How Can a Game End in a 26-26 Tie?

by Louis Nel - Mallet

The Mallett - Summer 1996
How Can a Game End in a 26-26 Tie?
by Louis Nel

A recent report in the National Croquet Calendar (vol. IX, no 1. page 8) described a bizarre end to a game:

"...Doug Grimsley chose to finish a three ball break in the last turn by pegging out his partner ball, and then instead of pegging out himself, roqueted his opponents ball just a few inches from the stake and pegged out both remaining balls simultaneously, creating a 26-26 tie game. The score was reported as a tie to tournament director Stan Patmor, and was allowed to stand as played".

I found the situation intriguing and tried to reconstruct how it might have happened. One thing is clear: it could not have happened on the roquet shot. The opponents ball, being a few inches from the peg, could have been rushed into the peg, with the strikers ball hitting the peg thereafter in the same stroke. However, this would have caused the striker to be ball in hand at a moment when the match was already won by the opposition. The striker must have taken croquet, playing a full roll or something close to it. No other croquet shot would cause the two balls to hit the peg simultaneously.

It should be noted that in Einstein's general theory of relativity and in baseball, simultaneously is deemed to be impossible. In a croquet game, simultaneously just means the human eye cannot detect which happened first.

The explanation offered by the surmised croquet shot may be physically plausible, but is yet unacceptable. One cannot imagine a player deciding on a full roll in such a situation, let alone a player of Doug's calibre. Or did the Croquet Witch, suffering from an attack of kindness, cast a spell over Doug so that neither player would lose the match.

There is another way in which a he can occur, even without supernatural intervention. Suppose blue and red are the only balls left in the-game: red for the peg and blue for rover, blue playing a two ball break. In its approach to rover, blue croquets red so that it comes to rest against the peg. Red is not pegged out, because blue is not yet a rover. Now blue runs the rover wicket and lands in a position approximately equidistant from red and the peg. The referee is called to observe the crucial shot at peg. Blue shoots and hits the peg and red simultaneously! There is a rule governing a simultaneous hit of two balls but no similar rule about a ball and the peg. In a situation not covered by any rule, it is up to the tournament director to make the final decision. A possible ruling is that both balls pegged out simultaneously. This would result in a legitimate final score of 26-26.

But how Doug got a tie remains a puzzle.

- Louis Nel