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Circle Marbles Games

From the The Great American Marble Book on circle games:

Old Bowler

Squares are almost as popular as circle in surface marbles games, and are known by names equally as colorful -- Square Ring, Liney, Old Bolwer and Skelley. One of the oldest of these, Old Bowler, was reportedly a favorite of Abraham Lincoln's.

Draw a square in the dust with diagonal lines connecting the corners. Place a marble in each corner and another where the diagonals intersect. Bowl from a starting line to see who comes closest to the square. The one closest shoots first, and plays until he misses one of the targets. The four corner marbles must be disposed of first. Then the "old bowler." Inadvertently hit the "old bowler" before the others are eliminated, and you too are eliminated!

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Similar to Old Bowler, but without the drawn diagonals; in addition, players can shoot from elevated positions and can shoot at any of the marbles. For a marble to be counted and kept it has to go out of the square on the fly, without rolling. This calls for only the best aggie shooters. A West Bronx game for those with the most powerful shooting thumbs.

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Square ring

A Long Island variation in which nine marbles are placed in a drawn square {tick-tac-toe style}. Players bowl for "firsties," then shoot "knuckles down tight" on the ground, aiming either to shoot marbles from the square or against each other to keep opponents away from the square. A game of strategy and defense, rare in "for keeps" marbles.

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Knuckle Box

This Brooklyn variation calls for a square with 18-inch sides. Players place a specified number of marbles inside, and finger-choose to determine who goes first. The winner spans from any side of the square (tip of the thumb to tip of middle finger) to establish his shooting spot. Shooting form here, he can keep all of the marbles he hits from the square; his shooter must leave the square too. He continues to shoot until he misses or until his shooter fails to rool out of the square. It then become a target marble and belong to whoever shoots it out. Depending upon neighborhood rules, the shooting line might be one, two or three spans away from the square.

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This inversion of the general run of square game has been played on the east coast. A square is drawn and a white marble, a milkie of smoked glass, placed in its center. Each of the four players places his shooter outside the square, at a corner, and attempts, in turn, to shoot the milkie form the center of the square to any corner, without the milkie leaving the confies of the square.

If the milkie is hit to a corner, the player in that corner is eliminated. The danger is that you can come within a hair of your opponent's marble and be liable to be blasted yards away, and have to edge your way back in stages.

This is tournament stuff, with identical squares set up all over the lot, and eliminations held until there are four finalists around one square. Definitely a controlled shooter's game.

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An indoor game. On rainy days marbles players would congregate in homes (mothers willing) which had living-room Persian rugs and enough space for some decent shooting. White thread was used to outline a portion of the rug pattern. Four players were considered ideal and the one who shouted "last!" first had the advantage of being the last to place his marbles and the first to shoot. He could set up things pretty much to his liking. This was played "for keeps"; you kept any marble you shot out of the Persian outline. A shooter's game.

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Song: "Dueling Banjos"