Top tiddlywinks player Alan says game ‘is not just for kids’

PUBLISHED: 08:30 06 May 2018

Alan Dean has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to tiddlywinks competitions

Alan Dean has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to tiddlywinks competitions


An Exmouth man who has dedicated more than half-a-century of his life to being one of the country’s top tiddlywinks players wants to dispel long-held myths about the pastime.

Alan Dean, of St John’s Road, has won multiple national and international titles in the 52 years he has been playing and is aware of the stereotypes about people who play the game.

He says that tiddlywinks is not just a ‘game for children’ and has a tactical element to it which attracts older players.

“It’s such a good game and people just associate it with nursery games,” Alan told the Journal.

“When people find out what is actually involved, they find that it’s a really good game.”

The former teacher and semi-retired software programmer was first exposed to the sport as a sixth-form pupil in 1966.

However, his tiddlywinks career did not get off to the best starts as, Alan recalls, he and his friends were beaten by ‘11-year-old girls’.

Alan said: “We realised that this game has got a lot more to it than we thought.”

The 68-year-old has been competing both in the UK and in the United States since and has just returned home from taking part in the British singles championships in Cambridge.

Over the course of three days, Alan attempted to defend the Jubilee trophy – a prize he has held since 2009 – but ultimately lost his title.

Alan was also selected to stand in during a world pairs challenge match after one of the competitors, from the United States, had to pull out.

In the main singles tournament, Alan was able to qualify for the eight-person final.

He said that, even at 68 years old, he still offers players younger than him a tough challenge.

“I have won quite a few national and world titles, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, but I still give the younger players a run for their money - and I finished fourth in the singles this time,” added Alan.

Alan, who moved to Exmouth in 2016, will be heading to New York next month to take part in the United States pairs contest, which he won in 2016 
and came runner-up in a year later.

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