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Newcastle pit men playing quoits

Quoits (/kɔɪts/, /kwɔɪts/) is a traditional game which involves the throwing of metal, rope or rubber rings over a set distance, usually to land over or near a spike (sometimes called a hob, mott or pin). The sport of quoits encompasses several distinct variations.


The history of quoits is disputed. One theory often expressed is that the sport evolved as a formalized version of horseshoes,[1] which is a sport that involves pitching a horseshoe at a spike in the ground. A more likely explanation, however, is that horseshoes evolved from the sport of quoits, which in turn has its origins in ancient Greece.[2] On its website, the United States Quoiting Association explains that poorer citizens in ancient Greece, who could not afford to buy a real discus, made their own by bending horseshoes - which in those days weighed as much as four pounds each. The practice was adopted by the Roman army and spread across mainland Europe to Britain. The aim of the sport remained as a competition to see who could throw the object the furthest, until "at some later, undocumented point in history, perhaps around a few centuries A.D., the idea of using a wooden stake or metal pin driven into the ground, to use specifically as a target to throw at, totally redefined the pastime from a game of distance to a game of accuracy."[3]

Whilst the first quoits were apparently made from horseshoes, in the context of the game's evolution the significant point is that they were initially closed to form a ring and used in their open form only after the practice of pitching at a spike had been established.

Game of ringtoss c. 1815

In England quoits became so popular that it was prohibited by Edward III and Richard II to encourage archery.[4][unreliable source?] Despite this setback, by the 15th century there is evidence that it had become a well-organized sport, not least because of the numerous attempts to eradicate it from the pubs and taverns of England owing to its apparently seedy character.[citation needed]

It is not until the 19th century, however, that the game is documented in any detailed way. The official rules first appeared in the April 1881 edition of The Field, having been defined by a body formed from pubs in Northern England.[5]

The popularity of the game during the 19th and early 20th centuries[citation needed] also gave rise to several variants, usually with the aim of allowing the game (or a version of it) to be played indoors or making it accessible to women and children. Games such as ringtoss or hoopla became popular as parlour games, whilst versions such as indoor quoits allowed pubs and taverns to maintain their quoits teams through the winter months. Deck quoits began life some time in the early 1930s as a pastime to occupy passengers on long cruises.


Traditional quoits[edit]

A game played with metal discs, traditionally made of steel, and thrown across a set distance at a metal spike (called a pin, hob or mott). The spike is centrally, and vertically, positioned in a square of moist clay measuring three feet across.

United Kingdom[edit]

The northern game[edit]

This version uses the 15 rules published in The Field in 1881 and has remained largely unchanged since that time. Played under the auspices of The National Quoits Association, formed in 1986.

In this game, the pins are 11 yards apart, with their tops protruding three to four inches above the clay. Quoits measure about 5½ inches in diameter and weigh around 5½ pounds.[6]

This version of the game is played by two leagues in and around the Esk Valley on Monday and Thursday evenings from early May to mid August. The following villages have teams that play the northern game: Ainthorpe, Beck Hole, Danby, Egton Bridge, Fryup, Glaisdale, Grosmont, Hawsker, Lealholm, Moorsholm and Fylingthorpe.[7] This version of the game is also played in West Northumberland/Cumbria area in the following villages; Garrigill, Slaggyford, Featherstone, Haltwhistle, Bardon Mill, Langley,Newbrough, Warden, Haydon Bridge, Barrasford, Acomb, Allendale, Twice Brewed. Games are played on Wednesday evenings in the summer months. Several other leagues also play this game, including Northumberland (East), Zetland, Cleveland, and Swaledale,

The long game[edit]

Sometimes called the old game, this version is played in Wales and Scotland; Scotland had around a dozen clubs, now reduced to one which is based in Stonehaven, under the control of the Scottish Quoiting Association, whilst Wales has only a few clubs, based around Dyfed and Powys.

In this game, the top of the spike is flush with the clay, so encircling the pin is not a significant part of the game. The long game has similarities to the game of bowls, in that a player scores a point for each quoit nearer to the pin than his opponent. The hobs are 18 yards apart, while the quoits are typically around nine inches in diameter and weigh up to 11 pounds, almost double that of the northern game.[5]

East Anglian quoits[edit]

An English version of the long game, played using quoits of reduced size and weight. As with the long game, the hobs are 18 yards apart, but their tops are raised above the level of the clay. Quoits that land cleanly over the hob score two points, regardless of the opponent's efforts, and are removed immediately, prior to the next throw. Quoits which land on their backs, or inclined in a backwards direction, are also removed immediately

United States[edit]

Traditional American 4lb quoits. The standard for American Quoits is governed by the United States Quoiting Association. The USQA was created in April 2003 by members of three separate Quoiting groups in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The idea for starting the association was borne from the desire to bring together, into one organized body, all quoit players and Quoiting groups in North America who enjoyed pitching Traditional American Quoits - that being the standard, outdoor version played with 4-pound steel quoits pitched at a distance of 21' to 4-inch pins in dirt or clay-filled pits. Ken Kaas of Boyertown, Willie Wandress of Downingtown, and Troy Frey of Lancaster were instrumental in forming the beginnings of this new association.

The USQA unified a specific standard for the 4 Lb quoit. Each regulation set of USQA Quoits includes 4 foundry-cast steel quoits in perfect proportion to the historical Traditional American Quoit. Each quoit weighs 4 pounds and is approximately 6 1/2 inches in diameter, has a 3-inch diameter hole, and stands 1 inch high. The quoits feature a large, concave finger groove along their outer edge to assist in pitching accuracy. The high, rounded top surface of each quoit features a large raised-letter "A" or "B" and smaller raised lettering "USQA" directly opposite the central hole. A lot of time and research went into the design of these quoits before the actual molds were created. They have been specifically designed for ease of pitching by incorporating well-rounded edges throughout the overall design - on both the outside and inside edges, the large gently-curved finger groove, as well as the major top and bottom surfaces. Many cheaper quality quoits are cast in a flatter and wider shape that doesn't fit the hand as well, and many have thinner, sharper, or more prominent outer edges that tend to chip off more readily with use. All this leads to a less comfortable feel and making them more difficult to pitch accurately. The USQA design eliminates these sharp edges, which helps minimize chipping and wear and results in a more desirable quoiting experience.

Since 2003 the USQA has conducted annual tournaments culminating in a World Championship in both singles and doubles as well as a season ending points champion.

Mexican Americans play this game in the U.S. southwest and call it "wacha" after the Spanish pronunciation of the large washer used in the game.

Mercer County, New Jersey[edit]

Trenton Style Quoits - This style of steel Quoits is popular in the Central portions of New Jersey, especially in and around the Trenton area. The objective is similar to the traditional game of quoits. The goal is to surround the pin or throw the closest quoit to the pin. The quoits are 7 1/2 inches in diameter with a 5-inch hole, and weigh 2 1/2 pounds each. The top-side of the quoit is beveled, while the underside is flat. The pitching distance is 21 feet and the hubs are generally 4 1/2 inches (four fingers) above the ground level of the pit. Each hub is placed in the center of a pit that is generally composed of smooth and level packed clay or dense soil (NO SAND). Teams of two players play a game to 21 points (winning by two). An 11-0 shutout will end the game early and a match is generally best 2 out of 3 games.[8] The following is an abbreviated summary of scoring in rank of priority: Ringer-2 Points (If the same team "tops" a ringer it is 4 points); Leaner-1 Point (a leaner touching top of Hub wins point over leaner touching side of Hub); Closest to Hub-1 Point (Per Quoit with from the same team) must be within outer diameter of Quoit. This is determined by placing an outside Quoit over Hub and measuring nearest Quoit.[8]

Other countries[edit]

Indoor or table quoits[edit]

A game of indoor quoits, being played in the Forest of Dean

Exclusively a pub game, this variant is predominantly played in mid and south Wales and in England along its border with Wales.

Matches are played by two teams (usually the host pub versus another pub) and typically consist of four games of singles, followed by three games of doubles. Players take it in turns to pitch four rubber rings across a distance of around 8½ feet onto a raised quoits board. The board consists of a central pin or spike and two recessed sections: an inner circular section called the dish and a circular outer section.

Five points are awarded for a quoit landing cleanly over the pin, two points for a quoit landing cleanly in the dish, and one point for a quoit landing cleanly on the outer circular section of the board. The scoreboard consists of numbers running from 1 to 10, 11 or 12, and the object of the game is to score each of these numbers separately using four or fewer quoits, the first side to achieve this being the winner.

Deck quoits[edit]

Deck quoits is a variant which is popular on cruise ships. The quoits are invariably made of rope, so as to avoid damaging the ship's deck, but there are no universally agreed standards or rules - partly because of the game's informal nature and partly because the game has to adapt to the shape and area of each particular ship it is played upon.

Players take it in turn to throw three or four hoops at a target which usually, though not always, consists of concentric circles marked on the deck. The centre point is called the jack. Occasionally this may take the form of a raised wooden peg, but more usually it is marked on the surface in the same way that the concentric circles are.

Slate-board quoits[edit]

This is a popular outdoor variation played principally in and around Pennsylvania, USA (specifically the 'Slate Belt' which is in the Lehigh Valley). This game uses two one-pound rubber quoits per player, which are pitched at a short metal pin mounted on a heavy 24x24x1 inch slab of slate. The common pronunciation of quoits in the Slate Belt region is (qwaits).

Players take turns throwing a quoit at the pin. The quoit nearest the pin gets one point. If one player has two quoits nearer the pin than either of his opponent's quoits, he gets two points. A quoit that encircles the pin (called a ringer) gets three points. If all four quoits are ringers, the player who threw the last ringer gets three points only; otherwise, the first player to make 21 points wins the game. For two or four players.

Garden quoits or hoopla[edit]

Typical set of garden quoits

This version of the game exists largely as a form of recreation, or as a game of skill found typically at fairgrounds and village fetes.

There are no leagues or universally accepted standards of play and players normally agree upon the rules before play commences.

Garden quoit and hoopla sets can be purchased in shops and usually involve players taking it in turns to throw rope or wooden hoops over one or more spikes.

The fairground version typically involves a person paying the stallholder for the opportunity to throw one or more wooden hoops over a prize, which if done successfully, they can keep. Generally speaking, the odds of winning are normally heavily weighted in favour of the stallholder unless the cost of play is higher than the value of the prize.

Current leagues[edit]

Traditional quoits[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Allen Valley Quoits League, Northumberland.[9]
  • Danby Invitation Quoits League, North Yorkshire.[7]
  • North Yorkshire Moors League, North Yorkshire.[7]
  • Montgomeryshire County Quoits League, Montgomeryshire.[10]
  • Mount Bures (Essex) Quoits Team.[11]
  • Bures,(Suffolk) Quoits Team.[12]

United States[edit]

  • United States Quoiting Association (USQA)[13]
  • Mercer County Church Steel Quoit League, New Jersey.[14]
  • Pottstown German Club 3lb League, Pottstown Pa

Indoor quoits[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Forest of Dean Quoits League, Gloucestershire.[15]
  • The Builth Wells and District League, Powys.[16]
  • Kington League, Herefordshire.[15]
  • Aymestry League, Herefordshire.[15]
  • Presteigne League, Powys.[15]
  • The Whitby Indoor League, North Yorkshire.[7]
  • Clee Hill Quoits League, South Shropshire

Slate-board quoits[edit]

United States[edit]

  • Bushkill Valley Quoit League, Pennsylvania.[17]
  • Easton City Quoit League, Pennsylvania.[18]
  • Slate Belt Quoit League, Pennsylvania.[19]
  • Cohn's Quoit League, Ringoes, NJ.[20]
  • Pottstown German Club Winter League, Pottstown Pa

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Masters (1954-01-09). "Quoits - Online Guide". Tradgames.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  2. ^ "The Quoit Pits". Quoits.info. Archived from the original on 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  3. ^ United States Quoiting Association Archived September 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.[unreliable source?]
  4. ^ Etymology Dictionary Archived August 9, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Quoits Online Archived November 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Allen Valley League Rules Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ a b c d James Masters. "Quoits - Online Guide". Tradgames.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  8. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  9. ^ "Allen Valley Quoits League". Allenvalleyquoits.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  10. ^ "Mid Wales Sport - Quoits". BBC. 2007-11-12. Archived from the original on 2006-10-09. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  11. ^ "Mount Bures Quoits League". Archived from the original on 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
  12. ^ "Bures Quoits League".
  13. ^ "QUOITS - USQA.ORG - The United States Quoiting Association - Governing Body for Modern-day American Quoits". Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Home". Mccsql.tripod.com. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  15. ^ a b c d James Masters. "Indoor Table Quoits - Online guide". Tradgames.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  16. ^ The Builth Wells and District League
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  20. ^ http://www.quoitsdirect.com/OrganizedLeagues/CohnsLeague.htm[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]