How Do You Play Marbles?

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Ken Anderson, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    I am guessing that many of you played marbles when you were kids. I know that I did, and most of the boys I grew up with played marbles, as did some of the girls. However, when I have watched scenes in movies and television shows of kids playing marbles, and even in the pictures that I come across of kids playing marbles, it's clear that there is more than one way to play the game.

    Everyone I knew played it the same way, and it was a little bit like pool, only on the ground, and with marbles. We always played for keeps and, unless there was another reason to cut the game short, such as recess ending or someone having to go home, the game went on until one person had all the marbles.

    Some marbles were worth more than other marbles, and we can talk about that later. Right now, I want to talk about the way the game was played. I may not remember all of the details, but it went something like this.

    A small hole would be dug into the ground, and the objective would be to strike your opponent's marble in such a way as to cause it to go into the hole, at which time it became your marble.

    The opening move was to flick the marble onto the playing field, usually defined by lines scratched into the dirt, although I don't think we always bothered with that. More than two people could play in the same game. Once the marbles were in the playing field, the objective was to strike an opponent's marble, causing it to go into the hole, as you might do in a pool game.

    If your own marble went into the hole, your turn was over and your marble would become part of the winnings of the next person who succeeded in knocking someone's marble into the hole. You could continue playing as long as you still had marbles, however.

    I think there were a few other penalties that could come into play, but the details are fuzzy.
     
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  2. Lois Winters

    Lois Winters Very Well-Known Member
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    We would draw a large circle in the dirt and the one with the largest marble would shoot it to as close to the center as possible. From there the game would commence with what ever rules we had set for that particular game.
     
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  3. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Veteran Member
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    Similar to Lois, I don't recall any hole, just the circle in the dirt. We'd "fire" at other players' marbles and if we could knock them out of the circle we'd keep the marble.
     
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  4. Mary Robi

    Mary Robi Very Well-Known Member
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    Same here.

    There were taws, aggies, steelies, and catseyes. That's all I can remember. I have a bunch of antique marbles, some of which were my grandfather's. The most unusual ones are made of clay. It wasn't easy to get glass marbles, so they made their own.

    Remember the "fried marble" craze in the 60's? We fried them and dropped them into cold water to "craze" and then put them into jewelry findings.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    My dad worked for a shipbuilding company so he'd bring home steel bearings of different sizes, which made for nice steelies.
     
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  6. Craig Wilson

    Craig Wilson Greeter
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    Circle in the dirt for me too. Winner was the one who knocked all his opponents marbles out of the circle.
    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    You guys probably weren't allowed to dig holes.
     
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  8. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    Amazing that you can still recall everything down to the smallest detail even though it may be fuzzy. You must have been impressed by it.
    I can only vaguely remember that we definitely dug a hole by a wall so that it was like a pocket or a swallow's nest into which a number of marbles had to be pushed from a distance with your pointing finger bent. Maybe you lost those that you failed to pocket. Anyway, we went to school with a bag of marbles as our treasure. With hindsight I still wonder where we had those marbles from. And we didn't play it very long.
     
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  9. Al Amoling

    Al Amoling Veteran Member
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    I remember playing by @Ken Anderson rules in field and similar but no hole on street
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    Maybe that was part of the difference in the playing field for marbles. We didn't have sidewalks or even a lot of paved parking areas or roads.
     
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  11. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Veteran Member
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    Yes, we played marbles when I was a kid. We generally played for “keepsies” but I had to quit because my dad had a pretty rough policy about gambling and when he saw me going to school with a much bigger bag of marbles than I started with well......it wasn’t a good morning at my house.

    I thought that at some time I had posted some predominantly kid’s games that have turned professional and marbles was one of them. It’s possible I just thought I was going to post one or I simply can’t find the thread but here’s a view of marbles as it is played in Merry Old England.
     
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  12. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Veteran Member
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    Sheesh, that's a big circle. :D I can't imagine anything more boring than Curling, but competitive marbles might be a contender.
     
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  13. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    :D Us kids weren't hard to please.
     
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  14. Robert Teale

    Robert Teale Very Well-Known Member
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    I was that poor when I was a kid, couldn't afford marbles to play with, so I just put my hands in my trouser pockets.;):D
     
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