Jacks Game

Traditional Jacks from otherland
Also known as Jackstones, Jackrocks or Knucklebones...

The traditional game of Jacks is very old and was probably played as far back in time as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece - and perhaps even further back than that. It was a child's game born out of imagination, at a time when there were very few purpose made toys for kids.

Originally the 'Jacks' were small pebbles or bones found by children and made into a game which involved tossing them in the air. Eventually they were made out of clay, ivory, wood or bone and in more recent times, plastic and metal.

It's amazing how such extremely old games can transcend time and while this particular game may have lost some ground to the tech generation, it's still hanging in there and is played in many parts of the world. The beauty of Jacks is that, like marbles, it's inexpensive fun, employs manual dexterity and can be played just about anyway...on the bedroom floor, in the street or the playground,

Plastic Jacks from the 1960s.
The Rules of Jacks
  • Find a friend and a clear space, preferably on the ground and toss to see who has first go
  • Gather your ten Jacks and scatter them on the floor in front of you, facing your opponent
  • Toss the ball in the air with your throwing hand
  • Ok, now while the ball is in the air, with the same throwing hand, pick up one Jack (onesies)
  • Keep repeating 'till you have picked up all the Jacks. If you wish you can put the Jacks you capture into a pile before you throw the ball again, rather than leaving them in your hand.
  • Note: If you slip up, you have to give your opponent a turn. If they slip up then you can pick up where you left off, wherever you were in the sequence.
  • If you've been successful toss the Jacks out on the floor again
  • Throw the ball in the air
  • This time you have to pick up two Jacks at a time
  • Then three at a time and the one left over
  • Then four at a time and the two left over
  • Then five at a time 
  • Finally you have to pick up ten at a time
  • Then go backwards down to onesies
  • Remember:if at any time you slip up, your opponent gets a go. The champ is the first one to complete the whole sequence.

Although it's not quite as much fun, you can also play Jacks by yourself, just to hone your skills. There are also more advanced Jacks games, involving  Flipping, Pigs in a Pen and Around the World. Read about them here.

Jumbo Jacks from Amazon