How to Play Shuffleboard

By James Holloway
You don't have to be on the deck of a cruise ship to play shuffleboard, but it helps.

Despite its simple rules, shuffleboard is a difficult game to master; it requires timing, coordination and control. There are two main variations of this game. In table shuffleboard, players compete to slide weights along a game table, whereas deck shuffleboard is played on a floor or ship's deck and covers a larger area.

Table Shuffleboard

Table shuffleboard uses a game table with a marked scoring area at one end. Surrounding the table is a gutter to catch weights that slide off. Each player receives a number of disc-shaped weights, usually four; the objective is to slide them across the table into the scoring zones. The furthest weight into a scoring zone receives points equal to the value of that zone. If an opponent's weight is already in the scoring zone, the player must try to pass it or bump it into the gutter with her own weight. There are a number of rule variations, with different numbers of players and different point totals required to win -- the higher the number of players, the more points required to win, and vice versa.

Deck Shuffleboard

In deck shuffleboard, also called outdoor shuffleboard, two players or teams play on a long outdoor court. This court has scoring areas at either end as well as a "10-off" zone. A weight in the 10-off area removes points from the player's score. Players use long broom-shaped cues to slide their weights -- also called "biscuits" -- across the court, trying to land them in scoring areas and knock their opponents' into the 10-off zone. The scoring areas at either end are used to speed up the game; once the first round or "frame" is over, both players or teams simply move to the other end of the court and shoot from there.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.