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Shooting marbles at other marbles on the ground
Marbles is a class of children's games played with glass, clay, agate, or steel balls usually about half an inch (1cm) across, but they can range from less than 1/4 inch to over 3". Some art glass marbles for display purposes are over 12" wide.
(Note: There are adult games that do use marbles in the game. For these, the marbles are normally used simply as playing pieces.)
One version of the game involves drawing a circle in sand, and players will take turns knocking other players' marbles out of the circle with their own. Other versions involve shooting marbles at target marbles or into holes in the ground.
A larger-scale game of marbles might involve taking turns trying to hit an opponent's marble to win. A useful strategy is to throw a marble so that it lands in a protected or difficult location if should it miss the target.
In some of the games, marbles are played for keeps. In these games, players may win other players marbles. At the end of such a game, most of the marbles may have changed ownership during the game. In these games, rematches are usually highly anticipated for the chance to win back favored or favorite marbles lost in a previous game.
As with many children's games, new rules are devised all the time, and each group is likely to have its own version, often customized to the environment.
One such specialized game is called gaipar, popular in Bengal. Each player contributes four marbles, which are positioned on the edge of a rectangle. One special marble (the gai) is placed in the center. Players take turns to hit the marbles on the rectangle with a bigger marble (often called a boulder or matris). The marbles hit bt the matris must be propelled out of the rectangle. If they are hit but remain within the rectangle, the player plays one more marble as a forfeit which is placed within the rectangle. The aim of the game is to hit the central gai and take it out of the rectangle. This is not easy when there are marbles on the periphery. If a player can take out the gai, he wins all the marbles. However, other players then get a chance to hit the gai-taker's boulder and, if successful, all the marbles change ownership.
"Keepsies" (or "for keeps") is a variation in which players win the marbles used by their opponent.
Various names according to the marble's size. Any marble larger than the majority may be termed a boulder.
Marbles are also called by their colour.
Quitsies: Allows any opponent to stop the game without consequence. You can either have quitsies (able to quit) or no quitsies (unable to quit).
Marbles were originally made from clay or marble, hence their name.
Marbles are often mentioned in Roman literature, and there are many examples of marbles from ancient Egypt.
They were commonly made of stone, metal, or glass until the 18th century, when ceramic marbles become more common.
In 1846 a German glassblower invented "marble scissors", which allowed the first large scale production of marbles.
Ceramic marbles entered mass production in the 1870s, the first truly cheap mass-production of marbles.
Glass marbles entered mass production in the early 20th century, when WWI cut off their importation from Europe, causing American innovation to be applied to the task, producing a mechanized method of glass marble production which became the most common system in the world. Glass marbles, too, became the most popular variety, and have remained so to this day.
Marbles are made using many techniques. They can be categorized into three general types: hand-made, machine-made, and semi-machine made.
Marbles were originally made by hand. Stone or ivory marbles can be fashioned by grinding. Clay, pottery, ceramic, or porcelain marbles can be made by rolling the material into a ball, and then letting dry, or firing, and then can be left natural, painted, or glazed. Glass marbles can be fashioned through the production of glass rods which are stacked together to form the desired pattern, cutting the rod into marble-sized pieces using marble scissors.
One mechanical technique is dropping globules of molten glass into a groove made by two interlocking parallel screws. As the screws rotate, the marble travels along them, gradually being shaped into a sphere as it cools. Colour can be added by dropping dyes onto the marbles while they are still liquid.
Early mechanical methods were similar to modern ones, but used as assistance in manual production rather than automated mass production. Marbles made in such a way are difficult to classify and generally grouped as "semi-machine-made".
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