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Under a variety of names and a fair degree of difference in the basic equipment required, fivestones has a definite claim to date back at least to Ancient Greece and Rome, and more than likely to Ancient Egypt. There is probably no country in the world that does not have a version, and there is also indication that they were used for adult gambling (similar to dice-throwing) and even divination. The original game used knucklebones or astragalus, the ankle bone of a cloven-hoofed animal, or pebbles, but artificial ones have been made out of just about every possible material, including pottery, metal, stone, chalk, wood, and plastic. The game has several features which have ensured its continuance. The equipment is basic, cheap, and extremely portable, it can be played at a range of levels from beginner to expert, it can be played solo or competitively by two or more players. The true heart of the game, upon which all variations are built, is that the player holds the stones in his/her hand, throws them up, turns the hand over and catches as many as possible on the back of the hand. In many cultures, and at various times, it has been considered a game mainly for females, but this is certainly not the case in all places or throughout its history. In England, since about the 1930s, there have been two basic variations available. Terminology varies, but one is Fivestones—five pale-coloured cubes made of a chalky substance, or wood—while the other is Jacks—a number of metal star-shaped objects, with a rubber ball. Main local names are: Bobber and Kibs, Chucks, Chuckies, Clinks, Dibs, Dabs, Fivestones, Gobs, Jacks, Jinks, Snobs.Opie and Opie, 1997: 56–72; Gomme, 1894: i. 122–9.

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