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How to Play Marbles.

There must be at least 101 ways to play marbles. The single most important thing you need to know is this: HAVE FUN!

Check out the links to Ringer on the left, or the video of Dropsies below.

It is important to agree on the rules when you play marbles, so nobody accuses you of cheating. If you want to "play for keeps", then you should talk about it at first and agree that the winner gets to keep some marbles. Playing keepsies is fun until you loose your favorite marble!

Keepsies - you keep marbles that you win.

Friendlies - you get all of your marbles back at the end of the game.

Any kid who ever had a collection of marbles has favorite marbles. If you are willing to risk your marbles in a game of keepsies, you had better either be a good shooter, or be a good sport.



Shooting Marbles

When playing marbels on the ground, you'll want to "knuckle down" to shoot. Pinch the marble in your index finger and the flick if with your thumb. This video will show you how to do it. In other marbles games, you might want to just roll it on the ground, or drop it like a bomb between your thumb and finger.



Basics of Playing Marbles

Marbles games always involve moving marbles around. You roll, toss, or flick a shooter marble called a shooter, taw, or boss. The shooter marble is usually larger than other marbles, and the target marbles are called mibs or kimmies. Some games involve a taw line, which players stand behind when shooting. Players take turns shooting marbles until ll of the target marbles are gone, or until players decide to quit. Sometimes players take more than one turn in a row when they are successful at hitting the opponents marbles.

All marbles games are variations on these basic elements of marbles.

Where do you play?

Marbles is a great game because you can play it anywhere. All you need is a flat place to play, such as a sidewalk, floor, table, or rug. The surface you play on will affect your game because a smooth surface will make marbles roll far and fast. Playing on a rough surface like a baseball infield will make the marble bounce off course. If you will draw a circle for your game, you can use chalk or string. Chalk works best for outdoors because it washes off. If you are playing in the dirt, you can just draw a line with a stick. Where ever you play, keep track of your marbles and have fun!

Shooting Games

Although circle games are the most common, there are other ways to play marbles that are just as fun.

Marble Arch - Bobby was lousy mibster, or marble player. He had just a pocket full of marbles, and this caught the attention of his dad. One weekend, the dad went to the wood shop and made a wooden box with no top or bottom. In the front, he carved five holes. The hole in the center was the largest, and it had an umber 5 written above it. To the sides of that were two more holes, smaller, with the number 20 above them. At the ends of the box were two more even smaller holes with the number 50 above them. Bobby's dad told him to take it to school and explain to the other kids how they could play. They would roll their marbles across the cement sidewalk toward the box. If the marble went in, they would get 5, 20, or maybe 50 marbles. Sure enough, Bobby had to pay out a bunch of marbles to his friends, but gradually, he collected so many marbles that he filled a coffee can and then nobody would play his game any more!

Lagging - Players draw a chalk line on cement, or a line in the dirt. Then they draw a taw line about ten feet away and stand behind it. They take turns rolling their marbles at the other line. After every player has a turn, the winner is determined. The player who's marble is closest to the line without going over is the winner and collects all of the opponents' marbles.

Collecting Marbles

Marbles are fascinating and the can be found in very many different styles. You might have some ordinary marbles, but if you watch you can collect some really cool ones. One of the funnest things about marbles is looking through your marbles collection. Every marble has a story. Maybe you won it in a game, or bought it on vacation, or found it buried in the playground at the school yard. Building a collection of marbles is fun because you can remember things about the marbles and imagine them in the game. Marbles like those below can be found on Ebay or at yard sales.



Dropsies or Bombsies

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When you want to play marbles the game can be as simple as tossing your marbles at the opponent's marbles. This is a good game for outdoors fun because you can put marbles in a circle in the dirt and try to knock them out by dropping or tossing the shooters. In this video you will get the idea.

The Circle Games

Traditional marble games are played around a circle. In fact, at the National Marbles Tournament held every year in Wildwood, New Jersey over 1200 marbles games will be played around large circles in a park. The game played around these circles is called Ringer.

There are a number of games you can play around a circle when playing marbles. They games are know with names like:

Trading Marbles

Did you ever have a friend with a cool steelie? A steelie is a marble made of steel. They are hard to find because you usually needed to know a truck mechanic to take one from the wheel of a truck for you. If you had a friend with a steelie or another marble that you really want, you'd start asking, "How many marbles would I have to give you before you gave me that cool steelie?"

If your friend was like mine, he would say, "I want a whole coffee can of your marbles for this one!" You might even trade your whole collection to get that coolest marble. Trading marbles is a lot of fun. Check out these old marbles with a John Deere logo printed on them - an American icon. How many marbles would you trade for one of these?


Marble Playing Words

Bombing or Bombies - dropping your marble onto another marble.

Dubs - when tow or more marbles are knocked out of the ring with one shot.

For Fair, or Fairsies - Rules of playing in which each player gets back his or her marbles at the end of the game.

Fudging - Moving your hand foward while shooting.

Hand Span - the width of your hand.

Keepsies - Rules that any marbles that a player looses are not returned at the end of the game, but kept by whoever won them.

Lagging - In marbles you don't flip a coin to see who goes first. You shoot or bowl a marble from the pitch line to another parallel line called the lag line.

Lag Line - the line you throw toward when lagging.

Mibs - Target marbles, the ones you shoot at.

Mibster - a marble player. (check out and link to it.)

Pitch Line - the line you stand behind to lag.

Plunking, Jumpsies or Skipping - Shooting yoru marble in such a way that it jumps into the air and hits the target marbleon landing without hitting the ground first.

Pot - collection of marbles that every player adds to for playing a game.

Shooter - The marble you shoot with. It may be slightly larger than a regular marble. Some players have favorite or lucky shooters.

Shooting Line - The line behind which you stand and shoot in a game.

Slip - When a marble slips out of a player's hand accidentally.

Snooger - term used in Ringer to describe a terget marble that is near the rim of the ring

Target Marble - the one you are aiming at.

Taw - marbel you are shooting with, the shooter.

Taw Line - line behind which you shoot.

Photographer, Lester Picker.