I first came across the game of Kings and Queens several years ago, when it was being played at a Suffolk village fete.
After watching it being played by various groups of people, and being very intrigued by what was going on, I was very pleased to be asked if I wanted to have a go myself.
Before accepting the kind offer, though, I asked to have the rules of the game explained.
Five minutes later, I found myself immersed in a game of skill and strategy which was extremely addictive.
So, the object of this website is to explain how to play this wonderful game ..... on a lawn near you.
The game is best played on a fairly flat and level grassed area, although other surfaces may be also useable.
It can be played by individual opponents or pairs of players, of ages from about 8-years old upwards. A true family game.
The object is to knock over all the target blocks of the opposing player/couple by throwing batons (underarm) at them, without knocking over the center 'King' block
That's the simple part. The slightly more complicated part will be covered later on in the Rules section
From what I was told by the organiser of the village fete event, the game of Kings and Queens dates back to the 16th century,
when Henry VIII was seated on the throne of England.
Whether or not it was Good King Hal who devised the game is something we'll probably never know, but it makes for a good story if we go along with the idea, anyway (It's a bit like accepting that he also composed the song 'Greensleeves', instead of some underpaid minstrel).
I also have no idea as to which of his six wives he was with at the time, but obviously, from the way the game is played, he was probably thinking along the lines of adding another four to his total, sometime in the future.
The hardware needed for the games is easily constructed by anyone with access to some simple tools and offcuts of wood, and is open to individual interpretation of the sizes of the various pieces (within reasonable limits, obviously).
I'll be giving you the sizes of the pieces I made but, as these were made from memory some weeks after playing myself for the first time, these are only to be used as a guide.
Here's what you'll need, in order of simplicity, and the quantity of each part:
Marking pegs ............... 4-No.
These parts are best made from pieces of aluminium or steel tube, as they are going to be hammered into the lawn to mark out the area of the pitch, but wooden dowel could be used if you treat them carefully.
I made mine using 16mm (5/8") dia tube cut to about 250mm (10") long and, for purposes of visibilty, wrapped three different coloured bands of insulation tape around one end.
Target blocks (Queens) ...........10-No.
These blocks were cut from offcuts of 63mm (2 1/2") square wood to a length of 180mm (7").
It's also advisable to round off the long edges of these blocks, as they will be handled quite a bit by the players.
Centre block (King) ............... 1-No.
This part involves a bit more work than the others but, if my method of construction is followed, shouldn't be a problem.
I used 18 x 90mm (3/4" x 3 1/2") wood to make four identical pieces of 300mm (12") length which then had points cut on one end as shown.
The four pieces were then glued and nailed together to form what I hope looks like a crown.
Hurling batons ............... 4-No.
These parts could be made out of large wooden dowelling but I chose to make my set using 38mm (1 1/2") bore plastic waste pipe.
To add extra weight, I stuffed some old rags up the centre and then plugged the ends with pieces of wood.
Either way, the length of the batons needs to be about 200mm (8") long
The first thing to do is to mark out the size of the playing area using the 4-marking pegs.
A size of about 10-paces by 5-paces will be about right for adult players, a little bit smaller for young ones.
The centre 'King' block is placed (you guessed it) at the centre of the pitch and five of the target 'Queen' blocks are equally spaced between the marker pegs on each shorter side of the pitch. (See the main picture above to make this clear)
All four of the hurling batons are placed near the target blocks at one end of the pitch (decided by a coin toss).Go to Top of Page
For the purposes of clarity, we will assume a singles game.
The two players each stand outside the pitch, behind their respective line of target blocks.
One of the players has all 4-hurling batons (if playing in pairs, the batons would be shared 2-each).
The batons are thrown underarm at the opponent's target blocks (Queens) to try to knock them over.
If no Queens are knocked over, then the opposing player collects the batons and takes his turn to try to knock down his opponent's Queens.
However, if at end of a set of throws, any Queens have been knocked over, then they have to be thrown by their owner into their opponent's half of the pitch, where they are then stood up. (see 'strategy note' below)
Then, on the next turn, the player then has to knock down his own 'lost' Queens, before he can attempt to hit any on his opponent's base line.
At the end of his throws, any of his 'lost' Queens that he has managed to knock over are returned to him, to be replaced on his base line.
But, if any of the 'lost' Queens are not recovered by their owner, then the opposing player is allowed to move forward onto the pitch, up
to a line level with the Queen nearest to the centre block (King), and commence his set of throws from there.
This obviously gives him the advantage of a shorter throwing range to his opponents base line.
The game continues until one of the players manages to knock over all five of his opponent's Queens.
During the course of a game, should either player knock over the centre block (King), either with a baton or when throwing a Queen into his opponent's half of the pitch, then the game is declared over, and victory awarded to his opponent.
In deciding how far into the opponent's half of the pitch to throw any 'lost' Queens, it is important to weigh up the options:
If the Queen ends up just past the centre block (King), then it should be easier for you to recover it BUT, if you fail to hit it, your opponent will have a shorter throwing distance advantage on his turn.
Conversely, if you aim the Queen just inside of the opponent's base line, then it won't be so easy for you to recover it BUT, even if you fail, your opponent will only gain a small throwing distance advantage on his next turn.
One other tip.
If more than one Queen has to be thrown into the opponent's half, they will be easier to recover if they land close to each other, as you have the chance of knocking down more of them with one baton.
The best way to make the rules clear is to take you through the stages in an imaginary game and, for simplicity, we'll make it one between single players. I'll call them Lenny (on the Left, coloured blue) and Rosie (on the Right, coloured red), to correspond with the relevant diagrams.
|Lenny starts off the game but fails to
knock down any of Rosie's Queens
|Now it's Rosie's turn to play and she manages
to knock down one of Lenny's Queens.
|Lenny's turn again, but first he has to throw his
knocked-down Queen into Rosie's half of the
pitch, and it's stood upright where it falls.
|Lenny manages to hit his own Queen with his
second baton, and then goes on to get two of
Rosie's Queens as well.
|Rosie now has to return Lenny's retrieved Queen
and throw her own two knocked-down queens
into Lenny's half of the pitch.
|With her second baton, Rosie gets a hit on her
furthest Queen but misses the nearest one with the
other two batons.
|Lenny now returns a retrieved Queen to Rosie BUT,
because the other was missed, Lenny can now take
his throws from a line level with this Queen.
|Lenny knocks over a couple of Rosie's Queens
with his first two shots and then gets a third
one down with his last throw.
|Rosie's position is now quite serious, as she throws
a further three Queens into Lenny's half, aiming to
get them to fall close to her other Queen.
|Taking her throws, though, Rosie comes good by not
only hitting all four of her own Queens, but also
hits one on Lenny's base line with her last baton.
This example shows how the fortunes of the players can swing suddenly on just one throw of the batons,
making it a thoroughly enjoyable (and addictive) game
If you would like any further help on constructing or playing this exciting game, or if you could add any information to the website, then please feel free to contact me.
Webpage created: October 2014 - Last updated: 06 March 2019
Author and webmaster: Peter Attwood