Learn How to Play Marbles in 6 Simple Steps

Marbles is a popular game among children in many parts of the world. Learning how to play marbles is very simple, and is something that even beginners can pick up quickly. All you need is some marbles and a couple of friends. This Buzzle article gives you a step-by-step tutorial to play the game.
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Steps to play marbles
Did You Know?
Mib is the Latin name for a marble. A mibster is a marble player, and mibology is the study of marbles.
A marble is a small spherical toy usually made from glass, steel, porcelain, clay, and agate. Marble games were played since 4000 BC in ancient Egypt. The classic game of marbles is termed 'Ringer'. To play ringer, you need to make sure that you choose a spot which has an even surface. You could always use your backyard or porch. At least 2 players are required to play. An ideal number of 13 mibs are necessary, but you can take more. (Mibs are target marbles). Ensure that you take an odd number, as this would help decide the winner. Determine at the start only whether you will be playing for keepsies, which means the mibs that you win are yours. On the other hand, friendlies means that you get your mibs back at the end of the game. Make sure every player has a taw (Taw is a shooting marble, slightly bigger than the other marbles). You could also buy a unique and fancy taw for yourself. Now that we are done with the basics, let's move on to understanding the game better.

How to Play Marbles (Classic Version: Ringer)

Setting Up the Game

Setting Up the Game

Draw a circle of around 4 - 5 feet radius on an even surface with a chalk or a piece of coal, making sure its borders are clearly visible. Alternatively, you could also make a circle out of string or ribbon. Draw the pitch line and a parallel lag line both tangent to the circle.

How to Shoot

How to Shoot

The taw must be held in the crook of the index finger and shot with the thumb knuckle down. Every player shoots the taw from the pitch line to the lag line, as shown in the first illustration. The player whose marble is closest to the lag line starts the game.

Starting the Game

Starting the Game

Place the mibs in the center of the circle in the way you want to; a cross form is the most popular. On the first turn and every succeeding new turn, a player has to shoot from outside the ring. Each time the taw goes out, the player's turn ends.

Playing the Game

Every player tries to knock the mibs outside the circle. Every mib out increases the score of the player, and earns him a marble.

Striking Marble Out

If a mib is knocked outside and the taw is still in the circle, the player earns a marble and gets another chance to shoot from the taw's last position.

Taw and Marble

If a mib is knocked out and the taw goes out as well, the player's turn ends and he gets the mib.

Taw Ends Out

If a mib isn't knocked out but the taw goes out, the player's turn ends. If the taw hits a mib but it isn't knocked out, leaving the taw in the ring, the player resumes his next turn from the taw's last position.

Fouls and Penalties

If a player knocks the other player's taw outside the ring, two rules are possible.

Fouls and Penalties

1) The player who knocks the taw out wins the game and gets all the mibs, including the other player's taw.
2) The player who knocks out the taw doesn't get it, but the owner of the taw has to play from outside the ring on his/her next turn, and receives a penalty which could be either missing a turn or one marble less.

Winning the Game

The game ends when all the mibs are knocked outside the ring. The player with the most mibs is declared the winner.

Variations

There are more than a dozen different marble games that you could try, which include Ring Taw, Dropsies, Bunhole, English Ring Taw, Bull's Eye, Cherry Pit, etc. Here are a few, which are pretty exciting to play.

Ring Taw
  • To play ring taw, you need to draw a circle of 7-feet diameter on the ground.
  • Inside this circle, you have to draw another circle of 1-foot diameter, to which each player contributes a certain odd number of mibs. The inner circle should contain a minimum of ten mibs.
  • The game is all about shooting as many mibs as possible outside the inner circle.
  • Players on their first turn shoot from outside the circle. On every succeeding turn thereafter, they have to shoot from the position where their taws rest.
  • If a player doesn't hit any marble outside the inner circle, his/her turn ends.
  • If a taw is hit, the player has to pay the other player a forfeit of one marble, and on his next turn, he has to play from outside the larger circle. A taw can be hit only once per turn.
  • The player with the most mibs is the winner.

Dropsies
  • Draw a big circle, not more than 4 feet in diameter. Bigger circles make this game more challenging.
  • Each player contributes an odd number of mibs to the circle. The mibs are scattered randomly in the circle.
  • The idea here is to stand outside the circle, drop the taw from waist-height inside the circle, and try to knock as many mibs as possible.
  • If you are able to knock mibs outside the circle without letting your taw outside, you can continue dropping. Once your taw is out, your turn ends.
  • If one fails to knock out any marble, his turn ends.
  • Every player gets to keep the marble he knocks out. The player with most mibs wins the game.

Bull's Eye
  • This one is very similar to darts. Draw three consecutive circles inside a larger circle, like a target. The innermost circle should carry the highest points, the next a bit lower, and so on. For example, 100, 75, 50, and 25. The outermost circle should be the lowest.
  • Draw a shooting line, approximately 5 - 6 feet outside the circle. The more the distance between the circle and the shooting line, the more difficult it will be to score.
  • On every turn, each player shoots 3 mibs into the circle, standing behind the line. The score for each throw is recorded on a scoring sheet.
  • If the marble lands outside the circle, the score is nil.
  • The player with the highest score wins the game.

Playing marbles is real fun. Try all the games above with your friends and have a great time. You can also indulge in collecting different kinds of marbles as a hobby.

Warning: Marbles are not suitable for children under the age of 3 years.
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Published: July 22, 2014
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