Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 16:59 UK

World marbles players brave rain

Marbles championship
A competitor picks a new tolley to use in the opening matches

More than 200 spectators braved the rain to watch as 18 teams competed in the annual World Marble Championships.

The event - the biggest date in the game's calendar - has been taking place at the Greyhound Inn in Crawley, West Sussex, on Good Friday since 1932.

Teams of six take to the marble ring in a series of knock-out rounds. The object is to knock all 49 marbles from the ring with a larger "tolley" marble.

Defending champions the Yorkshire Meds, from Leeds, won the world title again.

One of their team, Halim Tata, also won the individual competition.

'Family atmosphere'

Earlier, Steve Jenkins, who plays with the Black Dogs team, said the sport was thriving.

"I've been coming to the competition for 30 years and you see the same old faces," said 51-year-old Mr Jenkins.

"You can't beat the friendly, family atmosphere.

"The Black Dogs have won 13 times. We're all getting on a bit but we're still raring to go."

An individual contest also took place, with 13 competitors, and a separate competition for over-50s had a record number of 31 entrants.

Fudging and cabbaging

Two teams travelled from Germany to take part but the competitor from furthest afield was Neil White, from the USA.

Mr White, 49, moved to Denver, Colorado, three years ago but combines the competition with his holiday and family visits.

When asked what skills were needed to make a good marbles player, he said: "Don't get too drunk, but get drunk enough."

Mr Jenkins that said if a competitor turned up on the day without a formal entry, they could take part.

"But once you get to the quarter and semi-finals, then it starts to get taken more seriously," he said.

No cheating is allowed, and competitors who are found guilty more than twice of fudging or cabbaging - names for different types of fouls - are disqualified.

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