Monday, March 9, 2009

Do you Tiddlywink?

Since I'm allowing myself to branch out from an all-gardening blog this year, I thought I'd showcase my favorite old-school children's game that has now become one of my boys' favorite games: Tiddlywinks. I'm not sure if you Americans played it growing up, but a good game of Tiddlywinks was a rousing good time when I was a kid in the U.K. I also used to enjoy fun games such as hitting a ball against a wall for hours and talking to my stuffed animals, so apparently it didn't take much to entertain me. I guess nothing much has changed.

If you're not aware of Tiddlywinks, each person has a set of four small plastic discs called winks, a larger disc called a squidger (or as we so creatively called it "the big tiddlywink"), a felt rectangle and a plastic dish to aim your winks. Each person takes turns pressing down on the edge of a small tiddlywink with the larger tiddlywink with the hopes of popping a wink into flight and landing it in the plastic dish.

I don't know what it is about this game that is so captivating. Anyone who comes over and sees it out always wants to give it a go. There's something so simple and yet insanely entertaining about pressing two discs together to fling one through the air toward a plastic dish. It brings older people back to their childhood, it gives young kids some old-fashioned fun and maybe gives them a primer for playing quarters when they're in college.

I'm also not embarrased to admit that Farmer B and I have settled disagreements with a tiddlywink face-off. If he wants to do A and I want to do B and neither of us wants to budge, we've been known to have a fierce tiddlywink face-off on the coffee table. There's nothing worse than having to spend the night watching "Death Race" instead of "Bridget Jones' Diary" because he got a blue wink in the 100 score part of the dish while my yellow winks flew madly across the room and only one landed in the 10 score part of the dish.

I have found that when you play Tiddlywinks with little ones you should set up the game box upright around the game board so that you don't spend the entire time chasing the winks around the room. Once the winks start flying it becomes more entertaining for the kids to watch an adult scurry around the room on their knees picking up pieces than it actually does to aim at the dish. Best to nip that in the bud before it starts.

Aidan spends a lot of time aiming and really tries to score high. The middle spot in the dish is marked with a 100 so that spot means big points.

Jace is still trying to get the hang of aiming so he flings the winks all over the room, much to his amusement, but he often ends up getting the hang of it by the end.

But you know what? They really play this game. They get into it. They take turns. They jump down and find each other's lost tiddlywinks. They even cheer when anyone gets one in the tray. If they keep it up, they could enter Tiddlywink tournaments and even become a member of the "English Tiddlywinks Association". Oh you didn't know there was such an organization?

Their website says that the adult version of the game of tiddlywinks started in January 1955 and the English Tiddlywinks Association (ETwA) was set up in 1958. The ETwA's objectives are to promote the game and coordinate winking activities in England and the rest of the United Kingdom. To this end, ETwA maintains the official rules of tiddlywinks; arranges tiddlywinks tournaments; publishes the journal Winking World; and keeps winks players in touch with what's going on. know...without Winking World the players just wouldn't know what's going on...

They compare the game to a three-dimensional chess game with a fascinating mixture of manual dexterity and intellectual activity as well. In fact, Prince Philip designated members of the "Savage Club" as his royal champions to compete against the Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club (CUTwC) on March 1, 2008, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first royal match. I know you're wondering, so here it is: CUTwC won!

I love people that take things seriously. I love hard-core winkers. So pick up a game of Tiddlywinks, get serious with your squidger and wink away your troubles.

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