Playing a very cautious analytical game, 25-year-old Lynn Arms wore down her two male opponents to become the winner of the 10th annual Croquet Tournament, co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the English Speaking Union.
Playing barefoot in a game where there is no designated uniform, Arms eliminated her father, Larry Moore, a past cup winner, in a semifinal match.
"Somehow I always feel guilty when I beat him," said Arms with a broad smile.
"I work for him on the farm in Howard County, and when I win he always says, 'you're going to have to work harder tomorrow.'"
The former horticulture major at the University of Maryland said, "They very seldom let me play at home when the men get together.
"I'm like the little kid that they let play once in a while.
"Really though, they play on Wednesday afternoon and someone has to watch the road stand, me usually."
The tournament, sort of a combination of walking polo and miniature golf with a few billiard shots thrown in, got off to a clicking start at 10:30 a.m. with about 60 participants ranging in age from 16 on up.
Croquet is a genteel game that draws genteel people, with a touch of old-country British tossed in by the players. The style of dress at the tournament ranged from tweed jackets to the more casual jeans-and-sweater set to Arms and her bare feet.
"I don't think I wore the right shoes," Jean Metzer said with consternation, when her name was called to compete.
Metzer, who handles public relations for the Baltimore Shock Trauma Center, drove in from Annapolis to compete.
"I have been playing croquet for about 40 years," she said. "Started in Detroit and raised my four childern on croquet."
Croquet, once called "the sport of kings," dates back to the 1600s, when it was played exclusively in the French royal courts, the game then being called "Baille-Maille."
The British picked it up in the 19th century. The first meeting was held at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Gloucestershire, in 1867. It was called Pall Mall, which later became the name of the wellknown London street.
Surrounding the three small courts on the Ellipse were families of the participants, who lunched under the shade trees from bursting picnic baskets.
Conversation was mostly about trying to save the game that requires 60 to 30 feet of playing area.
After the match, Lynn (Moore) Arms held her cup and joked with her two opponents, family friends Ellison Grimsley and Doug, his son.
The two families have dominated the tournament over the past 10 years with two trophies going to the Grimsleys and four to the Moores; three out of the four going to Lynn, the kid who watches the roadside stand.
The matches, played with a single ball and short mallets, ran from 10 minutes to a half-hour with four participants in each match -- except for the final, in which three took part.
Asked to play, an observer declined, realizing that one must have very good concentration and a very good back.