Basic Instructions

Each player throws two washers toward the opposite cup. Subsequent throwing order is based on who scored last with the scorer throwing first. In games with a standard pit, players may stand anywhere inside the pit when throwing. In games without a framed pit area, players are allowed to stand no closer than one normal step in front of the cup. (Exceptions may be made for the younger participants.) The starting contestant throws both washers, one at a time, followed by the second player's throws. Only one player may score per round, with scoring determined by proximity to the cup. A washer inside the cup scores 5 points. A washer not inside the cup, but closest to the cup, scores 1 point. Washers completely outside the pit are ineligible for scoring. Scoring is done after all contestants have thrown. Should player #2 hit player #1's washer, for example, and nudge it closer to the cup than his own, player #1 thanks player #2 and benefits from the good fortune.

Should player #1 land a washer inside the cup and player #2 also land a washer inside the cup, player #2's throw negates the cupper and no points are awarded for the cupper. In this example, points would then be awarded based on the remaining washers and their distance from the cup. Should player #1 score two cuppers and player #2 cap only one of them, then 5 points would be awarded player #1.

In the instance of three or more players, a second capper negates the first, leaving the cup available for a scoring cupper. For example: player #1 lands a washer in the cup. Player #2 caps the cupper, negating player #1. Player #3 also lands a washer in the cup. Player #3 scores 5 points for the cupper.

A winning game is determined in several ways. Should one player or team reach 11 points before the opponent scores a single point, the game is called a skunk and the player or team with zero points is out of the competition. With two players or teams, and one reaching 11 points before the other scores, the game is finished. With 3 or more players, for example, it is possible to skunk individual players, but not all players. In this example, the game continues with players that have not been skunked.

Should one player or team score 17 points while the opponent has scored only 1 point, the game is called a whitewash and the player or team with only 1 point is out of the competition. In competition with 2 or more players or teams, it is possible to whitewash some but not all contestants.

When one player or team reaches 21 or more points before the opponent reaches 20 points, the game has gone full-term and the team or player with 21 or more points is declared the winner. When a player or team reaches 20 points before the competition, they have achieved my add or their add and reverts to last in the throwing order. Games that go to add must be won by at least 2 points.

Construction / Equipment

Washers - Standard round metallic washers, 2.5" in diameter with a 1" center hole are recommended. Each pair of washers should be painted or otherwise marked to distinguish them from others, and should be the same weight and thickness. Bright colors are recommended, particularly in grassy or wooded environments where errant washers might easily be lost.

Cups - The game of Washers is played on two pits, each with one circular recessed cup as a target. The easiest, although not necessarily the best, option for cups is a standard 32 ounce tin can (4" diameter x 4.5" depth). Remove both ends and recess the can flush with the earth in each pit. A better choice is thick-walled PVC of the same dimensions. Repeated hits of the tin can will distort its shape and necessitate regular restructuring while the PVC remains almost impervious to damage. White or light-colored PVC is recommended as an aid to aiming, and will allow competitive matches well into dusk.

Pits - Although not absolutely necessary to the game, pits add an aura of legitimacy, provide for easy maintenance of the soil, and aid in scoring measurements. A pit is typically constructed from two 8' landscape timbers, each cut in 5' and 3' lengths. The pit is then filled with earth to a level even with the top of the framing timbers. [ Diagram ] To allow room for sliders, cups are always positioned closer to the far end of the pit than the front. When using the 5' x 3' measurements of above, a distance of 31" from the front of the pit is the recommended positioning for each cup.

General Description

Washers is a game of skill, similar to Horseshoes, in which individuals or teams compete against one another in an effort to be the first to reach a winning score of 11, 17 or 21 points. The game consists of two washer pits located opposite one another, each with a recessed cup. Contestants stand in one pit and throw washers toward the cup in the other pit. The object is to land in the cup, or nearest the cup, to score.


The game of washers was invented soon after time began. The Earth had begun to form from the void and with its formation came iron which was then smelted by man and fashioned into thin hollow-centered rings (called washers) and spoons (called spoons).

The spoons were used to form holes in the earth of approximately one-quarter-inch-greater-diameter-than-the-washer and in the neighborhood of two-and-one-half inches deep being a distance of twenty-one feet from each other.

It then came to pass that men began to pitch the washers at the hole with the intent of landing the washer in the hole which became an infrequent event for all but the most skilled. Being of a competitive spirit, man then challenged his friends to pitch with him and so began the game of washers and the rules of play.