Games – Shove Groat

Games – Shove Groat

Shove Groat is the smaller offspring of a game called Shovel Board. It has been played in Taverns at least as early as the sixteenth century, being mentioned in the household accounts of Henry VII and in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I.

This board

This example is based on an early 17th century board. The main requirement for shove groat is that the board is smooth and hard. A suitably sized piece of hard wood was selected, the lines were carved and the surface finished with shellac and polished with bees’ wax. The coins are Signum Glenfieldensis and the pegs are carved from sheep bone.



Shove Groat Rules

As with all traditional pub games, a variety of rules abounds, but here is a description of a fairly typical interpretation of the rules.  Each player shoves five coins up the board in each turn.  At the end of the turn each coin that is completely within a “bed” (between two horizontal lines) scores a point for that player in that bed.  The points are scored with pegs in the squares at either end of the bed on the edge of the board, one player owning the right side, the other, the left.  The aim is to get three pegs in each of the squares – three scores in each of the nine beds.  However, once three scores have been made in a bed, any further scores in that bed will be given to the opponent instead, if needed.  The one exception to this is the winning point which must be scored properly by the winning player, not given away.

Shoving is most commonly done with the heel of the hand although other techniques include the palm, the side of the thumb or the tips of the fingers may be used.


Grunfeild, F. V.; Games of the World. Holt, Reinhart and Winston, 1975

Bell, R. C.; Board and Table Games from Many Civilisations. Dover, 1974


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