Get Your Roll on at Standing Stone State Park’s Marbles Tournament
It seemed like I was always losing my marbles.
Despite what some might think about the state of my marbles these days, I’m talking about times long gone but happily spent playing marbles for keeps. As first-graders we were forbidden to “gamble” with marbles on the school grounds, but after school my pals and I regularly headed for the old sand pit behind my dad’s building supply store with our pockets full of shiny marbles.
We drew a line in the sand and whoever rolled their marble closest to that line got to go first, next closest went second and so on – if I remember correctly, we called that “lagging.” We’d play for keeps until supper time.
Our marble collections included shiny glass marbles called cat eyes that were considered the cat’s pajamas by most of us, as well as opaques and swirls that all looked pretty much like their names suggest.
The obsession with marbles and the game goes back way beyond me, my dad or even my granddad. In fact, it is an ancient past time shared by ancient Egyptians and Romans who made marbles of stone, clay and flint. But the term “marble” comes from use in Germany of white alabaster stone, a type of marble, to make dense, shiny balls considered the finest handmade marbles in the world during the 1800s.
Although a simple pleasure, rules and strategies for playing marble games can get pretty complex. Nowhere is that more true than during the 31st Annual Rolley Hole Marbles Tournament that gets underway on Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. at Standing Stone State Park.
Casual schoolyard marble games like I used to play, lessons on how to play marbles, demonstrations of flint and glass marble-making, appraisals and a day-long marble show, buy and trade swap meet are included in the day’s events.
The object of Rolley Hole marbles seems simple. But don’t be fooled.
Like golf, the object is to enter a series of holes in order as quickly as possible. Like croquet or pool, the object is to knock your opponents off course while improving your own position.
In order to win, each two-member Rolley Hole team must shoot a marble into three holes one way and then back a total of three times before the team they’re playing manages to.
It may not be kid stuff, but it’s still fun to watch some of the best marbles players in the world try to “outwit, outlast and outplay” each other. The one-of-a-kind tournament has been covered by major media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, ABC, CBS, CNN, National Geographic, Southern Living and a host of newspapers and internet sites since its founding.
For more information about this year’s Annual Rolley Hole Tournament call 931-823-6347 or visit www.tn.gov/environment/parks/StandingStone.
And if you can’t make it to Standing Stone on Sept. 14, be sure to make room in your calendar for these upcoming events at the beautiful Tennessee state park.
Sept. 28 – 2nd Annual Storytelling Festival
Oct. 12 - 16th Annual Standing Stone State Park Car Show
Nov. 16 - Big Foot Scramble 5M Run