The Object of the Game is to make both balls (RY or BlBlk) of your side pass through all the hoops in order and then hit the peg before your opponent. The first hoop has a blue top and the last hoop to be run, 'rover' has a red top. After the sixth hoop, you run the six hoops again in the reverse direction; hence they are named 'one-back, two-back', etc. until the 'penultimate' hoop and finally rover. Coloured clips are placed on the hoops to remind players (and show spectators) which hoop a ball has to run next. They are placed on top for the first time through, on the side for the return journey.
At the beginning of a turn a player has only one stroke but, depending on what you do, you may gain extra strokes. If your ball hits another ball it is called a 'roquet' and you earn the right to take 'croquet', the stroke that is unique to the game of Croquet and where the fun really begins.
The Croquet Stroke is played immediately following a roquet. You pick up your ball and place it touching the ball you have roqueted. You are then entitled to two more strokes. For the first, you strike your ball in any direction you choose, but ensuring that the other ball moves and provided neither ball goes off the lawn you can play a second, or continuation, stroke. The croquet stroke is the most exciting stroke in the game and can be played in numerous ways to control both balls. By varying the angle at which you strike and the degree of force and the follow-through applied a skilful player can send both balls to very accurate destinations which will enable the break to be continued.
Adapted from a much fuller article by Dr Ian Plummer on the Oxford Croquet Website (www.oxfordcroquet.com)