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  1. This version of the rules incorporates the modifications sanctioned by the 2001 Rules Meeting 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 play out of sequence.

English Tiddlywinks Association
October 2001


(a) 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 (Rule 6).
  6. A pile: a number of winks, connected directly or indirectly by squops.
(b) In tiddlywinks, four colours of winks are always used, blue, green, red and yellow. Blue and red are 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.


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


Games should be played on rectangular mats measuring 6 feet by 3 feet. Whenever possible mats approved by National Associations and made of a felt-like non-pile material 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 such surface available, the players may agree to play on a less satisfactory surface. 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 playable surface (that is, that part of the mat vertically above the underlying surface) constitute the boundaries of the field of play. Nothing but winks and the pot may be placed on the field of play. This does not preclude a player from resting on the mat in order to play a shot.

If the surface is unsatisfactory owing to bumps, ridges, cracks etc., the players must agree before the game commences what action 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 no 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 whatever action is taken the pot should remain at the centre of the mat.


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


(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 5 cm above the highest point of the first wink squidged. A shot consists of 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 accidentally 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, at the discretion of the offended side. If any wink is accidentally interfered with while not in motion, it is immediately replaced where it was immediately 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 the pot are called "potted winks". Potted winks may not subsequently be played. Any wink coming to rest on the top rim of the pot is treated as a potted wink and is immediately moved to a position inside the pot. If a potted wink is knocked out of the pot by another wink it is immediately replaced inside the pot; any winks disturbed by it are restored to their original positions. Moving potted winks back into the pot to comply with this rule does not constitute a shot.

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


(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 lower. 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).


(a) External.

If in any turn a player plays a shot which causes one or more winks of his correct colour wholly or partially to leave the field of play, the next shot due to be played with that colour is forfeited. Any wink wholly or partially leaving the field of play is immediately replaced on the field of play 22 mm from the boundary. The wink should be placed as near as possible to the point at which it crossed the boundary, but should not be placed closer than 10 cm to any other wink (nor closer than 10 cm to any baseline with unplayed winks behind it).

(b) The pot.

The pot may be held if it is likely to be moved accidentally 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. Any wink coming to rest wholly or partly 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 neither squopping nor squopped but supported by the pot (except as provided by rule 5(c)) 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 either squopping or squopped, it is left as it lies. If it subsequently becomes neither squopping nor squopped but remains supported by the pot, it is moved as above. To move a wink under this rule does not constitute a shot.


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 2 mm 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 2 mm from each other must be moved so as to leave a 2 mm 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. At the end of the game following a pot-out, the score is then calculated according to Rule 10(a).


(a) The time limit of a game is calculated from the first shot played after the squidge-off and shall be 25 minutes for pairs games and 20 minutes for singles games. The time limit may be modified by the tournament organiser or by any agreement between the players before the start of the game. The time limit may be extended if the umpire considers time has been deliberately wasted. 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 (or his partner if consultation is required) is called away from the game, is not counted as part of the game. Similarly, time taken to correct the outcome of a foul shot is not counted as part of the game (see Rule 12). 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 five further rounds are played, each ending with the turn of the colour that won the squidge-off. The only exceptions to this are the special cases detailed in rule 8, at the end of Rule 11(d), in Rule 11(e) and in Rule 12(b)(ii); if the order of play is disrupted due to an out-of-turn shot (Rule 12(b)(ii)), the counting of rounds should be adjusted so that each colour has at most one turn (excluding out-of-turn shots) in any round. 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 two shots of the same turn, it is deemed to have expired at the end of that turn. Once the game is ended, the score is then calculated according to Rule 10(b).

(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 2 minutes is forfeiture of the shot.


(a) In a game in which Rule 8 has come 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.


(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). A freeing shot must be played during free turns, except when the number of free turns is one. In this case, the first member of the squopping partnership able to play must play a freeing shot during his turn.

(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. This 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 no 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.


(a) If a player squidges a wink contrary to Rule 5(b), it is a foul shot, and the opponents have two options:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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) In the event that a foul shot is played and winks have to be replaced, then the time taken to replace the winks is not counted as part of the game.


(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)).


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. The time taken for an umpire to arrive at the table is not counted as part of the game. Similarly, time taken over the interpretation of any rule, over a judgement determining the status of winks (e.g. squopped or non-squopped), or for other discussions with the umpire, should not be counted as part of the game.

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 likely to be legal, and if it is played, whether it has been legally executed. Any time taken to correct the outcome of a foul shot is not counted as part of the game.

On all matters on which an umpire is consulted, the decision of the umpire is final.

Copyright, The English Tiddlywinks Association.

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