Standard Sussex Rules
The game is played by two teams of four. All players play in every game.
A toss of a coin decides which team goes first. Their first player takes
a turn followed by the other team's first player, then the first team's
second player etc etc, until all four players have had a go, at which
point it is player one's turn again.
Each team starts with 31 points and points scored are deducted from this
total, the winners being the team that first get to zero. 2 points are
scored by a toad 'in the hole' and 1 point by a toad that is resting on
the top at the end of a players turn. Any toad that touches the wood at
the back of the table or which leaves the table cannot score (although
it can affect play - a toad that hits the back rebounds and knocks another
that was resting on the top into the hole would not score, but the toad
that fell into the hole would score 2 points)
All players throw 4 toads except...
At the start. The start is staggered to lessen the advantage of going
first. The first player from the first team throws two toads, followed
by the first player of the second team who throws three toads, from then
on every player throws 4 toads until...
The end. When a team has 3 or fewer toads left to get, the player only
gets to throw as many toads as he/she has points left at the beginning
of his/her turn. So with 3 points left, the player has three toads to
throw (if the first goes in the hole, he/she now has two toads with which
to score 1 point).
Any turn that produces a negative score overall does not count. So if
a team needs 3 points and the players scores 4, that score is not counted
and the team still needs 3.
OPTIONAL RULE: If any player throws all 4 of his or her toads into the
hole in one turn, the game is over and that team wins. On most modern
tables this is unlikely - it hasn't happened in the World Championships
for at least 4 years although on some local older pub tables wider holes
can make this not only possible but common. I played in a match at the
Lewes Arms where it happened 3 games in a row.
CLARIFICATION 1. ON THE STAGGERED START: Sometimes in the heat of battle
people forget they're only supposed to throw 2 or 3 at the beginning and
end up throwing too many toads. In this case the go is scored as if they'd
stopped when they should have done.
This is what it says in all the rule lists... "The first person throws
two toads". If the first person has 2 toads to throw then their go
is over when they've thrown 2 toads - it really doesn't matter what they
then do with the other two, they can stop there, they can throw them on
the table, they can eat them if they like, it won't affect what they scored
with the first two throws because their go is already over and is scored
SINGLES MATCHES: Singles works exactly the same way. With players taking
alternate throws and a staggered start.