1873 Muree-Simla Rules

Early Badminton Rules: the following article appeared in The Field, October 18th 1873. This is the third of the replies from India giving the rules of the game as played at different locations. I refer to this version as the Murree-Simla, rules.



SIR,--I inclose a set of Rules for Badminton, as adopted at Murree, in the Punjab, which I hope you may find worth publishing in your paper.

Murree, Aug. 20. W. M.


  1. The courts are of the dimensions shown in the following plan:-
  2. The rope or upper margin of the net is 5 feet from the ground) measured half way between the poles.
  3. The sides toss for choice of courts in the first game of each match. They change courts after each game.
  4. The partners, of whom there are two on each side, arrange between themselves which shall hold the right court, and which the left court for taking serves. This arrangement may be changed once in the course of a game.
  5. The right to begin the first game in each match is determined either by tossing, or playing a round under the fol1owing rules. The side winning a game has the right to begin the next game.
  6. The game is begun by one of the players standing with both feet in a court and striking the shuttlecock upwards with his battledore clean over the net so that it would fall into the obliquely opposite court. This is called a serve. The term “clean over the net” means that the shuttlecock must not touch anything, or any person, on its way from the battledore to the other side of the net.
  7. If the server sends the shuttlecock clean over the net, and the serve attempts to take it, that is to hit it back, the serve is good even though it does not fulfil the other conditions of Rule 6. The "servee" means the person holding, under rule 4, the obliquely opposite court. The servee alone may take the serve.
  8. If the server sends the shuttlecock clean over the net, but so that it falls out of the bounds of the game without any attempt on the part of the servee to take it, or if the server fails to send the shuttlecock clean over the net, the server's hand is out.
  9. If the server sends the shuttlecock clean over the net, but so that it falls within the bounds of the game, but not in the obliquely opposite court, or even if it falls in the obliquely opposite court, but has not been served upwards, or by the server standing in his proper place, and in neither case is any attempt made by the servee to take it, the serve is fault. Two consecutive faults put the server's hand out.
  10. The servee must take the first serve, which fulfils the conditions of Rule 6.
  11. The servee must hit back the shuttlecock clean over the net, so that it would fall within the bounds of the game, and it must thus be hit to and fro, until one side fails to make a proper return. If this be the serving side, the server's band is out, and, excepting under Rule 18, his partner succeeds him as server; if it be the non-serving side the serving side counts one, technically called an ace, and the server’s hand remains in. When both partners are out, the opponents begin serving.
  12. After the serve and first return either partner may make the subsequent returns. The inner lines marking the division and front of the courts are only for the purposes of the serve, and are disregarded in the subsequent returns.
  13. If the shuttlecock is returned clean over the net, so that it would fall beyond bounds, the return is nevertheless good, if either adversary attempts to hit it back.
  14. If the shuttlecock is not returned clean over the net, that is, touches the net, the return is bad, and it counts against the striker even if an adversary attempts to hit it back.
  15. A shuttlecock falling on a boundary line is held to have fallen within the boundary, that is, favouring the striker.
  16. The shuttlecock must not be hit twice in the same stroke, whether by the same player or by a player and his partner.
  17. Every stroke must be made with the battledore striking the shuttlecock, when it is on the striker's side of the net, and before it touches the ground or any person or thing.
  18. The side beginning the game plays one hand only in their first innings.
  19. Serves must be made alternately from the right and left court after scoring.
  20. The side who first scores fifteen wins the game. At thirteen all, the side first scoring thirteen may "set five", and at fourteen all, the side first scoring fourteen may "set three'. The game then continues until one side wins by scoring five or three as the case may be.
  21. The winners of two games out of three win the match.
The above are the strict match rules when only two persons are on each side. If more play the courts may be enlarged and the rules as to who may take the serve relaxed.

[Mr James Lilywhite, of 3, Queen's-circus, Cheltenham, has sent us a printed four-page card giving a description and rules of this game. As this card can be obtained from Mr Lilywhite, we need not say more than that the ground plan is very similar to that given above, the dimensions being a little less, and that the code of rules is more brief.-Ed.] 

Content contributed by Dave Jacobs
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