“It’s like the Ten Commandments… only a little different.” – Anonymous
I. The Course
A. The game is to be played on a course consisting of five distinct fields of play known as stretches.
B. Each stretch consists of an initial throwing zone (the base), clearly marked boundaries signifying in bounds and out of bounds, and culminates with a patch of land known as the landing.
C. Stretches may include pools of water and/or any other type of natural obstacle including fire, stone, vegetation, logs, branches and other organic matter.
D. The playing surface on the stretches is made of natural materials, can vary greatly and can change throughout the course. It could consist of dirt, gravel, sand, grass, pine needles etc.
E. Stretches can take on any shape and range greatly in length (15-50 feet is suggested).
F. There should be a natural progression of the stretches in such a way that the landing of one leads to the base of the next.
G. In addition to the five stretches, there is an area disconnected from the course and entirely surrounded by area designated as out of bounds. This area is known as the X. It is roughly 2-3 feet in diameter. It is to be located in proximity to the 4th and 5th stretches.
II. Game Play
A. Number of Players and Equipment
- The game is played in either a one on one format or in teams of two. All tournaments are played with two-man teams.
- Games are played with sets of stones and a 50 mm ball known as the mark. A set of stones consists of four balls: one 90 mm, two 100 mm and one 110 mm in size.
- In team play, each team either shares one set or individual players have his or her own. Tournament rules will dictate which format is followed. No matter which format is played, only 2 stones are thrown by each player in one round of play.
- In one on one play, each player throws all four stones in a given round.
B. The Basic Round
- To start the game, a member of the team designated to go first, standing within the base of the first stretch, throws the mark in a forward direction to a distance greater than 1 meter. If it is thrown less than 1 meter or is thrown out of bounds, another opportunity to throw the mark is granted to the same individual*. If the second throw is less than 1 meter or goes out of bounds, the opportunity to throw the mark goes to the other team.*If the first mark throw goes into a pool of water, the opportunity to throw the mark immediately goes to the other team.
- Once the mark is “established” in play, the team that threw it then throws one of their stones towards the mark in an attempt to get as close as possible. If the throw remains in bounds, the team has “established” their stone as the one closest to the mark. If the throw goes out of play, that team must continue to throw until they establish a stone in play.
- Once the team has established a stone in play, the other team throws their stones, one at a time, until they either establish one of their stones as the closest to the mark or they run out of stones.
- Players within a team alternate the throwing of stones within a round, choosing which size to throw based on the terrain and the positioning of the mark.
- This procedure continues until one team is out of stones. At that point, the other team throws all of their remaining stones, attempting to place as many as possible closer to the mark than the closest stone of their opponent.
C. Concerning the Designation of a Stones Being In Bounds
- If any part of the stone is within the boundaries of the course, the stone is considered in bounds, unless specific course rules suggest otherwise.
D. Concerning the Striking of Stones and other Objects
- Legally and without penalty, stones may strike the mark, other stones, physical obstacles on the course, and objects that are out of bounds.
- If the mark is knocked out of bounds during a round of throws, the round is canceled, all stones are picked up and players return to the original throwing position. A new round will start from that point with the mark being thrown by the other team.
- If an established mark is knocked back behind the throwing line by the throwing of a stone, it is considered out of bounds.
- Stones established in bounds may be knocked out of bounds by the throwing of other stones within the same round.
- Stones already thrown and resting out of bounds can still factor into play and therefore must not be interfered with.
- Stones already thrown and resting out of bounds may be knocked into bounds by the throwing of other stones within a round.
E. Concerning the Interference of Stones by Participants, Referees and Spectators
- If any stone within the course is interfered with by someone other than a player, a re-throw is granted, or in cases where the entire round is deemed unfairly altered, the round will be replayed.
- If any stone in motion strikes a player participating in the contest, the team of the player who interfered must forfeit a stone for that round, and a re-throw is granted. In cases where the entire round is deemed unfairly altered, the round will be replayed with the team responsible playing the round with one less stone.
- If a resting stone is interfered with by a participant, the team of the player who interfered must forfeit a stone for that round. In cases where the entire round is deemed unfairly altered, the round will be replayed with the team responsible playing the round with one less stone.
F. Water Hazards
- If the mark is thrown into a pool of water, even if it is a team’s first mark throw of a round, the mark is forfeited to the other team.
- If a stone is thrown into a pool of water, the teammate of the player who threw the initial stone must discard one of his or her remaining stones if a stone remains in hand.
- All stones in water are considered out of play.
- If the mark is knocked into water, it is out of bounds and the round is considered canceled. The above rules concerning a mark being knocked out of bounds apply.
- If a stone is knocked out of a body of water and returns to the field of play, it is considered in bounds.
G. Throwing an Opponent’s Stone
- If a player accidentally throws an opponent’s stone, the player must either forfeit one of his or her own stones, or the opposing team can choose to keep the initial throw as their own.
H. Determining Ball Proximity to the Mark
- Within a round, the game’s referee will determine which stone is closest to the mark using the naked eye. Each player may also look for his or herself one time per round.
- Once per game, while a round is still being played, a team may ask for a formal measurement using a tape measure.
- If a game goes into overtime, teams are supplied with another mid-round measurement.
- Once the last stone of a round is thrown, players may recommend that the distance from the mark to all stones be measured.
I. Scoring a Round
- Once all stones are thrown and the mark is still in play, the team with their stone closest to the mark is awarded one point, as well as a point for each stone closer than their opponent’s closest stone.
- If all four stones of one team are closer to the mark than any of their opponent’s stones, that team is awarded 6 points.
- A round is considered closed when points of that round have been decided upon. No person may interfere with the position of stones before a round has been closed.
- If the position of stones is altered by a participant in the contest before the round is closed, the above rules concerning interference apply.
J. Continuing a Game
- After a round is closed, a new round begins with the mark being thrown from the spot where the prior round ended and the above procedure is followed.
- The player whose turn it is to throw the mark identifies the new throwing spot by placing a small disk (a spot) on the ground.
- For each throw during that round, one of the throwing player’s feet must be touching the spot. With their other foot, they may step to the left, to the right, or step behind the spot. The throwing player may not step in front of the spot while throwing.
- With every new round, the throwing of the mark alternates between teams.
- Players within a team alternate the throwing of the mark.
K. Moving through the Course
- All mark throws throughout the game must be in a forward direction through the course.
- As the game moves through the course, a given stretch can be played as many times as desired, but all five landings must be played at least once. This suggests that an entire stretch can be skipped except for its landing.
- Regardless of the stretch on which the mark is established, stones that are in bounds anywhere on the course are considered in play.
L. Playing the Landings
- Each landing must be played before play can progress to the next field.
- The mark can be thrown on the landing or knocked onto the landing during the round.
- A landing is considered played when the mark is established on the landing at the end of a round.
- If the mark is thrown or knocked beyond the landing of the current field, it is considered out of bounds.
- If a mark established on the landing is knocked backwards off of the landing, but is still in bounds, the round continues.
M. The X
- The mark may be thrown to the x from anywhere on the course. This excludes the opening mark throw of a game.
- For the x to be considered played, a round must end with the mark established on the x.
- The x may only be played once during the course of the regulation portion of a game. The only exception to this is in the event that the x has already been played, but later in the game the mark reaches the x by means of being knocked there from its legally established position on the course by the throwing of stones.
- If the mark reaches the x by being knocked there, all rules governing x play will be in effect.
- If the mark is established on the x but is then knocked off of the hole by the throwing of a stone in the round, the round is considered canceled.
- For points to be scored on the x, at least one stone and the mark must be established on the x when the round is closed.
- The scoring for all stones established on the x is the same as the rest of the course except that all point totals are doubled.
- In the event that the mark is established on the x, but is then knocked back onto the regular course, play will continue but will not be governed by x rules (i.e., points will not be doubled).
- When a round finishes with the mark on the x, the mark can then be thrown to any point on the course from the third stretch onward, but must leave the x.
- The x may be played once more if the game goes into overtime.
N. End of the Game
- The game is played until a round closes with the mark in bounds on the final landing and a team holding a two point lead.
- If a team has at least a two-point lead at the end of that round, they are the winner.
O. Overtime Rules
- If a round finishes with the mark on the final landing, but neither team has a 2-point lead at the end of that round, the game goes into overtime and is extended until one team takes a 2-point lead.
- When one team takes a 2-point lead, the game is over and the team with the lead is considered the winner.
- In overtime, the mark is thrown from the spot where it rested at the end of last round. It must be thrown in a forward direction, back toward the start of the course.
- Landings do not have to be played in overtime.
- The x may be played once in overtime.
P. Postponement of a Game Already in Play:
- Once a game has started, it can only be postponed for lightning or hurricane-force winds. If a team refuses to continue play for any other reason, they have forfeited the game.
Download the Rules of Stones (PDF)