The intermediate range covers players who are roughly in the region from handicap 4 to 14. The notes below are taken from the Intermediate Coaching Sessions that Robin Brown kindly gave to an assortment of OUACC members during Trinity Term 2002.
After a little while spent bringing in balls from boundaries, this session went on to consider leaves, in particular those to set when you are at 4-b & 1 in an Advanced game.
Bringing balls in from boundaries
Two ways to go about bringing in a ball are, either to use it as a pivot (remember, pivots don't have to be tied to the peg, but can be anywhere that is reasonably accessible) and nudge it in a little bit every time you take-off from it, or to bring it all the way into the lawn in one go, when on the way to a nearby hoop.
When the ball is near to a corner, or is near to a hoop that is not too far ahead, then a good method is to go to that ball just before approaching the neighbouring hoop. That way it can be sent out of the corner whilst you go to the pioneer. However, there are two ways to do this, depending upon which hoop you are going for, and how large a split shot you are happy to play, when disposing of your previous reception ball:
When the ball isn't conveniently on the way to a hoop, then it can be brought in by using it as a pivot, and by repeated use, gradually working it into the lawn. However, don't be tempted to try to get behind it for a rush when it is on the yard-line, from any great distance, as it is all too easy to go off. It is better instead to settle for getting near to it, and then bringing it in just by the croquet stroke.
The Old Standard Leave
The OSL is the original leave from the sixties. The positions are roughly as follows:
Setting this up is reasonably straightforward, and as well as being set intentionally, it can also be constructed out of the following leaves if they fail to come off.
Setting 2-b Pioneer Early
When playing advanced rules and intending to set one of the two common leaves that are described below, after 3-b, it makes the construction of the leave much easier if 2-b is made off partner, rather than oppo. If in the scheme of your break partner is not already serving as pioneer on the even numbered hoops, then it is very useful to perform a swap so that it is. Further, since the success of 2-b is paramount once you have conceeded a lift it is particularly advisable to ensure that you set a good quality pioneer there, often by setting it early, just after 5.
A typical way to set an early 2-b pioneer is described, for the case that partner is the pioneer for 5:
By positioning the reception ball close to the W-side of the hoop, aim to get a rush back into the lawn after 4. If successful, rush the hoop 4 reception ball up to the pivot, and position it on 6 whilst getting a rush back to 5. If unsuccessful aim to achieve the same with a roll. This stage isn't critical though, and if you don't get a rush on the pivot, then it is easy enough just to roll the pivot down towards 5, putting it about a couple of yards NW of the hoop, whilst getting position on the 5 pioneer.
Approach 5, positioning the reception ball (partner) slightly N of the hoop. After running the hoop stop the reception ball down to 2-b, whilst getting a N-facing rush on the old pivot. Rush to a convenient position to allow the 1-b pioneer to be positioned, whilst getting into position on the 6 pioneer.
The Diagonal Spread
This description assumes that you have already contrived to get partner ball as the pioneer on 2-b.
After 6 bring the pivot part way down towards 1-b. After 1-b swap pivot, putting 1-b reception ball accurately to peg, and rushing the previous pivot to a convenient position for sending it across to 3-b, whilst going to 2-b.
Aim to get a rush back into the lawn after 2-b, by positioning the reception ball close to the E-side of the hoop. Rush close to the centre ball. Positioning partner ball a yard or so SE of the peg, get a rush on the centre ball, towards the peg. The intention is to leave the centre ball within a mallet head's length of the peg, and SE of it. Rush towards the desired position, and take off to 3-b.
Position 3-b reception ball to give a rush towards the peg. If the position of the centre ball is already good, leave it alone! If not, you are aiming to get a short rush on it towards the desired position. Stop the 3-b reception ball across to a few yards SW of 2, and reasonably close to the boundary. If appropriate try to get the rush on the centre ball, tidy it into position and get a SE-facing rush on partner. Otherwise, go straight to the rush on partner. Rush to the boundary NE of hoop 4. Lay up giving partner ball a rush pointing straight into the lawn, and only giving the ball by hoop 2 a single target, if you are not wired from it by the peg.
The New Standard Leave
This description also assumes that you have already contrived to get partner ball as the pioneer on 2-b.
The intention of this leave is to put one of oppo's balls within a mallet head's length of the 3-b, on the shaddow line from the end of A-baulk, such that it can be rushed to 1, and to lay-up in the hampered region on the E boundary, having previously left the oppo's other ball on the the B-baulk shaddow line SW of hoop 2:
When approaching 6, aim to get a rush out of the hoop towards the 1-b pioneer. Position the hoop 6 reception ball a yard or two SW of 1-b. Approaching 1-b put the reception ball also SW of 1-b. After 1-b put one of oppo's balls on the shaddow line from the end of B-baulk, about halfway from the hoop to the boundary, whilst getting a rush to somewhere convenient, close to 2-b, to stop across the 3-b pioneer.
Seek to get an E-facing rush out of 2-b, across to 3-b. Use it if it works, and roll it if it doesn't, aiming for a rush on pioneer. The positioning of partner isn't critical, but NE of 3-b is quite handy.
Aim to put oppo NE of 3-b, within one mallet head's length of the hoop, but most importantly not on-axis. After the hoop, rush and take-off from the reception ball to tidy up, so it is hampered by the hoop, and hidden from the end of A-baulk. Then lay up in the centre of the hampered region with a rush towards the hoop 2 ball, and so as not to give a double target from B-baulk.
The standard reply is often to pick up the hoop 2 ball, and to shoot down from B-baulk, into corner 4. If it doesn't hit, this allows you to start a standard triple, by taking off from partner ball, and playing a stop shot out of corner 4 to position the pioneer on 2 whilst getting the rush on the remaining ball to 1 (thus the importance of not putting it hard onto the wire).
Since it is commonly the hoop 2 ball that is lifted, it is advantageous to consider which ball to leave there when setting the leave. If oppo is for 4-b & 1, then leave the 4-b ball there. However, if 4-b and 2, leave the hoop 2 ball there instead.
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