Toptafel, Table Toupie is a game primarily popular in America, France, Belgium Holland although it probably first originated in England or France. The correct name for the game has not been ascertained. In North America is often just called "Skittles" which confuses matters since that is the name of the much older European ancestor. Other possibilities are "Racketeer" and "Devil amongst the Tinkers" but whatever the name, the game can be lots of fun albeit almost totally down to pure luck. Being a simple traditional game without governing body, variations of equipment and rules abound. Where there is doubt, the locally played rules should always apply.
See also: Toptafel.
A Devil Amongst the Tinkers game consists of several skittles or pins, a top and a string to launch it (usually with spares) and specially designed table. There are no standards and various designs for the table, skittles and top exist. The table is a rectangular area enclosed by walls on all four sides. Walls within the game segment off several rooms but spaces in the walls allow the tops to enter and leave the rooms.
At one end of the table, a hole in the end wall allows a top to rest against the side wall and the string to be pulled through the hole thus launching the top into the game. In each room and in various places in the central area of the game table, a small round circle on the floor of the game box indicates that a skittle should stand at that point. A number within the circle indicates the score that is made by toppling the pin that stands on that circle. Sometimes, a few of the circles have negative numbers within them indicating that this number of points is deducted if that pin is toppled.
To prepare the game for play, the skittles are erected on the points marked on the game surface.
As an example, the game sold by Masters Traditional Games incorporates 15 skittles. The pins in the closest rooms to the starting point are worth -10, the furthest rooms are worth 50 & 100 and the central area pins are worth 5 and 10 points.
Each turn consists of a single launch of the top into the game table. The string is round around the top and the top positioned in it's starting position at one end of the game. The string is then swiftly pulled away from the table spinning the top into the table. The turn finishes when the top comes to a halt and the points for each of the pins toppled is then calculated.
A typical game will consist of each player taking 5 turns to spin 5 tops. The total of the scores at the end determine the winner.