The Game of Freda

This after dinner game has been played for many years throughout the British Isles, but also, to my knowledge, as far away as Siberia, imported there by colleagues of the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra and in Kenya (Sosian Lodge). Its origins are unknown, at least to me, but may well have evolved, like snooker, in an era when there was so little to do and too much time to do it in.

Unable to find any mention of a description on the internet, I have given an indication below and a set of rules. Inevitably there will be many alternatives vying for the label of official rules. Those that I set out below I will therefore call Killyleagh Rules, this being the place where I learned this game. Other nearby local (Northern Irish) variants are given - the Seaforde and Larchfield variations - as well as evidence of the game being played in Scotland (Manderston) and, as mentioned above, in Kenya.

Rumoured to be named after one of Edward VIII's girlfriends (Mrs Freda Dudley Ward), I look forward to hearing from others about the real origins of this game and/or about different rules:-


1. A billiard or snooker table, the larger and older the better, also preferably with a relaxed owner.
2. Two balls of different colour, for convenience here - one white and one red.
3. Billiard or snooker cues are not necessary.
4. Two or more players, liberal doses of a sense of humour, laced in general with a touch or more of alcohol

The purpose

The aim of the game is to keep the red ball moving at all times by striking it with the white ball. Players take it in turn to achieve this but lose 'lives' if they fail, as described in The Rules. The winner is the last player still in the game.

The Rules of Freda (Killyleagh Rules)

Seaforde Variants

Manderston Variants

Larchfield Variant (Rule 1)

Rule 8 variants

See also: 'Strip' Freda at Blairquhan Castle

A not dissimilar game called 'Crud' is played by American, Canadian and Australian forces. Also described here



My thanks to Gawn Rowan Hamilton, Mathew Forde and the Lord Palmer for their helpful comments

David Maxwell
Updated 28/12/2021