Oxford University Croquet Club
by Ian Plummer
All rights reserved © 2000
When giving your opponent bisques the point is obviously to make life as difficult for them as possible.  Part of the game is to 'milk' the bisques from them - relying on their (irrational) fear that you will make breaks from anything.

1. You must take the ability of your opponent into account. It would be foolish to use a tactic such as joining-up (see below) against an opponent of near your own ability. They will do what you planned to do, but with the assistance of a further ball.

2. Against a weak player you should put them in, if you win the toss, to deny them of the advantage of having all four balls on the lawn in the fourth turn.

3. Against a 'C' or 'D' class opponent an 'A' or 'B' class player can force them to burn bisques by constantly joining-up. The rationale is that they will feel immediately threatened, knowing that you will probably make a break unless they separate you. You make sure that you join up away from either of their hoops. Do not leave a double. Leave your balls a long way away from theirs, so that the take-off (if they were joined up), or hit in is a low percentage shot.

4. When joining-up the separation between your balls depends on a number of factors. Provided you are a long way from their hoops you would probably shoot at your partner with the intention of hitting - knowing that they are unlikely to execute an accurate rush even from two balls close together. If you are close to one of their hoops then you would have to join wide to prevent them getting a rush. How wide depends on how fast the lawn is as mentioned previously (Leaves and Ball Positions).

5. Patience. This is a wicked tactic. You just hover around the sides of the lawn until they get reckless and end up by digging out the balls with their bisques, then giving them to you. This is near to gamesmanship, and does work. You also are relying on their expectations "if I don't do something soon they'll be round" this adds to their imprudence. This waiting is obviously not wise in a Timed Game, they will use their bisques and deny you the opportunity of making hoops.

6. I cannot endorse the following but be aware that it happens: deliberate slow play. This leaves the weaker player with the feeling that they are not taking a large part in the game and despondency sets in with its consequences.

7. Against a 'C' or 'D' class opponent an 'A' or 'B' class players can to their advantage deliberately play three-ball breaks - even when given all the balls. Ideally you leave your partner ball on the boundary - to run home to in the event of problems. The principle of this play is that when you do have a little accident you are only giving away a three-ball break, from which your opponent would be expected to make little.

8. Although not a technique for reducing bisques, pegging out the forward ball of a weak opponent can be rewarding - again reducing them to playing difficult three-ball breaks.