Shove Ha'Penny: The Olde Tyme British Pub Game

A few years back my granddad (who is 86) wanted to support my new hobby and get me a board game for Christmas. Of course he wasn't exactly up to date on the latest titles floating around the market. But he did have something from back when he lived in England. He called it Shove Ha'penny, and described it like shuffle board.

It wasn't exactly what I had in mind all those years ago, but I thanked him for it anyway and then stuffed it in my closet. Little did I know, shove ha'penny would be one of the most fun drinking games I have ever played.

After a few beers, me and a friend were bored and decided to pull it out and give it try. It was a blast!

The rules are simple. You place the shove Ha'Penny Board on a table one of two ways; which I am going to call Oxford, and Bar Rules. Oxford rules has the board the table at a slant so that it sits like this:

For bar rules, the board sits like this firmly against the edge of the table:

If you happen to know which of these is the "correct" way of setting up the board, let me know! We did a bunch of research and found examples of both. With no definitive answer as to what was correct.

The object of the game is to score three points in all of the nine rows up the board. The first player to do so wins.

A pair of you, or two teams, take turns sliding five ha'pennies up the board. You start by placing one of your ha'pennies on the edge of the board, and then sliding them up the board by shoving, flicking, etc.

This is how your ha'penny should be before flicking it.
After you have flicked all 5 of your pennies, you then see if you scored a point in any of the rows. The ha'penny has to be in-between the lines dividing the rows to count as a point.  If the ha'penny is touching the line in anyway, even by a hair, then it is not a valid point. We like run a business card along the line with all participants viewing to see if the coin moves. Apparently there are even fancier boards that have arms that raise up on each line. But I couldn't find any modern examples of them.

After you have scored three pints in any row (there 9 rows in total) that line is finished. Any further points scored in this row will go to the other player. So if I have 3 points in row 5 and score a fourth point, that would give my opponent one point in row 5. If your opponent already has three points as well, then no point is awarded. The match point cannot be given in this manner, and must be scored by the shooting player.

Another rule is that if when shoving your penny it does not leave the starting area, you may push it again.

And that is the entire game. It is pretty long, but ridiculously fun. It also has an incredible history.

It turns out that the game (in one form or another) dates back to the Saxons, and was ever more recently the favourite parlour game of King Henry the VIII. The latter, it is said would place a bet of £45 per game. That is 6 times the yearly salary of a labourer of that era, and worth around £21,000* in today's money.

The boards themselves today, sell for between $100-$300 CAD on Ebay, but you could just as easily make one your self. You can even get the old Ha'pennies from Ebay for around $10. Which of course I had to.

However you could also save the money and buy washers of the same size, which are about an Inch.

Make sure you keep your board good and chalky so that the pennies slide over it without skipping. For those interested I can give you the dimensions of my board so you can make your own and give it a try!

And trust me it seems a little weird and boring, but you will love it, and want to play again and again.

Written by: Andrew Gregory

*I got that figure from this site:

It is about a decade out of date so this is just an approximation.

Shove Ha'Penny: The Olde Tyme British Pub Game Shove Ha'Penny: The Olde Tyme British Pub Game Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 10/01/2015 03:24:00 pm Rating: 5

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