My uncle had one of these when I was a child and I remember that I used to always love playing with it whenever we went to visit. As the name of the game suggests it is a single player game, and is one that is incredibly simple to learn but incredibly hard to complete. You start with a cross shaped arrangement of marbles, with the middle marble missing. You can then remove marbles from the board by jumping other marbles over them horizontally or vertically. To complete the game you should end up with a single marble left on the board, occupying the central space.
I must have played this game hundreds of times, and I don’t think I ever completed it perfectly once. I certainly got down to having two or three marbles left on the board several times, and maybe even a single marble in the wrong position once or twice. This didn’t matter though because the game took such a short amount of time to play that you could always have another go really quickly.
The board my uncle had was manufactured by a company called House of Marbles from Devon. I’m pleased to see the company is still around and making the solitaire board much as it was then, with a solid wooden board with drilled out holes for the marbles and a groove around the edge that marbles could be placed in as they were removed. I particularly liked this because you could rotate the board around to see how fast you could get the marbles rolling! The marbles themselves were made from solid glass and had a very satisfying weight to them.
My aunt and uncle obviously realised how much I loved playing with his marble solitaire that one year I received my own marble solitaire board from them, so then I could play whenever I wanted. Writing this has made me yearn to have another go on it, so I think I’ll have to go and dig it out from the attic where it should be safely stored away. If you want to get one for yourself then take a look at the House of Marbles website, where they have a whole range of different versions of the game, including one collectors edition that costs a whacking Â£700. At the moment they only appear to have one version in stock, but it’s an interesting one called All-seeing Solitaire because all the marbles look like eyeballs!