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Old-time rules for tournament play

1 on 1
Click for bigger picture
Marble experts exchanging ideas on shooting technique.

The following is taken from a "1931 Marble Tournament Rules" flyer published by the Akro Agate Company, a major producer of marbles in the first half of the 20th century. Children could receive a copy of this flyer from their local marble dealer, or by writing to Akro directly. Streetplay thanks Peter Caparelli, proprietor of, for locating this and allowing Streetplay to reproduce it here.

Marble Tournament Rules
Akro Agate Company, 1931

RINGER is played in a ring ten (10) feet in diameter, with thirteen (13) marbles arranged in the center in a cross. The object is to shoot these marbles out of the ring, the player shooting the largest number of marbles out of the ring in any game being the winner of that game. No less than two and no more than six may play in one game in RINGER, except in national championship matches two only play. All tournament play is for fair, and marbles must be returned to owners after each game.

The playing surface shall be a smooth level area of ground, hard clay, or other suitable substance. The Ring is inscribed upon this area, 10 feet in diameter, and all play is within this ring. (Note: The outline of this ring shall not he so deep or so wide as to check the roll of a marble.)

With the center of the Ring as a point of intersection, mark two lines at right angles to each other to form a cross, which shall he a guide for placing the playing marbles. Place one marble at the center and three on each of the four branches of the cross, each marble three inches away from the next one.

The Lag Line is a straight line drawn tangent to the ring and touching it at one point. The Pitch Line is a straight line drawn tangent to the ring, directly opposite and parallel to the Lag Line.

All marbles in any one playing ring must be of uniform size. The standard size shall be five-eighths inch in diameter. Slight variation may be allowed by the referee for manufacturing fault.

Shooters shall be round and made of any substance except steel or any other metal, and shall not be less than one-half inch nor more than six-eighths inch in diameter as determined by the referee.

The lag is the first operation in RINGER. To lag, the players stand toeing the Pitch Line, or knuckling down upon it, and toss or shoot their shooters to the Lag Line across the ring. The player whose shooter comes nearest the Lag Line, on either side, wins the lag.

Players must lag before each game. The player who wins the lag shoots first, and the others follow in order as their shooters were next nearest the Lag Line. The same shooter that is used in the lag must he used in the game following the lag.

On all shots, except the lag, a player shall knuckle down so that at least one knuckle is in contact with the ground, and he shall maintain this position until the shooter has left his hand. Knuckling down is permitted, but not required in lagging.

Starting the game, each player in turn shall knuckle down just outside the Ring Line, at any point he chooses, and shoot into the ring to knock one or more marbles out of the ring, or to hit or knock out of the ring the shooter of an opposing player, or players, if any remain inside the ring.

If a player knocks one or more marbles out of the ring, or hits the shooter of an opponent, or knocks an opponent's shooter out of the ring he continues to shoot provided his own shooter stays in the ring. He ceases to shoot after his first miss, and then is credited with the marbles be has scored.

If, after a miss, a player's shooter remains inside the ring, he must leave it there and his opponents are permitted to shoot at it. If the shooter rolls outside the ring, he picks it up and on his next shot he is permitted to take roundsters and shoot from any point on the Ring Line.

Marbles knocked out of the Ring shall be picked up by the player who knocks them out. If his shooter stays in the ring he continues to shoot. If not, he stops, and his opponent starts shooting.

Whenever a marble or shooter comes to rest on the Ring Line, if its center is outside the Ring, or exactly on the Ring Line, it shall he considered out of the Ring; if its center is inside the Ring. it shall be considered inside the Ring.

A player hitting an opponent's shooter inside the Ring, but not knocking it out, shall pick up any marble he chooses, and if his own shooter stays in the ring shall continue to shoot. However, he shall not hit the same opponent's shooter again until after he hits another shooter, or knocks a marble out of the Ring, or he comes around to his next turn to shoot.

A player knocking an opponent's shooter out of the Ring and stopping his own shooter in the ring shall be entitled to all the marbles won by the opponent, and the opponent whose shooter has been knocked out of the Ring is out of the game, "killed." If the opponent who was knocked Out of the Ring has no marbles, the player who knocked him out shall not be entitled to pick up a marble for the shot.

If a shooter knocks out two or more marbles, or hits an opponent's shooter and a marble, or hits two opponent's shooters or completes any other combination play, he shall be entitled to all points scored on the shot.

When a shooter slips from a player's hand, if the player calls "slips" and the referee is convinced that it is a slip, and if the shooter did not travel more than 10 inches the referee may order "no play" and permit the player to shoot again. The referee's decision is final.

The game shall end when the last marble is shot out.

For each marble knocked Out by a player, he shall be credited with the score of ONE.

For each time a player hits the shooter of an opponent, and does not knock it out of the ring, he shall be credited with a score of ONE.

For each time a player knocks an opponent's shooter out of the ring, he shall be credited with all the marbles, previously scored by the hit opponent.

The player having credited to him the largest number of marbles at the completion of the game shall be the winner of that game.

In games where more than two players are engaged, if two or more players lead with the same score, those in the tie shall play a new game to break the tie.

A player refusing to continue a game, once it is started, shall be disqualified, and if only two players are engaged, the game shall be forfeited to the offended player.

The score of a forfeited game shall be 13-0.

The officials shall be a referee and a scorer, if a scorer is available, otherwise the referee shall also keep score.

The referee shall have complete charge of the play. He shall interpret these rules and have power to make decisions on any points not specifically covered by these rules. He shall have authority to disqualify any player for unsportsmanlike conduct. He shall have authority to order from the playing field or its vicinity the coach or other representative of any player, who conducts himself improperly.

The scorer shall keep a record of the game, marking score of each player, shot by shot, and at the termination of each game shall notify the referee of the score, and the referee shall announce the winner. The scorer shall assist the referee in enforcing the rule against coaching, and call to the attention of the referee any infraction of the rules.

A player shall NOT:

  • Lift his hand until the shooter has left his hand. This violation is known as "histing."
  • Move his hand forward until the shooter has left his hand. This violation is known as "hunching."
  • Smooth or otherwise rearrange the ground or remove any obstacles. He may request the referee to clear obstructions.

    PENALTY (For any one of these three violations): If any marbles were knocked out or dislocated on the shot, they shall be restored to their place, and the player shall lose his shot.

  • Change shooters during the course of the game. He may choose a new shooter on each lag, provided he uses that shooter in the subsequent game.

    PENALTY: The player shall be disqualified from the game.

  • Communicate in any way with his coach during the course of the game.

    PENALTY: Forfeiture of all marbles he has knocked out of the ring, said marbles to be returned to the game and placed on the cross.

  • A coach shall not give instructions to either his own or any other player engaged in the game.

    PENALTY: Coach shall be ordered from the playing field, if, after being warned once, he continues this violation.

  • Players must not walk thru the marble ring.

    PENALTY: After a player has been warned for violaition the referee MAY require the forfeiture of one marble, on a second offense, said niarble to be returried to the ring and placed on the cross.

    The tournament is open to boys or girls of 14 years or under.

    A boy or girl who becomes 15 on or after July 1, 1931, is eligible to play, and one who becomes 15 any time before July 1, 1931, is not eligible to play.

    All the marbles stuff on Streetplay!

    Marbles 101: Rules for the basic game
    Glossary of terms and game variations
    Rules for tournament play (circa 1931, very elaborate)
    Marbles discussion board

    Streetplay marbles home

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