Aunt Sally - the Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Aunt Sally - the Game

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Aunt Sally is a fantastic pub game. It seems to be unique to an area in Oxfordshire, UK, including the Black Head pub in Stonesfield, which competes in an Aunt Sally pub league.

Like many of the best pub games, Aunt Sally has very few rules and involves chucking things. It is a variation on pub skittles and is said to date back to the English Civil War, being introduced to the area by the Royalists.

Each player takes six 'sticks' in turn - each of these being baton-shaped solid cylinders of medium-density wood about 18 inches long and about two inches in diameter. The player stands behind a white line about ten yards from the target.

The target is the Dolly, a skittle about eight inches high and four inches wide, shaped a bit like an oversized chess pawn. The dolly is placed on top of a thin bar which juts outwards from the top of a vertically-standing metal rod (about four feet high).

A point is scored by successfully throwing a stick and dislodging the Dolly without hitting the metal rod (not as easy to do as it sounds). If the metal rod is hit, which usually causes the Dolly to topple from its perch, everyone shouts 'iron' in as broad an Oxford country accent as they can muster.

After six throws it's the next player's turn. Every player will eventually have had four turns at throwing six sticks. The totals are totted up and (yep!) the highest score wins.

If the highest players' scores are tied there are throw offs. In the first round of the throw offs each player has three sticks. If they are tied after that they get one stick each. After that, if they're still tied, they each have six throws per turn until:

  • Someone scores more than the others.
  • The pub shuts.
  • Everyone gives up and goes home.

Playing Aunt Sally is great fun (especially on a lazy Sunday afternoon).

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