AskDefine | Define shuffleboard

Dictionary Definition

shuffleboard n : a game in which players use long sticks to shove wooden disks onto the scoring area marked on a smooth surface [syn: shovelboard]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A game that involves sliding a puck along the ground towards a target.

Extensive Definition

Shuffleboard (more precisely deck shuffleboard, and also known as shuffle-board, shovelboard, shovel-board and shove-board [archaic]) is a game where players push weighted pucks down a narrow, elongated court with the purpose of positioning them within a marked scoring area. As a more generic term, it refers to the family of shuffleboard-variant games as a whole.


The full history of shuffleboard is not known. Though we have some knowledge of its development, its actual origins, the place and date where it was first played, remain a mystery. Inevitably, this uncertainty gives rise to some debate, even disagreement, about which country can claim to have invented it. However there is no dispute concerning its age as a form of popular amusement, and in Europe has a history that goes back over 500 years.
The earliest known name given to it is the Middle English shovillaborde; it was played and gambled at by King Henry VIII, who prohibited commoners from playing, and who evidently did not always win because the record of royal expenses for 1632 show a payment from the Privy Purse of GB£9, 'Paied to my lord Wylliam for that he wanne of the kinges grace at shovillaborde' (Modern English: 'Paid to Lord William, for he won, by the king's grace, at shovelboard').
Today, due to its popularity on cruise ships and in retirement homes because of its low physical fitness requirements, the deck game is often associated with the elderly, though its miniaturized tabletop variant is increasingly popular in bars and pubs among younger generations.

Game play

In deck shuffleboard, the players use sticks, called cues, to push weighted disks, called pucks, along a usually wooden surface (e.g. the deck of a ship), placing the disk within a triangular scoring zone at the far end of the court. The pinnacle of the triangle points toward the shooter, and the zone is divided horizontally into four numbered sub-zones, the numbers representing point values. If the disk lands completely within the small triangular tip zone without touching any part of the borders of the triangle, it is worth ten points; completely within the trapezoidal second tier of the triangle, it is worth eight points; and completely within the trapezoidal third tier of the triangle, seven points. If the disk lands in the large, rearmost and also trapezoidal '10 Off' section, it costs minus ten points. The game is played in matches of ten frames (a frame is both players or teams taking their turns). The basic strategy involves deflecting the opposition's disks out of zones with a positive value, and increasing one's own points by landing disks into areas of a high point value.
A standard deck shuffleboard court is 39–feet long by 6–ft wide. Each end of the court has a scoring triangle, obviating the need to retrieve the pucks and return to the original end of the court. Another 6–feet of space is provided at each end of the court beyond the scoring triangles, which is where the players stand, with play alternating in direction down the court after each frame.
Newer courts are now available, for use on decks or on any solid flat surface, in the form of roll-out plastic mats, or an adjustable system of plastic tiles With the tile courts, the dimensions can be adapted to the space available; e.g. it is possible to play on a court 30–ft long by 5–ft wide. The roll-out mats are available in two sizes, 39–x–6–ft and 27–ft by 4–ft–6–in. The smaller mats are designed to fit on a domestic patio or driveway. The discs and cues are the same standard sizes, regardless which court size is used.


Shuffleboard can be played either one-on-one or by two teams of two. After all pucks have been played on one 'end', only the winning puck or group of pucks scores (according to the points marked on the board). Play then continues in the opposite direction. The winner is the first to a set number of points (e.g. 15).

Table shuffleboard variants

In table shuffleboard, the play area is most commonly a wooden or laminated surface covered with silicone beads (colloquially called 'shuffleboard wax') to reduce friction. In the USA, a long, narrow 22 ft table is most commonly used, though tables as short as 9 ft are known. Players try to slide metal-and-plastic pucks, sometimes called weights or shuckles, to come to rest within zones at the other end of the board. Cues are not used, the pucks being propelled with the hands directly on the raised table. There are scoring zones at each end of the table so that direction of play can rotate after each frame, or so that teams can play both directions during one frame. More points are awarded for weights scoring closer to the far edge of the board. Players take turns sliding the pucks, trying to score points, bump opposing pucks off the board, and/or protect their own pucks from bump-offs. The long sides of the table are bounded by gutters into which pucks can fall or be knocked (in which case they are no longer in play for the remainder of the frame). A variant known sometimes as bankboard has rubber cushions or 'banks' running the length of both sides of the table, instead of gutters, and as in billiards, the banks can be used to gain favorable position. A common and even smaller-scale British tabletop variant is shove ha'penny, played with coins, while a somewhat larger wooden-puck variant called sjoelbak, which has much in common with the ball games bagatelle and skeeball, is played principally in the Netherlands.
shuffleboard in German: Shuffleboard
shuffleboard in Chinese: 沙狐球
shuffleboard in Dutch: Sjoelen
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