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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
'Too much beer' blamed for marbles loss
A player at the marbles championship
Players have to knock marbles out of a concrete ring
Too much beer has been blamed for British teams losing the World Marbles Championships to Germany - for the second year in a row.

The 72nd annual contest was staged at the Greyhound Pub in Tinsley Green, West Sussex, on Good Friday.

The village, near Crawley, is reputed to be the scene of an epic marbles battle in Elizabethan times over the hand of a local maiden.

A total of 20 teams of six players, including five from Germany, took part in the competition to win the coveted title and silver trophy.

Several hundred spectators watched the British team trying to win the title back from the Germans who took it home last year.
If you put a lot of men in a pub environment and there is beer or marbles, what are they going to choose?
Championship spokeswoman Julia McCarthy-Fox

However, as the effects of alcohol set in among some of the British entries, reigning champions Saxonia Globe Snippers retained the cup after winning it for Germany for the first time last year.

Although it was an all-German final, there was some consolation as the ladies' cup went to Jen McGowan, in her 50s, from Middleton-on-Sea, West Sussex.

Championship spokeswoman Julia McCarthy-Fox said: "The British players have lost their marbles altogether. It was too much alcohol and not enough practice.

"They have had so much to drink they are not even too bothered at the moment. They are vowing to practise and win next year.

"It is a blow for British sport but that's what happens when you don't practise.

"If you put a lot of men in a pub environment and there is beer or marbles, what are they going to choose? They are going to choose the beer."

'Skilful game'

The championships are organised by the British Marbles Control Board.

Organiser Sam McCarthy described it as a "skilful game", similar to snooker.

"Your thumb is like a snooker queue and players manage to get back spin, top spin, and side spin when they flick the marbles."

Forty-nine marbles are placed in a ring and the first team to knock out 25 marbles from the ring is the winner.

Players have to "knuckle down" and shoot from the correct position and they must not commit the crime of "cabbaging" - cheating.

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