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Croquet

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CROQUET, kro-lcii, to the most scientific form of which the name Room is given in America, an open-air game played with balls, mallets and arches, either upon a closely mowed lawn or a specially prepared court. The game is substantially a revival of the old game of pall mall, which gave its name to the well-known London street. France introduced this game into Ireland and thence into England early in the 17th century, and during the 18th century it was largely neglected, but came again into favor about 1850 and was later superseded in popularity by tenni& When first introduced into the United States croquet was a simple game destitute of all opportunity for skill, but it has so developed that it is now considered by experts to be as scientific as billiards. The court upon which the most improved form of this game is now played has a hard rolled and lightly sanded surface composed of either loam or clay, the nature of this material being deter mined by the character of the native soil inxxi which the ground is built. The regulation size for the court is 36 feet by 72 feet, the angles of the rectangle being cut off by eight-foot corner pieces. This space is enclosed by heavy timbers 4 x 6 inches, which are securely spiked together about the ground and which not only serve to confine the balls to the court, but are invaluable in driving the balls to some desired position in another part of the ground, and are of even more value in making carom shots as on a billiard table. A player frequently finds his ball in such a position upon commencing his turn of play that he has not a straight shot for either ball or his arch, and at such times a carom shot is resorted to to strike or capture one of the wired balls. In order to facilitate carom or bank shots and to ensure as great accuracy as possible, use is made of rubber cushions similar to those used upon billiard tables, fitted to the inside of the border timbers, so that surprising accuracy in making caroms is attained. The balls used upon these courts are made of the finest quality of vulcanized rubber and are somewhat expen4ve. These are very carefully made and must conform to a regulation size of three and one-quarter inches. The wickets, 10 in number, are made of three-eieiths or seven-sixteenths inch finest steel rod and are arched at the top, so as to leave, when bent, a distance between wires of three and one-half inches in all of the arches except the centre or as it is called, where only three and three-eighths inches is left. It can readily be seen that a ball having a diameter of three and one-quarter inches must be almost directly in front of, and in close proximity to, a wicket of three and one-half or three and three eighths inches in width in order to suc cessfully pass through. To ensure rigidity and to prevent spreading, the wickets after they are bent are driven into heavy wooden blocks 4 x 8 x 18 inches, across the top of which steel plates, properly drilled to fit the arches, have been bolted. The blocks are then buried under the ground, so that the arch stands between eight and nine inches above the surface. The

stakes, which are located at the starting and turning points in the game, are one and one half inches high and one inch in diameter. The mallets, which range in price from $5 to $20, are very carefully made, usually to order. Their dimensions and weights vary according to individual taste, but the average sizes are: length of handle, 10 inches; length of head, 734 inches; diameter of head, 2 or 2Y4 inches. The average weight is about two pounds. The ends or faces of the mallet heads are protected by heavy steel or brass ferules, and the faces themselves are made of either ivory or vulcan ized rubber, in the one end, and soft rubber in the other, the latter being used for making certain shots which are impossible with the hard end.

While the old game croquet was and, in fact, is still played by any number of persons up to eight, rogue as played to-day contemplates the participation of but two players in a game, each of whom uses two balls, playing them as partners against the opposing two of the adver sary. The object of the game is to play by stroke of the mallet through all of the arches, with both balls in order, by any number of turns or plays, and finally putting both partner balls out by making them strike successively the home stake. The who succeeds in doing this first is the winner. While advancement of one's own balls is of course of primary importance, hardly less important is the ability to retard the progress of one's opponent. This is often done by shooting the next playing ball into or behind an arch, so that upon the opponent's beginning his turn, but little chance for him to advance presents itself.

Croquet tournaments are held at stated in tervals at Wimbledon, England, and attract considerable attention in that country, but al though challenges have been sent to the United States by some of the representative players of international nternational matches have never been arranged, owing largely to the difficulty of uiai fying certain differences in play. The greatest of these is possibly the fact that the Englishmen play upon grass, while in the United States all championships are contested for upon dirt or clay courts.

The principal clubs of the United States are federated into the National Roque Associa tion of America, which was organized in New York in 1882, under the name of the National American Croquet Association, which name was subsequently changed to the present one. The headquarters of the association are at Norwich, Conn., where there are first-class courts and a spacious and attractive club-house, in which on the Tuesday following the third Monday in August the association holds its annual meet ings. During the remainder of the week the annual championship contests are held to deter mine the champion for the next year. There are more than two dozen clubs comprising the National Association. The rules for the game will be found in the