Tiddlywinks is an indoor skill game played with coloured plastic disks and a small cup, where the object is to land small disks or winks in the cup by pressing on them with a larger disk called a squidger. There are adult versions of tiddlywinks with national and world tournaments and versions for casual players and children with simpler rules. Here’s how to get started playing tiddlywinks.
Start off by buying a simple version of tiddlywinks to get the feel of the game and develop your touch. A parlour version of tiddlywinks typically has a plastic scoring mat about 10 inches square, with a plastic cup and four sets of coloured winks and squidges.
Place the target mat on a card table, or on a dining table with a tablecloth. Put the cup or pot in the middle of the scoring mat. Place four groups of coloured winks in each corner of the playing area, with the colours arranged clockwise in the order blue, green, red and yellow.
Decide on teams to play. Four players is standard, with one team playing blue and red and the other team playing green and yellow. With two players, each team plays two colours.
Determine which player starts by playing a squidge-off. Each player plays one wink by pressing on the edge of a wink with the large disk, or squidger, to make it hop toward the pot. The player whose wink lands closest to the pot starts the game.
Start play with the winner of the squidge-off, who plays one wink from behind the baseline, trying to land it in the pot. If a player lands their wink in the pot, they get another turn. Each player plays in turn until all the winks are played.
Total up all the points that each colour of winks landed on to determine the game winner.
Advance to an official tournament style set of tiddlywinks if you decide you really like the game enough to invest more money and time. An official tiddlywinks mat is heavy felt, three feet by six feet, with diagonal corner baselines three feet from the centre, and can cost £39 to £52 or more.
Start tournament-style tiddlywinks with a squidge-off. The scoring strategy for official tiddlywinks includes trying to land your winks on opponents’ winks to squop them and make them unplayable. Official tiddlywinks scores three points for potted winks and one point for each free or uncovered wink on the playing mat at the end of 25 minutes (20 minutes for pairs).
If you decide to play official tournament-style tiddlywinks, consult one of the organizational websites (see Resources) for complete rules and equipment sources. Tiddlywinks was originally patented in England in 1888 as the parlour game "Tiddledy-Winks." The modern tournament game was started at Cambridge university in 1955.