North American Tiddlywinks Association

NATwA founded • 27 February 1966




  1. This version of the rules incorporates the modifications sanctioned by the 1986 Congress and supersedes earlier versions.
  2. It has been suggested that to aid memory the winner of the squidge-off should always play blue. Players are invited to try this.
  3. “He” and “his” have been used throughout these rules for the sake of simplicity. No disrespect to lady players is intended.
  4. I have put my name to this document because the English Tiddlywinks Association has appointed me as reviser of its rules in various capacities over the last decade. It is, however, a compilation, not an original work, and I am very conscious of the contributions made by many people to better and clearer rules.




(a) The following terms are explained in the course of the rules.

(i) Winks: the discs with which the game is played (Rule 2).
(ii) Squidgers: the discs used to propel the winks. The act of playing the winks is called squidging (Rule 2).
(iii) The mat: the surface on which the game is played (Rule 3).
(iv) The pot: the container into which winks may be squidged (Rule 4).
(v) To squop: to play a wink so that some part of it is vertically above some part of another wink (Rule 6).

(b) In tiddlywinks, four colours of winks are always used, blue, green, red and yellow. Blue and red are always partners against green and yellow, and partners are at diagonally opposite corners of the mat. The colours are arranged clockwise in alphabetic sequence. In pairs games each player has one partnership colour, and in singles games both. These rules apply in all respects to pairs and singles alike.

(c) Team matches can be played with any number of pairs per side, and each pair plays one game against each opposing pair. In any match, tournament or series of games, the result is decided on the aggregate number of game points scored (see rule 10), not on individual games won and lost.


There are six plastic discs, called winks, of each colour, two being 7/8″ (22mm) in diameter and approximately 3/32″ (2mm) thick, and four being 5/8″ (16mm) in diameter and approximately 1/16″ (1.5mm) thick. A disc called a squidger is used to play the winks. This must be between 1″ (25mm) and 2″ (51mm) in diameter and no thicker than 3/16″ (4.5mm) at its edge. The squidger must be made of plastic or any non-metallic material which will not damage the winks. In a game, though not for a single shot, a player may use more than one squidger.


Games should be played on rectangular mats measuring 6 feet (1.83m) by 3 feet (0.915m). At each corner of the mat are straight lines drawn at right angles to the mat’s diagonals and crossing these diagonals at a point 3 feet (0.915m) from the centre of the mat. These are called baselines and they and the edges of the mat constitute the boundaries of the field of play. Whenever possible mats approved by the National Associations and currently made of felt should be used.

The mat should be placed on a hard smooth horizontal surface so that the whole of the mat’s surface is itself horizontal. If there is no such surfaceavailable, the players may agree to play on a less satisfactory surface. If this surface measures less than 6 feet by 3 feet, the field of play is limited to this surface’s actual dimensions, and any wink coming to rest on an unsupported piece of mat is deemed to have left the field of play (see rule 7), and it is not permissible to move the mat in order that the wink may be played.

If the surface is unsatisfactory owing to bumps, ridges, cracks etc., the players must agree before the game commences what action is to be taken to avoid the surface’s irregularities. In these circumstances, it is permissible temporarily to move the mat so that a wink is no longer resting on a flaw in the underlying surface, the mat being replaced in its former position after the shot has been played. Alternatively the wink itself may be moved, remaining always the same distance from the pot, but in no circumstances may the pot be moved.


The pot is placed in the centre of the mat. It is a concave sided cup 1 1/2″ (38mm) high with an external diameter of 1 7/8″ at the top and 1 3/8″ (35mm) at the base. Nothing is allowed inside the pot except potted winks.


(a) The winks are arranged as described in rule 1 and behind the baselines, and then the game begins with the squidge-off. One wink of each colour is squidged towards the pot. The wink nearest the pot at the end of the squidge-off wins the squidge-off. For the purposes of this rule all potted winks are equally near the pot and nearer than any unpotted wink; nearness is measured from the nearest edge of the wink. If two or more winks are equally near to the pot, and nearer than any other wink, the players concerned each resquidge one wink from the baseline until the winner of the squidge-off is determined. The winks are then replaced behind the baselines and play begins, proceeding clockwise and starting with the colour that won the squidge-off. Winks played from behind the baselines must be played one at a time.

(b) A shot consists of any downward pressure of squidger on wink that is an attempt to move a wink or causes a wink to move irreversibly. In any shot a player’s squidger must first touch the upper surface (which includes the top 50% of the sides) of an unsquopped wink (see rule 6) of his correct colour in sequence. The squidger may subsequently touch only those winks in the same pile, if any, that are vertically beneath some part of the first wink played in the shot. It is not permitted to touch other winks in the same pile. If while playing a shot on either a single wink or a pile of more than one wink, he disturbs with his squidger or part of his body or clothing a wink or winks that were not in the same pile as the wink or pile of winks he was playing, the disturbed winks are immediately restored to their original position. If any wink is accidentally impeded while in motion, the wink or winks concerned are placed in a position agreed by all the players. If any wink is
accidentally interfered with while not in motion, it is immediately replaced where it was immediately before it was interfered with, squopping or squopped if necessary to comply with this rule.

From the moment that a wink starts to move irreversibly, the movement of the squidger must be quick and continuous. A shot may consist of tapping a wink so that another wink moves from beneath it, but it is a foul shot to squeeze a wink from beneath the top wink and then play the top wink if the two movements are distinct. At the beginning of any shot the squidger must be held not more the 2″ (51mm) above the highest point of the first wink to be played. The shot ends when contact between the squidger and playable winks ceases, and all winks have come to rest. Any shot that does not comply with these criteria is a foul shot (see rule 12).

(c) In each turn a player squidges once in sequence, with an additional squidge for each wink of the colour he is playing potted in that turn. Winks coming to rest inside or on the top rim of the pot are “potted winks”. A potted wink which comes out of the pot or any winks coming to rest on the top rim of the pot and not resting on any wink inside the pot must immediately be placed inside the pot (doing this does not constitute a shot).

(d) A player may pass at any turn. If he does this, he must inform his opponents, unless the next opponent colour cannot be played.


A wink any part of which is vertically below any part of any other wink on the field of play is described as squopped, even if the upper wink is not touching the lower. A squopped wink cannot be the first wink played in any shot (see rule 5).

If all the unpotted winks are squopped the game ceases and the score is calculated in accordance with rule 10 (b).


(a) External.
If in any turn a player plays a shot which causes one or more winks of the colour he is playing to leave the field of play (i.e. any part of the wink to cross the boundary) he forfeits the next shot due to be played with that colour. Any wink crossing the boundary is immediately replaced on the field of play 7/8″ (22mm) from the boundary at the point at which the wink crossed it. However, no wink replaced in this manner may be closer than 4″ (102mm) to any other wink, nor closer than 4″ to any baseline with unplayed winks behind it, and any wink moved to satisfy the four inch rule must be moved the minimum distance necessary.

(b) The pot.
The pot may only be held if it is likely to be moved accidentally by a player or a squidger. It may not be moved during a game except by winks in motion, and if it is so moved it must be replaced immediately at the centre of the mat. Any wink moved when the pot is moved by a wink in motion is replaced in its former position. Any wink coming to rest wholly or partly under the base of the pot, or the place on the mat where the pot is to be replaced in accordance with this rule, is moved the minimum distance necessary for it to be touching the base of the pot but not beneath the base of the pot when the pot is correctly placed. If a wink comes to rest supported by the pot in a position in which part of the wink so supported is higher than the rest of the wink, it must be moved out from the pot but still touching the pot so that it is no longer supported by the pot. It remains squopped by any wink squopping it but squops any other wink in its path. To move wink under this rule does not constitute a shot.

When all the winks of one colour have been potted, whether by the player controlling them or not, they are said to have been potted out. As soon as one colour has been potted out, all squopped winks are desquopped by moving the winks squopping them. This movement does not constitute a shot, and must be done in such a way that the distance of each wink from the pot is not altered. If possible there should be a gap of 1/25″ (1mm) between winks separated after a potout. The position of any wink moved under this rule must be agreed between the players. Any wink squopped in the remainder of the game is immediately desquopped in the same manner. Rule 9 ceases to apply in any game in which a colour is potted out, at whatever stage the potout occurs.


(a) The time limit of a game is calculated from the first shot played after the squidge-off, and subject to (i) any agreement between the players and (ii) the umpire’s discretion to extend the game if he considers that time has been deliberately wasted, the time limit is 25 minutes for pairs games and 20 minutes for singles games. If for any reason more than 30 seconds elapse between one shot and the next, the opponents of the player due to play the next shot may require that any additional time taken by him before he plays his shot be not counted as part of the game. Time elapsing while a wink or winks are lost, or when a player due to play is called away from the game, is not counted as part of the game. For the procedure when an umpire is called, see rule 14.

(b) When the time limit has expired, play continues up to and including the colour that won the squidge-off, after which each colour has five further turns in sequence and no more, the game ending with the fifth turn of the colour that won the squidge-off.

(c) The tournament director or match organiser may impose an additional restriction of 2 minutes for each shot played in the five rounds following the expiry of regulation time. The penalty for failing to play within the 2 minutes is forfeiture of the shot.


(a) In a game in which rule 8 has come into operation, the first colour to be potted out scores 4 game points, the second to do so scores 2 game points, the third one game point and the remaining colour does not score. Partners’ game points are added together and one game point is transferred from the losing partnership to the winning partnership.

(b) In a game in which rule 8 has not come into operation (i.e. which has ended in accordance with rule 9 or the last sentence of rule 6) game points are calculated as follows: each colour has three time limit points for each potted wink and one time limit point for each unsquopped wink. Unplayed winks behind baselines do not count. The colour with the greatest number of time limit points scores 4 game points, that with the second greatest number 2 game points, the third one game point and the remaining colour does not score. Partners’ game points are added together and if two or more colours have an equal number of time limit points, the appropriate game points are aggregated and shared equally between these colours.


(a) When all the unpotted winks of one partnership are squopped, the opposing partnership is obliged to desquop at least one of the squopped winks. Before doing so, the squopping partnership is entitled to play a total number of turns equal to the number of winks controlled by it on the field of play which were neither squopping nor squopped immediately after the shot which caused this rule to come into operation. These turns are shared between the two colours in normal rotation, even if one colour is unable to play on a particular turn or turns. The desquopping shot must occur no later than the first shot of the turn following the completion of the free turns. If the squopping partnership cannot free at this turn, it must free at an earlier turn. If, at the time when a squop-up occurs, the squopping partnership can play no turn until after a wink is due to be freed, it must free at the first available turn. During the free turns, it must play no shot that would postpone the freeing turn; if it does the opponents have the options set out in rule 11 (c).

(b) The squopped partnership must be allowed to play a shot, whether the desquop occurred at the end of or during the free turns. If winks of one colour only are freed, the colour must remain in a position to be played with a legal shot on its next turn in normal sequence. If both colours are freed, it is permissible to resquop such number of them as to leave at least one of either colour free to be played on its next turn.

(c) If no attempt is made to release a wink as required by part (a) of this rule, or if the desquopping shot pots the only freed wink, or if after a wink or winks have been freed they are resquopped before the chance has occurred for any of them to be the first wink played in a legal shot, or the desquop fails, the opponents may either invoke rule 12 (a) (Foul Shots) or require that a wink or winks be moved aside to allow them to play. This movement should disturb the smallest possible number of winks, if possible only one, and must not cause any uncovered wink to be covered. If possible it should not alter the distance of any wink from the pot.

(d) If the time limit expires during the free turns, it is deemed to have expired at the moment before the first playable turn of the first freed colour, and rule 9 (b) applies from then.


(a) Any player squidging a wink contrary to rule 5 (b) or 11 must, if requested by his opponents, replace all the winks disturbed by his illegal shot and play a further shot as part of the same turn. He need not attempt the same shot as caused the illegality.

(b) Whenever a foul shot is played, the opponents have the right to accept the shot in its entirety if they consider it to be to their advantage. They cannot accept part and have part replayed.

(c) If a colour is played out of sequence, the opponents may require the shot or shots played in the turn out of sequence to be retracted, or they may allow the turn, if necessary, to be completed, and continue as if the colour had been played in sequence. If the opponents play a shot subsequent to a turn out of sequence, this is equivalent to accepting it. If a turn is played out of sequence during the five rounds after the time limit, the opponents have the same options, but no colour may have more than one turn in any one round. E.g. Red plays his third round turn, yellow follows, then red plays again. If this second red turn is accepted, it is in the fourth round.

(d) If any player deliberately interferes with any wink or winks, the pot or the mat, or deliberately impedes any other player, the penalty is that the game is declared ended, and all seven points are awarded to the player’s opponents. During his own turn, however, a player may turn or clean any of his own winks which is neither squopping nor squopped, and replace it in its correct position.


(a) No advice on the play of the game may be sought from or given by third parties. (This does not preclude discussion with other team members on game points required.)

(b) During the course of a game no player may play any wink other than in his rightful turns in that game. For instance, it is not permissible to set up a shot on another table and practise it.


If the players are unable to agree on any matter concerned with the play of the game, or are in doubt as to the meaning or interpretation of any rule, they must if possible call a competent person to act as an umpire. If a player is doubtful whether a proposed shot can be played legally, he must call an umpire before the shot is played. The umpire must decide whether the proposed shot is legal, and if it is played, whether it has been legally executed. The time from the moment an umpire is called to that when he announces his decision is not counted as part of the game. If he is asked to judge whether a shot is legal or not, the timing of the game starts as the shot is played. If he judges a shot to be foul and winks have to be replaced, the time taken to replace the winks is not counted as part of the game.