1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Skittles

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SKITTLES (from O. Eng. sceoten, to shoot), a game played on the green or an alley with a number of " pins " of wood, which are knocked down by an oval, flattened missile called the cheese, about 10 ℔ in weight, thrown by the player. The game has been in existence for centuries in many countries under different names, quilles in France, Kegelspiel in Germany, skayles, kails, closh, cloddynge, roly-poly, Dutch bowls, &c, in Great Britain. In early days in England " sheepe's joynts " were thrown at the pins, and in many varieties of the game, for instance in the German and Dutch, balls were used, which were rolled along the ground at the pins. As now played, nine large, oval-headed pins are set up in a square, three pins on each side, with a corner angle presented to the player, who stands about 21 ft. from the pins. One step in advance is allowed in delivery. The object is to knock down the greatest number of pins in the fewest throws. In the eastern counties of England four pins only, one on each corner, are generally used. In Dutch skittles the centre pin is called the " king-pin " and often has a crown on its head. The object of this game is to knock down the " king " without touching any of the other pins, or to knock down all the other pins and leave the king. In Germany and Holland balls have always been used, and the game in that form was introduced into America from the latter country early in the 18th century, but is not now played there, being replaced by bowling.