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How to Play Marbles

There are lots of ways to play this classic marbles game called "Ringer." You can learn this simple version in no time!


  • : Be careful if you have a little brother or sister who's 3 years old or under—he or she could choke on a jack or ball this small, so don't leave them out.
  • Step 1: Draw circle On your playing surface, draw or mark a circle that's anywhere from 3 feet to 10 feet across. The bigger your circle, the harder the game will be.
  • TIP: If you're playing inside, use piece of string that's about 9 and a half feet long to make a circle that's 3 feet across.
  • Step 2: Draw lines Draw or mark a line next to the circle so that the circle just touches the middle of the line. Draw another line that mirrors the first line on the other side of the circle.
  • Step 3: Pick first player Decide who's going first. Each player should stand behind one of the lines and toss or shoot one marble toward the other line. This is called "lagging." The person whose marble lands closest to the second line goes first. The next closest player goes next, and so on.
  • Step 4: Set up marbles In the very center of the circle, set up the marbles in the shape of a plus sign.
  • TIP: The marbles, which are also called "mibs," can also be set up in a circle or scattered randomly.
  • Step 5: Knuckling down The first player kneels down anywhere outside of the circle holding his shooter in one hand with at least one knuckle touching the ground. This is called "knuckling down." Get it?
  • Step 6: Flick shooter With his thumb, the player flicks his shooter toward the marbles. His goal is to knock one or more of them outside of the circle while leaving his shooter inside the circle.
  • TIP: Shooters are usually one of your favorite marbles, and are usually a little bigger than the 13 marbles in the circle.
  • Step 7: Pick up marble If the first shooter hits a marble outside of the circle, he picks up the marble and keeps it, for one point. He can now shoot again from the spot where his shooter landed.
  • TIP: You can play this game for fun or for "keepsies," which means at the end of the game everyone gets to keep the marbles they knock out. Decide before you start which way you want to play!
  • Step 8: Next person's turn The first shooter's turn continues until he doesn't knock out a marble. Then he has to leave his shooter where it is, and it's the next person's turn.
  • TIP: You're more likely to hit your marble target if you look at it—and not your hand—as you knuckle down and flick your thumb.
  • Step 9: Next player goes The next player now knuckles down and shoots from anywhere outside the circle. If she knocks out a marble, she picks it up and keeps it.
  • Step 10: Knock out shooter A player can also try to knock out another person's shooter. If she does, on that player's next turn, he won't have the advantage of shooting from inside the circle, closer to the marbles. He'll have to shoot from a spot outside the circle.
  • Step 11: Game over The game is over when all the marbles have been knocked outside of the circle. The player with the most marbles wins.
  • FACT: Every summer, kids from across the U.S. compete for prizes and scholarships at the four-day National Marbles Tournament, first held in 1922.

You Will Need

  • 2 to 6 players
  • A smooth surface to play on
  • Something to mark a circle with
  • like chalk on the sidewalk
  • 13 standard-size marbles
  • And one shooter marble per player

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