Jacks or Knucklesbones

Players: 1 

A traditional game of skill and hand eye coordination.

How to Play 

The game is played with 10 jacks or crosses.  There are many different versions of the game of Jacks, but try this one first.  Place all jacks on the floor or table, throw the ball into the air, gather up the required number of jacks and, with the same hand, catch the ball before it bounces.  It's usual to start the game picking up one ball, then two, etc.  Pick up the prescribed number of jacks and then pick up the remainder in one swoop. For the easier game allow the ball to bounce once while picking up the jacks. Alternatively throw up one or two jacks into the air and catch them on the back of your hand, then continue in sequence with all jacks.

Top Tips

Heavier jacks or crosses such as those made from metal are easier to play with that those made of lighter weight plastic. When throwing the jacks down to start the game, try to keep them reasonably close together but without being piled on top of each other. Try double bounces of the ball for beginners. 


The first mention of games like Jacks was in Greek history and then found in Roman Britain (see History of Toys) when easily obtainable items such as stones, bones and nuts were used in games.  Girls and young women used to play ‘knucklebones’ by throwing the bones into the air, then trying to catch them on the back of their hand.Playing with bones in some form would have been the forerunner of many games including dice games. The original knucklebones have been changed into the modern day 6 pointed ‘jack’ or star shape. 

Alternative names: Astragaloi, Dibs, Dibstones, Five Stones, Snobs 

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