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What are Tiddlywinks?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Tiddlywinks is a game in which players attempt to snap small discs into a central pot, using a larger disk called a squidger. The game involves a certain amount of strategy, as skilled players need to think out their play very carefully if they want to succeed, and also some skill; extremely talented players, for example, can sink all of their smaller discs or winks into the pot in one turn. The object of the game is to ensure that all of your winks end up in the pot first.

The game originally began as tiddly-winks in Victorian England. It was devised as a game for children, although adults caught on to the trend as well, developing their own complex rules to create a more challenging version of the game. In the 1950s, the popularity of tiddlywinks flared up again in the United States, and several organizations of adult players were founded so that enthusiasts of the game could find each other at conferences and other public tiddlywinks events.

Many stores stock tiddlywinks in their games section, and it is also possible to find vintage sets in used stores. Some adventurous players even craft their own tiddlywinks sets, although these sets may not always conform with official tiddlywinks standards. The game can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and it is simple to learn, making it a good choice for a group.

A tiddlywinks set includes a large felt tiddlywinks mat which is used as the field of play. The tiddlywinks cup is placed in the middle, and there are four sets of winks in different colors along with a set of squidgers. Players can either try to cover winks of opposing colors, taking them out of play until they are uncovered, or they can attempt to shoot their winks directly into the cup. Each time a wink is landed in the cup, the player gets an extra turn; if the player fails to sink a wink, he or she yields to the next person in the play order.

The game can be played by four people in two teams, or two people playing two sets of winks each. The game also includes a complex and rather humorous set of terms, including words like “squopping” for for covering an opponent's wink. In serious competitive play, tiddlywinks can get extremely fierce, with opponents dealing significant damage to each other while they fight for the victory.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Sports n' Hobbies researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon255186 — On Mar 16, 2012

I never even heard of tiddlywinks until my sophomore year in high school.

By Mae82 — On Dec 20, 2011

@Sara007 - Tiddlywinks is meant for ages 5 and over, and most manufacturers advertise that the game is suitable for those up to 9 years old. I think that if you have a younger child you should look into tiddlywinks-like baby games. Perhaps something that involves a ring toss or uses plush circles.

My son likes to play a tiddlywinks with his younger sister and while she is younger than 5 we all keep an eye on her. She is pretty good at knowing what should and shouldn't go in her mouth, so in the long run age guidelines are really your call.

By jcraig — On Dec 20, 2011

@jmc88 - I cannot lie, I have to give it to the creators of that game. Not only did they make a very simple game that anyone of all ages could play without handicap, but they came up with a very creative "out there" type of name that would definitely catch people's attention.

This strategy they employed allows people to know what the game is right away and separate it from other games. This gives it a uniqueness all its own and allows it to be a long lasting type of game.

This has been proven because the game has been around for decades and has survived the invasion that video games have had on the board game industry.

By jmc88 — On Dec 19, 2011

@titans62 - I personally think that the game of tiddlywinks has been on the decline in recent years and this goes for a bunch of other games because of the rise in the video game industry.

I think that the game tiddlywinks will not die though considering that this game has been popular for decades and that I still see people playing the game.

Also, the game has a very interesting name that nearly everyone has heard, even if they do not necessarily know exactly what the game is. This in itself garners interest and coaxes people into playing the game. The name of the game itself will definitely make the game continue in popularity and keep it on the scene for several decades to come.

By Sara007 — On Dec 19, 2011

I am looking for some games to get my children that are fun and classic. It seems like tiddlywinks might be a good choice as I like the strategy element to the game. I am a bit worried though about buying tiddlywinks as I am not sure what age group they are meant for. From what I can tell by looking at pictures of the games there are a lot of small pieces, so giving them to my youngest probably isn't the best idea.

On that note, is there anything similar to tiddlywinks that would be OK for toddlers? I don't want my youngest feeling left out if her older siblings are playing.

By titans62 — On Dec 19, 2011

@cardsfan27 - I believe you are absolutely correct sir. The simplicity in the game tiddlywinks allows it to be played by basically anyone at any age so you can have someone decades older playing with a little kid without any type of disadvantage for the kid.

As far as video games go, you will be surprised how many people still play games such as this or take breaks from their video games to play games where they actually have to be the actors in it as opposed to watching a television and the video imaging.

By cardsfan27 — On Dec 18, 2011

I still remember when I was a young kid and I played the game of tiddlywinks. I find it quite amazing that such a simple game is still so popular and that kids are still willing to play this game.

I would think that nowadays with the advent of video games and the rise in this market that these types of games would be a thing of the past, but I still remember seeing a group of kids not too long ago playing this game and it reminded me that good things in the past still exist and even future generations can enjoy them.

I guess that is the mark of a good game and the simplicity of it allows for anyone to play and enjoy themself, while being with a group of friends.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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