Bisques and wickets: the ABCs of croquet

Championship croquet isn't the casual game played at backyard barbecues - still, it's a sport in which novices, both men and women, can quickly become college competitors. The highly structured form of croquet played in college competition is usually set on an 84-foot-by-105-foot court. Four balls are always in play, with singles players maneuvering two balls each around the courts. The six wickets are arranged in a rectangle, with a single peg in the center of the court. Play proceeds through the wickets one direction, then the reverse. A point is awarded for each wicket cleared, and for the final act of hitting the peg.

Here's a sampling of the key terms and manuevers:

Ball-in-hand: the situation when one ball hits another and is then placed back in contact with the hit it has hit, in preparation for the next shot.

Bisque: an extra stroke or turn given to a player, essentially a handicapping system that allows players of varying skill to compete with each other.

Croquet: the first stroke taken after one ball hits another and is brought back in contact with the ball that's been hit. The stroke taken following the croquet stroke, or following a ball's passage through a wicket, is called a ``continuation.''

Roll: a croquet stroke that moves both balls the same distance.

Roquet: when one ball hits another. The balls are then brought in contact and the player takes a croquet and a continuation stroke.

Rover: a ball that has gone the entire course, clearing all six wickets twice. The object of the ``rover'' is to advance its partner ball and hinder the opponent.

Rush: a roquet in which one ball hits another to a specific spot on the court. A ball can be rushed to a wicket, to another ball, or to the boundary.

Split shot: a croquet stroke in which both balls move forward, usually in different directions. The direction is determined by aiming the struck ball with the striker's ball.

Tice: an ``enticement,'' leaving a ball in the court to lure the opponent into shooting at it.

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