The Game of Ricochet
The two mainstream forms of croquet, Association and Golf, both involve hitting a ball through a series of hoops. People enjoy both forms, but they are very different games. It has been said that Association Croquet is like chess on grass, a complex game of long-term strategy, while Golf Croquet is closer to the simpler game of draughts, a series of moves with short term aims.
Many beginning players shy away from the complexities of Association and start by playing Golf Croquet. Often, they settle into that form of the game and then never dip their toe in the water to try what many say is the more satisfying game of Association Croquet.
Ricochet Croquet was developed as a gentler way of introducing new players to Association, although it is a fun and absorbing game in its own right. In essence, it is Association Croquet without the complication of the actual Croquet shot, this is where you place your ball touching a second ball, and then play an extra stroke to move both of them.
At the start of a turn, the player may attempt to make the ball s/he plays either ‘roquet' (hit) one of the other three balls or ‘run' a hoop by passing through it in the required direction. If s/he fails, the turn ends. If s/he succeeds they have one or two extra shots to plan a route to the next hoop. At the start of a turn, the other three balls are ‘live’, and you earn the two extra shots for hitting them with your striker’s ball, but once struck, they become ‘dead’. You can cause your ball to hit a ‘dead’ ball without penalty, but you do not earn the extra strokes. If you run your next hoop, that releases the ‘dead’ balls and they all become ‘live’ again. A skilful player can use these extra shots to get a ball to run several hoops in a single turn.
The tactics of using the full court and the full set of balls is something that takes time to learn, but, if you can hit a ball with even moderate accuracy, Ricochet Croquet can be a very enjoyable game and then move up to the full game of Association Croquet.
The rules are available at https://www.croquet-nsw.org/ricochet.html
Aim of the Game
Each player or pair plays with two balls, Blue and Black or Red and Yellow (Green and Brown or Pink and White if playing secondary colours). If playing as a pair (sometimes called shared singles), players take alternate turns. Unlike Golf Croquet, all four balls have to run all the hoops, 1 to 6 in a half game, or 1 to 6 out and 1 to 6 back in a full game. So that you can keep track, a coloured clip is attached to the next hoop to be run by a ball. When a ball has run all the hoops, it is eligible to be ‘pegged out’ by being played to hit the centre peg. The first player or pair to peg out both of their balls is the winner.
Playing the Game
As in Association Croquet, the game starts with hitting the four balls onto the lawn from any position on either baulk line (see diagram). You actually start one yard in from the baulk line. After the first four turns , a player, or the appropriate member of the pair, may start their next turn by playing either colour ball of their two. That colour is played as the striker’s ball for the whole turn.
Unlike Golf Croquet, a player’s turn is not restricted to one shot. As in snooker, you can enjoy a turn which involves a series of shots to build a break. If you run a hoop, you gain an extra shot. More importantly, if your ball hits any other ball, you get two extra shots. In Association, the first extra shot would be the Croquet shot, but not in Ricochet. You leave the balls where they lie and play your next shot. The only time you will move a ball is if it goes close to the boundary or off the court. Before you take your next shot, you bring any ball other than your striker’s ball back in to one yard inside the boundary