Wilbur Estes Article: “Mark the Discs” posted 2020 07 28.

This is the first of a series of excerpts from “MODULAR SHUFFLEBOARD,” a book that I published in 1995, when I was still active on the “Pro Circuit.” It is long out of print. This book was seventeen years in the writing, and contains information that few players use, and also shows why I think that many of the proposed changes “take a little skill out of the Game.”

Wilbur Estes, The Guy that Wrote the Book.


After a Match is lost you will often hear the losers say, “The Blocks wouldn’t run.” Or perhaps they’ll say, “You can’t Win on that color.”  Of course, you can Win on that color — if you Play to Win.

Problem courts and problem discs are a fact of Shuffleboard Life. However, on a problem court, or with problem discs, one team Wins — often in “Two Straight” (Two Games out of the three that constitute a Match).

Why does this happen?

Winning Play requires thought, as well as attention to countless small details. An often overlooked, detail is the difference in the Speed of the discs.

Years ago, dedicated club members spent countless hours weighing discs and matching sets by weight, to try to assure that each disc in the set would “run” at the same Speed as the others. We now know that this work was unnecessary, because we now use discs of different Speeds to set-up a Play.

Each Player has to find out (by trial and error) “how” each disc “runs.” Then he must use them in a sequence that suits his purpose.

Most clubs now have the small circular depressions painted with a contrasting color. One disc will have one painted dot, another will have two, and another will have three, the fourth may have no dots, or it may have four. You do not have to mark them yourself.

These dots allow you to quickly identify your discs and helps you to control them.

Sometimes the center of the discs in a set is painted with a different color, or the discs are numbered, to prevent them from getting mixed with discs on an adjacent Court. .

If the discs are not clearly marked, or if two discs have the same number to dots, or if there is any question regarding their identity, you must mark them. Use a china marker (or a crayon) to mark them with highly visible markings — before you take your Practice Shots.

A white marker is best for the Black and the Red disc. A red or black marker is best for the Yellow and the White discs.

Many Shuffleboard clubs have their discs marked and may object to your crayon marks, even so, you should make your own mark if the club’s markings are not distinct. Be sure to wipe off your crayon marks after the Match.

Mark the discs distinctly. Make deliberate, broad marks, which are easy to see from your seated position. These highly visible marks let you see the sequence of discs (Your partner and his opponent) is using.

These marks simply allow you to identify the individual discs quickly — and positively. You will soon know which are faster (or slower) and will use them in the order that suits your purpose.

Mark them with one straight line for number #1 (|), two straight lines for number## 2 (||), three straight lines for number @3 (|||). Number #4 can be unmarked, marked with an ”X”, or with four straight lines (||||).

If the discs are already distinctly marked, mark them to identify a nick. A Nicked disc is shot, so that the nick is at the rear, where it is unlikely to pick-up any anything that may be on the court and drag, or cause it to deviate from its course.

If the discs on each of the adjacent courts are not distinctly different, are red where yours are yellow (for example), or painted with different colored dots, or painted differently in the center, it is difficult to keep them from getting mixed. Marking your discs will reduce confusion.

Do not use the old marks from the previous Match. A new mark will show up much better. This alone is sufficient reason to mark the discs, but there are others.

Often a disc from another court is accidentally exchanged with one of yours. If you use this foreign disc in place of your disc, and it runs at the same Speed, no harm is done. However, if it runs differently the mix-up could result in a lost Game — especially if the mix-up occurs at a critical time.

Because your discs have distinctive marks, you can easily identify them among those in the gutter, or on the apron of an adjacent court. The markings make identification and retrieval easier, quicker, and eliminate the aggravation and confusion caused by an exchange of discs.

Anything that you can do to eliminate confusion and aggravation will improve your Game.

Being able to positively identify each of your discs is vital to your Strategy. Having distinct marks gives you the chance to learn and catalog  (record important details about each disc on your “Drift Chart”). Once you change color for the second Game, details about your opponent’s discs will be already recorded in your Drift Chart.

Knowing which discs are of different Speeds you need only to shoot the discs in a sequence that suits your purpose, relative to their Speed.

If, for example, if #3 is slow (or fast) use it for your first disc, and get rid of it. Use it as a St. Pete, a Tampa, or a Clearing Shot — unless you want to keep it for a special purpose, for instance, Kitchen Bait.

Use the sequence: #3, #1 #2, then the blank or #4.

Do not change your crayon markings. Remember (or make a note on your Drift Chart) that #3 is “f”  (fast) or “s” (slow). Do not change the markings to show the correct sequence. Your Opponent may automatically use these inherited markings in the next Game. Do not give him the benefit of your knowledge.

When the markings differ from the correct sequence, you have a slight advantage. After changing color Your Opponent may require several Shots with each disc before he learns (if he learns at all) that the markings do not indicate the best sequence of use.

He may Miss several Shots while he is learning. Even one Missed Hammer, or a Failed Kitchen can improve your position.

Watch Your Opponent’s discs during his practice Shots, especially for the first Game, and watch the sequence he shoots his discs during the first Game. This may help you sort out the discs quickly when you Play that Color in the second Game.

My next Article (Article 2) will show how to use the markings.

Wilbur Estes, The Guy That Wrote the Book

This entry was posted in GENERAL. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wilbur Estes Article: “Mark the Discs” posted 2020 07 28.

  1. debsturat says:

    Thank you!


  2. Joan McCurdy says:

    I refer to Mr. Estes book often and always appreciate that he wrote it.


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