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Chasing Marbles Games


Perhaps the oldest of marbles game, Boss-out is also the oldest chase game. Historically it is identical to the game played by Augustus as mentioned by Ovid. Strutt describes it as "a game at marbles" in which "one bowls a marble to any distance, which serves as a mark for his antagonist to bowl at, whose business it is to hit the marble first bowled, or lay his own near enough to it for him to span the space between them [i.e. a hand's span between them] and touch both marbles."

Though no specific distances are described, if the chaser cannot hit or span to the target, he becomes the chased. Since Elizabethan Times in Great Britain, this game has been known as Boss And Span. Long-Tawl is a British variation where a penalty of one marble occurs for each hit. In Australia, Boss-out is known as Follow-Me-Taw, Follow, Black Track, Track Taws, Tractor Kelly, Tractor Taw and Kiss And Span. Typically called Chasies in the United States, it is also known as Trails or Trailing, Bomber, Curb, Span and, in Massachusetts, Plumpers.

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This is the American version of Boss-Out where the player who hits or spans to his opponent's marble wins that marble. Then the winner tosses his own marble ahead. If the distance between the marbles is less than a step but more than a span, the shooter has an option, called Bomber, where he can pick up his marble and drop it straight down from face level attemptting to hit his opponent's marble.

In Connecticut, a variation involves setting stakes of several marbles per hit requiring extensive bookkeeping. Players used curbs as guides for their throws in New York; in Toronto, Bomber is known as Eye Drops; and in Iowa Bomber is known as Bombsies.

This game involves little exchange of marbles, excpet when multiple stakes are decided on. Boss-out, by any name consumes enormous amounts of time and demands for the use of one's best shooter, typically an aggie or a steelie. Smart marble players try to keep an adequate supply of ordinary immies in their pockets in case they may have to pay a debt to avoid paying with their shooters.

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