Tiddlywinks is a game for four players, playing in partnerships, though it is often played between two opponents, each playing the role of two partners. Each player controls the winks of one colour, the colours being blue, green, red and yellow. Red and blue are always partners against green and yellow. There are six winks of each colour, which begin the game in the corners of a felt mat measuring 6 feet by 3 feet. This mat is usually placed on a table, and a pot is placed at its centre.
The players take turns, and there are two basic aims: to cover (or squop) opponent winks, and to get one's own winks into the pot. As in pool or snooker, if a player pots a wink of his own colour, then he is entitled to an extra shot, and this enables a skilled player to pot all of his winks in one turn. The point of squopping, which is the key element distinguishing the adult game from the child's game (though recognized in even the earliest rules from 1890), is that a wink that is covered (even partially) may not be played by its owner. The wink on top may be played, though, and top-level play involves sophisticated shots manipulating large piles of winks.
The game ends in one of two ways; either all the winks of one colour are potted (a pot-out), or play continues up to a specified time limit (usually 25 minutes), after which each colour has a further five turns. Then a scoring system is used to rank the players, based on the numbers of potted and unsquopped winks of each colour.
"In mastering Tiddlywinks, I feel I have mastered physics itself." - James von Tiddlemann
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