An old game, Quoits goes back to about the 13th century. A "Quoit" is a disc with a hole in the middle; or a large ring 6-10 inches in diameter. The quoit is thrown over a "Hob" or pin sticking about 6-8" out of the ground. The modern-day American variation of the game is horseshoes.

Equipment Needed: 2 Hobs; 2 or more quoits per player.

Play: Drive the two hobs into the ground about 15-30 paces apart. (Distance is strictly up to the players—there is no "official" distance.)

Players stand at one hob and toss their quoits at the other hob. The players will agree beforehand whether one will toss all of his/hers before the opponent tosses or whether the two players will toss alternately.

Scoring: After all quoits are tossed, walk to the other hob and determine who's quoit is closest to the hob. Closest quoit gets 1 point. If a player has more than one quoit closer to the hob than all of the opponents quoits, then they will receive 1 point for each hob closer than those of the opponents. This is known as "Cutting Out."

If a player succeeds in "ringing" the hob with a quoit (so that the hob passes through the hole in the quoit), he is awarded 2 points.

Play continues to some mutually agreed upon score.

Source: Walter Nelson, The Merry Gamester (4th Edition)

Nine Man's Morris

Versions of Nine Man's Morris have been found dating back to ancient Egypt. Also called Merels, the game was very popular in Scandinavia and the British Isles, and is still played today in many parts of the world.

Equipment Needed: Gamesboard; nine "men" in a different color for each player, can be pegs, stones or beans.

Play: Each player alternates placing their nine pegs on the board. If a player places three pieces in a row (called "forming a mill"), one of their opponent's pieces is removed. Once all the pieces have been placed, players take turns moving any one peg to a vacant adjacent hole.

If a player gets three pieces in a row, again, one of their opponent's pieces is removed. A player wins when only two of their opponent's pieces is left, or when their opponent is blocked from further moves.

Source: RTI Heritage Tours website,

Bowls or Lawn Bowling

Equipment Needed: A jack; 2 bowls per player.

Play: A small white ball (the "Jack") is rolled onto the green to act as a target. Each player receives two "bowls" or balls. Players then roll their bowls in turn, trying to place them close to the jack. As the bowls are not perfect spheres, but rather slightly flattened, skill is necessary to roll them in the desired direction and distance. An opponent's bowl, the jack, or your own bowl may be hit on a roll and knocked away. At the end of each round or "end" the player closest to the jack earns the point. A number of points required to win the match is agreed to by the players and play continues until one player wins—normally 16 "ends."

The Compleat Gamester didn't go much into rules of games (most were commonly known). Rather the author discussed the game. As to Bowls:

In bowling there is a great art in chusing his ground, and preventing the windings, hangings, and many turning advantages of the same, whether it be in open wide places...or in close bowling alleys. Where note that in bowling the chusing of the bowl is the greatest cunning. Flat bowls are best for close alleys; round byassed bowls for open grounds of advantage, and bowls round as a ball for green swarths that are plain and level. There is no advising by writing how to bowl, practice must be your best tutor; which must advise you the risings, fallings and all the several advantages that are to be had in divers greens, and bowling-alleys; all that I can say, have a care you are not in the first place rookd out of your money, and in the next place you go not to these places of pleasure unseasonably, that is when your more weighty business and concern require your being at home, or some where else.


Games can be a delightful way to spend time together. Try your hand at a popular card game - Brag!

Background: A game for all. Mostly played by working class, the merchants and gentry also participated. Come to an ordinary and expect to see this one played. As to its popularity in England, just look at Mr. Hoyle’s books. His first book was on how to play Whist (1742). This was shortly followed by books on: Backgammon, Piquet, Quadrille and Brag! Like many games, simple to learn, tough to master.

Number of Players: 2–8
Equipment: Standard 52-card deck

The Play: This is really a cross of luck, poker and Twenty-One. When you ante up, you toss one stake into each of three pots. There are three ways to win. Cards rank from Ace (highest) to 2 (lowest). Nine cards are dealt, three at a time, beginning on the left (Eldest hand) and continuing clockwise. The last card dealt each person is dealt FACE UP. If 6 or more players are in the game, you will be unable to deal 9 cards, so go until you complete the players. (6 players–8 cards; 7 players–7 cards; 8 players–6 cards).
First Pot: The person who has the highest card showing wins the first stake or pot. If any are showing the Ace of Diamonds, that beats all others. In case of tie, the Elder hand wins, meaning the first person after the Dealer, going clockwise around the table who had the tie card wins the pot. Following this, the turned up card is discarded from all hands into the Stock (the remaining cards).
Second Pot: This is the Bragg. Each player looks at his cards for pairs. The highest PAIR will win the pot. (Three of a kind means nothing here, it’s pairs.) The Knave of Clubs is a wild card. That means it can be teamed with any card to make a pair of the other card. It can also be added to a pair to make 2 ½ of that “pair,” which beats all other pairs! Before the pairs are shown bets are made starting with the Eldest hand. Bets are made as in poker, with each player having the option of matching the raise, raising again, or folding. When all have had a chance, the pairs are laid down; highest pair takes the pot. The cards are discarded from the players’ hands and added to the Stock.
Third Pot: From the remaining cards in your hand, pick cards that will add up to as close to 31 without going over. Face cards count 10, Aces 11, all others their “pip” value, that is the number of pips displayed on the card. Closest to 31 gets pot. In case of tie, the Elder hand (first clockwise after the dealer) with best score wins. Deal is passed to Eldest hand for subsequent plays.

Sources: Nelson, Walter. The Merry Gamester
Cotton, Charles. The Compleat Gamester
Carson, Jane. Colonial Virginians at Play
various card game Web sites

Reprinted from The Rappahannock Gazette, February 2008 edition.


Last updated on July 17, 2022.

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