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Game On! Marbles


The Gazette

Dave Philipps

Aug. 4, 2007



Think of marbles as billiards without the table. It's a game that rewards strategy, skill and being a hustler.


Where did it start? It dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who taught it to the Romans, who taught pretty much everyone else. Marbles became a popular kids game in the United States after 1902 when inexpensive machine made glass marbles became available. A national championship tournament is still held every year in Wildwood, N.J.


How to play: Rules vary according to the region. One of the more popular games is called Ringer. Start by finding a hard, smooth surface (a sidewalk, a patch of dirt, mom's newly refinished floors) and drawing a circle. Tournament size is 10 feet, but if you're just starting out, try something smaller. Arrange 13 marbles in an X in the center of the circle. Then start the game by taking turns shooting at the marbles from outside the line of the circle. How do you shoot? Most marble sets come with several small marbles, called mibs, and a larger marble, called a taw or shooter. Hold the taw between your thumb and forefinger.


Put your hand on the ground so that the first knuckle of your forefinger touches the surface. Then flick the taw at the mibs with your thumb.


I missed; now what? If you shoot and miss, or hit the marbles but don't knock any out of the circle, your turn is over. The next person goes.


I hit one: If you knock at least one marble out of the circle but your taw rolls out, your turn is over, but you keep the marble you knocked out. If you knock one out and your taw is still in the circle, you get to keep the marble and go again, but you shoot from where the taw lies.


How do I win? The first person to knock out seven marbles wins.


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