Report and video links from the Croquet Innovation Tournament, West Palm Beach, Florida USA. Our reporter: Danny Johnston.
In March 2018 a tournament was held in the National Croquet Center (West Palm Beach, Florida) to trial a fascinating new pair of games which have been created by Howard Sosin. These games, named “Peel Croquet” and “Peel-and-Peg”, are designed to provide a challenging association croquet game in easy conditions and to orientate the play towards one the game's more interesting challenges: peeling. Players present at the 2017 Championships of Ireland will remember Howard and his storming performance in the Green Cup, and his games certainly posed a challenge for the assembled selection of players chosen to test them. These players included several heavyweights such as 2016 World Champion Stephen Mulliner and current US National Champion Jeff Soo!
The event was played with three rounds each day, two of Peel Croquet and one of Peel-and-Peg. The latter game imposes a four hoop limit in which to score as many peels as possible (from randomly drawn hoops) and peg out. Initially the top players present struggled (especially with the peg out ), but eventually completed turns with 3 or more peels became regular and a turn with 5 peels was achieved! The former game, Peel Croquet, proved to be the favourite amongst the assembled players. In this game, players may only progress a break if they complete peels at certain intervals. This game provided an excellent challenge, and was also made more interesting by the additional capacity to reverse peel an opponent’s ball to push their ball back a hoop!
The event culminated in two finals played in glorious Floridian sunshine at the NCC. The Peel Croquet Final was contested between Stephen Mulliner and myself. Stephen prevailed through some good accurate play, while I never really got going only managing several short turns as I couldn't get the peels done to continue my breaks. Stephen also won the Peel-and-Peg event, defeating Sherif Abdelwahab in the final. Sherif had been an excellent exponent of this game until the final, where he put up a poor showing. There is footage of my 17-0 defeat at his hands in one of the links below as proof!
All in all it was an excellent experience, and I am grateful to have been present to play in such an exciting and innovative event. These games have great potential and I look forward to seeing them develop. A warm thanks to the players, the wonderful people at the NCC and to Howard for inventing the games and making it all happen.
If you would like to see some of these games in action, please see the excellent videos prepared by Russ Dilley in the links below. Russ explains the rules and strategy of the games with the help of graphics, and commentates ("announces", in the American parlance) superbly.