Quoits is a ring toss game that is similar to cornhole, bocce, and horseshoes in both scoring and game play. The object of the game is to throw your rings (quoits) close to or on top of the pin that protrudes from the board. Quoit boards are often square and placed 18 feet apart, pin to pin. The rings are usually made of plastic, metal, rope, or rubber.
This article describes the traditional game of quoits, which contains four rings, two per team, as well as square boards with one pin per board. The image above is a family quoit set that has multiple pins and different point values per pin. These sets are often played in backyards as part of cookouts, family reunions, and other social gatherings.
Quoit matches are made up of innings (also called frames and rounds). Each inning, both players throw all of their quoits, amounting to two each and four total. Players can throw their quoits from either side of the board and both players can throw from the same side. Once a player throws their quoit, they must throw their remaining quoits from the same side for the rest of the inning. Win tossing their quoits, the players cannot let their foot go past the front of the board. The player who scored in the previous inning goes first. If neither player scores in an inning, the last person to score a point throws first.
Quoits can be played as doubles or singles. When played as doubles, the four players split into two teams of two. One player from each team is present at each quoit board. Play begins by a player tossing their first quoit. Next, the opposing team's player from the same end tosses their quoit. The two players continue alternating until both of their quoits are tossed. Once all quoits are tossed, the two players at the other end (other quoit board) alternate tossing all of their quoits. Singles play follows the same pattern, with two exceptions. First, each team consists of one player instead of two. Secondly, after each player tosses both their quoits, the players walk to the other board. They continue tossing their quoits and alternating boards.
Scoring in quoits is fairly straightforward. A team can score zero, one, two, four, or, on rare occasions, six points per inning. When a quoit hits the ground, it is considered dead and cannot be scored. In addition, a quoit that lands on the board, but upside down is also considered dead and counts as zero points. A quoit that hits the ground and lands on the board is considered dead and not eligible to be scored. If it hits other quoits that are in play, the quoit that hit the ground is removed and the other quoits are repositioned to their previous spots.
After all four quoits are thrown, the quoit nearest the pin receives one point. If a team has the closest two quoits to the pin, they receive two points. A quoit that finishes leaning against the pin or dangling from the top of the pin receives one point. A ringer in quoits is worth three points. If a player throws a ringer and then throws another ringer directly on top of their previous one, they receive six points. If a player throws a ringer directly on top of the opponent's ringer, they receive three points. If a player gets a ringer and their opponent throws a ringer on top of it and then they throw a ringer on top of it, they receive three points.
There are two ways to win. First, when 21 points is reached the game ends. Secondly, if four ringers are thrown, the team that threw the last quoit wins the game. Some people use go-back scoring, which means a team must land on 21 exactly. If they go over, they go back to either 13 or 15 depending on the variation used.
The game of quoits originated in ancient Greece. The game was eventually picked up by the Roman army and spread across mainland Europe into Britain. In the beginning, the Greeks took horseshoes and bent them in to circles. Because the horseshoes were heavy, quoits was originally a game of distance. People would see who could throw the rings the furthest. At some undocumented time in history, it is believed quoit players took the game to the next level by placing a spike in the ground to form a target for their quoits. This transformed quoits from a game of distance to a game of accuracy.
In England, quoits became so popular that Edward III and Richard II banned them to encourage the practice of archery. There is, however, evidence that quoits became a highly organized sport, regardless of the many attempts to ban it from pubs and establishments throughout England.
The game of quoits existed for years before it was finally documented. It wasn't until 1881 that the first set of official rules were put on paper. The official rules were released in an edition of The Field by a body formed from pubs in Northern England.
Today, quoits is played all over the world, including England, Great Britain, the United States, Greece, and hundreds of other countries.
Quoits, like most other games, has its own terminology. Below are some of the terms we've used when playing quoits in the backyard.
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