World Marbles Day is observed every year on Good Friday and this year it will be held on March 29. This day commemorates the first British Marbles Championship that took place in England in 1588. Competing for the hand of a milk maiden in Tinsley Green, two young suitors engaged in a contest of marbles to decide who would win her fair hand. Ever since, the game of marbles has morphed into an annual championship that, even after several centuries, still takes place in Tinsley Green, England. Now teams from other parts of the world travel to England to participate in the game.
History of World Marbles Day
The first British Marbles Championship was held in Tinsley Green, England in 1588. Legend has it that two men, Giles and Hodge, vying for the hand of a milk maiden called Joan, decided to compete against each other in ‘all known sports.’ After competing in various sports over the course of one week, the game of marbles was chosen as the final contest to decide the winner. Giles won the game. By the 1700s, a marbles tournament was being held every year in Tinsley Green. Around the year 1900, the game suffered a loss of popularity but was eventually revived in 1932. The name was eventually changed from ‘British Marbles Championship’ to the ‘British and World Marbles Championship’ in 1938.
Also known as ‘Ringer’ or ‘Ring Taw’, the game is played with 49 marbles inside a ring. Two opposing teams made up of six players each take turns using larger marbles called ‘shooters’ to knock other marbles out of the ring. The team that successfully knocks out the highest number of marbles is the winner! Until 1962, clay marbles were used but this changed as glass marbles came into use.
Today, the marbles tournament is still held at Tinsley Green, England. For a long time, only British teams participated and won, but in 1992, the TennKy Sharpshooters from Tennessee and Kentucky, U.S. became the first overseas team to win the trophy. Ever since, teams from Australia, Belgium, France, Estonia, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Wales, and the U.S. travel to participate.
World Marbles Day timeline
The first marbles tournament occurs between two suitors in Tinsley Green, England.
The marbles tournament is revived in England.
The name ‘British Marbles Championship’ is replaced with ‘British and World Marbles Championship.’
Glass marbles replace clay marbles in the game.
World Marbles Day FAQs
Is marbles an event at the Olympics?
No, marbles is not an event at the Olympics.
Do marbles have a governing body?
Yes, the highest governing body for marbles is the British Marbles Board of Control (B.M.B.C).
Are there other marble championships?
Yes, several countries have their own national marbles championships.
World Marbles Day Activities
Learn how to play
Wouldn’t it be interesting to learn a new sport? If you’ve never heard of marbles before this, take some time out to learn the rules of the game.
Throw a marbles party
It’s Easter! Gather your loved ones together and have a marbles party. The winner gets a break from washing dishes!
Watch clips online
You don’t have to feel left out of the actual championship. There are tons of videos of the championship available online so you can participate from wherever you are!
5 Rules For Playing Marbles
Create a ring
The first step is to create a 6-foot diameter ring where the marbles will be stationed, either by using a string or drawing a circle on the floor.
Count out marbles
The game must be played with 49 small marbles and one larger marble to be used for ‘shooting.’
Select your teammates
The standard number of players is six per team but if you have less, that’s okay!
Each team must take turns attempting to knock marbles out of the ring.
Choose a winner!
When all marbles have been knocked out of the ring, the team with the most marbles wins the game!
Why We Love World Marbles Day
It’s a fun game
We love Marbles Day because it’s a fun and interesting game. It is a great way to wind down after a stressful day.
It bolsters team spirit
Because the tournament is played by teams of six, it bolsters team spirit. Team members learn to trust and support each other. Best of all, everyone gets an opportunity to shine.
It’s a no-contact sport
Marbles is a no-contact sport, meaning that players don’t have to directly touch each other. Neither do they have to handle the marbles.
World Marbles Day dates