CUTwC tournaments

Throughout the academic year, CUTwC contests a series of tournaments to provide its members with a sense of achievement as they play most weeks. Many of these have a long history, and are an opportunity to get your winking genius recorded for posterity.

The M&S (front)The M&S (back)

The Manchester & Somerset Society Trophy
(University Singles)

Presented by the Manchester & Somerset Society in 1982 to replace the Nick Ashley ladder which members of the M&S abolished when they took over the CUTwC committee in April 1982. Originally played at one round per week, but now a conventional knock-out tournament. The first winner was a first year: S.O. Sage.


The Paul Thorpe Trophy

The Paul Thorpe Trophy
(University Pairs)

A fixed-pairings, knock-out tournament. Dates from 1972. Paul Thorpe was a current member of CUTwC when he was killed in a punt that went over the weir by The Mill. Apparently he had fallen asleep.


The Nick Leaton Trophy

The Nick Leaton Trophy
(University Novices)

Leaton was elected Junior Treasurer of CUTwC at the end of his first year. He failed his 1A Engineering exams and was sent down (1978?). Another Junior Treasurer, also a 1A Engineer (Mark Docherty) suffered the same fate in 1984! This trophy is contested by novices early in the Michaelmas Term.

(One of) the Joogs

The Bombardier Joogs
(University Random Knock-out Pairs)

A pair of free tankards from Charles Wells, issued on consumption of several bottles of said beverage, historically known as the “slap–’em togther Joogs” in the traditional style of banging tankards against each other when drinking (although since they’re made mostly of pewter they wouldn’t be very robust for this). The Joogs are the trophies for a knockout individual pairs tournament; the final winning pair amigos each other from the Jugs to decide the winner. The amusing feature are the glass bottoms, through which one can watch one’s oppenent’s progress. Sadly one of the pair seems to have gone missing. The trophies commemorate famous SOTWINK player Liz Whitfield.

The Peterhouse Pot

The Peterhouse Pot
(University Singles Potting Contest)

Origin uncertain. This fine aluminium teapot was sent to the University by an anonymous member of the Peterhouse Tiddlywinks Club who had come to his senses some years after stealing it on his graduation. The teapot holds one pint, amigossed by the winner through the spout. This tournament subverts the rules of winks such that any squops on enemy winks are unsquopped; this either turns the game into a simple test of potting ability or a complicated strategic variant, depending on whether you believe an article in Winking World 93. It’s traditional to keep the timer running in case of extreme incompetence.

The Charles Relle Trophy

The Charles Relle Trophy
(University Drunken Mixed Pairs)

The original Cambridge Open (1982) was a pairs tournament. The winners, Charles Relle & Peter Toye, were presented with two cuddly monkeys, whose thumbs could be inserted into their own and each others’ orifices. Charles, finding his trophy hideous, presented it to the club, suggesting that it be used for a left-handed tournament “or something”. The latter has been preferred, and the exact format is at the president’s discretion. The original monkey was for a long time missing, as were several replacements, but was recently returned to the Club. The Relle traditionally occupies the last meeting of term.

The Muscovy Duck Trophy

The Muscovy Duck Trophy
(University Drunken Mixed Singles)

The original trophy was a Muscovy Duck. It has since been replaced by various hideous objects, including a garden gnome (deliberately broken on presentation by the President, Paul Hilditch in 1984), a china wellington boot (lost in the river on its first outing), and more recently a frog-in-a-bath soapdish. Traditionally painted annually in the colours of the college(s) of the winners. Once involved winks, but more recently (since 1983) held on the river at the end of the Easter Term (although in 1983 it involved winks as well as being on the river).

The Nick Ashley Trophy

The Nick Ashley Trophy
(University Singles League)

Originally the trophy for a University Singles ladder, abolished in 1982. Reused periodically since as a singles league trophy. Nick Ashley was a promising novice who died in a motorbike accident in the Easter Term 1975. The trophy holds about two pints, to be amigossed by the winner.

The Cuppers TrophyThe Founders' Cup

The Cuppers Trophy
(Inter-collegiate Teams of Four)

As with many other sports, winks has an inter-collegiate Cuppers competition, although it’s contested with less regularity than some of the other trophies. When run, the tournament is held over the course of the academic year to facilitate organisation. The tournament has accommodated (and, indeed, been won by) a non-collegiate team.

The Half Life Trophy

The Half Life Trophy
(University Handicapped Individual Pairs)

Inaugurated by Andrew Garrard on the day when he’d been playing winks for half his life (May 25th 2011 — compared with a Squash on 7th October 1992), this trophy is now contested roughly half way through the academic year, usually on a weekend afternoon. The tournament is handicapped in order to encourage less experienced players and, mainly, to be the one tournament in the year (other than the Nick Leaton) that Patrick is unlikely to win. Like the Cambridge Open, you do not need to participate in every round; the scoring scheme makes it easier to win the more games you have played, so unlike the Open there is no ”miss no more than two rounds” requirement, and no obligation to participate in the final round. (Historically this was achieved ineffectually by ranking winners by p.p.(g+1); this was largely ineffective at discouraging people from sitting on a high p.p.g. and not playing, so as of 2023 ranking by total handicapped points is being tried instead, and we’ll see if the draw program breaks. Note that, depending on handicaps, your total handicapped point score can go down as well as up...) The trophy is a little delicate, but, if used in the game, sounds nice.

The Sarah Knight Memorial Doodah

The Sarah Knight Memorial Doodah

Instigated to celebrate the 27th birthday of former President and, at the time ETwA Chair, Sarah Knight, this trophy is now played as a singles’ tournament in honour of the 27th birthday of active winkers, when one rolls by. At the start of each turn, the player rolls a fair 6-sided die. This rolled number and the number of brought-in winks of the colour whose turn it is, whichever is lower, determines the number of shots that can be played as part of that turn. Potting earns an additional shot within the turn, going off the mat misses the next shot, and passing counts as taking a shot with no outcome on the mat, as normal. If the final shot of a turn goes off, the die-rolling, and hence the whole of the next turn, is missed. For the first turn of each colour, the number of brought-in winks does not affect the number of shots.

National tournaments

Although CUTwC frequently play friendly and relaxed games of winks, a number of tournaments are contested to add a frisson to proceedings. In addition to CUTwC contests, other tiddlywinks events are hosted by The English Tiddlywinks Association, ETwA: The National Singles, The National Pairs, The National Handicapped Individual Pairs and the National Teams of Four. The London Open is also typically hosted annually in the summer, and a number of other tournaments fill the need for competitive winks in any year — in addition, of course, to the NATwA annual tournaments and the (challenge-based) World Singles and World Pairs. CUTwC also hosts the Cambridge Open at the start of each Lent Term, usually coinciding with the Club Dinner. Participating in these tournaments typically contributes to a World Rating.

The Varsity Trophy

The Inter-Varsity Trophy

The ’Varsity Trophy was presented in 1964, six years after the competition first took place, and is contested annually between CUTwC and OUTS (when the latter exists). CUTwC have a phenomenal record of success, losing only four times since the first clash. Where possible, the format is an eight-player-team fixed pairs tournament, decided on total score.

The Silver Wink

The Silver Wink
(British Universities’ Championship)

Another national trophy currently held by CUTwC, the Silver Wink was presented by HRH Prince Philip in 1961, following the Royal Charity Match of 1958. Unlike the ’Varsity trophy (which has a similar format), this is open to all universities, and not restricted to student participants.

The Cambridge Open The New Cambridge Open Trophy

The Cambridge Open

The Cambridge Open is a long-running national tournament run by CUTwC, open to all comers. The format is an individual pairs, won by p.p.g.; players may miss up to two rounds while still qualifying to win (although missing the last round without prior agreement may also be an issue), but many participants only join for a few rounds — in part because the Open is traditionally held at the start of the Lent term, near to the Club birthday, and with the Club Dinner typically on the Saturday evening (so many players are in Cambridge for the dinner and socialising but don’t wish to commit to an entire weekend of playing, especially after considerable consumption of alcohol). The informal format makes the Open particularly welcoming to novices, for a non-handicapped tournament: no partner is committed to play with a novice for more than one round, entrants get to interact with a large number of other players, you can leave when it starts going badly, and you get a World Ranting. Experienced players are likely to take it less seriously than the all-play-all tournaments such as the National Singles and Pairs, so there is more opportunity for teaching the game. For an electronic equivalent of pulling names out of a hat, the draw program is hopelessly over-engineered, traditionally exhibiting a new bug to be fixed during each tournament. A new trophy was provided in 2023. It’s heavy, precarious, and made of glass; what can go wrong?

The ETwA National Singles

The ETwA National Singles

The Singles is an annual event (COVID-permitting) and the nearest thing tiddlywinks has to a “serious” open tournament. There is no handicapping, and the format is all-play-all, or at least all-play-all within qualifying leagues followed by a final, decided by total points; for this reason players should be able to commit to the entire two-day tournament (although there has been at least one occasion of a player getting a long squop onto themselves in round five in order to avoid qualifying, on purpose). Since there are twice as many games as a typical pairs tournament, requiring that games be played relatively quickly, and since there is nobody on the same team to learn from, this is probably the tournament which is least suited to beginners, although anyone can enter. However, the “Losers’ Plate”, primarily for those who do not qualify for the final, is very novice friendly — but only held on the Sunday; For that reason the Geoff Thorpe trophy was instigated to give an alternative tournament for the Saturday. The winner of the Singles and, historically, the highest-placed national get a challenge for the World Singles title.

The ETwA National Singles Plate

The ETwA National Singles Losers’ Plate

In times when the Singles is reasonably well-attended, it has qualifying leagues; this has the potential disadvantage that people may travel some distance to play, but find themselves with nothing to do on the second day. The solution is the Plate — intended for those who have not qualified for a final of the Singles, but open to any other players who wish to attend. Players who have qualified for the final have also been known to participate, particularly if they have a bye or are involved in a pot-out. This is possibly the most confusing tournament format of the year: it is an individual pairs tournament where one can play as many games as desired; it is handicapped, decided by points per game, and to qualify for winning one must miss no more than two rounds and play in the final round (except by previous agreement). The confusing aspect is that handicaps vary through the tournament: if the game result is a 5-2 or more, the handicaps of the players are adjusted by half a point for subsequent rounds to reflect their degree of (in)competence. Although rated, the Plate is taken much less seriously than the Singles, and is therefore usually more fun.

The Geoff Thorpe Trophy

The ETwA Geoff Thorpe Trophy

The problem with discouraging novices from playing in the National Singles, but having a Singles Plate which is a very novice-friendly event, is that we then have nothing for keen novices to do on the Saturday. The solution is the Geoff Thorpe Trophy, named in honour of a long-standing player and past member of CUTwC. The tournament has been contested as an individual pairs, rated, not handicapped, but restricted to players with a limited amount of experience (playing less than three years, or at least less than three years since their first rated tournament) or competence (with a World Rating below 1500, to accommodate those who played only briefly a long time ago). As with most other individual pairs tournaments, the winner must not have missed more than two rounds and must play in the last round (except by previous agreement). Where all the participants are known to be in attendance all day, the trophy has also been contested as a singles’ tournament in its own right (with the same entry requirements). The trophy depicts a Thorpe Ring (the least common way in which a game can finish).

The IFTwA World Singles

The IFTwA World Singles

The World Singles title is a challenge-based title, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of IFTwA. The winners of rated national singles tournaments — and, historically, sometimes the highest-placed national get a challenge against the current holder.

The ETwA National Pairs

The ETwA National Pairs

The National Pairs is an all-play-all tournament lasting a whole weekend, as a fixed pairs competition without handicapping, won by total points. It is arguably as prestigious as the National Singles, and winners (and historically leading nationals) earn a challenge at the World Pairs title. Since there is a partner to talk to and there are necessarily fewer games than at the Singles (and therefore less time pressure), this tournament is slightly more friendly for novices, but is still considered relatively serious, although still open to all-comers. The format requires that players be available for the whole tournament; unlike the Singles, it is unusual (in recent years) for there to be enough participants to justify a qualifying round.

The ETwA National Pairs Plate

The ETwA National Pairs Non-Qualifiers’ Plate

In recent times, the National Pairs has had enough members to justify qualifying rounds, and hence to justify a tournament for everyone knocked out during qualifying. This trophy was kindly donated by the winners, Molly Birch and Katherine Drew, in 2023. It is deliberately preposterously ostentatious compared with the actual National Pairs trophy.

The IFTwA World Pairs

The World Pairs title is a challenge-based title, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of IFTwA. The winners of rated national pairs tournaments get a challenge against the current holder; this is more complex than the corresponding Singles trophy since substitutes for part of the partnership are possible. Unlike the Singles, there is no current physical trophy.

The ETwA National Teams of Four

The ETwA National Teams of Four

The Teams of Four is a handicapped tournament in which each team plays each other. More specifically, for each round the team is divided into two pairs, and the two pairs of each team play the two pairs of the competing team — the choice of pairings can change as opposing teams change, but not within one round. Historically this event has been friendly to novices who may be willing to travel but put off by partnering strangers; there is a vested interest in experienced winkers partnering novices to achieve a workable handicap, and this argument has been used to encourage novices to participate. That the tournament takes two days has sometimes proven to be a problem, however, and the some-time lack of existence of OUTS made it hard to justify taking CUTwC novices across the country for the event; it is, however, open to all. In more recent times, the tournament has been held in Ely. Although rated, it is considered a relatively light-hearted event.

The ETwA National Handicapped Individual Pairs

The ETwA National Handicapped
Individual Pairs

The NHIPper (named in part after an ex-President of CUTwC, known as “Nipper”) is an individual pairs tournament, with handicapping (obviously), decided by PPG. Participants do not need to attend every round, but cannot miss more than two, and cannot miss the last round (except by previous agreement), in order to win. (The latter rule was caused by Andrew Garrard needing to run away to deal with a car park issue for the final round while leading the first NHIPper in 1999, and thus winning it very contentiously.) While draws are random as in other individual pairs, participants are graded by experience, and efforts are made to ensure that novices are only paired with experienced players; it is particularly friendly to new players, and anyone can participate. The NHIPper was inaugurated as an attempt to remedy the low attendance of the Fours and provide an event more likely to appeal to freshers — unlike the Fours it is a one-day event. The actual trophy hasn’t been seen for a few years.

The London Open (old trophy) The London Open (new trophy)

The London Open

The London Open is a fixed pairs, all-play all tournament, decided by total points; it is similar to the National Pairs, but held only over a single day, in or near London, and is generally taken less seriously. The trophy was recently replaced with one in honour of Charles Relle, a long-standing winker and CUTwC member who was involved in running a number of London Open events, and who was particularly known for Bristol shots. Historically there has been a charity collection associated with the event. As is obvious from the name, anyone may participate.

The Wessex Trophy

The Wessex Trophy
(ETwA National Teams)

Presented by the Wessex Exiles in 1989, the Wessex Trophy is contested during the Long Vac. as a competition between two teams. It is an open national competition. Originally a SoTWink (Southampton University Tiddlywinks Club) event, it was taken over by ETwA. It has most recently been most-often held in Kidlington, for a change of scenery.

The Jubilee Trophy

The Jubilee Trophy

The Jubilee Trophy is the ETwA singles challenge trophy. Anyone can challenge the current holder (and contact the ETwA secretary). The contest is decided by total points over a number of games, typically at least as a best-of-five. There is a corresponding Golden Squidger pairs challenge, although it is contested much less frequently.

The Marchant Trophy

The Marchant Trophy

Marchant Games were early suppliers of tiddlywinks equipment, and the origin of the current rules. This trophy, dating back to 1959, is an English teams event. Formats have varied over time: In early years it was a knock-out event held between teams of four pairs (with each match being an all-play all between two teams, in the style of the Varsity Match or Silver Wink), and commonly contested between schools. More recently it has been contested with teams of two pairs, although it has not successfully been run in recent years (despite a few attempts).

The Bombay Bowl

The Bombay Bowl

The Bombay Bowl (c.f. the Calcutta Cup), donated as the Guinness Tiddlywink Trophy, is an “annual” winks competition between England, Scotland, Wales and (Northern?) Ireland. Since ScotTwA, WTwA and IrTwA are currently inactive, it’s not been contested for some time. Games are traditionally competed between four pairs (like the Varsity and Silver Wink tournaments).