For 2 or more players

How do you play Marbles?

These are the rules of playing Marbles.

This game requires several marbles.  Various sized marbles can be used and many are given names to identify their type.

There are many variations on the rules but here are the basic starting rules:

Tournament rules specify that the game should be played on a smooth surface, but any area of ground can be used, bear in mind though that this can affect the play.

A circle playing area is drawn, usually around 10 feet in diameter.  Draw a cross in the centre similar to a target.

Place a marble at centre of the cross and three marbles on each of the four lines coming out from the centre.

To play: "knuckle down" or put knuckle on floor, at edge of circle, with marble resting on the forefinger and the thumb sitting behind.  Flip thumb out pushing the marble towards the target.

Any marbles hit outside the ring are taken by the shooter.

If the shooters' marble stays in the circle then the shooter continues to shoot from that position, if not then play turns to their opponent.

If a player hits the opponents shooter then they can take any marble of their choice.
If the opponents shooter leaves the ring and the shooter remains in the ring then the opponent must hand over all marbles won by them and they are killed or out of the game.

The Origins

Orgins: The earliest marbles were made of flint and stone and baked clay and have been found in archaeological sites all over the world dating from the Roman and ancient Egypt! For centuries afterwards they were made from stone or real marble! Around the year 1800 marbles were made from glass or china and in 1886 the marble scissors were invented which meant that they could be made quick enough so that they could be sold to the public.  These days marbles are made from all sorts of materials, but glass remains the most popular.  Posted by Anon

Other Rules

We used to call it nibs, the marbles were glassys (the clear ones), steelies (ball bearings), and the coloured ones blueies etc (you get the idea).

we used to play in a little hole scratched into the ground.
Posted by: lily

For 2 or more players.

On a spare piece of ground, usually a playing field (at school) or a grass verge make a shallow round hole or hollow. This would be the 'hole' no other name seemed to be needed. Those who were playing chose their marble and threw it under arm for the 'hole'. Your next turn was dictated by closest to the hole. Once you had attained the hole you became a 'Killer' and could then win marbles just by hitting other peoples marbles.

Until you were a killer you could knock peoples marbles out of your way or even to a less strategic position but not kill them. When you took a shot you were not allowed to throw your marble or move your hand forward of your marbles last position, you had to shoot by keeping your hand still and flicking your marbles off your forefinger with your thumb.

Kids got quite proficient at hitting anything they aimed at, up to about 4 or 5 feet away. If two marbles got into the hole together a battle royal ensued to try and knock your opponents - marble out of the hole therefore stopping them becoming a killer on that play. They would have to attain the hole again. Kids who used the big glass marbles, or 'bottlies', were mostly considered at best not very proficient or at worst cheats.

There were no boundaries or hitting a great mass of marbles to see who could smash the most out of the centre. This was a game of skill, honed over what seemed like years of battling on the killing marble fields with just a shallow hole to mark that bit of ground as a tournament field.

At this point pride and nostalgia get the better of me and a tear falls down one cheek.

Thanks for the site perhapse you could tell the news paper about it the kids of today have lost something.
Posted by: Nick Grazier

Comment 2

2011-10-25 01:17:18
We used to play in the street gutter in my home town of Cleethorpes.  Too long in the tooth now to remember the rules
Christine Hurst
Christine Hurst
2007-05-05 16:04:00
We played in a similar way as posted.  I'm interested in the names we gave to the different kinds of marbles:

The clear glass ones with a wavy colour through were called "Glass Alleys"
The shiny silver ones, usually big, were called "Iron Bobbers"
The matt, coloured ones, usually quite small, were called "Tulleys" heaven knows why! They were not desireable to win and we'd often make a rule at the beginning of "No Tulleys"

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