Understanding Law 27, especially 27(e) to (h) 

 

 

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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 never rectified.
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 afterwards.

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 the second?
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 peg.
 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 choice.

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.
Remedy: 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 abstruse debate.
 
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).
Comments:
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 dead ball.
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 difference.)

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 stop.
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 rectified.
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.

APPENDIX
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.

Max Hooper