Knucklebones (No Knucklebones Required. Wait…what?)

Also known as jacks or five stones this is an oldy but a goody! 

“I don’t have knucklebones though”. Don’t worry. You can substitute with the likes of stones, dice, old metal monopoly pieces or the likes. “But I have no friends”. Again, don’t worry, it’s fun to play with friends but you can also play by yourself.

Basic concept:

You’re going to be chucking and catching your knucklebones in different ways. The goal is to work your way through various levels of the game. Each level gets progressively harder! If you’re playing against someone else you want to bet them to the finish line. If you’re playing against yourself first try master each level and then you could work on time.

Who starts?

Each player throws the five knucklebones straight up with one hand, catching them all on the back of their hand. Then, they toss them again from the back of their hand so they can catch them in their palm. The player who can catch the most knucklebones in this figure gets to be the first player.



The player tosses the knucklebones on the ground and then selects one of them to be the jack. With one hand, the player throws the jack straight up, picks up one of the other knucklebones, and catches the jack before it hits the ground. He keeps the knucklebone he just picked up in his other hand and picks up another in the same way. He keeps doing this until he’s picked up all the knucklebones still on the ground.


This is like Ones, only the player picks up the knucklebones two at a time.


This is like Ones, only the player picks up three knucklebones at once and then picks up the remaining one by itself.


This is like Ones, only the player picks up the four knucklebones at the same time.

Under the Arch

The player scatters the knucklebones on the ground and uses his hand to make an arch near them with his thumb and forefinger touching the ground. With his other hand, he tosses the jack in the air and flicks a knucklebone under the arch before catching the jack. He continues flicking the knucklebones under the arch one at a time. As with the previous figures, he can repeat this figure by sending different numbers of knucklebones under the arch at a time in sequences from two to four. He must succeed with each number before he advances to the next.


This is a more complex version of Under the Arch. This time, the player holds his hand with the fingers spread apart and the fingertips touching the ground, forming four arches or “stables.” The player tosses the jack and flicks a single knucklebone into a stable. If he can’t actually get a knucklebone into a stable on one flick, he has to at least move it closer and catch the jack at the right time (Diagram Group 131). He does the same with each knucklebone, sending each one into a different stable. After he does that, he has to take each one out of the stables again.

Toad in the Hole

This is another variation of Under the Arch. In this version, the player has his thumb and forefinger touching to form a hole. He holds his hand so that the hole touches the ground and flicks the knucklebones through it one at a time at each toss of the jack. After he flicks the last knucklebone through the hole, he takes away the hand forming the hole and picks up all four knucklebones on a single toss of the jack, as in Fours.

Jump the Ditch

The player chooses one knucklebone to be the jack and sets the others on the ground in a line with a few inches between each one. The player tosses the jack and picks up just the first and third knucklebones in the line. Then, he tosses the jack again and picks up the second and fourth knucklebones.

Winning: The winner is the first player to successfully complete all the figures the players have agreed on in sequence

Confused? It’s a little hard to decode via writing. Click HERE a simple youtube clip to follow. 

There are all kinds of variations of this game because of it’s age. That’s what makes it so fun and versatile. Why not be apart of the tradition and add your own level.