The game is played using a small coin. Two teams of three face each other across a table and toss the coin for who goes first. The winning team put their hands under the table and move the coin unseen between the three pairs of hands. When ready the centre player knocks three times on the underside of the table and all three pairs of clenched fists (one containing the coin) are placed on the table. The opposing team, who can confer, must then find the coin in the following manner. They may only touch the opposing teams hands of the opposite sex.
The person who is trying to find the Tippit can give only two kinds of order. In each case he must touch the hand in question.
"Take your left/right hand away" - in which case the person named opens the hand mentioned and if the coin is not there puts the hand by their side.
Or if they think they can guess where the Tippit is - "Tippit in your left/right". In which case the fist mentioned has to be opened to reveal the Tippit - or not!
If the Tippit is revealed after a "Take away..." order then the team hiding the Tippit have won the round. They score one point and get to hide the Tippit amongst themselves again.
If the "Tippit in..." order is given and the Tippit is NOT in the fist mentioned, then the searcher has lost and the team with the Tippit score a point and get to hide it over again - once they have revealed who really had it all along.
If the Tippit is revealed in a "Tippit in..." order then the team searching for the Tippit wins the coin. They score no points but get the opportunity to hide the coin.
Games are usually played until one team reaches a score of 11.
There are minor regional variations in command words and game length but these rules remain essentially the same wherever the game is played.
The point of the game is that the team hiding the Tippit wants to make the opposing team guess the wrong fist. The game gets very tactical particularly in choosing in which hand to place the tippit and particularly skillful players play like good poker players, hiding their emotions or even trying to mislead their opponents using facial gestures, body language and verbal banter. The team guessing can often make an inexperienced player reveal the whereabouts by staring into their eyes or even visually examining hand positions.
The game is still played in the pubs of mid Wales particularly around Rhayader, parts of Herefordshire / Gloucestershire and by adult leaders in some Wigan scout groups on jamboree weekends. A world championship is held in mid Wales each year.