North American Tiddlywinks Association

NATwA founded • 27 February 1966



May 1990


(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 alphabetical 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. 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 22 mm in diameter and four being 15 mm in diameter.  All winks should be approximately 1.5 mm thick.  A disc called a squidger is used to play the winks.  This must be between 25 mm and 51mm in diameter and no thicker than 5 mm at its edge.  A player must use a squidger which will not damage the winks he plays.  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  by 3 feet.  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 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 surface available, the players may agree to play on a less satisfactory surface.  If this surface measures less than 6 feet by 3 feet, any wink coming to rest on any part of the mat unsupported by the underlying surface may be moved the shortest distance onto the playing surface, so that the status of every wink remains the same as far as squopping is concerned, with no penalty.  Nothing but winks and the pot may be placed on the field of play, unless all players agree otherwise.  This does not preclude a player from resting on the mat in order to play a shot.

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 38 mm high with an external diameter of 48 mm at the top and 38 mm at the base.  Pots approved by National Associations should be used whenever possible.  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. Any winks that go off the mat are deemed to be equally far from the pot, and further from it than any other 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.  If an attempt to squidge a wink from behind a baseline does not propel it completely over the baseline, the shot does not count and the same wink must be replaced behind the baseline and played again.

(b) When playing a shot, a player must hold his squidger not more than 5 cm above the highest point of the first wink he squidges.  A shot consists of any downward pressure of squidger on wink that is an attempt to move a wink or that causes a wink to move irreversibly.  For the purposes of this rule, a movement is irreversible if, when the squidger ceases contact with the wink, all winks do not return to the positionsthey occupied before contact with the squidger began.  The squidger must first touch the upper surface (that part of the wink that is visible from directly above) of an unsquopped wink (see Rule 6) of his correct colour in sequence.  If the wink is squopping all or part of a pile, the squidger may subsequently touch only winks vertically below some part of the wink first played. It must not touch other winks in the same pile.  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 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.   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).

If, while playing any shot, a player 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 positions.  If any wink or winks is accidentally impeded while in motion, they are placed in a position agreed by all the players, or left where they come to rest, at the discretion of the offended pair.  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.  Players are at all times bound to make every endeavour not to touch winks they are not playing, other than those inevitably his by the follow-through of the squidger.

(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).  If a potted wink is knocked out of the pot by another wink it is replaced in the pot. Any wink it disturbs is restored to the position where it was before being disturbed.

(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) 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).

(b) 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 22 mm (a large wink’s width) from the boundary at the point at which the wink crossed it. However, no wink replaced in this manner may be closer than 10 cm to any other wink, nor closer than 10 cm to any baseline with unplayed winks behind it, and any wink moved to satisfy the 10 cm requirement 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 in a position where it is unsquopped but supported by the pot so that part of the wink is higher than the rest, it is moved to lie touching the pot but no longer supported by it.  It squops any wink within the range of its required movement.  If any wink comes to rest in a position where it is both supported by the pot and squopped, it is left as it lies.  If it is subsequently freed but remains supported by the pot, it is moved as above. To move a 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 2 mm between winks separated after a potout.  The position of any wink moved under this rule must be agreed between the players. During the remainder of the game winks landing on or less than 2 mm from each other must be moved so as to leave a 2 mm gap between them and any other winks affected by this movement.  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, 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.  For the purposes of the time limit, a player’s turn is deemed to begin at the moment when he plays its first shot.  If the time limit expires between two shots of the same turn, it is deemed to have expired at the end of that turn.

(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 free at least one of the squopped winks.  Before doing so, the squopping partnership may play one turn per wink on the field of play which was neither squopping nor squopped after the shot which caused this Rule to be invoked.  These are called “free turns”, and are shared between the two colours in normal rotation, even if a colour is cannot play at a particular turn.

(b A freeing shot is a shot which leaves an opponent’s wink unsquopped, one which pots the sixth wink of any colour (after which Rule 8 applies) or a shot which terminates the game according to Rule 6 (b).  One must be played no later than the first shot of the turn following completion of free turns, except when the number of free turns is zero and the first of the squopping partnership has no playable winks. In this case his partner must free on his first shot.  N.B.  A shot which is forfeited owing to Rule 7 (a) is always counted in the timing of a freeing shot, and the playability of a free wink.

(c) Free turns cease whenever a freeing shot is played. Thereafter, until their opponents have a turn with a playable wink, the squopping pair must leave an opponent’s wink free after each shot played.  This wink must be of the same colour as the wink free prior to the shot, unless the other colour is given an opportunity to play first.  If both squopped colours become free, the first to play must be left free after each shot.

(d) If a freeing shot is not played as required by section (b), or a wink is squopped contrary to section (c), the turn in which the offence occurs is terminated, and the offended partnership is awarded a “nominated wink”.  For the first shot of the turn immediately following the failure to free, the player due to play the next colour shall nominate a playable wink of any colour and play it as if it were his own. If this shot fails to free any of the squopped partnership’s winks, free turns are recounted and start immediately.  If in the playing of the nominated wink any of the nominated colour is potted, it will ultimately count for the opposition, but the player may continue the turn, playing any wink of his own colour freed by the previous shot.  If a wink of the nominated colour leaves the field of play, the player forfeits the next shot due to be played with his own colour.

If the failure to free occurs on the final turn of the fifth round after expiry of the time limit, the next colour in sequence shall be entitled to one extra turn, commencing with a nominated wink.

(e)    If the time limit expires during free turns, it is deemed to have expired at the moment before the first playable shot (including a nominated wink) of the squopped pair, 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.  Any time taken to correct a foul shot is not counted as part of the game.

(c) If a player plays an opponent’s wink, or his partner’s wink, in mistake for his own, this is a foul shot, not a shot out of sequence. The opponents may have the shot, and any shot subsequent to it in the same turn, retracted, or they may accept the shot or shots.  If the opponents accept such a shot, play continues as if the correct colour had been played.

(d) 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 correct colour had been played in sequence, so that their own sequence of colours is not disturbed.  If the opponents play a shot subsequent to a turn out of sequence, this is equivalent to accepting it, their shot must stand and the sequence of colours must be continued from that turn.  Any time taken to correct a turn played out of sequence is not counted as part of the game.

(e) 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.  The umpire’s decision is final on all matters on which he is consulted.


  1. This version of the rules incorporates the modifications sanctioned by the 1990 Congress and supersedes earlier versions.
  2. “He” and “his” have been used throughout these rules for the sake of simplicity.No disrespect to lady players is intended.
  3. It has been suggested that to aid memory the winner of the squidge-off should always play yellow.Players are invited to try this.
  4. Players are invited to agree before a game starts that they will endeavour to point out in advance that a player is about to play out of sequence.

Jon Mapley, Chairman,
Rules Committee,
English Tiddlywinks Association.

May 1990