Jonathan Bradley
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Harlequin Jacks - Instructions

Jonathan Bradley
Posted by
12 Dec 2014

Jenna and I designed this game together. Play Harlequin Jacks in your own garden or playground and donate to help us beat blood cancer.

Here are the rules of how to play the pebble game Harlequin Jacks. You can also download this, below as a PDF.

If you enjoy the game, please donate on our fundraising page!


Harlequins is a pebble casting game that can be played in an appropriately suited environment indoors or outdoors. The object of the game is to be the first player to achieve a predetermined score or to the be the player that scores the most in a set time.


Applying common sense, Harlequins can be played anywhere where SQUARE tiles or paving stones exist. e.g slate garden tiles. Ideally, though not prescriptively, the tiles are about 2’ square but it is stressed that this is only a guide.

Harlequins is played diagonally and, to set it up, you only need a few extra things. Some white, red, yellow and green chalk together with a stout stick of charcoal are required to mark out the game board. Ensuring that adequate protection is applied to clothing as well as ensuring the chalk and charcoal can be washed off the tiles later on, the game is setup as shown in fig. 1, picking out the relevant tiles (diamonds) using the different coloured chalks and charcoal. In practice, Harlequins can even be played without marking the tiles/diamonds up though it makes the game far clearer and easier to play.

Fig. 2 shows a completed Harlequin layout and it shows some important areas of the game.


Harlequins is easy to play. Get some pebbles (1” round sandstones are the authors’ favourites) and they can be of ANY colour – red, black and white pebbles stand out very well and are easy to see.

All the players play the game behind the cast line. They do not have to have fixed positions but they must always play behind the cast line and they must not stand (it’s dangerous!). They are allowed to kneel, sit and crouch. In turn, the players start by casting two pebbles each onto the playing tiles. These pebbles do not score at the moment. They can land in the diamonds or in the gutters. All the players must be satisfied with the general spread of the pebbles and it is recommended that pebbles be recast or moved to mutually suit before scoring starts. A jack is ANY pebble that is at rest on the playing tiles. Now the play commences. Each player casts a pebble onto the tiles. Pebbles MUST NOT be cast above head height (this too, is dangerous!).

Points are awarded based on the following scoring rules:


If these conditions are met, the player is awarded the following scores. Scores are cumulative!

If the cast pebble hits nothing at all:  0 points
If the cast pebble lands in the gutter:  0 points
If the cast pebble lands past the far line:  0 points
If the cast pebble or jack lands and rests:  on a diamond 1 point
If the cast pebble strikes a jack on a diamond:  1 point
If any other jack strikes another jack on a diamond:  1 point
If a pebble strikes a jack in the gutter and brings back onto a diamond:  1 point
If any cannoned or ricocheted jack comes to rest on a diamond:  1 point
If a jack is displaced by either a pebble or another jack into the gutter:  2 points
If a jack is displaced by either a pebble or another jack into another diamond:  2 points
If a jack is struck and displaced into and past the far line:  10 points

The different coloured diamonds are score multipliers. If any pebble/jack event occurs on the red diamond, this multiplies the final score by 1…if, however, on the yellow diamond, the multiplier is 2 and the green diamond is 3!

Any pebble or jack that lands on the edge of a diamond is considered at rest on the diamond. If a pebble or jack lands on the scoring apex boundary between two diamonds, they are treat as being in BOTH diamonds and are scored as such!!


Harlequins does not have many standing rules but there are some!
1). Pebbles can only be cast behind the casting line.
2). Pebbles MUST NOT be cast when standing.
3). Pebbles MUST NOT be cast from above head height.
4). Pebbles MUST NOT be cast in a way that is hazardous or could endanger others and/or the environment.
5). Particularly if you are playing Harlequins outside, you may wish to consider washing the playing pebbles thoroughly before and after each game. Additionally, wash your hands afterward!


To be familiar with the scoring system in Harlequins, here are some playing scenarios.

A typical Harlequins layout with some jacks on the playing tiles. In Fig. 4, Player 1 casts a pebble onto the red diamond (the x1 multipler) which then strikes a jack, displacing it in the gutter. The original pebble (now a jack itself) stays on the red diamond. A total of 1 + 1 = 2 points are scored.

Player 2 then plays a very clever shot. Casting their pebble, a jack is struck on the red diamond (the x1 multiplier) (1 x 1 = 1 points) which then cannons onto a jack on the yellow (x2 multiplier) (hence 2 x 1 = 2 points) and it finally displaces a jack on the yellow diamond in the gutter (2 x 2 = 4 points). The original cast pebble stays on the yellow diamond, that’s another 2 x 1 = 2 points. Adding all this up, we get (1 x1) + (2 x 1) + (2 x 2) + (2 x 1) points = 9 points! Well done
Player 2!

BUT then, Player 1 plays an absolutely breathtakingly incredible-master-of-Harlequin Jacks shot! Here’s what happens – a pebble, forcefully yet carefully is cast onto a jack in the red (x1 multipler) diamond (1 x 1 = 1 point) and that pebble stays on the red diamond (1 x 1 = 1 point)…but it displaces a jack into the gutter (2 points – remember, it’s NOT on a diamond, it’s in the gutter!). Now, this cannons another jack onto the yellow (x2 multipler) diamond (2 x 1 = 2 points) which in turn cannons another jack onto the green (x3 multiplier) diamond (3 x1 = 3 points) which then causes the final jack to fall over the far line (trumpet fanfare…10 points!!).

Player 1 here has just scored an incredible (1 x1) + (1 x 1) + 2 + (2 x 1) + (3 x 1) + 10 = 19 points! Amazing Player 1!


The game authors represent no-one but themselves. While this embodiment is presented to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (LLR), the game authors, Bradley Photography and LLR are not liable for any direct or indirect action, injury or tort arising from Harlequin Jacks. It is played at the entire risk of the competitors. The game is provided ‘as-is’ with intellectual property from the design of the game being made available to the public domain in good-faith of noninfringement to any other 3rd party. Jenna and Jonathan Bradley assert their Copyright on the design of Harlequin Jacks.


Please donate on our fundraising page.



This looks a great game Jonathan - I'll have to give this a go over Christmas! Did you and Jenna come up with this? If so, watch out Monopoly, there's a new kid in town!

Lauren Syms

Thanks for sharing this great game with us all :-)

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