Snobs & Jacks 

Best known as ‘Snobs’ in Nottingham but perhaps more commonly known as ‘five stones’ elsewhere this is truly an ancient game! There is much evidence to show this game has been played for over 2,000 years in both Classical Greece and Rome and it was likely played in ancient Egypt too. Although it is not certain to have been played in Britain for this long, there are records of it being played from the 1580’s onwards. In their book “Children’s Games with Things”, Iona and peter Opie said “There is probably no country in the world where Fivestones is not played.  

There are many different names and terms used when playing snobs, almost as many as for marbles It is also called ‘knucklebones’ or ‘astragals’, the Latin name for a bone in the ankle, since it was commonly played with small bones. Alleygobs, Checkers Chucks, Dabs, Dibs, DidsJackstones and Jicks are just some of regional variations of the name. 

The pieces used were often made from clay or chalk, and are dice sized cubes, being flat on sides and had ridges on other 4. 

Jacks however are 3D star shaped and usually made from metal and played with a small rubber ball. 

Snobs / Fivestones How To Play: 

There are lots of variations and different games played, some common themes are: 

Stage 1: 

Hold the 5 snobs in the palm of your hand.  

Throw them up in the air(tip: not too high!) 

Turn hand over and try and catch all the stones on the back of your hand 

If you don’t catch any stones you are out of the game 

Any stones you don’t catch must stay on the ground 

Throw stones that are on the back of your hand and try and catch them back in the palm 

Just keep 1 stone in your hand and put any others you caught to on side 

Stage 2: “Onesies” 

Now you must in turn try and pick up any stones that remain on the ground 

Throw the 1 remaining stone in the air 

While it is in the air you have to try and pick up 1 stone from the ground and then catch the other stone on its way down 

Repeat this on your turn until you have all the stones back in your hand 

Each stage has it’s own name – “I’m on twosiesthreesies” and so on…….. 

If you drop your thrown up stone during this sequence your turn ends. 

Fivesies - Another player places the five snobs on the back of your hand. The aim is to throw them all up in the air and catch as many as you can in the same hand. 

Nelson’s Column – This game starts with a tower of 4 stones. Throw up the 5th stone, remove the top stone from the tower and catch the thrown stone. Repeat the sequence with each stone in the tower. If you knock the tower over your turn ends. 

Taking turns – in most games your turn ends if you fail to complete the move correctly. It then moves to the next player. On your next turn you begin from the last sequence you attempted.  

'Jacks' Jacks is played in a very similar way to snobs. A small rubber ball is used as the throwing piece whilst trying to pick up and catch the jacks.