Thursday, 12 April 2012

Four Games for a Shove Ha'penny Board

Shove Ha'penny is the classic pub game, and ripe for revival in my opinion. It's ideally suited to the pub since the game takes up very little space, can be adapted for almost any number of players within reason, and with a variety of games possible to suit whatever time is available.

Shove Ha'penny Boards have now become quite a rarity in pubs, but the old slate or wooden boards can still be found for sale relatively easily, and inexpensively, through eBay or Antique shops. New boards are also available to buy, or you could even make your own from a suitable piece of hardwood, and a few basic woodworking tools. The coins are also still very common, in fact I've dug quite a few out of the garden over the years!

Here are four games I've played regularly, I'm sure there are many others. I believe there is a scoring game for example, using the numbers allocated to each bed, scored on a Crib Board.

The Basic Game

The basic concept of Shove Ha'penny, is to propel five old half penny coins up the surface of the board, in an attempt to land each coin squarely in one of the nine beds marked out on the playing surface. The coin needs to be clearly between the lines of the bed to count, and also remain fully within the playing area of the board. The coins can be 'shoved' up the board with the palm or heel of the hand, or indeed with a flick of the fingers if preferred. Each time a coin lands in a bed, a chalk mark is made in the appropriate scoring area at the side of the playing area. The aim is to score three times in each bed, and the first to do this in all nine beds is the winner.

One other rule is that if you have already filled a bed with three scores and get a coin in that bed again, the score goes to your opponent(s) instead, meaning that it may sometimes be necessary to use another coin to bounce the scoring coin out of that bed. However, the final winning score must be scored positively by the winning player.

Landing a coin directly into a bed such that it scores, requires some skill, and a little bit of luck, particularly when playing on a less than perfect surface, or an unfamiliar board. The principal skill of the game is in repositioning non-scoring coins already played by cannoning into them with the coin being played. A good Shove Ha'penny player can reposition the coins almost at will, and score regularly and accurately throughout the game.

The Progressive Game

This version of the game follows that of the basic game, but with one important difference. When all five coins have been played, any scoring coins are retrieved and played again, thereby making possible quite extensive 'breaks' during each players turn. This version is recommended for those of us of average skill in the game of Shove Ha'penny, and can also be used as the basis of the other games below.

First to Five

This is slightly shorter game, and is most suitable for two players (if three or more play this game, it may be First to Four, or even Three, and a draw is also possible). The game is played in the same way as the basic or progressive game, but the winner will be the first to fill a sufficient number of beds such that the opponents cannot equal this number. For example, in a two player game, the first to fill five of the nine beds is clearly the winner. In a three player game, five beds would win, but so too would four if the other players have two beds each. There would also be the possibility of all players finishing with three beds, which is perhaps not ideal.

Shove Ha'penny Solo

It's even possible to play a solitaire game on a Shove Ha'penny board. Play the basic or progressive game, and after each turn, chalk a mark in the opposite bed number 1. After the second turn, chalk a mark in bed number 2. You have until all nine beds are marked to either score all your beds, or achieve a high score. If you have already scored three times in a bed and land a coin in it again, remove a score so that you will have to score in that bed once more. This is a good game for practise. I've never yet managed to fill all nine beds, even using the progressive rules.

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