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Monday, August 7, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Where civility is still on a roll

Seattle Times staff photographer

There is no crying in baseball and no cursing in croquet.

When one competitor at the weekend's Greater Northwest Team Championships in Kirkland, Pierre Dunn of Team Canada, muffed a shot, he exclaimed, "Mother of pearl!"

When his teammate, Steve Dimond, mis-hit, he said, "Holy doodle!"

Croquet is a civil sport of finesse and skill, says Marian Smith of the Puget Sound Croquet Club. The struck balls have a clearance of only 1/16-inch through the hoops — called wickets — and the 105-foot by 84-foot playing field is golf-green smooth.

At the championships, hosted by Kirkland's Puget Sound Croquet Club, Oregon, Washington and Western Canada (British Columbia) each was represented by a foursome.

On Sunday, the Canadians were still reveling in their sweep of first, second and third places in the club's Seattle Open nine years ago.

But there's no trash-talking in croquet, "unless it's to yourself," says Dimond.

Yet this isn't the backyard game at Grandma's house. It's precise, intense and played with $200 mallets and $60 balls.

It's a mix of chess and billiards on turf, and players say there is more strategy than in golf.

Oregon's team won the weekend tournament, with Western Canada second and Washington third.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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