Tiddlywinks rules as approved by the English Tiddlywinks Association.

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Simplified Rules

Tiddlywinks is a partnership game for four players. The six counters of each colour are known as ‘winks’. The person controlling the blue winks partners the person controlling the red winks, while the person playing the green winks partners the person playing the yellow winks. Tiddlywinks can also be played as a singles contest between two people who then play both colours of their partnership.

Tiddlywinks is played on a felt mat measuring six foot by three foot with the pot placed in the centre.  If an officially approved mat is not available, a blanket or rug spread over a table can be used.  On an ideal surface, when a wink is flicked by a larger counter known as a ‘squidger’ it should take off at an angle of 30-45 degrees (rather than scooting along the surface or going straight up in the air).

The Play

The aim of the game is to get all the winks of your colour into the pot before your opponents.  In some games, this will not necessarily occur and so an agreed time limit is imposed (usually 25 minutes followed by five turns for each colour). At the start of the game, place all the blue winks in one corner and then fill the other corners with winks clockwise in the sequence blue-green-red-yellow. Decide who is going to start the game (e.g. by seeing who finishes closest to the pot in a ‘squidge-off). Each player then takes turns to flick a wink with play proceeding clockwise in the order blue-green-red-yellow.  If a player successfully pot one of their winks, then they get an extra shot. Any wink going off the playing area is replaced on the mat at the point at which it went off. A player sending off one of their own winks off the playing area forfeits their next shot. If a wink lands so that it covers, or partly covers, another wink, then the lower wink has been captured (squopped). A squopped wink cannot be played until it is released by the upper wink, either by the upper wink playing off it or the upper wink being moved off it by the action of another wink.

The End Of The Game

The partnership responsible for getting all winks of one colour into the pot first wins the game.  If no player achieves this objective before the time limit expires, then the winner is decided by counting ‘tiddlies’.  Three tiddlies are awarded for each wink in the pot, and one tiddly is awarded for each unspotted wink that is not squopped.  The partnership responsible for the colour with the most tiddlies is declared the winner of the game.

Full Association Rules

  1. This version of the rules incorporates the modifications sanctioned by the Congress and supersedes earlier versions.
  2. ‘He’ and ‘his’ have been used throughout these rules for the sake of simplicity. No disrespect to lady players is intended.
  3. It has been suggested that to aid memory the winner of the squidge-off should always play yellow. Players are invited to try this.
  4. Players are invited to agree before a game starts that they will endeavour to point out in advance that a player is about to pay out of sequence.
  • Preliminaries

The following terms are explained in the course of the rules:

  1. Winks: the discs with which the game is played (Rule 2)
  2. Squidger: a disc used to propel the winks. The act of playing the winks is called squidging (rule 2).
  3. The Mat: the surface on which the game is played (Rule 3)
  4. The Pot: the container into which the winks may be squidged (Rule 4).
  5. To Squop: to play a wink so that some part of it is vertically above some part of another wink.
  6. A pile: a numver of winks, connected directly or indirectly by squops.

In tiddlywinks, four colours of winks are always used, blue, green, red and yellow. Blue and red and always partners against green and yellow, and partners are at diagonally opposite corners of the mat. The colours are arranged clockwise in alphabetical sequence.  In pairs games each player has one partnership colour, and in singles games both.  These rules apply in all respects to pairs and singles alike.

Team matches can be played with any number of pairs per side. In any match, tournament or series of games, the result is decided on the aggregate number of points scored (see Rule 10), not on individual games won and lost.

  • The Winks and the Squidger

There are six plastic discs, called winks, of each colour, two being 22mm in diameter, and four being 16mm in diameter.  All winks should be approximately 1.5mm thick.  A disc called a squidger is used to play the winks.  This must be between 25mm and 51mm in diameter, and no thinker that 5mm at its edge.  Squidgers must not damage the wink when used.  In a game, though not for a single shot, a player may use more than one squidger.

  • The Mat

Games should be played on rectangular mats measuring 6 feet by 3 feet.  At each corner of the mat are straight lines drawn at right angles to the mat’s diagonals at a point 3 feet from the centre of the mat.  These are called baselines and they and the edges of the mat constitute the boundaries of the field of play.  Whenever possible mats approved by National Associations and currently made of felt should be used.  The mat should be placed on a hard smooth horizontal surface so that the whole of the mat’s surface is itself horizontal.  If there is no surface available, the players may agree to play on a less satisfactory surface.  If this surface measures less that 6 feet by 3 feet, any wink coming to rest on any part of the mat unsupported by the underlying surface may be moved to the shortest distance onto the playing surface, so that the status of every wink remains as far as squopping is concerned, with no penalty.  Nothing but winks and the pot may be placed on the field of play, unless all players agree otherwise.  This dies not preclude a player from resting on the mat in order to play a shot.

If the surface is unsatisfactory owing to bump, ridges, cracks etc, the players must agree before the game commences what actions is to be taken to avoid the surface’s irregularities.  In these circumstances, it is permissible temporarily to move the mat so that a wink is not longer resting on a flaw in the underlying surface the mat being replaced in its former position after the shot has been played.  Alternatively the wink itself may be moved, remaining always the same distance from the pot, but in no circumstances may the pot be moved.

  • The Pot

The pot is placed in the centre of the mat. It is a concave-sided cup 38mm high with an external diameter of 48mm at the top and 38mm at the base. Pots approved by National Associations should be used whenever possible. Nothing is allowed inside the pot except potted winks.

  • The Play

(a) The winks are arranged as described in Rule 1 and behind the baselines, and then the game begins with the squidge-off. One wink of each colour is squidged towards the pot. The wink nearest the pot at the end of the squidge-off wins the squidge off. For the purposes of this rule, all potted winks are equally near the pot and nearer than any unpotted wink; nearness is measured from the nearest edge of the wink. Any winks that go off the mat are deemed to be equally far from the pot, and further from it than any other wink. If two or more winks are equally near to the pot, and nearer than any other wink, the players concerned each resquidge one wink from the baseline until the winner of the squidge-off is determined. The winks are then replaced behind the baselines and play begins, proceeding clockwise and starting from the colour that won the squidge off. Winks played from behind the baselines must be brought in one at a time, and from a position where they rest only on the mat. If an attempt to squidge a wink from behind a baseline does not propel it completely over the baseline, the shot does not count and the same wink must be replaced behind the baseline and played again.

(b) When playing a shot, a player must hold the squidger not more than 5cm above the highest point of the first wink squidged. A shot consists of a downward pressure of squidger on wink that is an attempt to move a wink or that causes a wink to move irreversibly. For the purposes of this rule, a movement is irreversible if, when the squidger ceases contact with the wink, all winks do not return to the position they occupied before contact with the squidger began. The squidger must first touch the upper surface (that part of the wink that is visible from directly above) of an unsquopped wink (see Rule 6) of the correct colour in sequence. If the wink is squopping all or part of a pile, the squidger may subsequently touch only winks vertically below some part of the wink first played. It must not touch other winks in the same pile. From the moment when a wink starts to move irreversibly, the movement of the squidger must be quick and continuous. A shot may consist of tapping a wink so that another moves from beneath it, but it is a foul shot to squeeze a wink from beneath the top wink and then play the top wink if the movements are distinct. The shot ends when contact between the squidger and playable winks ceases, and all winks have come to rest. Any shot that does not comply with these criteria is a foul shot (see Rule 12).

If, during a shot, the player’s squidger, body or clothing disturbs a wink or winks not in the same pile as the first wink played, the disturbed winks are immediately restored to their original position. If any wink or winks are accidently impeded while in motion, they are placed in a position agreed by all the players or the umpire, or left where they come to rest, as the discretion of the offended side. If any wink is accidently interfered with while not in motion, it is immediately replaced where it was before it was interfered with, squopping or squopped if necessary to comply with this Rule.  Players are at all times bound to make every endeavour not to touch winks they are not playing, other than those inevitably hit by the follow-through of the squidger.

(c) In each turn a player squidges once in sequence, with an additional squidge for each wink of the correct colour potted in that turn. Winks coming to rest inside or on the top rim of the pot are “potted winks”. A potted wink which comes out of the pot or any winks coming to rest on the top rim of the pot and not resting on any wink inside the pot must immediately be placed inside the pot (doing this does not constitute a shot). If a potted wink is knocked out of the pot by another wink it is replaced in the pot. Any wink it disturbs outside the pot is restored to its previous position.

(d) A player may pass at any turn. If this is done, the opponents must be informed

  • Squopping

a) A wink any part of which is vertically below any part of any other wink on the field of play is described as squopped, even if the upper wink is not touching the tower. A squopped wink cannot be the first wink played in any shot (see Rule 5).

(b) If all the unpotted winks are squopped the game ceases and the score is calculated in accordance with Rule 10(b).

  • Boundries

(a) External. If in any turn a player plays a shot which causes one or more winks of his correct colour to leave the field of play (i.e. any part of the wink to cross the boundary) the next shot due to be played with that colour is forfeited. Any wink crossing the boundary is immediately replaced on the field of play 22mm (a large wink’s width) from the boundary at the point at which the wink crossed it. However, no wink replaced in this manner may be closer than 10cm to any other wink, nor closer than 10cm to any baseline with unplayed winks behind it, and any wink moved to satisfy the 10cm requirement must be moved to the minimum distance necessary. (b) The pot may be held if it is likely to be moved accidently by a player or a squidger, or moved by winks in motion. If the pot is moved it must be replaced immediately at the centre of the mat.  Any wink disturbed by the movement of the pot is replaced in its former position. Anywink coming to rest wholly orpartly under the base of the pot, or where the pot is to be replaced in accordance with this Rule, is moved the minimum distance necessary for it to be touching the base of the pot but not beneath the base of the pot when the pot is correctly placed.  If a wink comes to rest in a position where it is unsquopped but supported by the pot so that part of the wink is higher than the rest, it is moved to lie touching the pot but no longer supported by it. It squops any wink within the range of its required movement. If any wink comes to rest in a position where it is both supported by the pot and squopped, it is left as it lies. If it is subsequently freed but remains supported by the pot, it is moved as above. To move a wink under this rule does not constitute a shot.

  • Potting Out

When all the winks of one colour have been potted, whether by the player controlling them or not, they are said to have been potted out. As soon as one colour has been potted out, all squopped winks are desquopped by moving the winks squopping them. This movement does not constitute a shot, and must be done in such a way that the distance of each wink from the pot is not altered. If possible there should be a gap of 2mm between winks separated after a pot-out. The position of any wink moved under this rule must be agreed between the players. During the remainder of the game winks landing on or less than 2mm from each other must be moved so as to leave a 2mm gap between them and any other winks affected by this movement. Rule 9 ceases to apply in any game in which a colour is potted out, at whatever stage the pot-out occurs.

  • The Time Limit

(a) The time limit of a game is calculated from the first shot played after the squidge-off , and subject to (i) any agreement between the players and (ii) the umpire’s discretion to extend the game if he considers time has been deliberately wasted, is 25 minutes for pairs games and 20 minutes for singles games. If for any reason more than 30 seconds elapse between one shot and the next, the opponents of the player due to play the next shot may require that any additional time taken before it is played be not counted as part of the game. At any time after 30 seconds have elapsed, until the delaying player announces that the shot has been completed, the opponents are at liberty to practise on any available nearby mat. Time elapsing while a wink or winks are lost, or when a player due to play is called away from the game, is not counted as part of the game. For the procedure when an umpire is called, see Rule 14.

(b) When the time limit has expired, play continues up to and including the colour that won the squidge-off, after which each colour has five further turns in sequence and no more, the game ending with the fifth turn of the colour that won the squidge- off. For the purposes of the time limit, a turn is deemed to begin at the moment when its first shot is played. If the time limit expires between the two shots of
the same turn, it is deemed to have expired at the end of that turn.

(c) The tournament director may impose an additional restriction of 2 minutes
for each shot played in the five rounds following the expiry of regulation time.
The penalty for failing to play within the 2minutes is forfeiture of the shot.

  • The Score

(a) In a game in which Rule 8 has become into operation, the first colour to be potted out scores 4 points, the second to do so scores 2 points, the third one point and the remaining colour does not score. Should more than one colour be potted out in a single shot, the points are aggregated and shared equally between these colours. Partners’ points are added together and one point is transferred from the losing partnership to the winning partnership.

(b) In a game in which Rule 8 has not come into operation (i.e. which has ended in accordance with Rule 9 or the last sentence of Rule 6) points are calculated as follows: each colour has three tiddlies for each potted wink and one tiddly for each unsquopped wink. Unplayed winks behind baselines do not count. The colour with the greatest number of tiddlies scores 4 points, that with the second greatest number 2 points, the third one point and the remaining colour does not score. Partners’ points are added together, and if two or more colours have an equal number of tiddlies, the appropriate points are aggregated and shared equally between these colours.

  • Free Turns

(a) When all the unpotted winks of one partnership are squopped, the opposing partnership is entitled to a number of “free turns”.The number of free turns is one more than the number of unpotted winks on the field of play which are neither squopping nor squopped at the point when this rule is invoked. Free turns are shared between the two colours in normal rotation, even if one of these colours cannot play at a particular turn (due to having no unsquopped winks or the forfeiture of a shot according to Rule 7(a)). At or before the end of the last free turn, a freeing shot must be played.

(b) A freeing shot is a shot which leaves an opponent’s wink unsquopped, one which pots the sixth wink of any colour (after which Rule 8 applies) or a shot which terminates the game according to Rule 6(b). One must be played no later than the turn following completion of free turns, except when the number of free turns is zero and the first of the squopping partnership has no playable wink. In this case his partner must free during his first turn. Note that a shot which is forfeited owing to Rule 7(a) is always counted in the timing of a freeing shot.

(c) Free turns cease whenever a freeing shot is played. Thereafter, until their opponents have a turn with an unsquopped wink, the squopping pair must leave an opponent’s wink free after each shot played. The wink must be of the same colour as the wink free prior to the shot, unless the other colour is given an opportunity to play first. If both squopped colours become free, the first to play must be left free after each shot.

(d) If a freeing shot is not played as required by section (b) or a wink is squopped contrary to section (c), the turn in which the offence occurs is terminated, and the offended partnership is awarded a “nominated wink”. For the first shot of the turn immediately following the failure to free, the player due to play the next colour shall nominate an unsquopped wink of any colour and play it as if it were his own. If after the playing of a nominated wink of the squopped partnership is free, free turns are recounted and start immediately. If in the playing of the nominated wink any of the nominated colour is potted, it will ultimately count for the normal player of that colour, but the player may continue the turn, playing any wink of his own colour freed by the previous shot. If a wink of the nominated colour leaves the field of play, the player forfeits the next shot due to be played with his own colour. If the failure to free occurs on the final turn of the fifth round after expiry of the time limit, the next colour in sequence shall be entitled to one extra turn, commencing with a nominated wink.

(e) If the time limit expires during free turns, it is deemed to have expired at the moment before the first playable shot (including a nominated wink) of the squopped pair, and Rule 9(b) applies from then.

  • Foul Shots and Foul Play

(a) If a player squidges a wink contrary to Rule 5(b) or 11, it is a foul shot and the opponents have two options:
(i) They may require that all winks disturbed by the foul shot be replaced and a further shot be played as part of the same turn. The same shot need not be attempted again.

(ii)They may accept the shot in its entirety, and the turn comes to an end (even if a wink has been potted). They cannot accept part and have part replayed.

(b) If a player deliberately plays a shot with the wrong colour, or plays when it is another player’s turn, then this is also a foul shot. The opponents have two options: (i) They may have the shot, and any shot subsequent to it in the same turn that was played before the foul shot was noticed, retracted.

(ii) They may accept the shot or shots, and the turn comes to an end. If the opponents accept such a turn, play continues with either of their own colours of their choice.

(c) If an opponent plays a shot subsequent to a foul shot, this is equivalent to accepting it; the shot must stand (unless it is a foul shot in which case Rule 12(a) applies), and the sequence of colours must be continued from that turn.

(d) If a player deliberately disrupts the course of a game, whether by interfering with winks, pot, mat or another player, the penalty is that the game is declared ended, and all seven points are awarded to the player’s opponents. During his own turn, however, a player may turn or clean any of his own winks which is neither squopping nor squopped nor potted, and replace it in its correct position.

(e) Any time taken to correct a foul shot is not counted as part of the game.

  • Outside Help

(a) No advice on the play of the game may be sought from or given by third parties. (This does not preclude discussion with other team members on points required.)

(b) During the course of a game no player may play any wink other than in his rightful turns in the game, except in the specific circumstances sanctioned in Rule 9(a). For instance, it is not permissible to set up a shot on another table and practise it (except as permitted by Rule 9(a).

  • Umpire

If the players are unable to agree on any matter concerned with the play of the game, or are in doubt as to the meaning or interpretation of any rule, they must if possible call a competent person to act as an umpire. If a player is doubtful whether a proposed shot will be played legally, an umpire must be called before the shot is played. The umpire must decide whether the proposed shot is legal, and if it is played, whether it has been legally executed. The time from the moment an umpire is called to that when the decision is announced is not counted as part of the game. If an umpire is asked to judge whether a shot is legal or not, the timing of the game starts as the shot is played. If a shot is judged to be foul and winks have to be replaced, the time taken to replace the winks is not counted as part of the game. The Umpire’s decision is final on all matters on which he is consulted.