The Official Rules of the British Marbles Board of Control
Tools of the Trade
Rule 1. The Ring
The circular horizontal surface, on which the game is played, called the ring, shall be six feet in diameter. The playing surface of the ring shall be approximately 3 inches above the level of the surrounding ground.
The ring shall be covered in sharp sand for each game.
Rule 2. The Referee
Play shall be controlled by a referee, whose decision on all matters relating to the play and to interpretation of these Rules shall be final.
Rule 3. A Marble
A marble is a glass or ceramic sphere having a diameter of approximately half-an-inch.
Rule 4. A Tolley
A Tolley is a glass or ceramic sphere having a diameter up to three-quarters-of-an-inch.
Each player shall provide his own tolley to the satisfaction of the referee.
No substitution of a tolley shall be made during a match without the prior approval of the referee.
Rule 5. The Play
(a) The object of the game is to knock one or more marbles off the ring by projecting a tolley against them.
(b) The correct method of projecting the tolley, known as shooting, is carried out as follows.
- The knuckle part of the hand is placed on the ring(this is known as knuckling down, see Rule 6)
- The index finger provides a cradle for the tolley and the thumb is placed behind the index or second finger.
- The thumb is then squeezed out flicking the tolley forward.
(c) Each initial shot shall be made in accordance with Rule 6 (a).
(d) Having shot the player will find himself in one of the following positions:
- His tolley has rolled off the ring without knocking any marbles off the ring.
- His tolley has knocked one or more marbles off the ring and has itself rolled out of the ring.
SCORE: 1 point for each marble knocked off the ring.
- His tolley has remained on the ring without knocking any marbles off the ring.
His tolley now remains on the ring at the point it has come to rest and, if prior to the player’s next turn it is knocked off the ring during the turn of any other player, he is eliminated and takes no further part in the game. However if his tolley is still on the ring when his next turn occurs, he will then shoot from the point where his tolley is then lying in accordance with Rule 6 (b).
- His tolley has remained on the ring and has knocked one or more marbles or tolleys off the ring.
SCORE: 1 point for each marble knocked off the ring.
He immediately takes a further shot from the point where his tolley is then lying in accordance with Rule 6(b). He will then find himself in one of the positions detailed in 1, 2, 3, or 4 above.
Shooting a ‘Tolly’
Rule 6. Knuckling Down
(a) A player shooting from off the ring shall knuckle down with the knuckle of his index finger only of his shooting hand touching the edge of the ring.
(b) A player shooting from within the ring shall knuckle down with the knuckle of his index finger on the ring such that his tolley is directly above the point on the ring at which it came to rest. If a player finds that his tolley has come to rest in such a position as prevents him from knuckling down correctly, his turn is terminated and his tolley is removed from the ring.
(c) If a player, having knuckled down, drops or misfires his tolley, then either misfortune shall count as a shot.
Rule 7. Foul Shots
FUDGING. Any forward or other advantageous movement of a players shooting hand while he is shooting constitutes a foul known as fudging.
CABBAGING. Any attempt by a player shooting from within the ring to shoot from any point other than that detailed in Rule6 (b) constitutes a foul known as cabbaging.
BLOCKING. Any intentional or persistent contact between a player or his clothing and a marble, another player’s tolley or his own tolley while it is motion constitutes a foul known as blocking.
When the referee decides that a player has made a foul shot, the following shall apply in respect of any marble or tolley knocked off the ring as a result of that shot.
(a) Any marble shall be relocated on the ring as near as possible to its centre.
(b) Any tolley belonging to an opposing player shall be returned to him, but if the tolley belongs to a player from the same team as the offending player then the former is eliminated from the game.
Following a foul shot Rule 5 (d) 3 shall apply but if the situation is such that Rule 5 (d) 4 would have applied if the shot had not been foul the offending player shall remove his tolley from the ring.
No score shall result from a foul shot, which shall automatically terminate the turn of the offending player, but he retains any score achieved in that turn prior to the foul shot.
Any player who makes three foul shots during a game shall be automatically eliminated and takes no further part in that game.
Rule 8. Breakages
MARBLES. If a marble is broken during play the position at which the largest piece of the marble comes to rest, either on or off the ring, shall be deemed to be the position at which the marble has come to rest. If this position is on the ring then the largest piece shall be replaced by a new marble. If a marble disintegrates to such an extent that it is impossible for the referee to determine which is the largest piece of the remains, then the marble shall be deemed to have been knocked out of the ring.
TOLLEYS. If a tolley is broken during play then the position at which the largest piece comes to rest, either on or off the ring, shall be deemed to be the position at which the tolley has come to rest. With the approval of the referee the player concerned may then substitute a new tolley and play shall continue in accordance with Rule 5 (d). If a tolley disintegrates to such an extent that it is impracticable for the referee to determine which is the largest piece of the remains, then the tolley shall be deemed to have rolled off the ring.
1st shot is made from the edge of the ring
Rule 9. Club Team Matches
(a) A club team match may comprise of one or more games.
(b) A club team shall comprise of six players one of whom shall be nominated as Captain. The captain shall determine the order of in which the members of the team shall play, and once the referee has been advised of the order of play it shall remain unaltered for the duration of the game. The captain may alter the order of play between the games of the match. One member of each team will also be nominated to collect any marbles knocked from the ring by his team and hand them to the scorer at the end of each break.
(c)A club team match shall be played between two teams, the order of play being one player from team ‘A’ followed by one player from team ‘B’ followed by a second player from team ‘A’ and so on until the sixth player from team ‘B’ has played, when the sequence is repeated.
(d)The two teams shall sit on team benches facing each other across the ring. The benches shall be placed not less than 3 metres from the edge of the ring. The referee shall ensure that appropriate benches are provided and correctly positioned. Any player leaving his team’s bench other than to play when it is his turn so to do, or interfering with the play in any way, shall receive a public warning from the referee, which shall be recorded; three such warnings to a team shall mean automatic disqualification of that team from the match.
(e) For a club team match 49 marbles shall be placed in a close packed group in the centre of the ring by the referee.
(f) To decide which team shall play first the referee shall, with his finger, scribe a line in the sand covering the ring, the line to be approximate to a major diameter of the ring. In turn each captain shall stand upright above the line and drop his tolley, held between thumb and index finger against the end of his nose, onto the scribed line to the satisfaction of the referee. The team whose captain’s tolley comes closest to the scribed line shall have the option of first play.
(g) The first team to score 25 points shall be declared the winner of the game.
Rule 10. International Team Matches
International team matches shall be played exactly as club team matches except that an international team shall comprise six players picked by the British Marbles Board of Control.
Rule 11. Individual Matches
(a) An individual match shall be played between two or more players, the order of play being determined as in Rule 9(f) but with all players taking part.
(b) For an individual match, marbles numbering four times the number of players plus one marble, or 25 marbles, whichever is the greater, shall be placed in a close packed group in the centre of the ring by the referee. (e.g. if 9 players: 37 marbles, if 3 players: 25 marbles).
(c)The winning player shall be the player who achieves a score grater than half the number of marbles initially placed in the centre of the ring, or, when all the marbles have been knocked out of the ring, the player who achieved the highest individual score.
(d) If two players achieve the same score, a tie-break game will be played. This game will have 13 marbles in a close packed group in the centre of the ring. The order of play being determined as in Rule 9(f). The first player to score 7 marbles shall be declared the winner.
(e) If a player is challenged by another to an individual match it will be played as Rule 11(d)
Rule 12. British Marbles Board of Control
Each captain will form, with the referee and other officials, the British Marbles Board of Control on the day of play