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The first version of this article was written when the laws of 2000
applied. Many players misunderstood Laws 27(e) to (h), especially how
to use Law 27(j). The first version tried to explain the laws with the
help of many examples.
In 2008 these laws were changed, and they should be easier to
understand. Even so, they contain lots of complications; so the
examples I gave in the earlier article are repeated here.
What are these laws about?
These laws give the remedies for four types of playing when a
ball is displaced. The errors described in Laws 27(f), (g) and (h) are
straightforward, but some people are confused about the meaning of Law
27(e) - purporting to take croquet from a live ball.
First of all, the word purporting: The idea is that in playing a
croquet stroke you must put your ball next to the roqueted ball. (See
Law 19.) So if you put your ball next to a ball that you have not
roqueted and go through the motions of a playing a croquet stroke, you
have not really taken croquet - you have purported to do so.
Secondly, what does purporting to take croquet involve?: It corresponds
roughly to three types of error in earlier laws: taking croquet from
the wrong ball, taking croquet when not entitled to do so, and taking
croquet when the striker's ball is in contact with two other balls.
Read the full definition in Law 27(c).
Two special cases of purporting can arise if your ball is in contact
with a ball that has not been roqueted:
1. After a croquet stroke, the striker's ball may end up in
contact with a dead ball. The striker is entitled to a continuation
stroke, but he must play it from where his ball lies. If he does so, he
is not taking croquet or purporting to do so, and it does not matter
whether the dead ball moves or whether a ball leaves the court. However
if he moves his ball to another position in contact with the dead ball,
and plays a stroke, he has purported to take croquet.
2. Suppose the striker's ball hits blue and ends up in contact
with black. If blue is dead and black is live, the striker must take
croquet from black. However if blue is live but he plays a stroke with
his ball touching the black, he is purporting to take croquet.
Thirdly, what do "live" and "dead" mean?: Some people think
that a ball becomes dead when it is roqueted, but it doesn't. It
becomes dead when croquet is taken from it. Of course, croquet normally
follows a roquet, but not always if Law 27 is broken, and the
difference is important.
A ball can also become dead if the striker purports to take croquet
from it. That is one effect of Law 27(c)(3).
If you play American croquet, you will use other meanings for the words
"live" and "dead". Don't let them confuse you.
You may think there are too many cases to consider. I am
afraid this is just the beginning. Part of the problem with Law 27 is
that there are so many possibilities, and the law is not always what
you might expect.
The current Laws 27(e) to (h) are based on a few principles:
1. An error that is discovered within the limit of claims
must be rectified. An error discovered after the limit of claims is
2. Errors under Laws 27(e) to (h) do not in themselves cause a turn to
end. So the striker plays on unless something else has gone wrong.
However if he does something else that causes the turn to end - maybe
misses a roquet or commits a fault - then the Law 27 error does not
save him. The error is rectified and the turn ends.
To put it another way, there are only two possible remedies
for an error under Laws 27(e) to (h):
1. Rectify and continue the turn, or
2. Rectify and the turn ends.
If you are not sure which events can cause a turn to end, you can
find them in Law 4(d).
Some more things you could easily get wrong:
1. Sometimes the striker commits a Law 27 error in one stroke and
plays another stroke before he is stopped. A turn ending event may
occur in either stroke. If it occurs in the second stroke, you might
expect the second stroke to be rectified. It isn't. The balls are
replaced where they should have been before the first stroke in error.
2. I have referred to turn ending events. Some people talk about
"turn ending errors", but this is too narrow a term. Missing a roquet
is not an error, but it ends your turn just the same.
3. Law 27(3) says "Purporting
to take croquet from a
live ball has the same consequences as taking croquet from that ball,
except that Law 27(e) applies." This applies in all sorts of ways. So
if you purport to take croquet and the error is not discovered quickly,
you are entitled to a continuation stroke. That means you cannot be
accused of playing when not entitled if the error is discovered
Let's look at some cases:
Case 1: The striker roquets blue. Instead of
taking croquet, he plays his ball from where it lies and tries to run
the next hoop, but sticks in the hoop.
Remedy: He has failed to take croquet when required
in breach of Law 27(f). The error is discovered within the limit of
claims; so it is rectified. He made a turn ending event when he failed
to either roquet or run a hoop in a non-croquet stroke (Law 4(d)(1));
so the turn ends.
Case 1B: The striker roquets blue. He puts his
ball next to the black, a live ball, and purports to take croquet. His
ball ends up in the jaws of his next hoop.
Remedy: He has breached Law 27(e). The error is rectified
and he plays on.
Compare this case with Case 1: In both cases the striker should
have taken croquet from blue but failed to do so. In both cases, his
ball stuck in a hoop. Why does the turn end in the first case but not
Answer: In the first case, he did not play any sort of croquet
stroke; so he is judged under Law 4(d)(1). In the second case Law 27(c)
applies, and he is treated as if he had played a croquet stroke; so he
now has a continuation stroke.
Case 2: The red ball has just run rover. The
yellow and blue clips are already on the peg. The black has been pegged
out. The next few strokes will decide the game.
The striker intends to roquet blue, take off to get a rush on yellow
and send it close to the peg, and then peg out both his balls.
He roquets blue. By chance, his ball ends up in a good position to rush
yellow. In a moment of confusion, he plays his ball from where it lies
and roquets yellow. His aim is not quite right, and the yellow hits the
Remedy: Again he has breached Law 27(f) and the
error must be rectified. He also caused a turn ending event when a ball
roqueted in the stroke was pegged out (Law 4(d)(3)). So the turn ends.
Law 22(d) tells how to rectify errors. In this case, the yellow is
replaced and the red is put in contact with the blue. The peg point
that was apparently scored is cancelled. (Some people may think this is
unfair, but others disagree. In any case, it is what the law says.)
Case 3: The black ball is one foot in front of
its next hoop. The blue, a dead ball, is in the jaws of this hoop. The
striker plays black so as to send both balls through the hoop. The
black scores a point, but the striker mistakenly thinks it is a hoop
and roquet. He takes off, and his ball leaves the court.
Remedy: No roquet occurred in the first stroke; so
he breached Law 27(e) in the second stroke, and this error must be
rectified. In deciding whether a turn ending event occurred, Law
27(c)(3) tells you to treat a purported croquet stroke as a croquet
stroke. So the turn ends because a ball was sent off the court in a
"croquet" stroke in breach of Law 20(c).
Case 4: In the first stroke, the striker plays
red and roquets blue. In the second stroke, he places red next to black
and purports to take croquet. In the third stroke, he runs a hoop, but
commits a fault while doing so.
Remedy: The striker has broken Law 27(e) and this
error is rectified. He caused the turn to end when he committed the
fault. The error is rectified by replacing the black and putting the
red next to the blue, and the turn ends.
Question: It is usual to ask the adversary if he wants a
fault to be rectified. Why not in this case?
Answer: The striker has committed two errors, a Law 27
error and a fault. In such cases, the law relating to only one error is
applied, and Law 24 tells which one. In this case, it tells us to apply
the remedy for Law 27, and this law does not give the adversary a
Case 5: The striker plays with red and roquets
yellow. Instead of taking croquet, he plays the red from where it lies
and roquets yellow again.
The remedy is debated, but the following procedure is recommended:
The error under Law 27(f) is rectified. This involves placing the
yellow where it lay at the end of the first roquet, and putting the red
in contact with it. No turn ending event has occurred; so the striker
then continues in play.
What is the problem? The
above solution assumes that the second stroke was a valid roquet. So it
is, according to Law 16(b), but Law 16(a) appears to contradict this.
This anomaly was discovered by the Australian Laws Committee and
referred to the International Laws Committee. Both committees have
agreed to apply the remedy given above, but the I.L.C. has not yet
published a formal ruling.
Comment: You will seldom
see this error in a serious competition, but it is not unusual with
beginners who have learned that a croquet must follow a roquet but
sometimes get it wrong. Such players will prefer a simple ruling to an
Case 6: The striker's ball is a rover. The striker
is entitled to a lift, and decides to take it. He carries his ball to
the A baulk, then changes his mind, replaces it in its original
position, aims at the peg and hits it.
Remedy: Under Law 36(e)(1), he is obliged to play from a
baulk line; so he has fallen foul of Law 27(g). The error is rectified
by placing his ball in any position on either baulk line. The peg point
is cancelled under Law 22(d). The turn then ends under Law 4(d)(3).
1. The striker may say this is unfair. He may argue that you ended the
turn because his ball was pegged out, but then you cancelled the
peg-out and left his ball on the court. The chairman of the committee
which drafted this law argued that it is quite fair. Whether it is fair
may be a matter of opinion, but the law is clear.
2. The remedy would be different if the striker's ball had been in
contact with another ball at the start of the turn. In that case, he
may change his mind, replace his ball in contact with the other ball
and take croquet. If his ball happened to hit the peg, the peg-out
would then count.
Case 7: The striker mistakenly thinks he is
entitled to a lift. He takes his ball to a baulk line, attempts a
roquet and misses.
Remedy: He has breached Law 27(h). The error is rectified
by replacing his ball in its original position. His turn ends under Law
4(d)(1). (If he had hit the roquet, the error would still be rectified,
but he would then be allowed to continue his turn.)
Comment: The last two errors may seem to be rectified
differently, but they follow the same principle: In each case the balls
are replaced in their last legal positions.
Case 8a: Red roquets blue. By mistake he
puts red in contact with black, a live ball, and plays what he thinks
is a croquet stroke. He then roquets the blue again and takes croquet
from it. He then realises his mistake.
Remedy: He breached Law 27(e) in his second stroke, but
the error has passed the limit of claims; so it cannot be rectified. No
turn ending event has occurred; so the striker continues his turn. Blue
and Black are now both dead.
Comment: Note that the second roquet of blue is legal, because
blue was still live.
Case 8b: A variation on Case 8a. Red roquets
blue. By mistake he puts red in contact with black, a live ball, and
plays what he thinks is a croquet stroke. In his third stroke, Red hits
Black again. The striker is about to take croquet again when he
realises something is wrong.
Remedy: He has again breached Law 27(e), but this time
the error is within the limit of claims; so it must be rectified, and
the red is placed in contact with the blue. You must now decide if the
turn ends. Law 27(c) tells you to treat the purported croquet stroke
from black as a real croquet stroke. It follows that black was dead
when the third stroke was played; so the third stroke was not a roquet,
and the turn ends under Law 4(d)(1).
Case 8c: The first three strokes are the same as
in Case 8b, but the striker now puts Red in contact with Black and
plays what he thinks is a croquet stroke.
Remedy: The error in the second stroke is now beyond the
limit of claims and can no longer be rectified. However the striker
committed two errors in the fourth stroke:
1. He purported to take croquet from a dead ball, an error under
Law 27(d), and
2. He played when not entitled to do so, an error under Law 25.
Remember that the third stroke was not a roquet. You cannot roquet a
Law 24(a)(1) tells us to apply the remedy in Law 25. So the error is
rectified by replacing the balls where they lay at the end of the third
stroke. This means you do not place the red in contact with the black.
(In this case, you would get the same result if you applied the remedy
of Law 27(d), but there are other cases where Law 24 makes a
Case 9: The striker is entitled to a lift but
mistakenly thinks he is entitled to a contact. He places his ball in
contact with another ball, plays what he thinks is a croquet stroke but
leaves a still ball. The adversary calls out to the striker, but the
striker is deaf and plays three more strokes before he is persuaded to
Remedy: The forestalling was valid under Law 23(a); so
Law 32 applies. Under Law 32(a) the last three strokes are treated as
if they had not occurred, and Law 32(b) confirms that the errors are
still within the limit of claims. The striker has committed a Law 27(e)
error. He must rectify it by placing his ball anywhere he
likes on either baulk line.
The purported croquet stroke is then treated as a real croquet stroke
to decide whether a turn ending event has occurred. On this basis, he
has committed a fault under Law 28(a)(14). So his turn ends.
Case 10: The striker is in a position to play a
cannon, but he does not remember how to do it. He puts his ball in
contact with both the other balls, plays a stroke, and sends one of the
other balls off the court.
Remedy: He has breached Law 27(e), and this error must be
rectified. But does his turn end under Law 20(c)? You may think it
depends on which ball was the croqueted ball, but it doesn't. The
effect of Law 27(c) is that whichever ball is the croqueted ball, the
third ball is a purported croqueted ball. So the effect of Law 27(j) is
that the turn ends if either ball goes out.
Comment: The same principle applies if one of the balls
fails to move or shake, or if the striker plays away from one ball. No
matter which ball was affected, you will find a reason in Law 27 for
ending the turn.
Question: What if this error is discovered after the limit of
claims? It cannot be rectified, but the turn ends because either the
croquted ball or the purported croqueted ball left the court. (The law
was uncertain under the laws of 2000. This is the only known case where
the new laws may bring a different result. However you will have to
referee a lot of games before you see this happen.)
Finally, do not worry if you can't remember all these
cases. You are not expected to. They are quoted merely as
illustrations. If you are called to rule on a difficult Law 27 case,
look in the laws book and read carefully what the law says.
However, you may like to memorise the two principles that
we looked at earlier. They are:
1. A Law 27 error that is discovered within the limit of claims must be
rectified. An error discovered after the limit of claims is never
2. Errors under Laws 27(e) to (h) do not in themselves cause a turn to
end. So the striker plays on unless something else has gone wrong.
However if he does something else that causes the turn to end, the
error is rectified and the turn ends.
The new law is thought to be simpler than the law of 2000,
but you may wonder if the law could be made even simpler. There is no
easy answer. If just one thing goes wrong in play, most referees will
find the remedy easily. Experience shows that some referees have
trouble when several things goes wrong in the same stroke or just after
each other. In the cases we have discussed, there have always been at
least two misplays, often more. It would be hard to find a simple rule
that would cover them all and be fair to both players. There are just
so many possibilities to think of.