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Andrew Usborne's Croquet Game Variations

Andrew UsborneAndrew Usborne is the inventor of a game which is now fairly well-established in South Australia when players want to play a faster game: Easy Nine. At our invitation, he has also noted some other variations on the standard game for players who don’t want to sit out for hours while their opponent grinds away:

Easy Nine

The basic game of Easy Nine is very straightforward: when a player makes his first hoop with either ball, the clip for his other ball immediately goes to Four Back.

This means, of course, that as soon as the first hoop is made, there is an opportunity for a triple peel, and for better players, this means more fun sooner, and quicker games.

Andrew has developed a competition version of the game,  in which the players have an option as to where to move there other clip to when they make their first hoop, with bonus points being scored for each peel. Thus, if you put your other clip on Rover, it is fairly easy to make just the one peel, for one bonus point, whereas if you think you can sextuple peel, you can put you other clip on One Back, with a potential 6 bonus points.

The first such competition at Norwood on 1st April 2007 was won by Mark Prater, with Harley Watts coming second and Robert Fenwick Elliott third.

Andrew writes:

'The early rules of the game, which allowed peeling through the front hoops and gave points for both opponent peels and useless peels, were being legalistically exploited and have now been changed so that lawyers can, once again, be safely invited to E9 competitions. They can spend their spare time harmlessly defining "useful".'

Other Variations

Break Limit Games

Here are 3 games in which a player is limited in the number of hoops he can make in a single turn:


Means Three  Hoops Or A Peel.

Max break of 3 unless a peel is made. If a peel is made with within that break of 3 hoops, then the player becomes entitled to unmake another 3 hoops in that turn.


As above but Four Hoops.

Handicap Limiter

The length of break allowed to be determined by ones handicap; the maximum number of hoops that can be made in a single turn is one's handicap plus 4, viz;

Handicap       -3  -2  -1   0    1   2   3   4   5

Max Break       1   2   3   4    5   6   7   8   9

This restriction may affect  both players or only the lower handicap one

What happens when the limit of hoops is reached... 

In these 3 variations after the last allowed  hoop either:

A]The turn ends immediately the hoop is made or

B] The player gets one more shot or

C][The Bow Variation] There is a toss. If the player wins he gets the chance for another ration of hoops.  If he loses his turn finishes.


Three Hoop Combination Doubles

In a doubles game, after 3 hoops have been made in a single break by a player, the player's partner has to continue the break with the original player's ball.

Three Hoop Bisques 

If players of widely [or maybe not so widely] different handicaps want a more even game and don’t fancy a normal handicap game they could try this:

If the better player is 3 or more hoops ahead his opponent gets a bisque in every turn until he is less than 3 hoops behind.

One can either make this a normal bisque to be played in the turn or a bisque that must be taken before the first hoop in that turn is made.