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Article:  The Outing, March 1914

The Friendly Game of Quoits

 

 

THE FRIENDLY GAME OF QUOITS

 

By FREDERIC BRUSH

 

 

 

THE modern game of quoits, played with the sharp-edged, concave iron rings, is peculiarly adapted to wider use in country and town.  It is a friendly game, free from too intense strivings and the ill feeling of doubtful decisions, yet affording attractive test of muscle and nerve. This inherent friendliness cannot well be appreciated by one who has never taken memorable part, or been much in the groups of onlookers. It is told that men who play together at quoits cannot long hold grudges or unsettled disputes. It seems to breed fair­ness and social equality, comradeship and laughter, and a strain of clean and whole­some thought and talk. Many a neighborhood dates a distinct betterment from the time of its introduction.

A family containing boys and an old man usually starts it in the place. The peculiar clinking sound of the rings in play, or struck as they are for a special gathering call, may be heard on a quiet summer evening for a long distance.

With four playing, and a half dozen looking critically on, the game is at its best. Almost anyone possessing one hand and from nine to ninety years of age may play well at quoits. Girls enjoy it, especially with the lighter weights. It is one of the too few outdoor games in which middle-aged and old men may join on equal footing with the youths and keep alive the play-spirit that holds back decrepitude.

At times the game may take on even the larger group significance. At a county fair, after two days of ‘‘pitching,’’ the championship hung between a boy of sixteen and a veteran of sixty. It worked out to be one of the best events of the fair, and surely a character-building test for that youngster from the hills. Hundreds of people tried to see the finish, where, with five points apiece in the “rubber” game, the boy dared too much and the old man, to the accompaniment of cheers for both, won with a well-judged safety throw.

Cast-iron quoits of good weight should he provided, and metal hubs with slight if any heads, kept driven rather low. The pitching distance should be short - from sixteen to twenty feet - and always the same for any group. This gives the player clear view of the minute and changing conditions about the objective point and makes the game one of testing nerve and muscle control rather than strength, as in the old far-casting play. The frequent bending to pick up and the throw of the heavy rings give healthful, moderate exercise.

The best pitching ground is usually the firm, level border of a dirt road, or a well-packed yard free from stones; but one of the main advantages of the game is that it can be played almost anywhere on land, and that every new location, even in the same area, brings different problems. A youth once practising alone on hard ground developed the sliding and jumping trick with the inverted quoit, and, coming out quietly, defeated all his elders, until they insisted on playing half the time on soft turf, while they learned his tricks.

Quite remarkable skill is soon developed, and the game, like golf, ‘takes hold.’ It is not uncommon in a contest of experts to see a player by a single throw, on firm ground, displace his opponent’s 'ringer' and slide his own on in its stead, maybe to have this lifted away at the next throw. Now and then a game of eleven points is won in four tosses, to be long replayed by winter firesides.

In the shortening autumn evenings, with the stress of work abated, lanterns are often brought out and placed at either hub, and the game goes on with un-slackened interest, while the children play in and out of the light circles and the women come together and chat, or listen from their homes with contentment to the intermittent clinking and the explosions of cheerful voices and laughter. People driving by pause a while to watch, and all know that the day is ending neighborly and well.