How to Play Ringer (and More!)
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Most children understand Ringer the first time it is explained, but to make it easier, these drawings show the most common plays, such as frequently occur in marble tournaments.

In studying these diagrams imagine that two children are going to play a game. To determine who shall play first each child lags with their shooter.

FIG. 1: To start a game of Ringer the children lag from a line, drawn tangent to the ring, to a parallel line across the ring, which would be 10 feet away. The child whose shooter comes nearest the line has the first shot. Players must lag before each game. Practice lagging, as the first shot may mean the winning of the game before your opponent gets a shot. In lagging, a child may toss his or her shooter to the other line, or he or she may knuckle down and shoot it.

FIG. 2: This shows child No.1 who won the lag, preparing to knuckle down. His knuckle has not quite reached the ground, which is necessary before shooting. he can take any position about the ring he chooses. Notice how the 13 marbles in the ring are arranged at the start of the game.

FIG. 3: child No.1 knocks a marble from the ring on his first shot and his shooter stays in the ring. He picks up the marble. As he has knocked one from the ring, he is entitled to another try. Players are not permitted to walk inside the ring unless their shooter comes to a stop inside the ring. Penalty is a fine of one marble.

FIG. 4: Here we see child No. 1 continuing play. He "knuckles down" inside the ring where his shooter stopped on the last shot. This gives him the advantage of being nearer to the big group of marbles in the center of the ring for his next shot. Expert marble shots try to hit a marble, knock it out of ring and make their shooter "stick" in the spot.

FIG 5: On this play, No.1 hit a marble, but did not knock it from the ring. At the same time his shooter, too, stays inside the ring. he can not pick up the marble, neither is he allowed to pick up his shooter. He must leave the shooter there until the other child has played.

FIG. 6: child No. 2 may start by "knuckling down" anywhere at the ring edge. In this case he may shoot at the 11 marbles in the center or if he wishes, he may go to the other side and try for No.1's shooter or the marble that No.1 almost knocked from the ring.

FIG. 7: child No.2 chooses to try for No. 1 child's shooter and knocks it out of ring, winning all the marbles No.1 has taken and putting No.1 out of that game. Or he could shoot as shown in Fig. 8.

FIG. 8: child No.2 hits a marble but does not knock it out of the ring yet his shooter goes thru the ring and stops outside. The marble remains where it stopped in the ring, and as No.2 did not score, it is now the turn of No.1 to shoot again.

FIG. 9: No. 1 "knuckles down" inside the ring where his shooter stopped (Fig. 5). he is going to shoot at the marble nearest his shooter. By hitting it at the proper angle and knocking it from the ring he can get his shooter near the center of the ring for his next shot.

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More Marble Games

Bear in mind that rules vary wildly from region to region and making up a game on the spot is not at all unusual. Players should also agree in advance whether they are playing 'for fair' (all marbles returned to owner) or 'for keeps' (winner keeps, loser weeps).

RING TAW (aka RINGER, RINGO ) - A one foot ring is drawn inside of a ten foot ring. Each player puts in a number of 5/8" marbles so that there is about a dozen marbles in the smaller ring. At the National Marble Tournament, thirteen marbles supplied by the organizers are arranged in a cross at the center of the ring and there is no one foot ring. Shooting order is determined by 'lagging', shooting to see who can get closest to a designated line. The first player, starting outside the ten foot circle, attempts to thumb his or her 'taw' (a 3/4" shooting marble) to knock a target marble out of the large ring while keeping the taw inside the ring. If he or she succeeds, he or she shoots again from where the taw stopped. 'Sticking' or shooting seven consecutive marbles out of the ring and winning the game without giving an opponent a turn is usually good for two days of playground bragging rights. If the player fails to knock a target marble out of the ring, or his or her taw leaves the ring, his or her turn is over and next player takes his or her turn.

At the National Marble Tournament, if your taw is in the ring at the end of your turn, you must remove it. In informal games, if your taw is in the ring, it becomes a legitimate target and any player who hits it out collects a forfeit from you. Players should agree in advance whether to use this rule. Play alternates until one player has knocked a majority of the marbles out of the ring. The process of picking the best possible position for starting is referred to as 'taking rounders'.

BOSS OUT (aka LONG TAWL ) - First player shoots one marble. Second player trys to hit the first player's marble. If he or she hits it, he or she collects both marbles. If the two marbles are close enough, he or she can attempt to 'span' them. He places his or her thumb on his or her own marble and his or her index finger on his or her opponent's marble. He then draws his or her hand up while bringing his or her fingers together. If the two marbles hit, he or she collects both marbles. If he or she misses, the first player may shoot at either marble on the field. If a player collects the last marble on the field, he or she must shoot a marble for the next player to shoot at.

BRIDGEBOARD - A board with nine cutouts along one edge is propped up on that edge to form nine archways. The numbers 6, 2, 3, 1, 5, 8, 7, 9, 4 are painted over the arches, one number over each arch. Players try to shoot through the holes and win the number of marbles indicated by the number above the hole. Any marbles which miss become the property of the board owner. The board may also be used to play NINE HOLES.

BUN-HOLE - A one-foot wide hole is dug in the center of the playing field. Players attempt to get a marble as close as possible to the hole without going in. Whoever's marble comes closest without going in wins a marble from each player. Knocking in your opponent's marble is permitted.

CHERRY PIT - This is the reverse of RING TAW. A one-foot wide hole is dug in the center of a ten-foot circle. Each player places a number of marbles around the hole so that there is about a dozen marbles surrounding the hole. Players take turns trying to knock marbles into the hole. Like Ring Taw, as long as marbles are knocked into the hole and the taw remains in the ring, players may continue to shoot. If a taw goes into the hole, the owner must forfeit a number of marbles and place them around the hole to 'buy back' his or her shooter.

HUNDREDS - Both players try to shoot their taws into a one-foot hole. If both taws go in, players start over. If one player's marble goes in and the other player's marble doesn't, the player whose marble went in scores ten points. If neither player's marble goes in, the first player now tries to hit the second player's marble. If he or she hits it, he or she earns ten points and another chance to shoot his or her marble into the hole for ten points. If he or she misses either his or her opponent's marble or the hole, the second player tries to hit the first player's marble for ten points and another try at shooting his or her marble into the hole for ten points. Whenever a marble goes into the hole, both players start over from the starting line, otherwise all shots are made from wherever the marble stopped rolling. First player to reach one hundred points wins.

NINE HOLES - This name is given to two different marble games. The first game is Miniature Golf played with marbles. Players construct a miniature golf course from materials at hand and take turns shooting their marbles around, through, and over the obstacles they've built. First player to complete nine holes wins.

The second version of the game is played with a bridgeboard. Players take turns shooting their marbles through the arches in numerical order. Arches that are shot through out of sequence don't count. A successful shoot through the correct arch entitles the shooter to an additional turn. First player to send his or her marble through all nine holes in the correct order wins.

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