North American Tiddlywinks Association

NATwA founded • 27 February 1966

  • Publisher • North American Tiddlywinks Association
  • Publication title • Newswink
  • Whole number • 6 (not marked)
  • Publication date • February 1975
  • Number of sides • 11
  • Editors • Winx Canada (Roger Clarke, Goff Jenkins, and others of the Toronto team)
  • Print Production • black and white on 8½” by 11″ paper


Alive and well north of the border”


UXBRIDGE, ONTARIO — After some serious investigation, it was discovered that the winx shortage was a much more serious problem than had originally been anticipated. Due to the global oil shortage many manufacturers could not even supply four different colours of plastic. Of those that could, many were hostile when approached—”Here we are trying to fill our contracted orders, desperately pleading with our suppliers for any more raw material and you—you want to manufacture tiddleywinx of all the absurd things, and only a couple of thousand of them at that. Well, just forget it, buddy, Goodbye.” Of course the economics were preposterous. How much money could NATWA really expect to scrape together to produce winx? Building a mould and the necessary tool to cut the pieces out would cost several hundred dollars alone. Then there is the raw material and labour etc. But the original winx may not even have been moulded at all. Of the so called experts; that were consulted and shown samples, about half said they were moulded and the rest thought that they were either stamped from sheets or sliced off rods, but they all felt that moulding would be the cheapest way to do it. In winx circles rumour has it that the sliced rod theory is correct. Unfortunately, the slicing process is costly and 4 different colours of polystyrene rods of the proper diameter would be very hard to come by if not impossible. Mr. Ursini of Ursini Plastics in Uxbridge appeared to be the last hope in Toronto’s efforts at cracking the winx shortage. On the telephone he seemed friendly and very interested in helping if he could. His line was poker chips or anything that was round and flat and his business was small and somewhat community oriented. In the past, when large scale success had knocked on the door an ulcer told him that it would be better to stay small and keep healthy. However, when R.G. and Evets got to Uxbridge and showed him the winx it became apparent that Mr. Ursini could not help them either.
Then just as they were leaving Ursini had a brainstorm—”Wait! Why don’t you try button manufacturers? That’s where I’ve seen that type of thing before. Yes, I’m sure they will be able to help you.” And once again, the boys from U90 were optimistic. But, just so things wouldn’t seem to easy, Ursini added, ” But how will you get rid of the button holes? “

A History of Winx in Canada · Part 1 · Pre-1800

A fascinating example of the independent evolution of games is provided by Tiddlywinks. The evidence consists of a fragmentary diary of one Jacques Laurent, 17th century explorer, fur trader and writer. He found Indians living in the area of present day Toronto playing an unusual game with curious disc shaped objects. The winx were considered sacred since they were in only a few areas littered by the remains of large prehistoric animals. Zoologists in France, when presented with the first “winx” concluded they were none other than the pretrified eardrums of dinosaurs. Seeing that his unusual discovery would not result in increased profits, Jacques quietly dropped the matter, and were it not for his recently discovered diary, we would never have known about the earliest winx in Canada. The Indians played the game primarily to pass the time. During the long cold winters, there was little activity, since only a fool would leave the wigwam except for essential hunting trips. The size of the wigwam restricted the types of games that could be played, lacrosse and volleyball, for example, were found to be inconsistant with the structural integrity of the average tent. Since food was scarce in winter, physical exertion was minimized to conserve energy. The conditions were such that the discovery of winx was only a matter of time. The game played was not winx as we know it, the nearest parallel being our squopping game. Every player had a private set of winks marked with a identifying pattern unique to that set, The object was to eliminate players one by one by squopping them out. When a player was squopped out, his winks were removed from play. The last surviving player would be declared the winner and receive a prize conmensurate with the importance of the game. Play was carried out on a round mat of specially treated moose hide. Since there was no limit to the number of players, no clocks, and no particular hurry, no time limit was set on the game. However, one rule made the game especially grueling. Any player who left his place around the table was automatically defeated. This rule was sufficient to result in some very interesting strategies. Unfortunately, there are no further referances to this game in existence. It seems the “winx” tribe was wiped out by a raiding party and the original game of winx was lost with them.


Bill Renke, who spent the 72-73 season totally dominating Natwa (singles, pairs, triples, team titles), met Alan Dean, 3 time British singles champion, for the world singles title last June in Southampton, England. The match was to be a seven game series, won hy the first player accumulating 24⅔ points or more. Bill proved decisively that a peaked Renke could rout an unsuspecting Dean. Alan had last seen Bill play before Bill took the jump from excellent to ridiculous. True, Bill won 5 straight games and the match 29-6 but as can he seen from the game descriptions, they were close, hard-fought battles in which Alan could do no better than almost win. But before Natwa chauvinists start proclaiming  our superiority, let them remember that Bill also routed the North Americans brave enough to show up at our singles match hy a 45-11 score, losing only one game. Biil gets close to 100% out of his ability with a very well coordinated strategy and knowledge of his skill. Alan is an excellent, imaginative player who I would rate as number 2 in the world. However, he often takes chances that, should they fail, tend to resemble bad luck. Against Bill this is disastrous. In short, the deciding factor in the match was that Bill doesn’t make mistakes (very often) and also pounces on any errors of his opponents. That has always been an excellent formula for winning championships in just about any sport.


The game-by-game description: ‘A’ = Alan and ‘B* is Bill. GAME. # 1: Casey Jones Slow, tense game. A starts very, very well, B has one colour constipated and one irrelevant. B plays cautious positional attack, A shoots well at all distances, but A finally misses a must, easy shot with less than 10 minutes allowing B to break up piles for an even end game. B gains advantage with fine preliminary squops; shots that set up easier subsequent piddles. A never comes up with the needed excellent shot or the B spas [sic, should be spaz] in rounds, (sic.- ed.) In fifth round both miss long pots for an extra point. B wins 4-3 on first play tie and third place ( 8-5 vs. 8-1 ). Only 53 rounds as piay was slow, deliberate, and strategy complicated. Game: B 4-3 — B 4-3 : Match Game 2: Truckin’ A comes out strong, pulling game away from B. After 10 minutes, A is in control, no weak piles and B has one colour dead. B lunches his only captured winx, prays slow positional, taking back one wink at a time as A allows him to do so (no counter strategy). Solid B lunching and no retaliatory lunching evens up game. Crucial colour order squop puts B in front and by 18 minutes, A is very dead. B sets up controlled pot out, first nurdling an A wink via Bristol, and pots out in 4th, runs second coiour for uncontested 7-0. A much faster game (46 rounds, lo with no A) without complication—early A aggression, middle B lunch and fringe attack yielding 2 wink advantage, late stage set up pot out. B 7-0 · B 11-3 Game 3: A wins his only squidge off and once again starts well. B goes off table repeatedly (4 times), giving A good position. In middle of game neither player wants win, bad shots are traded several times, tending to B advantage as A misses always seem more crucial (no accident, simply subtley superior strategy). A seems to panic and takes insufficient care on desperation shots, resulting in ‘bad luck’ of going off table and potting his wink. Even end game also to B advantage and he decisively wins a close game (4-4 vs 3-1). Game very fast (49 rounds) as shots were obvious, even if (if not because) poorly played. B 6-1 · B 17-4 end of day one. Game 4: Tennessee A takes early game, B must adjust game to A and has one colour constipated but A finally slips. After middle of game B is playing for a 3-4 loss as he needs only 8 points in 4 games for title. Surprisingly, A also plays for 4-3 win but brings in a wink too aggressively from the boondocks, lands next to B, and B can now attack a pile without fear of doing worse than 3~4. A allows his “winning” colour to get involved, doesn’t pot perfectly and suddenly it’s 4 in a row to Bill by 5-2 (9-4 vs 6-3). Game was slow, only 34 rounds, as both used slow, somewhat positional strategy with much thought and interaction of tactitcs [sic, should be tactics].. B 5-2 · B 22-6 Game 5: It’s premeditated desperation time for A as he needs 19 points in 3 games and one doesn’t get 6-1’s against B by squopping. So, it’s a double blitz but B makes long saving squop. A almost gets away with pile flip but misses as blue doesn’t land on a neighbouring yellow. B declined a counter-blitz when 5 yellows were in play since he could not afford to go off table bringing in the last yellow (as was his custom throughout the match) . So, it’s 12 against 2 reds and 2 blues as A is squopped out after 10 minutes. 5 minutes later it’s pot out, an Allan [sic, should be Alan] miss, a run of 6 and 3 is champion. B 7-0 · B 29-6 ❏ IFTwA ROW OF THE YEAR AWARD (what year was that?)—Between Tim and Edna during the MIT–Soton match over who should get to play red. Having reached an impasse, it was decided that an arbitrary method must be found to decide who got what color. Tim suggested a coin toss and Edna suggested a squidge off. As neither would give in to the other’s method, another impasse was reached. In true diplomatic fashion (and a considerable length of time) it was decided that half of each pair would squidge off and the other half would stage a coin flip. If both partners of one pair won at the same time then that pair could decide how they wanted to decide who would get which color, either by squidging or flipping. If the pairs only won one each the partners would switch places flipping and squidging and continue thusly until one pair won both. As it happened, the first flip and squidge was indecisive, but in the second round, Tim and Frans won both. They elected to have a coin toss to decide who would get red. I forget who won. ❏
…squidgers that are so warped they can be used as a spoon? Squidgers so fat they can offer no relief from nurdled winx? Then try… TIMMY’S CUSTOM SQUIDGERS
Contact T. Schiller Enterprises for details.


It has been said that the success of Canadian winking today is largely attributable to the development of that essential part of the game known as the strategy break. Deducing the importance of this strategem early in its history, Winx Canada decided to devote considerable study to its perfection. Perhaps analagous to the football huddle or the “meeting on the mound”, one can see the smoke rise as the minds whirl. Analysis of previous shots and games are vividly recreated as participants kindle the flame of uniform essence that bonds and lifts their spirit. The proceedings roll along rapidly, and joint discussions among all the heads assembled formulate the next course of action. One of the first major realizations hashed out of such a session was that the positioning around the pot was of utmost importance. Without the pot being within easy reach, desparation measures often have to be employed. Current devotees of the strategy break are easily recognized in competition through their mind-boggling array of shots and occasional colourblindness. … They stare despair in the face with a constant smile of assuredness, never retreating from their goal, although sometimes tripping over one another. As one views this group’s advancement, one wonders just how high they can go in the future. So do they.

One Day Onder The Apple Tree

It came to mind the otjier day that Tiddlywinks in North America seems to be entering a new stage of development in terms of the level of play. Looking back now on the five years I’ve been winking I can see several other distinct levels and advances, at least at MIT. The first major level obtained was that of consistent competency. It was heralded in by the 1969 MIT team. For the first time there was a whole team of players who could consistently pot and squop, and who had a knowledgeable understanding of the double squop strategy. The next couple of years saw a spread in this level of play as new teams were formed, but few significant advances. In 1971-1972 however, the strategical aspects of the game began to be much more examined, experimented with, understood, and finally put to practical use. It finally got to the point where strategical excellence could even dominate over better technical play in a game. I think that MIT’s success in England last year was in a large part due to this. Now, though, a third advance is beginning to be made. Players are starting to experiment with, and actually use in game situations, difficult shots. No longer is simple potting and squopping enough. These skills are passing into certainty. Difficult piddles, potting winks from piles, confident long-range squopping, etc., are getting to be seen more often now and are being used to win games. It seems that pretty soon Tiddlywinks will be at the state where its ch[a]mpion will not only have mastered all the other teams but will have truly started to master the game itself. The above ethereal randomizing is solely the excrement of my well-nurdled mind and in no way necessarily reflects the opinions of the trinity, etc , etc. In the interest of the public good and in an attempt to drum up future articles for NEWSWINK, anybody wanting to express any other opinion is certainly invited to.


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1. Tactics crack: for Toronto (8,5)
6, This strategy uses anatomical parts. (5, 3, 4)
7. What to do when asked to perform 100 slow crazy shots. (5)
9. Is Steve this puzzler? No, you’ve got it backwards. (5)
1[3]. 2 points in a friend(ly) game might mean something to put on your wall? (5)
17. Where Renke put the game when he used a mysterious Eastern coin for a squidger. (2,3)
20. Where to go when you get to 12. (1,8,4)


1. Let (winx) sets be destroyed because violence does this to nothing. (7)
2. I can act crazy, can’t I? (3)
3. It’s easy with a man who’s sophisticated. (6)
4. Do this with the rule book. (4, 2)
5. Yell a play up the lane. (5)
7. You’re in it when you’re squopped out! (4)
8. Anyone can come to this winx event. (4)
10. With nox, table or valence. (4)
11. Secure the vault. (4)
12. In Ithaca, turn the corner. Left, left—not right! (7)
14. What a wink does when desquopped. (6)
15. Don’t fight this kind of battle in a solo, single-handed game or your opponents will 18 you! (6)
16. Get them straight before going to the tournaments. (5)
18. Orange for example. (See 15*) (5)
20. ?.


Tiddlywinks is a social game to be enjoyed by any number of people. It combines physical dexterity, mental strategy, and psychic energies. These forces are non-separable. The purpose of the game is to merge your skills of manipulating these forces with other participants in order to alleviate the separateness of the individual. Unfortunately, competitiveness widens this separation.



To Pete Copper, who, after playing winx for two solid days at the Gontinentals, spent several hours practising his approach snots during trip back to Boston.

Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet Piddling.

“I’m doing this because I wasn’t doing anything else and, well, everybody should do something.”

—Ross Callon on why he plays winx.


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The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 2, 1972:

A STAR IS BORN: A new star blazed in the sports firmament Friday in uptown Logan, Utah, when Sean Noble of Gran (sic) Prairie, Alberta, was crowned world tiddlywinks champion.

The crafty Canadian outtiddlied 15 opponents in succession, defeating Berry Willis of San Diego in the finals, 9-6.

The tournament was staged al fresco in strong winds and mid-40 temperatures.

“It was a tough match,” gasped Noble after the finals, “but I’m glad I won it for Canada!”

Everybody forgot to ask Noble whether he planned to turn pro.

Sean Noble?1 Is that a Phil Villar alias? Quick, someone get a Newswink 5. Where does it say Phil was boondocked to? But, fear not, sports fans. Phil hasn’t started a counter-NATwA, nor was he even invited to Logan.

Intrigued (worried) about this article, which had appeared so soon after MIT’s victory in England, we finally talked to Mike Patchen, the tournament organizer. We found out that the tournament was held among Utah State students and was sponsered by the college FM station.

There followed an exchange of letters between Mike and ourselves, including about ten pages of newsclips of the tournament, and we discovered the real story.

The tournament grew out of a[ ]bull session in which Mike had remembered an article in the papers three years ago about the “ivy League schools” playing tiddlywinks. (“I hear they even get letters for playing tiddlywinks at those ‘Ivy League colleges.'”) After researching tiddlywinks (including writing to Harvard and Yale), all he was able to come up with was a 1962 article on Oxford’s visit to Harvard.

Mike then went ahead and planned his own tournament. The game he devised, for all you perversion freaks, was to take 15 winks each and shoot towards the pot from two feet away, scoring 10 points for each wink that goes in the pot, 5 for each which goes in and out of the pot, 3 for each wink that hits the pot on the fly, and 1 for each that hits the pot on the bounce.

Mike wrote to other colleges inviting them to play (none came) and recruited good press coverage. He also invited Chief Justice Warren Burger as honorary judge and Prince Philip as special guest. Neither showed up.

At the tournament, Sean, possibly in a move to capture Best Dressed Winker honors also, wore a pink carnation corsage with a pink ribbon bow.

He was quoted afterwards as saying, “I used the right one handed method with my legs spread around my shooting thumb.” He then announced, “I will retire undefeated as the World Tiddlywink Champion.”

Another contestant, disqualified for using “tiddledies” of nonregulation size, complained, “I can’t see a dime’s worth of difference. They’re like tiddledy-dee and tiddledy-dum.”

Because of the enthusiastic response from both the players and the press, Mike was planning to form a World Tiddleywinks Association; and then inviting the “ivy League schools” to join. He also added, “I am determined to make Logan the tiddlywinks capital of the world.” He kind of sounds like Bill.

One added note. Three days before the tournament, a Logan newspaper ran pictures of the Junior Continentals. Congratualtions [sic, should be Congratulations], Sev!


Once again the Toronto Informals lived up to their name. The agenda included such things as shuffleboard, bowling, ball hockey, strategy work-shops, and tiddleywinks. Approximately 30 winkers (18 U.S.) enjoyed a relaxed Saturday of winx despite those darn table legs. Myro successfully defended his title as no scores were recorded. Many thanks to the baking crew and Mr. Lasagna.


Welcome back to the wonderful world of Winx! Yes, NEWSWINK is alive and well—north of the border for the first time [Transcription Note: Newswinks 1, 2, 3, and 4 were also produced in Canada]. Hopefully, this issue won’t be a one-shot effort, but will become an irregular publication.

Many thanks to Sunshine & Co. for their fine work in the publishing of THE MISSING WINK—NATwA definitely needed a voice while NEWSWINK was in hibernation. We welcome any suggestions, feedback and criticisms—all letters will be printed in future issues.

At present, the state of NATwA is considerably better than the state of the economy of the country. (We shall not discuss the economics (?) of NATwA). Expansion of Winx is a slow process, but maintainence of the status quo in NATwA is essential. We believe more emphasis on “fun tournaments” such as the recent one in Toronto will result in people regarding Winx as a social “game”, as well as friendly competition. Best of luck to all winkers in the Continentals—see you all at the “strategy sessions”.

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Wide World of Tiddlywinks!
A finalist [Bill Renke] from Massachusetts concentrates on his next move in the North American Continental Tiddlywinks Tournament, held this weekend at Willard Straight, at Cornell University. Cornellian ‘’winkers” finished seventh in the major tournament attended by professionals from the U.S. and Canada.
Photo by Joyce Levine.
[Bill Gammerdinger appears at left.]


Win a free copy of the next issue of NEWSWINK (if there is one). The last correct answer drawn wins. Deadline—September 1, 1975.
Send entries to*
FLY248 c/o 490 Huron St.,
Toronto, Ont.,
Canada M5R 2R3