Table shuffleboard

Table shuffleboard

Table shuffleboard (also known as American shuffleboard or indoor shuffleboard or Shufflepuck) is a game in which players push metal-and-plastic weighted "pucks" (also called "weights") down a long and smooth wooden table into a scoring area at the opposite end of the table. Shooting is performed with the hand directly, as opposed to deck shuffleboard's use of cue sticks.


Back in 15th Century England, folks played a game of sliding a "great" (a large British coin of the day worth about four pence) down a table. The game was called shove-groat and/or slide-groat. Later, a silver penny was used and the name of the game became shove-penny and/or shovel-penny. The game was played by the young and old, and was a favorite pastime in the great country houses of Staffordshire, Winchester and Wiltshire.

Shuffleboard was popular among the English soldiers as well as the colonists. In his play, "The Crucible," concerning the historic witch trials of Salem, Mass., Arthur Miller wrote: "In 1692, there was a good supply of ne'er-do-wells who dallied at the shuffleboard in Bridget Bishop's Tavern." That item provides a written record of the entrance of the game into the New World. The fame of the game spread, and soon it came upon the public scene in more ways than one.

In 1848, in New Hanover, Pennsylvania, a case of "The State vs. John Bishop" to decide the question, "Is shuffle- board a game of chance or a game of skill?" came up for trial. The judge ruled thus: "Though the defendant kept a public gaming table, as charged, and though diverse persons played thereat and bet spirituous liquors on the game, the game was not a game of chance, but was altogether a game of skill." The game shed its crude beginnings when American cabinetmakers such as Hepplewhite and Duncan Phyfe turned out some of their finest inlaid cabinet work on shuffleboard game tables for the wealthy homes of New York City.

By 1897, table shuffleboard rated as much space in the metropolitan newspapers in the New York City area as prizefighting and baseball. Highly publicized tournaments played by such colorful characters as "Big Ed" Morris, Dave Wiley, Alex Scott, Ed Gardland, and George Lavender drew hordes of fans. The fans faithfully followed the players to tournaments in New York City; Newark, Paterson, Hoboken, Jersey City and Bloomfield, New Jersey, and even into Philadelphia. The fans included important figures of the business, theatrical, and political worlds. Shuffleboard made its way across the country.

In 1904, Gentleman Jim Corbett, an avid player, had a tavern owner named Croll install a table in his Alameda, California,' pub. "Doc" Croll, his son, claimed it was the first shuffleboard in that part of the country. World War II opened the "Swinging Forties" and shuffleboard really came into its own. The intrinsic appeal of the game -- skill, diversity, competitiveness, availability to young and old, strong and disabled, the serious game, the fun game, offered the kind of release needed in those turbulent years. Hollywood climbed on the shuffleboard bandwagon and took it up, at first, as a source of good publicity. Then when the pin-up girls and bandleaders and actors discovered they really liked the game, shuffleboards found their way into the studios and homes of the stars. People like Betty Grable, Harry James, Merv Griffin, Alan Ladd, all had their own shuffleboards.

Shuffleboard grew to its greatest height in the 1950s. Most major shuffleboard manufacturers sponsored nationwide shuffleboard tournaments. These were the biggest tournaments ever held; one had 576 teams participating. Fierce competition among major manufacturers and suppliers, lack of uniform rules and organization, the inability to gain sponsorship of the sport, and general internal strife in all facets of shuffleboard, led to a demise of the game in the '60s and '70s. Some feared it was damaged beyond "repair," but others invested their time, efforts and talents to breath life into the sport that they loved. That dedication paid off; by the mid-'80s, shuffleboard experienced a revival, a revival that has extended and strengthened in the '90s. While organization, cooperation and communication have been key elements in the revival of shuffleboard, probably the most important factor has been an almost universal realization in The World of Shuffleboard that new young shooters will be the continued lifeline of the sport. Across the nation, established shooters have made it their top priority to help novice players develop their talents and nurture their enthusiasm for league and tournament play. []


Shuffleboard tables vary in length, usually within a 9–22 foot range and are at least 20 inches wide. Tables are intended to be kept level, but any given table may have its own slight slope, adding an extra challenge. In order to decrease friction, the table is periodically sprinkled liberally with tiny, sand-like beads of silicone (often referred to as "shuffleboard wax" or sometimes as "shuffleboard sand"). These beads act like ball bearings, letting a puck slide down the table a great distance with only a slight push.

Each end of the table is divided into three scoring sections by straight lines across the width of the table. The scoring sections extend from the very edge of either end of the table towards the middle of the table, covering approximately one-third of the length of the table. The outer scoring section, at the very end of the table, covers approximately 4 to 5 inches from the edge, and is labeled with the number "3" in the middle (for "3 points"). The next section is adjacent to this section, of equal length, and is labeled with a "2." The final section, "1", is adjacent to section "2." This section is about 4 times the length of the first two sections. The center third of the table is unmarked. The line that separates the center third of the table and the beginning of the "1 point" section is called the "foul line" (a weight which does not pass the foul line closest to the player is removed from the table for the round). The table is surrounded by a gutter, or "alley"; pucks that accidentally fall, or are knocked, into a gutter are out of play for the rest of the round.

Game play


In general, players take turns sliding, or "shuffling," the weights to the opposite end of the board, trying to score points, bump opposing pucks off the board, and/or protect their own pucks from bump-offs. Points are scored by getting a weight to stop in one of the numbered scoring areas. A weight must cross the line marking a scoring area completely to receive the points for that area; for example, a weight that's stopped partially in the 3-point area and partially in the 2-point area will only receive 2 points. A weight that's hanging partially over the edge at the end of the table in the 3-point area, called a "hanger" (or sometimes a "shipper"), usually receives an extra point.

Weights that haven't passed the foul line closest to the player are removed for the round. Pucks that fall off or are bumped off the table into the gutter are removed from play for the round. No points are tabulated until the end of the round.

When all weights have been shuffled, the player with the puck closest to the far edge of the table takes points for all pucks that are ahead of their opponent's furthest shot. The other player does not take points. For example: there is a red puck in 3, a red in 2, a blue in 1, and two red pucks in 1 but further away from the end of the table than the blue puck. Red player would receive 5 points, blue player does not score.


In one-on-one, each player is assigned a color of puck (4 pucks per player). Play begins at one end of the table, and each player alternates shuffling one weight at a time down towards the opposite end of the table (which becomes the "scoring end" of the table), until all 8 pucks have been shuffled. Each player tries to either land her puck closest to the end of the table, knock the opponent's pucks off the table, knock their own puck into a higher scoring area, or position a puck so that it will block their opponent from being able to hit another puck off the table.

This finishes the "round." Play then continues from the other end of the table, where the pucks have come to rest. When a set number of points has been reached by a player (often 15 or 21), that player has won that "frame." A "match" consists of a predetermined number of frames.


In two-on-two, teammates stand on the opposite end of the table and play every other round, shooting from alternating ends of the table (i.e. two games are effectively played at once, with team scores combined). Sometimes players will switch to the other end of the table between frames.

An unofficial but common variation has all players at one end of the table. Each player will have 2 weights/shots per round. Teams alternate turns, with each teammate shooting every other turn.


While there are some official rules agreed upon by shuffleboard organizations, players should be aware that it can be a very informal and spontaneous game, and as such, regional variations and house rules abound. There are some differences by country, as well.

In Canada, the game is played under rules approved by the Canadian Shuffleboard Congress. Except in certain tournaments, in one-on-one play, games are played to 15. Two-person teams compete until one team reaches 21 points. In both cases, a frame consists of four stones (pucks) per player.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Halifax Shuffleboard Association can be contacted at It provides City League statistics, as well as links to recent tournament results and contact information for those in search of shuffleboard supplies, equipment, and local services.

Variants and related games


A variant of table shuffleboard, more clearly related to billiards and air hockey, is bankboard (often simply called shuffleboard by its players), in which the player may bounce the puck off one of the rubber cushions or "banks" that run the length of both long sides of the table (in place of gutters), e.g. to go around an interfering puck. Bankboard tables are within the shorter range of table sizes (usually 12–13 ft long) and so can be useful for maximizing revenue per square foot of floorspace in a bar or other venue.


A Dutch variation known as "Sjoelbak" and verb "Sjoelen", apparently influenced by bagatelle (a pinball ancestor), bar billiards,skeeball, miniature golf and related games, makes use of a unidirectional long board placed on a table in which the goal is to slide 30 wooden pucks towards the end of the board and try to have them enter through small open doorways or arches into numbered scoring boxes. Each player has 3 sub-turns to get as many pucks in the scoring boxes. The boxes are numbered from left to right: 2, 3, 4 and 1. The most intriguing rule is that for each set of pucks (a puck in every box) they count double so instead of 10 points for a set you will get 20 points for each set. The maximum score is 148 which is accomplished by getting 7 pucks in 1, 7 pucks in 3, 9 pucks in 4 and 7 pucks in 1. It totals to 7x20 +4+4 = 148. The most famous manufacturers of "sjoelbak" boards are Homas, Heemskerk Sport and Schilte, who mass-produce the game for the continental European market and most recently North America.

hove ha'penny

An even more miniaturized British related game, with a much less elongated board and many more scoring zones, is played with coins and known as shove ha'penny.Cite web| url= |title=Shove Ha'penny: History and Useful Information|work=The Online Guide to Traditional Games|accessdate=2007-09-22|first=James|last=Masters|year=1997|location=United Kingdom] An evolutionary relationship between the game variants is uncertain, and even dubious.


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