I have played many a game of marbles in my time but never Trianhole, a game that was produced by Gloucester-based Glevum Games in the 1920s. Its rather odd name is an amalgam of two of its principal components, a cardboard sheet with a fold which when placed on a table created a triangle or a ramp, the table itself forming one of the sides. What geometers would regard as the hypotenuse contained coloured squares and holes, making a target for the game. Triangle, holes, trianhole – clever!
The game was simplicity itself and could accommodate any number of players, making it ideal for family parties and impromptu gatherings of friends. The manufacturers doubtless envisaged hours of fun although I would think its attractions would pall on me fairly quickly.
Each player has a ball, initially in the earliest versions of the game made from wood, but later replaced with some made of glass which looked suspiciously like marbles and which any self-respecting child of the time would have in their toy cupboard. The idea was to roll the ball/marble up the slope made by the hypotenuse of the triangle and try to get the ball down one of the holes. Each player has four attempts.
The original version of the game came with a cardboard target with thirteen holes. The highest scoring hole was worth 50 points and was at the top of the board. The hole at the bottom of the board was worth just 5 points. The other eleven holes comprised of 3 worth ten each, two worth 15, a further two worth 20, another two worth 25, and two worth 30. The winner was the first to score one hundred points, although such was the fun and excitement generated that some mavericks chose to set their own winning score to achieve.
The later edition, the one using marbles, had a board with twenty scoring holes, set out in five rows consisting of four holes per row. The top score was no longer 50 but a more modest twenty, although by way of compensation, there were two of them, one in the top left corner and the other in the top right. The lowest scoring hole was still five but there were now four of these blighters, occupying the middle columns of the second and third rows down. It is easy to imagine that these were the most regularly visited. To complete the matrix, there were eight holes which were worth ten points each and six worth fifteen.
Each ball was a different colour – red, blue, yellow or green – and the squares in which the holes were positioned were also coloured, using the same scheme, although there seemed to be some randomness as to which colours had which square. Perhaps to compensate for the downgrading of the scores, any player who rolled their ball into a hole in a square with a matching colour, ie rolling a red ball into a red square, would be rewarded for their enterprise by being awarded double points.
Alas, this rather innocent and simple game ran its course and holed out, falling by the wayside shortly after the Second World War. Sets are still available and can cost a collector £40 easily.