New Life For Deadness

Paired Deadness: Live Dead Fair Beware
by Lee Kennedy


“Blue is dead on black” is a clear and concise statement, and describes Blue’s deadness relative to Black. “Blue is dead on black and black is dead on blue” is clear and describes the reciprocal deadness between a pair of croquet balls. While clear, it is not exactly concise, and if used with other pairs during a game, confusing at best. When the word paired is added, reciprocal deadness becomes implied, “Blue is paired dead on Black,” and the statement becomes both clear and concise.

The partner pairs, blue and black or red and yellow, are good graphic examples because both pairs appear in the third column of the deadness board with clarity. The graphic proximity of Partners begs the question of how to extend the same clarity to the Danger-Spent pairs.

Drawing 1: Deadness Pairs


Because the deadness board represents the official accounting of deadness, let us first identify graphically all the pairs between each of the four balls.

Each ball pairs with it’s danger, partner and spent balls to produce 12 individual pairs, however if we count the balls as reciprocal pairs, the number reduces to six. Starting at the upper left in Drawing 1 with blue and continuing clockwise to red, black and yellow around an imaginary box, we then connect the balls with four perimeter lines and two diagonal lines. The six pairs are now complete. Notice that each ball connects to its Danger, Partner and Spent ball, and each ball’s Danger Ball is clockwise, each ball’s Spent ball is counter-clockwise, and each ball’s Partner is diagonally across.

With all pairs identified, we turn to the challenge of displaying each of the ball’s deadness squares in Drawing 1 adjacent to their respective Danger, Partner and Spent ball. Using Blue and Red along the top for example, we need only insert two deadness squares between them, left to right: Blue Ball, red deadness square, blue deadness square, and Red Ball.

Drawing 2: Concept Realized


Wherein a serendipitously simple solution emerges: duplicate a small version of Drawing 1 into each of the four corners as shown in Drawing 2. Again, Blue’s Danger deadness is clockwise to the right, Blue’s Partner deadness is diagonally down and right, and Blue’s Spent deadness is counterclockwise below. For each of the other balls, the pairing is clockwise, across, counter-clockwise. Each color is in the same position of each of the four smaller quadrants.

Drawing 3: The Completed Paired Deadness Board: All Balls Paired Dead

1723636327?profile=RESIZE_710xDrawing 3 duplicates Drawing 2 with paired lines removed, deadness squares next to each other and the deadness covers located on either side, away from the ball and deadness squares.  The deadness covers slide horizontally in a double height track: one for each square plus one for the ball. Alternatively, a single height track can be used on a wider board. More about manufacturing follows in the summary

Drawing 4: All Balls Paired Live

1723639006?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Board shows the game with no deadness. We’ll use the deadness squares next to the Balls later to signify “Balls not in the game” or “Rovered out”


The Paired Deadness Board is now complete, so let us consider how we use the board, and describe paired deadness with clarity and simplicity. Verbal deadness descriptions become increasingly complicated and prone to error as the deadness board increases with peppered deadness, so we will limit the descriptions to as few words as possible.

At this point we’ve added paired to our vocabulary, but need to distinguish the character of deadness which may be matched or mixed in one of four characters.

When deadness of a pair match, the character remains the familiar: live or dead.

Ball A is paired live on Ball B:

both are live on each other, or

Ball A is paired dead on Ball B:

both are dead on each other.

When the deadness of a pair mix, the character becomes one of two new words: fair or beware.*

Ball A is paired fair on Ball B:

Ball A is live on Ball B, while Ball B is dead on Ball A, or

Ball A is paired beware on Ball B:

Ball A is dead on Ball B, while Ball B is live on Ball A

*Fair or beware. suggests a degree of caution relative to Ball A.
*When Blue is paired fair on Danger, Red is paired beware on Spent.

Paired deadness grammar (or syntax if you like) can vary so long as the description includes:

  1. The word Pair
  2. The identity of Ball A
  3. The identity of Ball B (and in some cases Ball C and Ball D also)
  4. The character of the Pair: live, dead, fair, beware, or last dead.


Blue is paired Live on Red: this is the simple variant of the classic Blue is Live on Red.
Blue is paired Live on Danger
Blue is paired Live on Danger and Partner
Blue is paired Dead on Opponent
Blue is paired Live only on Spent
Blue is paired 3 ball dead
Blue is paired Partner Live
Blue is paired Last Dead on Yellow
Blue and Read are pared live.... etc

Drawing 5 Matched and Mixed Pairs. Examples of Six reciprocal pairs.


  1. Blue is paired dead on partner ~ Black paired dead on partner
  2. Red is paired live on partner ~ Yellow is paired live on partner
  3. Blue is paired live on danger ~ Red is paired live on spent
  4. Red is paired fair on danger ~ Black is paired beware on spent
  5. Black is paired beware on danger ~ Yellow paired fair on spent
  6. Yellow is paired dead on danger ~ Blue is paired dead on spent

Drawing 6: Rovers


Rover deadness is unique.

  1. Rover blue has “staked out” of the game and the Blue ball is covered.
  2. Rover red circle half covered to indicate rover (optional). Rover red is paired dead on danger and paired last dead on partner.
  3. Black is paired dead on spent, and paired dead on danger.
  4. Rover yellow circle half covered to indicate rover (optional). Rover yellow is paired last dead on danger and paired dead on partner.

Drawing 7: Balls Not in the Game

1723644163?profile=RESIZE_710xAt the Beginning of the game, all balls are considered not in the game and technically the four croquet balls in the corners and the 12 deadness squares should be covered. As a practical manner, this option may be useful if one or two croquet balls fail to score wicket 1, and it might be helpful to show Yellow still not in the game and thus paired all dead. Each of the balls in the game are shown paired {danger, partner, spent} dead on yellow, still not in the game.

Drawing 8: Bermuda Colors    

The Bermuda Board differs in the following ways:

  • Green replaces blue,
  • Pink replaces red,
  • Brown replaces black, and
  • White replaces yellow.
  • Background colors and deadness cover colors are reversed.



  • The graphics and descriptions are most effective used collectively, but either can be used independently.
  • The four croquet balls share six reciprocal pairs.
  • New grammar and words limited to Pair, Fair, Beware
  • Deadness board aligns all reciprocities of deadness.
  • The sentence grammar provides flexibility in any description:


Ultimately, you can describe the complete board deadness in Drawing 5 with only six words following a simple sequence, “Dead, Live, Live, Fair, Beware, Dead.” Whereupon, you can construct a complete deadness board.


Paired Deadness from Drawing 5:

Blue-Black partner


Red-Yellow partner, then clockwise


Blue-Red danger


Red-Black danger


Black-Yellow danger


Yellow-Blue danger


Lee Kennedy is a retired architect, President of Greenwich Croquet Club, and lives in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.


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