Created in the early 18th century, derived from Ninepins
, or Alley Skittles, and miniaturized to accommodate
table tops in pubs and inns, Devil amongst the Tailors is similar to Bowling
in the sense that the object, knocking down pin
s with a ball, is the same, but requires a fraction of the space needed for a proper game of Alley Skittles.
Nine small wooden pins are set erect on a platform within a square game board which has elevated sides to contain the pins and keep them from rolling off and becoming lost. In one corner of the board is a pole from which a small wooden or hard rubber ball is suspended by a chain. Opposite of the pole is a scoring box, resembling a cribbage board, with small pegs used to mark each player's score. The size of the game boards range from the dimension of a large book to roughly the size a picnic table.
The ball is swung at the pins in an attempt to knock them over for a score, each pin being worth 3 points, the maximum score for each turn being 27 and the winner being the first player to reach an agreed number of points.
The rather unusual name originated in the year 1783 during which the Theatre Royal, Haymarket ran a play that was paticularly offensive to tailors and family members of persons in the tailoring profession. So offensive was the stage play that a group of tailors and other theater patrons rioted during one of the performances. Unable to be controlled by the local authorities, the mob's actions resulted in the summoning of Dragoons to restore order. The Dragoons reportedly ploughed through the rioting tailors like a wooden ball through table skittles. The game has been known as "Devil amongst the Tailors" ever since.
Devil amongst the Tailors is also known as Indoor Skittles, Table Skittles, Bar Skittles, and Pub Skittles.
Oliver Willoughby - British citizen