GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted March 4th, 2013

Washers: A Traditional American Backyard Game

Happy Camper Blog

Washers, washoes, Texas horseshoes, holey board and washer toss are but a few of the names for the washers game which is a traditional American backyard game of skill, played by two or more contestants.

Whatever you like to call it, it's a fun way to pass time while camping and having fun with family and friends. The game can be played in many variations from region to region--from washer pits on the beaches, in backyards, and with “portable” washer boards you can set up anywhere.

Since pitching washers are lighter than horseshoes, it can be played in an area that has limited space by adults and kids alike. Rules vary slightly, depending on the type of washer board you choose to play with.

How to Play

Washers can be a two to four player game, individuals or teams. To determine who will "pitch" first to start the game, a player from each team will pitch one washer toward the opposite board. Whoever gets closest to the hole will start the game. This is called the "Diddle."

After the game has started the person or team who scored last throws first. The first player will pitch their four washers, one at a time, toward the opposite board followed by the second player's throws.

Scoring is determined after both players have pitched all of their washers. Only one player or team may score per round. Only the washers that are closer than their opponents count as points. A round is when each player has thrown all four washers. Equal points cancel each other.

For example, if the first player lands a washer inside the cup and the second player also lands a washer inside the cup, the second player’s washer negates 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." If you are playing in teams, and one team skunks the other team, play is completed.
  • Should one player or team score 17 points while their opponents have scored only 1 point, the game is called a "Whitewash." In competition with 2 or more players or teams, it is possible to skunk or whitewash some but not all players. In this case, play continues with all participants that have not been skunked or whitewashed.
  • When one player or team reaches 21 or more points before an opponent reaches 20 points, the game has gone full-term, with the team or player scoring 21 or more is the winner. Any player to reach 20 points first, achieves an add, and always tosses last. Games that go to add must be won by a least 2 points.

Hole Board Rules Scoring: 1 point for being on the board, 3 points if you are leaning over the edge of the cup and 5 if you are in the cup. Place your boards so that the distance is 21 feet to the center of the opposite cup from the back of your board. The back of the board is where you will stand when pitching your washers. When you have established this distance you can easily add eye hooks and a rope to your boards so you won’t have to.

Washer "Box" Rules Scoring: 1 point if your washer lands in the box and 3 points if you land inside the cup. If you are ever so lucky and your washer ends up on top of any edges of the washer box you automatically win the game. Boxes are placed so the cups are 21' apart. Stand beside the box in line with the cup to pitch your washers.