national marbles tournament

‘All the Marbles’ Documentary

In January 2020, the National Marbles Tournament, a Wildwoods tradition for 96 years, will be featured in ‘All the Marbles’, a colorful documentary produced by WQED in Pittsburgh, PA. The film debuted on WQED in October and is scheduled to air on WITF in Harrisburg, PA and WPSU at Penn State.

Each summer on the Wildwoods’ beach, children gather barefoot around 10 sand-dusted courts at Ringer Stadium to compete. The name of the game? Marbles. The name of the event? The National Marbles Tournament.

After gaining national recognition on the CBS Sunday Morning Show in 2015, the tournament returns to television again — this time in the special documentary, ‘All the Marbles’.

Produced by WQED in Pittsburgh, PA, the documentary focuses on Pittsburgh children, or Mibsters, who participate in the tournament year after year. Pittsburgh has been a powerhouse for children who play the game of marbles; and in the age of technology when most children use their thumbs for texting and video games, ‘All the Marbles’ follows a small but mighty group of youngsters and coaches who use their thumbs to move marbles around the ring to win local, regional, and national tournaments.

View the documentary trailer here.

The widely-known, multi-day tournament attracts Mibsters and their families from across the country – as well as crowds and onlookers – to play more than 1,200 games of marbles at Ringer Stadium on the Wildwoods FREE beach, all competing for national honors, college scholarships and numerous prizes and awards. The tournament, a true slice of Americana, celebrated its 96th year of competition in June 2019.

The players – male and females ages 8-14 – are selected from local tournaments held in cities throughout the United States, who then gather in the Wildwoods to vie for the title of “King” and “Queen” of Marbles.

The marbles game in which competitors participate is called ‘Ringer’. It is played by placing 13 marbles in the form of an “X” in a 10-foot circle, with players then alternating shots to knock marbles out of the ring. The winner is the individual who is first to shoot seven marbles out of the ring.

The top eight shooters advance to the semi-finals competition, followed by the top two male and top two female players competing in a ‘Best of 15’ series for the championship. The victorious male and female champions are crowned the “King” and “Queen” of Marbles – quote literally, as crowns are placed atop their heads and robes of royalty wrapped around their shoulders. As the winner of the tournament, and as part of the tradition, the male winner gives a congratulatory kiss to the cheek of the winning female while sitting on their “thrones” of victory.

Each winner receives a large trophy, commemorative plaque, official Tournament watch, and a $2,000 college scholarships and has their names inducted into the Marbles Hall of Fame.

The 2020 National Marbles Tournament is schedule to be played Wildwoods from June 22-25, so you can be sure that Mibsters in Pittsburgh and elsewhere are warming up their thumbs and marbles at homemade courts everywhere, as they dream of victory at Ringer Stadium in the Wildwoods.


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