This season the Club is introducing a new competition for a third form of croquet: Short Croquet. So what is Short Croquet? The Croquet Association describes it in their website:
Short Croquet is a shortened version of Association Croquet, intended for play on smaller lawns and only contesting 14 points per side. The lawns that are most commonly used are half-size croquet courts (28yds x 17.5yds) or a tennis court (24yds x 16yds).
The main differences between Short Croquet and Association Croquet, other than the court size and the number of points, are the wiring rule and mandatory peels. The wiring rule, simply put, means that if you leave your opponents balls unable to see each other (equivalent to being snookered) then they are able to claim a lift. The mandatory peels rule makes the game much more challenging for better players because, depending upon how good they are, they are required to do one, two or even three peels on one of their own balls.
We can add a bit more detail to this description.
The first thing to notice is that SC will be a much shorter game than AC as you only go round the hoops once; this is the same route as you take in GC or the first half of AC - hoops 1 to 6 then the peg with both balls.
The consequence of this is that SC is going to be a much quicker game to play and in fact there is no reason why games should take very much longer than a GC game. AC players used to sitting out for a long time whilst their opponent goes round may appreciate that!
The game will be quicker also because it is played on a half court. AC tends to use more of the court's surface than GC so the smaller area makes shots shorter and the break easier to maintain.
Mandatory peels are something AC players will not have met before but should not be put off by them as it only applies to players with equivalent AC handicaps of 1 and below.
This leads to a further point, namely that SC is full bisque handicap play, with its own handicap system separate from AC (there is a conversion table on the page AC Competition Rules). For the benefit of GC players, an SC (and AC) bisque gives a complete turn,not just a single shot so it's a very valuable benefit.
The court size, handicap play and full bisques are likely to give daring aggressive play an advantage so SC games should be quite exciting.
How is SC going to develop at Southwick? We shall see. Hopefully many GC players will try it out to see if they enjoy putting their shooting and hooping skills to use in a different context; and it is definitely the best way to learn AC-format croquet which is more accessible on the smaller court. The club is keeping 2 half courts available as often as possible and now has a new club competition; the South East Croquet Federation is trialling a day's competition at Ealing Croquet Club and Sussex is also organising one near Midsummer's Eve.
Other parts of the country have thriving Short Croquet Leagues and we hope to have one in the South East in the near future.
There is coaching available in the Club so do one new thing in croquet this season, and have a go at Short Croquet.