Games to Play With Marbles
By Sherrie Voss Matthews
Updated September 22, 2017
Marble games are simple strategy games for children and adults. Marbles, or beads made of stone, clay, glass or other material, have been around for centuries, according to CentralConnector.com's pages on marble history. Basic marble games encourage eye-hand coordination and strategy. Once you've mastered the skills, you can move on to tournaments and truly play for marbles.
Ringer is the basic marble game. First, create a circle 10 feet in diameter. To determine who goes first, each player must lag, or throw, a marble into the ring from a line drawn tangent to the ring. The one whose marble comes closest to a line on the far side of the ring starts. Lagging is from a standing position into the empty ring. Thirteen marbles are then lined up in an X formation in the center of the ring and play begins.
The first player holds a marble in his hand tucked into an indentation made by the index finger and thumb. The thumb flings the "shooter" marble into the ring, hopefully toward the X of marbles up for grabs in the center. The player can play from any point outside the ring. If a marble is knocked out, the player claims the marble, and is entitled to another shot from where his or her shooter marble stopped.
If a marble is not knocked out, the first player's shooter marble stays in the ring. The next player's turn begins. Player two can aim for either the first player's shooter or another marble. If player two wins the shooter by knocking it out of the circle, game over. The person with the most marbles at the end of the game wins.
There are several variations on Ringer, such as playing for keepsies. You can also play for fair, where everyone has their marbles returned at the end of the game. Another variation on Ringer is called Bun-Hole. The players dig a hole in the center of the circle. Each player attempts to shoot as close as possible to the circle without going in. The winner is the one closest to the hole.
Poison is a variation on Bun-Hole. A hole about six inches in diameter and a half-inch deep is created on the field. Players attempt to be the first to shoot a marble in the hole, shooting from three to five feet away. The winner's marble is "poison," and he or she can collect any marbles within a handspan of the hole. It may be a good idea to determine whose handspan before the game starts.
If another player gets a marble in the target, he or she can have one chance to knock you out. If the player does, you must give up all the marbles you won. If not, you get the marble. Game ends when every player has had a turn and the current poison has not been knocked out.
There are a multitude of marble games developed; only your creativity limits how many more you can play.
Archboard has players shooting at holes made in a target. You can cut holes in an old shoebox. Each target is given an arbitrary point value. The person who racks up the most points wins. This is also called Bridgeboard.
LandofMarbles.com has several shooting game variations. Nine Holes is a mini golf course set up for marbles. The players create an obstacle course with nine holes. The first player to complete the course wins. Another game with the same name has a board with nine holes. You must shoot your marbles through the board's holes in order to win.
Sherrie Voss Matthews is a freelance writer based in San Antonio, Texas. She has expertise as a writer/editor/researcher. She has edited multiple books and has written for Planning magazine, 417, and MomsLikeMe.