How To Learn to Play Marbles

Playing marbles was once a pastime of years gone by; yet, one can still find fun in an old-fashioned marble game. In fact, a National Marble Tournament is still held yearly in New Jersey.   There are numerous ways to play marbles and there are many terms associated with the game.

Marble basics are really quite simple.  All one needs is a collection of marbles called target marbles and shooter marbles.  Shooter marbles tend to be a little fancier and a little bigger than the target marbles.  Also needed is something to make a circle like string, tape, chalk, or even a stick.

Marbles can be played virtually anywhere, indoors and outdoors.  For a fast game try playing on a smooth surface like the floor, this will make your marbles roll fast and far.  For more of a challenge, the dirt or the ground is a good choice.

Start the game by deciding where to play.  If the game is indoors, then you need to make a circle, usually 2 or 3 feet wide, by using tape or string.  If the game is outdoors, the circle can be made with chalk if it is on pavement or concrete and with a stick if it is going to be played in the dirt.

Before starting the game, decide if you are playing for Keepsies or Fairsies.  In Keepsies, one gets to keep all of the marbles he shoots out of the circle and in Fairsies everyone gets their own marbles back at the end of the game.  This is an important decision if there is a favorite marble or a nice collection involved.

There are many variations to playing marbles but each game has the basic approach.  Each player puts all of their target marbles into a circle.  The object of the game is to shoot your opponent’s marbles out of the circle by using your shooter marble.  There is a knuckle down technique to shooting which involves squeezing the marble with your index finger and flicking it with your thumb.   

Decide who will go first.  That player will then try to shoot the opponent’s marbles out of the circle.  If the target marble is shot out of the circle and the shooter marble stays within the circle, then the player gets to keep the target marble and has another turn. The shooter marble must always be played from where it ended for the last shot.  The player keeps playing until he either shoots his own shooter marble out of the circle, he doesn’t hit any target marbles at all or he doesn’t hit any marbles out of the circle.  

Once his turn is over, he picks up his shooter and the game goes to the next player.  Players, when starting a new turn, can shoot from anywhere outside of the circle. The game continues until all of the target marbles are shot out of the circle.


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