I apologise in advance for the quality of these images - the lighting conditions were not optimal when they were taken. Until I can brighten them, I suggest turning up your monitor brightness, watching them on a Mac or an SGI which has a gamma corrected display, and squinting.
Thanks to Sly for his assistance in filming these shots.
|A tiddlywinks set (24 winks) and pot, on a mat, with a normal and a phonecard squidger. The tools of the trade.|
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|The squop is the most important shot in the winker's repertoire, involving the placement of the played wink on top of another wink - thus stopping the covered wink from being played, and stopping it from contributing to the score of its owning player. A squop is typically played with the squidger tilted towards the direction of travel of the played wink. Where possible, most people find it easier to squop towards themselves, moving the squidger off the end of the wink most distant from themselves. Many players use a squopping motion, playing away from themselves, to bring winks into the game from the baseline. Squopping sends a wink in quite a low trajectory.|
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|The pot is the most obvious shot in Tiddlywinks,
but often plays a relatively minor role in a game - at least until
the last few rounds. Although a potted wink contributes three
tiddlies, as compared to one tiddly for an uncovered wink and none
for a covered wink, it is generally more beneficial to keep winks
in play for as long as possible. A colour with five potted winks
can often find itself squopped up and unable to manoeuvre, giving
its opponents the opportunity to pot all six winks unhindered and
free to win the game at their leisure.
That said, it is very important to be able to pot reliably when it becomes necessary, especially towards the end of the game, when your opponent does not have time to counterattack. If a player pots a wink of his colour, that player gets another shot; hence experienced players will often leave it until the last round of a game before starting to pot, but may then still be able to pot all six winks to win.
To play a potting shot, the squidger is placed fairly near the centre of the wink, tilting away from the pot. It is then pulled off the back edge of the wink. The faster the squidger is pulled back, the higher the trajectory of the wink. The angle of tilt varies with distance from the pot - a wink near the pot requires an almost vertical squidger, pulled back over the wink quickly (with a twisting motion of the wrist), whereas to pot a wink from the baseline the squidger needs to be almost horizontal. The pressure required on the wink obviously also increases, and baseline shots are normally played two-handed to steady the squidger. Most people prefer to pot towards themselves, as with squopping, but there are a few who prefer to stand at a right angle to the direction of the shot, in order to better judge the length of the shot (bringing in obviously happens away from the player, typically allowing the player to lean on the wink to give it the required range).
As well as putting winks in the pot, potting style shots are often used for bringing in, especially with a smaller squidger, since it is easier to see the wink and to keep digits out of the way with a potting shot. The disadvantage mainly comes from the high trajectory, which can cause unpredictable bounces. Potting shots can also be used to "bomb" piles - a large wink landing from a height can radically alter the shape of a delicate stack of winks.
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|A squidger made from a phone card is used to pot
winks that are extremely close to the pot, and can be effective
even with fully nurdled winks (i.e. those not just partly under the
rim of the pot, but actually touching the base of the pot). Potting
nurdled winks tends to require a certain amount of luck, since
whether the wink goes past the lip of the pot depends on the angle
of the rotating wink in-flight; however, if the wink does not
strike the rim on the way up, the rotation can help the wink to
To pot with a phone card, the squidger, held almost vertically, is pressed down hard on the centre of the wink. As the squidger bends, it is pulled back and twisted very quickly; the flexibility of the card gives a faster pull-back and hence a more vertical shot than would otherwise be the case. Care must be taken that the squidger does not slide of the wrong side of the wink and send it flying off the table (so that the player misses a shot), though. Careless use of a phone card while leaning over the pot is also the most common cause of a wink in the eye. Phone cards tend to work better with small winks than with large ones, since it is difficult to get much power into the shot.
|A chip shot is used when the owner of a wink on
top of a pile wants to remove another wink from the pile, while
leaving the rest of the pile intact. Often the best tactic when
landing on a pile in which one's winks are underneath is simply
to blow the pile apart. However, for small piles or piles which
it would be useful to retain because they also contain a number
of opposing winks, it can be worth trying more subtle tactics.
Because it is only legal to touch winks vertically under the one first played, pile play of this kind often requires independent adjudication. In addition, it must be the top surface of the wink that is played first, so it is not legal to merely brush the side of a wink.
In order to play a chip shot, the first thing needed is a steady hand. The second is usually a sharp squidger. The trick is to hit the top wink as lightly (and as near the edge) as possible, and to apply more force to the lower wink. It can be useful to have a squidger you can slide in at an angle under the top wink, although the movement of the squidger must be short, smooth and continuous. A small squidger can come in handy in avoiding winks in the same pile which it is not legal to play.
|A boondock is typically used to free a wink from the top of a squop, often as a precedent to potting it. In the process, since the lower wink is no longer squopped, it is usually sent as far away as possible (technically, it's just a dock unless the lower wink goes off the table). If played properly, the upper wink normally does not move very far. Naturally, the more completely the upper wink covers the lower, the harder it is to apply force to the lower wink. As with a chip shot, the trick is to brush the upper wink gently and apply a lot of force to the lower wink. Typically the lower wink is played out squop-style, with the upper wink pushed off around the circumference of the squidger, or pushed off the bottom of the squidger. Since a boondock aims to send the wink a long way away, the wink is normally sent away from the player.|
|The John Lennon Memorial Shot (or Lennon for short) is a combination boondock and squop. The wink to be squopped must be fairly close to the previous squop, of course. A refinement of the boondock, the trick is to clip the topmost wink just sufficiently to send it in the right direction, while still putting enough power into the lower wink to dock it.|
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|The Bristol is a squop, but rather than
moving a single wink, a pile is moved. This has the advantage
over a Lennon that both opposing winks are squopped, but should
the shot miss or the pile separate, the danger of leaving the
opponent with means of claiming the pile is greater. A Bristol
requires that the uppermost wink be towards the back of the
lower one, from the point of view of the target wink. This only
really applies to the backmost surface, though, so a 'mushroom'
big-on-little squop can be Bristolled in any direction.
There are two common approaches to playing Bristols; the first is to play the upper wink squop style, making sure that enough force is on the lower wink to move it. The second, more common in Cambridge, is to use the squidger in the plane of the direction of movement, with the circular edge of the squidger used to push the winks almost horizontally. The further the line of the centre of the winks is from the desired direction of travel, the harder the shot.
If a pile of winks needs to be moved at right angles to its line, the best approach is to use a large squidger and to try to play them evenly - this is less reliable than a Bristol, and is generally not safe for great distances.
At the other extreme, if the bottom-most wink is behind the uppermost in the desired direction of travel (or if you have a 'fried egg' little-on-big squop), a gromp must be played, in which both winks are played, squop-style, in one movement. It can take considerable skill to keep the winks together (which is why there isn't an animation).
Technically, the names Bristol and gromp are applied to the movement of the piles, rather than whether they result in squopping a wink. Small piles can often take several goes to merge as they Bristol towards each other.
Another shot, played in a similar manner to a Cambridge Bristol, is the Good Shot. If a small, flat wink is very close to a tall pile, this shot can be used to try to dismantle the pile from underneath. The tactic is to use a small, thick squidger in the plane of the direction of travel, but to press the wink very hard into the mat. The squidger is then drawn back very quickly, and the wink should travel very fast and low into the pile. It's a risky shot, because if the wink gets too much lift and misses the pile it can easily go off the table.
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|A flip shot tries to invert a pile - or
more usually part of a pile. For example, if blue lands on a
yellow, which is in turn on a red (red and blue being
partnerts), blue can try to invert the red and yellow,
sending itself clear. Generally a pile-flip should be played
quite gently, running the squidger down line of exposed winks
in a gentle form of a potting motion.
While spectacular, this shot is usually not too difficult, although there is often less risk of losing a squop if the bottommost wink can simply be chipped out. A pile flip does rely on the winks being set up favourably, and the top wink will often travel unpredictably.
|A lunch is a shot where a squopped wink
is potted - as opposed to potting the top wink off a pile.
There are generally two reasons you would want to do this.
The first is that through some misfortune you are on top
of your partner's wink, and it is important that your
partner gains the tiddlies - although unless a pile has
just been blown there are usually other winks in the pile
too. The second is to leave yourself with a flat wink
while not leaving a marauding opposing wink. If it is
hard to boondock the squopped wink, or if you wish your
opponent to remain squopped-up, a lunch may be the way to
go about it.
To play a lunch, the upper wink should more-or-less be ignored, with the proviso that the squidger must hit it first. The shot is not dissimilar to playing an air-shot, where one cannot rest on the wink being played.
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