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Skittles

Posted by Bruce Kahl on October 22, 2000

In Reply to: Re: Kittles and Beer posted by ESC on October 22, 2000

: : : : Phrase such as "This will keep you in kittles and beer"

: : : I'm sure this should be 'skittles and beer' - a very common pass-time in British pubs. Something which keeps you able to do these things could be very welcome.

: : ????
: : I didnt quite understand your post so here is a definition from Webster:

: : Main Entry: beer and skittles
: : Function: noun--plural--but singular or plural in construction.
: : Date: 1857
: : A situation of agreeable ease as in "This won't be all beer and skittles".

: So what is skittles? Something to eat or something to play? In the U.S., Skittles is a sour candy.

Skittles or Nine Pins, the forerunner of 10 pin bowling, has long been played in the Inns of England. In general, players take turns to throw wooden balls down a lane at the end of which are several wooden skittles in an attempt to knock them all over. There are a number of skittle games across England and there have been many more in the past. In Germany, in the 3rd or 4th century monks played a game with a kegel which was a club carried for self defence. In the game, the kegel represented a sin or temptation and the monks would throw stones at it until they knocked it over. The modern German term for skittles is Kegelen.

There are two 14th century manuscripts which show a game called club Kayles (from the French "quilles" or skittles) which depict a skittles game in which one skittle is bigger, differently shaped, and in most cases positioned so as to be the most difficult to knock over. The throwers launch a long club-like object at the skittles underarm. The large skittle is presumably a king pin as featured in some of the modern versions of skittles.

Ten Pin bowling is the North American version of skittles. The Dutch took skittles to America in the seventeenth century but the game fell into disrepute as it tended to attract crowds of undesirables and to be played by gamblers. Consequently, a law was introduced to ban the game but since the law only mentioned "nine pin bowling", people simply added another skittle and called the game ten-pin bowling to avoid penalty!