Artistic Openings

Pete Trimmer - Issue 18 (2000)

“Bob’s looking around the lawn, wondering what cunning strategy to use with the first ball.  It looks like he’s heading towards the end of A-baulk now; yes, it’s down … he’s playing a few yards up the east boundary.  I think it’s the psychological approach, trying to bore his opponent out of playing well.  It may be working … I may have detected a slight yawn from Mary as he played it. One of the two spectators is already lost to a newspaper.

Now, what will her response be?  Oh, my word, a standard tice … it looks about level with hoop 5 off the west boundary, trying to give him some of his own medicine. Completely psychological these two; each trying to out-bore the other.”

Who, we must ask, will fall asleep first?

The opening we all know so well; the first ball tucked well out of the game, and the second ball put (sensibly) at 50-50 hitting range, but always on the same boundary.

Here are a few suggestions for the coming season. Even if they look a little unnerving for a match, they could at least be tried in friendlies to give something worth talking about after the game!

Playing First

1. Lay a long tice.  If your opponent then goes to the east boundary, join up with it! 
2. Playing against lots of bisques, trickle a ball out near hoop 1 (and watch your opponent squirm). 
3. Roll a ball out to the middle of the lawn, ‘threatening’ to shoot at their ball wherever they put it.

Playing Second  (assuming a standard first ball)

1. Lay a tice 3 – 4 yards east of corner II; if they miss it on the left, they will probably give you a double. 
2. Against lots of bisques, join with their first ball.  A collection of balls should not confuse you, but it may confuse them! 
3. (Amusement value only)  With lots of bisques, deem in corner III.  What can they do?

It is surprisingly difficult to do much wrong with the first ball on the lawn.  Think of a few positions and ask yourself whether you would really give anything away by trying it.