With an ancient origin and operating under a variety of different names, few games of skill can boast the staying power of jacks. Historical evidence shows that children all over the world have been playing some form of the game for over two millennia.
The strategy behind Jacks is very simple: toss a ball in the air, pick up one or more pieces, let the ball bounce once and catch the ball before it bounces again – repeating the process until all of the pieces have been picked up.
In a traditional game, each player starts by picking up one jack per bounce (“onesies”) until all the jacks have been picked up. Subsequent rounds see an increase in the number of jacks being selected each time (“twosies”, “threesies”), until the entire set of jacks (usually 10) is reached. When a player misses the ball or doesn’t pick up the required number of jacks, a foul occurs and the next player takes their turn. The winner is the first person to complete the entire sequence.
Of course, there are as many variations of the game as there are kids that have played it. For an incredibly detailed look at the game as well as a listing of variations from around the world, check out The Jacks Book & The Jacks from author Sally Chabert.
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