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- Healthful Sports for Boys - 3/25 -

for its uncertainty, for often the last player knocks out the taw of one who so far has been getting all the ducks, and he gets credit for his score.


can hardly be called a game. It is played by two boys--usually when they have more important business on hand; the first boy shoots in the direction both are traveling; the second follows, and whenever one chances to be hit it counts one for the shooter.


In this game, one boy, called "Knucks," takes a small marble between his knuckles, then places the clenched hand on the ground. The other player knuckles down at the taw line, four or five feet away, and shoots--he must not roll--at the marble held by the other. Every time the "Knucks" marble is hit, it counts one for the shooter; each time he misses in the three shots, it counts an additional shot for "Knucks" when it comes his turn.


About eight or nine feet from the taw line make an elongated ring, composed of two sections of a circle, crossing each other. Draw a circle down the center of the long ring, and on this place the marbles. If there are only two players, then each lays a duck at the intersection of the curves. Each additional player adds a duck to the line.

Where there are only two players, the first is sure to "sneak," that is, to roll his taw so that it will rest near one of the marbles in the ring. If number two hits number one, and so kills him, he wins the game, but if there are more than two in the game, number one is put out. Number two has another shot, from the place where his taw rests, at the ducks in the ring, and he keeps on till he misses. So the game is kept up till all the ducks are knocked from the ring. If it is agreed in advance, each player may lay more than one duck in the ring. In this game the killed are not dead, if there are more than two players. They can play when the turn comes, but it must always be from the taw line.


This is one of the oldest and best games. The ring should be from four to ten feet in diameter. The ducks are placed in the form of a cross, in the middle of the ring, the number each is to "whack up" being agreed upon in advance. The order of play is usually decided on by knuckling down and rolling for the opposite side of the ring. The first player "lofts" at the ducks. He must drive the marble outside the ring for a win. If his own taw goes outside, the successful player can come back to the ring edge for his next shot. If it is a miss and the taw goes outside the ring, it must be replaced inside at the point of exit. When a taw is struck the owner is "dead" for that game, and the successful player keeps on shooting till he misses.

When two or more ducks are knocked out of the ring, the player is entitled to raise his score by that number, provided he shouts "Dubs" before the others cry "Fen dubs." If a player is caught "hunching," that is, pushing his fist beyond the line while shooting, and makes a hit, he must replace the marble and shoot over again. "Histings" and the use of "bowlers" are barred in the bull ring.

"Sneaking," that is, shooting the taw so that it will rest near the middle of the ring, is allowed. If this taw is not hit, it may be able to skin the ring when its turn comes. A dead man, when his turn comes, and there are enough ducks remaining to warrant the risk, may re-enter the game by placing in the ring twice as many marbles as were at first required, and an additional duck near the edge of the ring; on this duck he caroms so as to send it out, then if his taw is in a good place, he may come out ahead.


Make three shallow holes, and about ten feet away draw the taw line. The holes are three feet apart. The object of each player is to shoot his taw so that it will enter and stay in the first hole. If he succeeds, he is allowed to place his thumb on the far edge of the first hole, and using his hand as a pair of dinders, by a twist of the wrist he marks with his longest finger a curved line on the ground. This is called "taking a span." From the span line he shoots at the second hole, and if successful continues on to the third. If this is won, he takes a span backward for the middle hole. If he reaches the first hole, he repeats it over, but this time he is entitled to two spans. The third time, if there is no miss, he can take three spans, and if he succeeds, he becomes a "King Duck," and takes four spans.

If the first player misses, and the second player rolls into the first hole, he takes a span and shoots--if it is near--at the first taw, and if he hits, he can place his taw in the second hole, and so on till he misses. When number one's turn comes, he must shoot from the spot where his taw rests.

In this game the first king has a great advantage because of his four spans. Each time a player hits another, he scores one point, and the hit loses one. By the time all have become King Ducks the game is over, or it may be decided in advance that when one has made five or ten points, the game shall end.


differs from the foregoing game, in the fact that there is no taw line. The player shoots from one end at the middle hole. If he succeeds, he is entitled to a span, and he keeps on as before till he becomes a king. Before this, he can take but one span in any direction, but as a king, he can take one foot measure--his own foot --and a span from the first hole; two feet and a span from the second hole, and three feet and a span from the third hole. This gives him a great advantage, and if there is no rival king he is "Monarch of all he surveys." If there is a second king, the first one assigns him the first hole to guard, because from this he can take only one foot and a span. When all become kings, or the points agreed on are won, the game is over.


A "Square Ring" sounds odd, but such things go in playing marbles. The square may be of any size, but four feet is the best. The taw line must be from twenty to thirty feet away. Before a player can win the game he must first kill all the others. Perhaps that is why it is sometimes called "Injun."

The first player is at a great disadvantage, for if he knocks out a duck he must replace it, and if his taw stops inside the ring he has killed himself, and is out of the game. The best way is not to knuckle down but to toss for a good position near the ring. The second player, for obvious reasons, must keep away as far as possible from the first, so he shoots through the ring with force, hoping to get a duck on the way, for he does not have to replace it. He can take the duck back to taw and holding it in his left hand shoot at it so as to send his own taw close to number one, which he can then kill.

If number two misses, number three pitches his marble off to one side, and so the game goes on, each player guarding his own taw and trying to kill his rivals. Knocking out ducks gives the privilege just described, after which the duck is replaced.



Why it happens, no one knows, not even the boys themselves, but that it does happen we all know. Tops come in when the marble game is in full blast, and gradually it drives out, till another spring, its beloved rival. Tops are of great antiquity, and the Chinese and their neighbors, the Japanese, are famous for the variety of their tops. I have seen adults in those countries enjoying the game with all the zest of American boys in springtime.

It is a good idea for boys, where they have any facilities for so doing, to make their own play tools. In the old days, they whittled out tops, but it hardly pays to do so to-day when well-shaped spinners can be had in every toy shop at a very low price. However, good little tops can be made from the wooden spools on which sewing thread comes. Two tops, that will amuse the younger children, can be made from each spool, by whittling down from the rims to the middle of the spool till the parts break at the opening. A peg driven through answers for a spindle. These can be made in a few minutes, and may afford some fun for a winter evening.


If not the very oldest, these tops are certainly the most widely distributed. If a good whip top cannot be bought, a first-rate article can be made from a section of a rounded timber, either natural or turned. It may be of any size, but from two to three inches in diameter, and about a half inch or more in length is the best. Whittle this, with care, to a blunt point, into which drive a smooth-headed tack, and there you are. With colored crayons, or paint, the top may be decorated, so as to add to its effect when spinning.

Tough rags, or leather thongs fastened to a handle about a foot in length, will make an effective lash, but the best whips are made from pliant leather thongs, or still better, from a dried eelskin.

To spin the top, put your whip under your left arm--I have seen boys grasp it between their teeth--then with the flat of the fingers of both hands on either side of the top, give a smart twirl. As soon as the top is in motion, ply your whip along the sides, drawing the lash quickly away at each stroke.

Playing whip-top alone soon gets to be monotonous, but where there are two a "fight" can be arranged for. At the word "go," two boys spin their tops, and then lash them till they crash together. The tops must be kept within a described ring, and the one that knocks the other out is regarded as the King top. If a boy strikes his opponent's top, it is a "foul," and he loses the game. Another contest is where, after the lashing, one calls "stop." The one that "dies" first, is naturally out.

Racing is done by drawing a taw line, from which the whip tops start for a designated goal, the first one in winning. This is an exciting game and not so easy as at first appears.

The tin or wooden humming top is but an interesting toy. The Japanese make them with a slit in the point which fits into a string or a thin

Healthful Sports for Boys - 3/25

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