9 Wicket (Backyard)
This version of croquet is the one that most of us have played, or seen played in backyards and cottages. It
typically is played with many variations of "House Rules", but the USCA has created a standardized set of rules. It is usually played with 2, 4 or 6 players and either 4 or 6 balls. In the case of 2 players, each plays with two balls, as in the other variations of the game. When 6 are playing, there are 2 teams of 3 players, or 3 teams of 2. Cut-throat croquet pits 4 or 6 individuals against each other with no team play.
Order of play is blue, red, black, yellow, green and orange.
The equipment used is usually lighter than that of the other versions described above. Hoops tend to have over 4" openings, up to twice the ball diameter. Balls can range from 3-1/4" to 3-5/8" diameter.
The court shown here indicates fixed boundaries, but many backyard courts know no such boundaries. When boundaries are used, balls that roll out of bounds or have rolled past an imaginary line 1 yard in from all boundaries, are brought in 1 mallet length in from where they rolled out. This holds true for balls rolling past that imaginary 1 mallet length line. If a striker has an additional shot yet to play when his/her ball rolls out of bounds, it is placed in bounds and the turn is continued, no penalty is incurred.
The order of players is determined by the toss of a coin or drawing lots, the winner of which decides on which color they wish to play. The order of the colors to play is indicated by the colors from the top of the goal stakes. Each player, in turn, starts playing their ball half way between the starting stake and the first wicket.
As the player passes through each hoop one point and a continuation stroke is earned. One variation of this version suggests that only one continuation shot is earned when running both 1 & 2 or 6 & 7 hoops.
After the striker has roqueted another ball, there are 4 options available. (1) take 2 continuation stokes from where the striker's ball came to rest or, (2) place the striker's ball up to 1 mallet length away from the roqueted ball, in any direction and take 2 continuation strokes or, (3) place the striker's ball in contact with the roqueted ball and take 2 strokes or, (4) follow the last option with the striker placing his/her foot or hand on the their ball and taking "croquet" followed by a continuation stroke.
Deadness is optional in this game. If it is used, Association rules are usually implemented, that is, deadness is cleared at the end of the striker's turn or by scoring a hoop.
For more information on this version of croquet, visit the US Croquet Association's 9 wicket croquet site at www.9wicketcroquet.com. There you will find how-to videos, listings of past & future tournaments and much more.