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Mirth and Dancing
Bool Games

Bools, as you must be aware, is the Scotch for marbles (from the French, boule), and the Scottish varieties, besides being large, differ in some respects from those prevalent in England. Here are some of them.


Any number of players place one bool each in a row, If the row is more than four or five, they may make two or three rows, one behind the other. They fix their rotation by whatever method suits them, generally by rolling towards a goal. Each player in turn throws his plunker (Anglice, taw) and picks up as many bools as he displaces. He leaves his plunker lying and subsequent players may aim at it. Each time his plunker is hit he has to put a bool into the row.


The bools are placed as before. The range is larger. Each player takes one step and must throw his plunker without pausing. He may either hit the bools direct or strike the ground, bounce on to the wall behind and catch them in this way from behind on the rebound. If he succeeds either way, he is entitled to throw now from his new position in a stationary posture, i.e. without the handicap of taking a step. But if his plunker strikes a bool from the wall in the rear, the stroke does not count unless he shouts "Back licks" before an opponent has time to shout "Nae back licks". This, besides introducing a little characteristic metaphysics, avoids flukes.


Same as One-Step, but with a still longer range and taking two steps instead of one.


A circle of about 18 inches in diameter is described with heel or chalk and each player places a bool within it; or, in the variant which gives the game its name, a square is drawn and the bools are placed at the corners and centre at the discretion of each player. In rotation each throws his plunker in an attempt to dislodge one or more out of the base. Each bool knocked out be comes the property of that player. Each plays his first throw from a fixed line and subsequent throws from wherever his plunker has come to rest on the previous throw. If the plunker comes to rest within the base, there it must stay and be treated as one of those originally staked, and the player who has forfeited it continues to play with another, if he has it. When all the bools within the base have been won, the game goes on, the players aiming at one another until one sole victor remains. But no player must aim at an opponent's bool until the base is empty.


Three-Holey is the same as Five-O's, except that the bools are arranged in three holes in a row. It is more difficult to dislodge them from a hole or hollow than from the level.


Plunkers is a simple game-device for shortening a dull tract of road, such as the one to school. Each throws his bool and the next player aims at it. Next again aims at any bool ahead of him. Each bool struck is pocketed by the striker, and the defeated has to put down another bool or retire.


Draw a diagram on the ground thus:

A bool is placed by each player in one of the positions indicated. If more than five play, other bools may be placed at intervals along the marked lines. Players line up about fifteen yards from the diagram. In turn they "knuckle" their taws as described below, aiming at any one of the targets. Any bool knocked out of the diagram is appropriated by the player. Each knuckles in turn and leaves the taw lying. If he comes near enough a bool within the diagram he may at his next turn attempt to capture it by "spanging", i.e. by placing a thumb on his taw and a finger on the bool and knocking them together by a sharp jerk; he must not draw them together. No bool may be knuckled within the diagram; if a player cannot win the bool inside the diagram by spanging, he must at his next turn return to the starting-line. But if he fails in his attempt to win by spanging and yet leaves his taw within the diagram, he may on his next turn make another attempt. Taws may be spanged by opponents in any position within or outside the diagram, and in that case the player whose taw has been spanged takes taw back to starting-line and gives winner one bool.

[N.B. - It will be noted that we always talk of "throwing" the bool or plunker. Any one of the games described can be played by rolling instead of throwing or knuckling; but rolling in Scotland is regarded as a pansy proceeding unworthy of the manly player. The bool is either thrown boldly or it is knuckled. Knuckling consists of holding the bool on the forefinger with the thumb behind it and the back of the hand resting on the ground. The bool is then flicked forward by a skite of the thumb. It is forbidden to raise the knuckles off the ground.]


Moshie is played with three holes scooped in the ground, each being about 2 inches in diameter and deep enough to hold two boots at once. Some players arrange the holes in a straight row with about an arm's-length between them: others prefer them to define the points of an isosceles triangle of which the base would measure a couple of arm's-lengths (or the outstretched arms from finger-tips to finger-tips), while the sides would each measure an arm's-length.

Whether the holes be in a row or a triangle, the players - usually three in number - have their stand opposite to the hold that is furthest to the right at about the same distance from it as it is from the hole nearest to it (see A).

A bool is put in each hole to begin with, each player contributing one, and the players all throw or roll it turn, aiming at the nearest hole. If a player gets into the hole the lying boot is his, to take out, but he doe: not immediately have an extra shot. He merely cries, "I'm a moshie!" If none go in, the next round is led by the player who has come nearest to the hole, and he tries to knuckle the most conveniently-lying bool of another player into the hole, not to go in himself. Any body who succeeds in this takes the potted bool for his own.

The next round is led by the player who went in his first shot into the hole, i.e. by the "moshie", or failing this, by the first who knuckled in one of his opponents; and the shots are played either from a line drawn through the first hole, or from the standing position of a bool, the aim being the next nearest hole. Players are allowed to cannon themselves in by striking the lying bool of a preceding player, but they may do this only during the first round. After that there are no "moshies", as it would be too easy, and all attempts are confined to knuckle in an opponent by hitting his bool with one's own. When the holes lie in a row, the game continues backwards, one hole at a time, until the first is reached again. When they are in a triangle, when the three holes have been dealt with the return journey is along the base of the triangle. The player who wins the most bools is victor.

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