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40. A match is the best of three games.
41. A tournament is the best of three matches.
HINTS TO YOUNG PLAYERS.
It is almost impossible (as the reader will already have perceived) to overestimate the great importance that "the croquet" bears upon the game. A player who devotes all his efforts to pa.s.s through the hoops will find himself soon left behind by those who look upon that department of the game as merely subservient to the more fascinating task of driving away a foe, or of helping a friend; and this fact becomes more and more patent when the number of players is six or eight.
True, when only two play, if one gets a good start, it is a somewhat difficult matter for the other player to stay his progress; and as this inevitably takes away half the interest of the game, we recommend a pair of players to use a couple of b.a.l.l.s, since by so doing one can a.s.sist the other, and develop the croquet to great advantage; but then, again, it is not expedient to devote the whole of one's energies to produce a collision between two b.a.l.l.s. The player's first rule should be to pa.s.s through a hoop; if, however, he sees an equal chance of pa.s.sing through it after he has gone out of his route to drive an adverse player away, he should at all times make use of the croquet; for it must be remembered that keeping an enemy back is almost equivalent to making progress, and that the game cannot be lost as long as a foe's ball is behind one's own. The art of the tight croquet consists in placing the striking ball in juxtaposition to that ball which has been croqued, and then, setting the left foot upon his own ball, the striker hits it sharply with his mallet, and consequently the other ball is driven by the power of the stroke to a distance in proportion to the force with which the ball was struck. In the loose croquet, however, the player need not place his foot upon the ball at all, but by adopting the following stroke can drive the two b.a.l.l.s forward in the same direction, or by hitting his own ball with a slanting mallet can drive the b.a.l.l.s away at an angle to each other. The purpose of this feat is either to aid a friend or to do damage to an enemy. A friend can by croquing send a partner through the hoop he wishes to pa.s.s, or else drive an enemy--who has obtained a good position, and who feels certain of going through a hoop at his next turn--exactly in the opposite direction to that in which he wishes to travel. In order, however, to make this stroke very effective, great care must be taken with regard to the way in which the ball is driven. Many thoughtless players think nothing of driving a foe close to a friend, or, in the hopes of a.s.sisting their side, send a friend in the immediate neighbourhood of a foe--thus improving the position of the adverse side, and damaging that of their own. The difference that a few thoughtful players make to a side is wonderful. Whilst others. .h.i.t their b.a.l.l.s about without ever thinking that at his next turn a foe will probably croquet them, the careful players, antic.i.p.ating the positions of the other bails, place themselves in a position from which, when their next turn comes, they can either go through a hoop, or croquet the ball of a more careless player. Thus, if foe B is behind a hoop through which A has to pa.s.s, but requires two turns for the pa.s.sage, it would be very absurd if A were to place himself close to B, in the hope of pa.s.sing through next time, since B would be sure to croquet him, and place him in even a worse position than he occupies in the ill.u.s.tration. A should content himself by playing to C, for B would not go so far out of his way to croquet him, and then A could go through the ring the next time he plays.
If A is at the side of a hoop through which he cannot possibly pa.s.s in one turn, he should play behind the ring to the spot marked B, and not in a line marked A C, or else he would probably go either too far or not far enough, and be forced to accomplish in three turns what, if he had gone to B, he could probably have done in two.
Suppose B to be placed in front of the fourth hoop (_see_ Positions of Hoops, Diagram No. 2), and A, whose turn it is, to be behind No.
2;--many players would just go through No. 2, and then quietly drop down to No. 3, in the hope of pa.s.sing through at the next turn. A thoughtful player, however, would, by driving his ball sharply through hoop No. 2, obtain a position close to B, and next, taking a second turn for going through the hoop, would be able to croquet B, and drive him a long way off his hoop, and then return to a good position behind No. 3.
The following position will show one of the advantages of the loose croquet. It is the turn of the ball C to play, and he has to go through the hoop _e_ in the direction _e_ A. In his present position it is impossible for him to go through the hoop at one turn. If, however, he croquets D, and then indulges in the loose croquet, he can drive his own ball to B, and send the other to A. He can then pa.s.s through the hoop, and can croquet D again at the spot A.
We have mentioned this problem more as an example for young players than because it is a recognised rule. Many such plans, equally advantageous to follow, will readily present themselves to players in the course of the game, and in no more forcible manner can they show their good play than by disregarding the pa.s.sage of a hoop in order to croquet a foe and thus spoil his position. It can be easily understood that a player who, by pa.s.sing through all the hoops, obtains the t.i.tle of "Rover," and may therefore rove wherever he pleases, has far more power than one whose flight is fettered by being compelled to pa.s.s through the little iron hoops that dot the Croquet-ground. He can either keep close to a laggard friend, and aid him by the croquet, or he can take up a position a little in advance of a forward foe, and delay his progress in a very unpleasant manner. Suppose that A has just pa.s.sed through the last hoop but two, and that B, a rover, has taken up a position close to the hoop, in such a manner that a portion of it intervenes between him and A. If, then, the latter play near the hoop, B is sure to croquet him and drive him away. He is therefore compelled to keep some distance off the hoop until a friend comes to aid him, unless a change in his position allows him to croquet B, which, if the latter is a good player, is not likely to occur. Now, having shown how a rover can worry a foe, let us demonstrate how he can aid a friend. A is close to the hoop through which he has to pa.s.s, and B, a rover of his own side, is in a line with him. If B hit A, he will probably drive him off his hoop and spoil his turn; but if B play to C, a spot halfway between the two hoops, A can go through his hoop, croquet B at C, drive him to D, and then go through the next hoop, croquet B at D (for he has been through a hoop since he last croqued him), drive him to the other side of the next hoop, and so on. A rover playing with another ball can be of more help to him than hindrance to a foe; and as it is more important to get the b.a.l.l.s of one's own side forward than to delay those of a foe, the former plan should, when feasible, be adopted. Thus it will be seen that a good rover is of the greatest service to the side, and that the sooner he is placed _hors de combat_ the better for the opposite side. The rovers on the other side should therefore do all they can to make the rover's ball hit the post by croquing it against it, if possible; for although if all on his side hit the post before those on the other side the game is won, yet when the best player, being dead, is able to render no further a.s.sistance, the game often goes against that side. This plan, however, must be adopted with the greatest precaution and care, and on no account whatever should a bad player be thus disposed of, since the mere fact of keeping him in the game is of the highest importance, as his services are of little avail to his own side, who cannot win as long as one of their party remains in the game. With these few desultory hints we conclude this article, which all beginners should study carefully, and (we hope) with advantage.
"The rash boy Phaeton his proud chariot drove Till he was smitten by almighty Jove: Take heed, young driver, while you like him boast, You are not 'spilled' against an ugly post."--_Swift._
Our young friends ought to know, not only how to ride, but also how to drive. From the very earliest times, horse and chariot races were considered the n.o.blest of sports, and Apollo is represented as driving the chariot of the sun. The four horses were typical of the four seasons of the year. Four horses driven abreast was common also to the Olympic games, and the Hippodrome was the scene of chariot races in which even a greater number was sometimes used.
It was, indeed, an imposing sight to see the Hippodromic course at the time of one of these chariot festivals. The place set apart for the contest was about a mile in length. Over a bar that ran across the entrance of the lists was placed a brazen dolphin, and upon an altar in the middle of the barrier stood an eagle of the same metal. By means of a machine, put in motion by the president of the games, the eagle suddenly sprang up into the air with its wings extended, so as to be seen by all spectators; and at the same moment the dolphin sank to the ground, which was a signal for the cars to arrange themselves in order for the race. Besides the statue of Hippodamia, and the table on which were placed the crowns and palm-branches, there were several images and altars in the course, particularly that of the genius Taraxippus, who, as his name imports, was said to inspire the horses with a secret terror, which was increased by the shrill clangour of the trumpets placed near the boundary, and the deafening shouts and outcries of the mult.i.tude.
While the chariots were ranged in line ready to start, the horses, whose ardour it was difficult to restrain, attracted all eyes by their beauty, as well as for the victories which some of them had already gained.
Pindar speaks of no less than forty chariots engaged at one and the same time. If we recollect that they had to run twelve times the length of the Hippodrome, in going and returning, and to steer round a pillar or goal erected near each extremity, we may imagine what confusion must have ensued when, upon the signal trumpet being sounded, they started amid a cloud of dust, crossing and jostling each other, and rushing forward with such rapidity that the eye could scarcely follow them. At one of the boundaries a narrow pa.s.s was left only for the chariots, which often baffled the skill of the expertest driver; and there were upwards of twenty turnings to make round the two pillars; so that at almost every moment some accident happened, calculated to excite the pity or insulting laughter of the a.s.sembly. In such a number of chariots at full speed, pushing for precedence in turning round the columns, on which victory often depended, some were sure to be dashed to pieces, covering the course with their fragments, and adding to the dangers of the race. As it was, moreover, exceedingly difficult for the charioteer, in his unsteady two-wheeled car, to retain his standing att.i.tude, many were thrown out, when the masterless horses plunged wildly about the Hippodrome, overturning others who had, perhaps, previously escaped every danger, and thought themselves sure of winning. To increase the confusion, and thereby afford better opportunities for the display of skill and courage, there was reason to believe that some artifice was employed for the express purpose of frightening the horses when they reached the statue of Taraxippus. So great sometimes was their consternation, that, no longer regarding the rein, the whip, or the voice of their master, they broke loose, or overturned the chariot, and wounded the driver.
Such is the ancient description given by a Greek writer of the chariot races of the Hippodrome. We have no coach racing now-a-days, except omnibus racing in the streets: not a great deal of "coaching." Now and then, indeed, we see the "Brighton four-horse," and start with wonder at the sight. But still there are necessities for private driving, more important at the present than at any former period; and we hold driving to be not only a necessary, but an indispensable accomplishment to every young gentleman.
THE HORSE IN HARNESS.
A horse fully equipped in harness, attached to a dennet or stanhope, is one of the most beautiful things to look at in the world: few boys are trusted to drive a pair; nor have they physical power for the task. We will therefore confine our attention chiefly to single harness, adding only a short description of the various kinds of carriages in common use. If, however, the youthful charioteer can drive a single horse well, he will find no difficulty in controlling a pair, provided their mouths are sufficiently tender for his strength to manage. The horse is here represented harnessed to a light dennet-gig.
May be either a full-sized harness horse, or a galloway, or a pony; the two last being the best fitted for juvenile driving.
In every case, is composed of the same parts, which consist of three essential divisions: 1st, the driving, or guiding part; 2d, the drawing part; and 3d, that for holding up the shafts. The driving part comprises the bridle and reins. The bridle is made up of a front piece (1), a head piece (2), two cheek pieces and winkers (3), a nose band (4), and a throat lash (5). The cheek pieces are buckled to the bit (6) by means of leather loops, called billets, as also are the driving-reins (7), and the bearing-rein, which is attached to a separate bit called the bridoon (a plain snaffle), and then is hooked to the pad-hook. This is now very generally dispensed with, as shown in the cut at the head of this article; but for young drivers it is often desirable when they have not strength to check the fall of a horse. The drawing parts consist of a padded oval ring fitted to the shoulders, and called the collar (10), sometimes replaced by a padded strap across the chest called the breast-strap. On the collar are fastened two iron bars called hames (12), by means of a strap at the top and bottom (8-11), and these hames have a ring in the upper part for the reins to pa.s.s through, called the hame terret (9); and nearer the lower part, a strong arm of iron covered with a coating of bra.s.s, silver, or leather, which receives in its eye the tug of the trace (13.) The trace (17) is a long and strong strap of double leather, st.i.tched, which runs from the collar to the drawing bar, and may be lengthened or shortened by a buckle. The part for holding the gig up consists of a pad or saddle, which is buckled on to the horse by the belly-band (16), and from which the shaft is suspended by the back-band and shaft-tug. It is prevented from slipping forward by the crupper, which is slipped over the tail. Besides these parts, some horses have in addition a breechen (18-19) which holds the shafts back in going down hill; and when they are addicted to kicking, a strap is buckled over their hips to the shaft which is called a kicking-strap.
[Ill.u.s.tration: THE BRITZSCHKA.]
The Dennet-gig, as represented in the last page, is the most common form for a two-wheeled carriage; but there are also the Stanhope, the Cabriolet, as here shown, the Tilbury, and the Dog-cart. The various open four-wheeled carriages are the Britzschka, Barouche, and Phaeton; and of closed four-wheeled carriages there are the Brougham and Clarence on elliptic springs, and the chariot and family coach with c springs.
When these two last are made to open, they are called the Landaulet and Landau.
[Ill.u.s.tration: NEW BROUGHAM.]
[Ill.u.s.tration: THE FAMILY COACH.]
Before driving, it is necessary that the horse or pony should be "put to," which is effected as follows: 1st, slip the shafts through the tugs, or, if there are hooks, drop them down into them; 2d, put the traces on to the drawing-bar, either hooking them on, or else slipping them on to the eyes, and being careful to place the leather stops in these, to prevent the trace coming off; 3d, buckle the belly-band sufficiently tight; and 4th, buckle the kicking-strap, or breechen, if either is used. After this, the reins are taken from the terrets, where they were previously placed, and the horse is ready.
DIRECTIONS FOR DRIVING.
In driving, the reins are held differently from the mode already described as used in riding, the fore-finger being first placed between them, and then both the reins are grasped by all the other fingers, and the near-side rein is also held firmly against the fore-finger by means of the thumb. In this way, on an emergency, the near or left rein may be pulled by itself, by holding it firmly with the thumb, and suffering the other, or off rein, to slip through the fingers, or _vice versa_. The most usual way is to pull the left rein with the left hand, and the right with the right hand, by hooking one or two fingers over it while held firmly in the left. In this manner, with the whip also held in the right hand, the horse is guided or stopped. The young driver should take care and keep his feet well before him, with his knees as straight and firm as possible, so that in case of a fall of the horse he may not be thrown forwards out of the vehicle he is driving. He should also sit square to his work, with his elbow held easily to his side, and his left thumb pointing to his horse's head, by which, as in riding, his elbow is pretty sure to be properly placed. The bit should not be too firmly pulled against, but a light and "give and take" kind of handling is the best, by which the horse is allowed freedom of action, and yet is checked if he makes a mistake. In meeting other vehicles, the rule is to keep to your left, and in pa.s.sing them, to leave them also on your left.
This should be rigidly adhered to for fear of the accidents which would otherwise constantly happen.
In reference to driving in America, nothing better can be given than the rules of the English school for driving. In America the rule governing the side to pa.s.s another rider on is the reverse of the English rule. In America the law is "drive to the right." In England it is to the left.
The former appears to us to be the "right" one.