Corner II opening

In response to the standard opening with the first ball, the second ball is played to a position just outside corner II. More defensive than the other openings, this often results in a difficult break-building turn for whichever side gains the first innings.

Supershot opening

The first ball of the game is played to mid-court. This side will attempt to hit in on the third turn of the game (hence the name) and make a three-ball break to 4-back.


At the end of a break the striker aims to arrange the balls so as to leave the opponent with only long shots, and so that the partner ball has a good break opportunity for the next turn. The opponent will usually have a lift (that is, be allowed to pick up either ball and play it from one of the baulk-lines), adding to the challenge of making a good leave. Note the precision with which balls are placed for the leave. Some of the leaves you will see during the Series:

Diagonal Spread Leave

One opponent ball is very near the peg, the other is somewhere between hoop 2 and the west boundary. The in-player’s two balls are at the east boundary near hoop 4, so that the partner ball has a rush toward the opponent balls. All four balls are in a straight line with the peg, and each opponent ball is wired from all other balls. A popular leave that is appropriate to many situations.

Old Standard Leave

Similar to the Diagonal Spread, but with the ball at the peg a few yards east, and the in-player’s balls closer to corner IV. Easy to make but offers the opponent a relatively short shot.

New Standard Leave

The in-player’s balls are on the east boundary, as in the Diagonal Spread. One opponent ball is a few inches from hoop 4 (hidden from A-baulk and wired from the balls on the east boundary), the other opponent ball is in a similar position at hoop 2.

Vertical Spread Leave

Sometimes seen when the partner ball is for 4-back or penult, the opponent balls are placed in or very near penult and rover.

Contact leave

After a TPO (triple peeling and pegging out an opponent ball), the opponent will have a contact lift, so the striker and partner balls are placed in different corners.

Peeling breaks

World-class players are very good at hitting long roquets, so it is worth taking some extra risk to avoid giving the opponent another shot. A player’s second break will usually include an attempt to peel the partner ball through the final three hoops to peg out both balls and win the game on this turn. This is the triple peel.

The standard triple

The first two peels are performed as back peels, i.e., when the striker’s ball and the peeled ball are for different sides of the same hoop. To do this the striker must establish a good four-ball break immediately.

The delayed triple

If the opponent has missed the long lift shot down the east boundary, the standard triple is difficult to establish and the delayed triple is called for. There are endless variations on the delayed triple, but commonly the 4-back peel is made just before the striker’s ball scores 6, and the penult peel is made just before the striker’s ball scores 4-back. This is more difficult than the standard triple.

The straight triple

Each peel is made just before the striker’s ball runs the same hoop. This is typically a last resort and is the most difficult triple peel to perform.

Pegged-out endings

Tactics become less predictable when a ball has been pegged out. Being “one-legged” is a disadvantage, although not to the degree it is in American rules. After a TPO (triple peel on opponent) the one-ball player will usually have at least a couple of difficult chances to pick up a three-ball break, and it is surprising how often this succeeds. But otherwise there may be several interesting turns in which the two-ball player lays traps or attempts to stay hidden, while the one-ball player bides his time waiting for a good opportunity to attempt a roquet.