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In the game, players take turns to push coins up a board with horizontal lines across it. The areas between each pair of horizontal lines are called a "beds" and the objective is to push the coins so that they land squarely in the beds without touching the horizontal lines. To win, a player needs to get a coin in each bed 3 times which is no easy task for the beds furthest away from the front of the board. If a player manages to score three coins in one bed in a single turn, he is said to have scored a "sergeant" and if all five coins should score in a single turn, it is a "sergeant major" or a "gold watch".
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 are all used. A variety of substances can be used to make the board sufficiently slippery - French chalk, black lead, beer, paraffin and petrol are all used. Each coin has one side smoothed down flat and in theory this should be the tails side of the coin since it is illegal to deface an image of the monarch in England. However, many leagues maintain a contrary view in respect of this and smooth away the head side instead. This mark of disrespect also serves to leave the date of the coin visible and an ideal set of coins would have the same date on each coin...
Shove Ha'penny came into existence around 1840 and would originally have been played on any flat surface that could have the requisite lines inscribed on it but the official board these days should be made of slate or hardwood with indented lines defining the beds. The more expensive boards have rails embedded in the dents which can be lifted out of the slots in order to determine whether or not a coin is completely within a bed or not. If the coin moves it does not score.
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