So what is Steel Quoits?
The pitch is 18 yards long with a 3 feet square clay quoit bed enclosed in a wooden frame. The consistency of the clay is very important because a well thrown quoit should embed itself in the clay at an angle - the precise angle and orientation is often tactically crucial. Within the clay bed an 18 inch circle (ring) is marked around a 5/8 inches diameter hob (pin) set so it is fully imbedded within the clay, its top end flush with the smooth clay surface. Individual quoits should be no greater than 7 1/4" in diameter and no heavier than 7 1/4 lb. in weight.
A single game is played by a minimum of two people. Each person throws two quoits alternately each turn. The players then walk to the other hob, score the end and then standing alongside it, throw the quoits back at the opposite hob.
The player with the quoit nearest to the pin wins the end and scores one point. The same player will score another point if his second quoit is closer to the pin than any of his opponents quoits. The game is won by the first player to reach 31 points.
A ringer scores 2 points and is removed from the bed prior to the next throw. So the maximum points that can be scored by a player from one end is 4.
Any quoit that lands on its back (a "woman"), or which lands inclining backwards does not count and is immediately removed. Any quoit outside or touching the ring is also removed immediately.
A "cover" (quoit that covers the pin) counts before a "side-toucher" and any quoit on top of a cover cannot count as a ringer.
To assist the players, two helpers can be allocated to them. Firstly a "cleaner" can be tasked with cleaning the clay from quoits after each end. Cleaners are rarely employed these days - players tend to clean their own quoits. More vitally, each player has a "lighter". The lighter places a small piece of white paper within the bed before each throw for the player to aim at. Often this is on the pin itself, it being almost invisible in the clay at 18 yards but sometimes, the lighter will place the paper elsewhere within the bed according to the tactics of the throw. For instance, sometimes the objective might be to flip an opponent's quoit out of play. The lighter also provides the player with measurements, a description of the current state of play and tactical advice.
Also, I picked up this bit of Suffolk skwit about Steel Quoits from Holbrook in 2001 (it's not been printed before) and the Holbrook players told me it had originally come from the Tattingstone White Horse. It was not until April this year that I met the author, Charlie Haylock at the Edwardstone White Horse, who told me that it was inspired by actual events. While playing at Stoke-by-Nayland, a gentleman in pin-striped suit wandered over the road from the 'posh place' and asked "What on earth is going on here then?" Never wanting to miss the chance of a good wind up, Rhuesh proceeded to tell the said gentleman all about the game in roughly the following manner:-
Rules and hints on how to play Suffolk Steel Quoits.
1. The Rules.
A pair 0' Steel Quoits goo 7lb the pair
Yew hatter hoss't nearly a chain in th'air
'At's gotta land on a loight, in th' middle 0' a blue clay bed
'At's gotta be male soide uppards, else 'at's declared female an' dead
'At's gotta land within th' ring, th' loin yew dussent break
Remove the Quoits, clean off the clay, 'at's like granny's lardy cake
One point for a hit, two for a ringer
Fust to twenty-one, he's declared the winner.
2. Hints on how to play.
Now if you aim your Quoit to middle an' 'at hits near to middle, you're pitch 'n short so you should aim middle to far an ' you should pitch middle. What you marn't do is, if you are aim 'n middle and pitch 'n near to middle is to aim for near to middle else you'll pitch nearer still. Now if you're aimen middle an' pitch'n middle to far , you're over pitch'n so you should aim near to middle an ' you should pitch middle, shoont yer?
What you marn't do is, if you are aimen middle an' pitch'n middle to far, is then aim to middle to far else you'll pitch far to further, with a stingkt possibility of goo'n farther still.
Now if you aim your Quoit for middle an' pitch far to further, then you're hoolly over pitchen. So you should aim nearer than nearer still and you should pitch middle. What you marn't do if your aimen for the middle and pitchen far to further, is to aim far to further else you will pitch farther still, with a stingkt possibility of goo'n over Will's mother's.
Now if you're aimen middle to far, an' pitchen middle to far, or, aimen near to middle an ' pitchen near to middle, or indeed aimen far to further an' pitchen far to further, then you ought to be pitchen for middle om't yer?
(No wonder they play this in Suffolk)
Howsomever, if you're aimen near to middle an' pitchen far to further, or indeed aimen far to further an' pitchen near to middle, then yew ought to stay in the bloody bar shoon't yer! Enjoy yer Quoits together.
C.Haylock April 2001
© SUFFOLK CAMRA 2001-10
These pages have been prepared by Nigel Smith [Ipswich CAMRA Branch]
If you have information of interest then write to him today!