Title:
Tabletop horseshoes game systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tabletop scaled-down horseshoes game system primarily for use indoors that includes a substantially horizontal playing surface and a pair of scaled-down posts to be used as the target for tossed scaled-down horseshoes. An embodiment for use in commercial establishments provides a token means to activate the game, a means to change and display each player's score, a means to keep track of and display game time, and a means to pneumatically lower the posts when the game is over. The commercial establishment game may also incorporate a vending machine to dispense the scaled-down horseshoes to be used with the game system.



Inventors:
Wieland, Terry L. (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/069398
Publication Date:
09/01/2005
Filing Date:
02/28/2005
Assignee:
WIELAND TERRY L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/591, 273/338
International Classes:
A63B67/04; A63B67/06; A63F9/02; (IPC1-7): A63B67/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STONEMAN LAW OFFICES, LTD (3113 NORTH 3RD STREET, PHOENIX, AZ, 85012, US)
Claims:
1. A horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: a) at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; and b) at least one supporter having at least one pre-set support height to support said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board at said at least one pre-set support height; c) wherein said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post to provide at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” may be tossed; and d) wherein said at least one supporter comprises at least one foldable leg.

2. The horseshoes game system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one post is fixed.

3. The horseshoes game system according to claim 1 further comprising such at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”.

4. The horseshoes game system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board is structured and arranged to be supportable by at least one game table horizontal surface.

5. The horseshoes game system according to claim 1 further comprising at least one set of scoring beads situate along at least one rod adapted to assist scorekeeping of the horseshoe game system.

6. The horseshoes game system according to claim 5 wherein: a) said at least one set of scoring beads comprises indicia; and b) said at least one set of scoring beads comprises twenty-one beads.

7. The horseshoes game system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one substantially horizontal playing surface comprises indicia.

8. A horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: a) at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; b) wherein said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post comprising at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game-horseshoe may be tossed; and c) wherein said at least one post comprises at least one pneumatic post activator structured and arranged to i) raise said at least one post to at least one target position; and ii) lower said at least one post to at least one non-target position.

9. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 wherein said at least one pneumatic post activator comprises: i) at least one first pneumatic element adapted to raise said at least one post to the at least one target position when said at least one pneumatic post activator is activated; and ii) at least one second pneumatic element adapted to lower said at least one post to the at least one non-target position when said at least one pneumatic post activator is de-activated.

10. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 wherein said at least one post is removably attached to said at least one pneumatic post activator.

11. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 further comprising such at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”.

12. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 wherein said at least one substantially horizontal playing surface comprises indicia.

13. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 further comprising at least one supporter having at least one pre-set support height to support said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board to said at least one pre-set support height.

14. The horseshoes game system according to claim 13 further comprising at least one illuminator to assist illumination below said at least one pre-set support height.

15. The horseshoes game system according to claim 9 further comprising: a) at least one game activator having at least one activation mode and at least one deactivation mode structured and arranged to activate said at least one pneumatic post activator; b) wherein the activating of said at least one game activator raises said at least one post to the at least one target position; and c) wherein the de-activating of said at least one game activator lowers said at least one post to the at least one non-target position.

16. The horseshoes game system according to claim 15 wherein said at least one game activator comprises: a) at least one monetary acceptor structured and arranged to receive at least one pre-set monetary amount; b) wherein said at least one monetary acceptor activates said at least one game activator upon receiving the at least one pre-set monetary amount.

17. The horseshoes game system according to claim 15 wherein said at least one game activator comprises at least one timer having at least one time limiter structured and arranged to activate said at least one game activator for at least one specific time period.

18. The horseshoes game system according to claim 9 further comprising at least one air-operated piston assembly structured and arranged to: a) raise said at least one post to the at least one target position when activated; and b) lower said at least one post to the at least one non-target position when de-activated; c) wherein said at least one air-operated piston assembly comprises said at least one first pneumatic element and said at least one second pneumatic element.

19. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 further comprising at least one scoreboard.

20. The horseshoes game system according to claim 19 wherein said at least one scoreboard comprises at least one three-button scoring system having: a) at least one one-point button; b) at least one two-point button; and c) at least one three-point button.

21. The horseshoes game system according to claim 19 wherein: a) said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises a fixed perimeter; and b) wherein said at least one scoreboard is flatly transportable within said fixed perimeter.

22. The horseshoes game system according to claim 8 wherein said at least one post is structured and arranged to permit normal accidental pressure to lower said at least one post without causing serious damage to human tissue.

23. A horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: a) at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; and b) wherein said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post to provide at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” may be tossed; and c) at least one set of scoring beads adapted to assist scorekeeping of such horseshoe game system.

24. A horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: a) at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; and b) at least one supporter having at least one pre-set support height to support said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board at said at least one pre-set support height; c) wherein said at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post to provide at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” may be tossed; and d) at least one illuminator adapted to assist locating and illuminating of at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” below said at least one pre-set support height.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a related to and claims priority from prior provisional application Ser. No. 60/549,449, filed Mar. 1, 2004, entitled “TABLETOP HORSESHOES GAME SYSTEMS”, the contents of which are incorporated herein by this reference and are not admitted to be prior art with respect to the present invention by the mention in this cross-reference section. Additionally, the present application is related to my issued Pat. No. 5,971,396, dated Oct. 26, 1999, entitled “TABLETOP HORSESHOES GAME SYSTEM”. This patent is incorporated herein by this reference and is not admitted to be prior art with respect to the present invention by its mention in this cross-reference section.

BACKGROUND

This invention relates to tabletop horseshoes game systems. More particularly, this invention relates to a system for a tabletop “horseshoes” game that may be played either in a private residence or in a commercial establishment. Even further, this invention relates to improvements in my previous tabletop horseshoes game system.

Typically, to play the game of “horseshoes” requires a playing field of sufficient size to incorporate the conventional distance between the required stakes of approximately forty-feet. Due to the size of the playing field and the need to have a soft substance, such as sand, surrounding the stakes, horseshoes is typically played outdoors. Briefly, the game is played by players taking turns throwing/pitching a full-size metal horseshoe (often specially made as a large “pitching horseshoe”) at a vertical stake (typically metal) firmly set in the ground. Each player throws/pitches a horseshoe from about one stake to the other and can score specified points depending upon whether the player makes a “ringer” (if the horseshoe is curled around the stake), a “leaner” (if it is leaning on the stake), or touching or close within a specified distance, etc. Further, a player may move a previously pitched horseshoe to a scoring or non-scoring position by striking the previously pitched horseshoe with a horseshoe thrown in a subsequent pitch. In addition to playing field size limitations, the ability to play conventional horseshoes is subject to other variables such as the weather. In view of the popularity of the sport, and in view of the above-mentioned limitations, there exists a need to provide additional playing options for this type of entertainment.

Certain problems exist when playing a horseshoe game indoors, for example, during play, the horseshoes may occasionally miss the playing surface when thrown. Locating the fallen horseshoes in a darkened environment is often difficult. Furthermore, storage and portability become much more important in an indoor environment. Even further, durability of the game movable components parts (posts) and low maintenance is highly preferred. In view of these concerns, a need exists for more variability in playing equipment.

OBJECTS AND FEATURES OF THE INVENTION

A primary object and feature of the present invention is to fulfill the above-mentioned needs by providing a scaled-down horseshoes game system.

In addition, it is a primary object and feature of this invention to provide such a game system that may be used in commercial establishments as well as in private homes.

Another object and feature of the present invention is to provide an easily stored, portable residential tabletop horseshoes game system.

Another object and feature of the present invention is to provide folding legs for a portable residential tabletop horseshoes game system.

Another object and feature of the present invention is to provide lighting for assisting in locating horseshoes that miss the playing surface.

Another object and feature of the present invention is to provide a durable, low maintenance pneumatically operated post system for raising and lowering the playing posts.

A further primary object and feature of the present invention is to provide such a system that is efficient, inexpensive, and handy. Other objects and features of this invention will become apparent with reference to the following descriptions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; and at least one supporter having at least one pre-set support height to support such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board at such at least one pre-set support height; wherein such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post to provide at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” may be tossed; and wherein such at least one supporter comprises at least one foldable leg. Moreover, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one post is fixed.

Additionally, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising such at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”. Also, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board is structured and arranged to be supportable by at least one pool table horizontal surface. In addition, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising at least one set of scoring beads situate along at least one rod adapted to assist scorekeeping of the horseshoe game system. And, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein: such at least one set of scoring beads comprises indicia; and such at least one set of scoring beads comprises twenty-one beads. Further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one substantially horizontal playing surface comprises indicia.

In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; wherein such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post having at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game-horseshoe may be tossed; and wherein such at least one post comprises at least one pneumatic post activator structured and arranged to raise such at least one post to at least one target position; and lower such at least one post to at least one non-target position; and wherein such at least one post, while arranged in the at least one target position, comprises such at least one vertically impingeable target.

Even further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one pneumatic post activator comprises: at least one first pneumatic element adapted to raise such at least one post to the at least one target position when such at least one pneumatic post activator is activated; and at least one second pneumatic element adapted to lower such at least one post to the at least one non-target position when such at least one pneumatic post activator is de-activated. Moreover, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one post is removably attached to such at least one pneumatic post activator. Additionally, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising such at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”.

Also, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one substantially horizontal playing surface comprises indicia. In addition, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising at least one supporter having at least one pre-set support height to support such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board to such at least one pre-set support height. And, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising at least one illuminator to assist illumination below such at least one pre-set support height.

In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system further comprising: at least one game activator having at least one activation mode and at least one deactivation mode structured and arranged to activate such at least one pneumatic post activator; wherein the activating of such at least one game activator raises such at least one post to the at least one target position; and wherein the de-activating of such at least one game activator lowers such at least one post to the at least one non-target position. Further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one game activator comprises: at least one monetary accept or structured and arranged to receive at least one pre-set monetary amount; wherein such at least one monetary accept or activates such at least one game activator upon receiving the at least one pre-set monetary amount. Even further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one game activator comprises at least one timer having at least one time limiter structured and arranged to activate such at least one game activator for at least one specific time period. Moreover, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising at least one air-operated piston assembly structured and arranged to: raise such at least one post to the at least one target position when activated; and lower such at least one post to the at least one non-target position when de-activated; wherein such at least one air-operated piston assembly comprises such at least one first pneumatic element and such at least one second pneumatic element.

Additionally, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one air-operated piston assembly comprises at least one pressurized air supply. Also, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one air-operated piston assembly further comprises at least one air pump. In addition, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising at least one scoreboard. And, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one scoreboard comprises at least one three-button scoring system having: at least one one-point button; at least one two-point button; and at least one three-point button. Further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein: such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises a fixed perimeter; and wherein such at least one scoreboard is flatly transportable within such fixed perimeter.

Even further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one post is structured and arranged to permit normal accidental pressure to lower such at least one post without causing serious damage to human tissue.

In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” comprising: a playing board comprising a substantially horizontal playing surface, adapted to be impinged by the tossed at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, wherein such playing board is substantially longitudinal and comprises a pair of transverse ends; a pair of vertical miniature posts constructed and arranged to provide an impingeable target for the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, each such miniature post being located near a such transverse end; at least one support element adapted to support such substantially horizontal playing surface to a tabletop level; at least one pneumatic post activator to raise such pair of vertical miniature posts sufficiently above such substantially horizontal playing surface to a target position to act as the impingeable target for the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, lower such pair of vertical miniature posts to a non-target position; and at least one illuminator to assist illumination below the tabletop level. Even further, it provides such a horseshoes game system wherein such at least one support element comprises at least one foldable tabletop leg.

In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system comprising: playing board means for providing a substantially horizontal playing surface adapted to be impinged by tossed miniature horseshoes;_attached to such playing board means, miniature post means for providing a vertical impingeable target for the tossed miniature horseshoes; and pneumatic post activator means for assisting pneumatic post activation to raise such miniature post means sufficiently above the substantially horizontal playing surface to provide the vertically impingeable target, and lower such miniature post means to a non-target position. Even further, it provides such a horseshoes game system further comprising at least one set of scoring beads situate along at least one rod adapted to assist scorekeeping of the horseshoe game system.

In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; and wherein such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post to provide at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” may be tossed; and at least one set of scoring beads adapted to assist scorekeeping of such horseshoe game system.

In accordance with another preferred embodiment hereof, this invention provides a horseshoes game system, using at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe”, comprising: at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board having at least one substantially horizontal playing surface to play scaled-down horseshoes on such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board; and at least one supporter having at least one pre-set support height to support such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board at such at least one pre-set support height; wherein such at least one scaled-down “horseshoes”-game playing board comprises at least one post to provide at least one vertically impingeable target to which the at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” may be tossed; and at least one illuminator adapted to assist locating and illuminating of at least one scaled-down game “horseshoe” below such at least one pre-set support height.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a residential-styled tabletop horseshoes game of the tabletop horseshoes game system having fixed posts and a fixed support according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a tabletop horseshoes game of the tabletop horseshoes game system having fixed posts and a folding leg support according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the scoring system of the tabletop horseshoes game of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a miniature horseshoe (about 1/10th scale) of the tabletop horseshoes game system that is used to play the game, shown in a hand in a sample position for tossing according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows a sectional view through section 5-5 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of the tabletop horseshoes game system according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 shows an exploded perspective view, partially in section, of the embodiment of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 shows a rear view, partially in section, of the scoreboard assembly as well as the location of the scorekeeping and timing means of the embodiment of FIG. 6.

FIG. 10 shows a side view, partially in section of the post-raising solenoid of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 6.

FIG. 11a shows a front view of another commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of the tabletop horseshoes game system according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11b shows a section view through section 11b-11b of FIG. 11a.

FIG. 11c shows a top view of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 11a.

FIG. 12a shows a front view of another commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of the tabletop horseshoes game system according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12b shows a sectional view through section 12b-12b of FIG. 12a.

FIG. 12c shows a diagrammatic view of the operating components of the pneumatically-controlled post, commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 12a. FIG. 13 shows a rear perspective view of the scoreboard of FIG. 11a.

FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of the scoreboard support member of the preferred embodiment of FIG. 12a.

FIG. 15 shows a perspective view, partially in section, of a pneumatically-operated post assembly according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 shows a perspective exploded view of the pneumatically-operated post assemblies of FIG. 15.

FIG. 17 shows a diagrammatic view of the operating components of the pneumatically-controlled post, commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 11a according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 18 shows a diagrammatic view of the operating components of the solenoid-controlled post, commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 6 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 19 shows a top view of a scoreboard transport/storing arrangement on the playing surface of the horseshoes game according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 20 shows a top view of the tabletop horseshoe game utilizing a pool table for a support surface according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE BEST MODES AND PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a residential-styled tabletop horseshoes game 102 of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 having posts 127, preferably fixed, and a support 104, preferably fixed according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 provides a scaled-down horseshoes game system that has a playing board and horseshoes that are a reduced size from the standard game, as described above. Preferably, a one-tenth scale is used, however, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other scaled arrangements, such as quarter-scale, miniature, non-scaled, etc., may suffice. Furthermore, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, country of use, etc., other versions of horseshoe game rules, game-playing dimensions, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the tabletop horseshoes game 102 may be set upon a fixed support structure 104, as shown. Preferably, the support structure 104 may also include other gaming tables or other fixed supports (fixed referring herein to a stable support not easily moved).

Preferably, tabletop horseshoes game 102 is designed primarily for use in private homes or where a game playing time-limiter is not needed. The tabletop horseshoes game 102 provides for a playing board 126, having a top surface 133 and a bottom surface 134 (shown in FIG. 5), preferably constructed from a sheet of substantially rigid yet lightweight material, such as plywood, and preferably having dimensions of approximately seventy-seven inches in length by about thirty-six inches in width. Most preferably, the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 is designed as a one-tenth scale of the standard regulation outdoor horseshoes game (post to post) with some size modification to the playing board 126 to adapt to interior use, for example, to fit through standard doorways, to accommodate uneven surfaces, to accommodate the desired or available playing area, etc.

Preferably, a pair of fixed posts 127 are mechanically attached (preferably by pressing a tightly fitting post 127 into a hole in playing board 126) to the top surface 133 of the playing board 126, one post 127 being situated near each transverse end 130 of the playing board 126, as shown. Preferably, the posts 127 are located at a distance of approximately forty-eight inches from each other (typically, in an outdoor regulation game the stakes are forty feet apart, therefore, in maintaining a one-tenth scale the posts are placed four feet apart). This arrangement embodies in this invention playing board means for providing a substantially horizontal playing surface adapted to be impinged by tossed miniature horseshoes, and attached to such playing board means, miniature post means for providing a vertical impingeable target for tossed miniature horseshoes.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a miniature horseshoe 135 (about one-tenth-scale) of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 that is used to play the game, shown in a hand in a sample position for tossing according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Shown in FIG. 4 is a representative miniature horseshoe 135 that is used in the game system 100 to play the tabletop horseshoes game of the present invention. Preferably, the horseshoes 135 are made from one-eighth-inch stainless steel sheet stock and are preferably formed by a water chip blasting process. Another preferred method for manufacturing the horseshoes 135 includes laser cutting. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, manufacturing considerations, etc., other materials and methods of manufacture, such as molded plastic, brass, aluminum, etc., may suffice. Most preferably, the horseshoe 135 comprises a smooth surface finish. In alternate preferred embodiments, the horseshoe 135 comprises indicia markings and/or decorative stampings, as shown, to match the appearance of a full sized horseshoe.

FIG. 5 shows a section view through section 5-5 of FIG. 1. Continued reference is made to FIG. 1. Preferably, a pair of longitudinal rails 131, each preferably made of two-inch diameter PVC pipe (or in alternate preferred embodiments, an aluminum angle, as shown in FIG. 12b), preferably covered by a padding 136, preferably a one-half-inch-thick foam material, as shown. This arrangement embodies herein a padding means for covering and protecting such playing board means and are provided for containing the preferably one-tenth-scale horseshoes 135 (when tossed) within the area defined by the top surface 133 of the playing board 126. Preferably, each rail 131 is mechanically attached (preferably by the use of screws 129) to each side 132 of the playing board 126, as shown. Rails 131 embody herein a rail means for assisting containment of tossed miniature horseshoes on such playing surface. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other means of fastening the rail to each side, such as dowels, adhesive, etc., may suffice.

FIG. 5 further illustrates that the playing board 126 and the rails 131 are preferably covered by a padding 136, preferably one-half-inch-thick foam material, at least embodying herein padding means for covering and protecting such playing board means. Preferably, the playing board 126, rails 131, and padding 136 portions are also covered by a decorative and protective covering 137, preferably vinyl, preferably washable, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, material availability, etc., other materials, preferably washable, such as leather, closed cell foam, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, indicia 120 (as illustrated in FIG. 1) may be placed onto the protective covering 137. Preferably, the indicia 120 include advertising, logos or other such indicia to indicate, for example, a restaurant/bar, brewing company or other such sponsor. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, advertising preference, etc., other indicia, for example, photographs, embroidery, lighted signage, video panels, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the area defined by the horizontal top surface of the covering 137 (after attachment to the padding 136 and playing board 126), between the longitudinal rails 131, defines the playing surface 128. Preferably, imprinted on the protective covering 137 and encircling each respective post 127 is a scoring circle 139 that is used as a visual scoring aid (as shown in FIG. 1). Typically, the scoring circle 139 is the distance of the length of one horseshoe 135 from the exterior of the post 127 outward, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, preferred playing rules, etc., other scoring indicia, such as squares, triangles, etc., may suffice. Further, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other means to apply the scoring circle, such as etc., stitched, printed, applique, etc., may suffice. It is noted, however, that a smooth playing surface is most preferred.

Preferably, to prevent the horseshoes from sliding off the playing surface 128, and to provide a convenient place to store the horseshoes 135 when not in play, end pockets 140 are provided at each transverse end 130 of the playing surface 128 in a preferred semi-crescent shape, as shown in the drawings. Preferably, pockets 140 (at least embodying herein a catching means for assisting capturing of tossed miniature horseshoes on such playing surface) are formed by cutting the desired pocket shape from the playing board 126, thereby creating through-holes in the playing board 126. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, etc., other end pocket shapes, such as round, square, horseshoe-shaped, etc., may suffice.

The padding 136 is attached to the playing board 126, preferably by stapling; and the protective cover 137 is then placed over the padding 136 and pockets 140. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, material availability, etc., other methods of making the pockets 140, may suffice.

Preferably, to cover the free ends of the covering 137 and to provide further support for the playing board 126, a baseboard 141, having a top surface 138 and a bottom surface 145, is bonded, preferably by gluing at its top surface 138 to the bottom surface 134 of the playing board 126. The base board 141, at least embodying herein a base board means for stiffening such playing board, is constructed from a substantially rigid yet lightweight material, preferably plywood, and has approximately the same dimensions as those of the playing board 126. Thus, FIG. 1 and FIG. 3 show the details of construction of the entire playing assembly 164.

Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, pool table size (billiards, bar table, competition table, etc.), etc., other pool table arrangements, such as a two-sided reversible pool table cover with the horseshoes game on one side of the cover and a flat side on the other side of the cover, etc., may suffice.

Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other supports, such as bolted brackets, ceiling mounted cables, etc., may suffice.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a tabletop horseshoes game 102 of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 having fixed posts 127 and a leg support 106 in lieu of a fixed support structure 104, as shown. Most preferably, the leg support 106 is a folding leg support, as shown. Preferably, the leg supports 106 may be folded to assist easy portability and storage of the tabletop horseshoes game 102. Such folding legs are readily available and are preferably mechanically attached to the table bottom surface 134, preferably by screws or other suitable attachment. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, material availability, etc., other methods and devices for attachment of the leg supports 106 to the tabletop horseshoes game 102 may suffice.

FIG. 20 shows another preferred embodiment wherein the tabletop horseshoes game 102 fits on the flat playing surface 105 of a pool table 103. FIG. 20 shows a top view of the tabletop horseshoe game utilizing the pool table 103 for a support surface according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the leg supports 106 are stored in the folded position prior to placement of the tabletop horseshoes game 102 on playing surface 105. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering issues such as cost, leg design, etc., other leg arrangements, such as, for example, providing removable legs, etc., may suffice.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the scoring system 108 of the tabletop horseshoes game 102 of FIG. 2. Preferably, the residential-styled tabletop horseshoes game 102 comprises a scoring system 108, as shown. Preferably, the scoring system comprises a simple set of abacus-style beads 111, preferably arranged along a rod 112, as shown. Preferably, there are twenty-one beads 111 along the rod 112, as shown. Preferably, the last three beads are colored to indicate the end of the game is near. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other bead arrangements, such as multiple colors, colors indicating one, two or three point scoring, etc., may suffice.

Furthermore, indicia 114 may be placed on the beads 111, such as advertising, logos or other such indicia 114 to indicate, for example, a restaurant/bar, brewing company or other such sponsor. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, advertising preference, etc., other indicia, such as specially manufactured beads, shaped beads, etc, to represent, for example, football helmets, casino chips, etc., may suffice.

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of a commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 110 of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 shows a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 6.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of another preferred embodiment illustrating a tabletop horseshoes game 110 of the tabletop horseshoe game system 100 designed for use primarily in a commercial establishment (referring to an owner that desires to have a playing cost and pay-for-use operating equipment as part of the tabletop horseshoe game system 100). Playing assembly 164 in this commercial embodiment is very similar to that of the residential-styled tabletop horseshoes game 102 embodiment of FIG. 1, except that in the commercial embodiment, provision is made for vertically movable posts rather than the fixed posts used in the residential-styled tabletop horseshoes game 102. Preferably, tabletop horseshoes game 110, as in the embodiment of FIG. 1, also provides for a playing board 126 (as shown in FIG. 5), having a top surface 133 and a bottom surface 134, constructed from a sheet of substantially rigid yet lightweight material, preferably plywood, and preferably having dimensions of approximately seventy-seven-inches long by thirty-six-inches wide. Preferably, near each transverse end 130 of the playing board 126 is a playing board post-hole 142 (as shown in FIG. 10) of sufficient diameter so as to allow unobstructed vertical movement of each post 127 through each playing board post hole 142. The playing board post-holes 142 are preferably located so as to maintain a centerline distance between the posts 127 of approximately forty-eight-inches. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, preferred game scale, etc., other dimensions, such as larger or smaller, etc., may suffice. For example, a smaller board game for easier portability and play may suffice.

As with the embodiment of FIG. 1, rail 131 is preferably mechanically attached to each side 132 of the playing board 126 for containing the horseshoes 135 within the playing surface 128. Also, this embodiment preferably provides for padding 136 and covering 137 overlying the top surface 133 of the playing board 126 and rails 131 as is fully illustrated in FIG. 5. Preferably, the area defined by the horizontal top surface of the covering 137 after attachment to the padding 136 and playing board 126 in combination with the area between the longitudinal rails 131, defines a playing surface 128. Further, as stated above, to cover the free ends of the cover 137 and to provide further support for the playing board 126, a baseboard 141, having a bottom surface 145 and having longitudinal sides 132, is preferably mechanically attached to the bottom surface 134 of the playing board 126, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, manufacturing preferences, etc., other methods of making the tabletop horseshoes game 110, such as pre-formed rails, injected molded plastics, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, baseboard post-holes 143 (as shown in FIG. 10) are provided near the transverse ends of the baseboard 141 and are arranged for concentric alignment with the playing board post-holes 142. As is more clearly shown in FIG. 10, aligning the playing board post-holes 142 with the baseboard post-holes 143 allows each post 127 unobstructed vertical movements. Preferably, to minimize weight, the baseboard 141 is constructed from a substantially rigid yet lightweight material, preferably plywood, and has approximately the same dimensions as that of the playing board 126. The tabletop horseshoes game 110 also preferably provides a pair of shelf-like holders 144, integral to and located along the front longitudinal side 124 of the base board 141, as shown. Preferably, the base board 141 is adapted to hold beverages, other food containers, etc. while the tabletop horseshoes game 110 is being played, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other types of holders, such as ashtrays, horseshoe holders, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, as shown in FIG. 6, a scoreboard 146 constructed of a substantially rigid yet lightweight material, preferably plywood is provided, as shown. Preferably, on the scoreboard 146 are mounted a score readout 147, timer readout 148, and a scorekeeping button 149, as shown. Preferably, the scoreboard 146 is supported in an elevated position by the use of vertical support members 150, as shown. Preferably, the tabletop horseshoes game 110 includes the use of a logo 151 mechanically attached to the front surface of the scoreboard 146. Preferably, to support the weight of the scoreboard 146 and logo 151, the vertical support members 150 are preferably constructed from a substantially rigid material such as square metal tubing, as shown. Preferably, rigidly attached to the lower end of each vertical support member 150 is a vertical support member base 152. Preferably, mechanically attached to the bottom surfaces of both of the support member bases 152 is a planar support member 153, all supported in a manner best shown and described in FIG. 8. Preferably, tabletop horseshoes game 110 comprises the planar support member 153 that is preferably constructed out of a lightweight material, preferably plywood. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, weight preferences, etc., other materials for tabletop horseshoes game construction, such as plastic, metals, etc., may suffice.

Mechanically attached to the bottom surface of the baseboard 141 is a support 154 used to support the game and maintain an elevation between the floor and the playing surface 128 of approximately thirty-six inches (that is, at approximately a tabletop height). Preferably, this tabletop horseshoes game 110 commercial embodiment uses a box frame configuration for the support 154 (at least embodying herein a support means for elevating such playing surface to a tabletop level), under appropriate circumstances, other suitable cross-sectional shapes may be used. Preferably, to provide a convenient and comfortable place for players to place their feet, the tabletop horseshoes game 110 preferably comprises a pair of foot stands 155 as an integral part of the support 154.

Preferably, the tabletop horseshoes game 110 also includes a game activation means 156, such as a token/coin-operated (or bill operated) machines, for example, such as those found in arcades, which is mechanically attached in the face of the support 154, as shown, and embodies herein a game activation means for controlling such post activation means wherein such game activation means is token-initiated.

Further illustrated in FIG. 6 is a horseshoe vending machine 157, mechanically attached to the front surface of the support 154 and of-the kind of mechanical dispensers, for dispensing the one-tenth-scale horseshoes 135. The horseshoe vending machine 157 may be coin, dollar bill or token activated, and upon inserting the appropriate amount of coins or tokens in horseshoe vending machine 157, a predetermined number of miniature horseshoes 135 with which to play the game using game system 100 are dispensed. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other methods of dispensing the horseshoes 135, such as over-the-counter sales, remote vending machines, etc., may suffice.

FIG. 7 is a left side elevation view of the tabletop horseshoe game system 110 shown in FIG. 6. FIG. 8 shows an exploded perspective view, partially in section, of the embodiment of FIG. 6. Further illustrated in both FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 is scoreboard 146 preferably with a logo 151 attached to the front surface of the scoreboard 146. Preferably, scoreboard 146 is attached to a pair of vertical support members 150 by the use of a substantially longitudinal scoreboard support 159 constructed of a rigid material, preferably angle-iron, as shown. Preferably, as shown, the scoreboard 146 is mechanically attached to the vertical surface of the scoreboard support 159 by the use of mechanical fasteners, preferably wood screws passing through pre-drilled holes in the scoreboard support 159 and engaging the back surface of the scoreboard 146. Preferably, as shown, the horizontal surface of the scoreboard support 159 is rigidly attached to the top ends of the vertical support members 150, preferably by welding. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other attachment methods may suffice.

Preferably, a vertical support member base 152, having an approximately square shape, is rigidly attached to the bottom ends of the vertical support members 150, again preferably by welding, as shown. Preferably, the vertical support member base 152 is then attached to a planar support member 153 by the use of mechanical fasteners 160 (as shown in FIG. 8) passing through pre-drilled holes in the four corners of the vertical support member base 152 and engaging the upper surface of the planar support member 153, as shown. The planar support member 153 is preferably constructed of a lightweight material, preferably plywood. The combination of scoreboard 146, logo 151, scoreboard support 159, vertical support members 150, planar support member 153, and vertical support member bases 152, preferably define a scoreboard housing 158 which is then attached as shown to the bottom surface 145 of the base board 141 by a pair of connecting members 162 (see FIGS. 7 and 8), as shown. Preferably, in order to support the weight of the scoreboard housing 158, the connecting member 162 is preferably constructed out of a rigid material, preferably angle-iron, and preferably be of sufficient length to substantially span the length of the base board 141, as shown. Preferably, to facilitate the attachment of the connecting member 162 to the base board 141 and planar support member 153, holes 163 may be pre-drilled along the horizontal and vertical surfaces of the connecting member 162 to accommodate a-plurality of metal fasteners 161 (shown in FIG. 8). Preferably, the connecting member 162 is then mechanically attached to the outer surface of the top portion of the support 154, the bottom surface of the base board 141, and the bottom surface of the planar support member 153. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, manufacturing preferences, etc., other connection arrangements may suffice.

Also shown in FIG. 7 is a preferred embodiment comprising an electrically-actuated solenoid 166, for raising and lowering each post 127, preferably a twenty-four-volt electrically powered solenoid of the type commonly used in arcade games such as pinball. In this tabletop horseshoe game 110 embodiment, there are preferably two solenoids 166, one each for raising and lowering each post 127. This arrangement embodies a post activation means for raising such miniature post means sufficiently above such playing surface to a target position to act as an impingeable target for tossed miniature horseshoes, and lowering such miniature post means to a non-target position. It should be noted that the present embodiment will preferably comprise pneumatically-operated post assemblies (as described in FIG. 11) in lieu of solenoids 166.

Preferably, each of the solenoids 166 is arranged for attachment to the bottom surface 145 of the base board 141. Such attachment means may include screws, adhesive, etc, depending on the exact solenoid used, however, a mechanical attachment is preferred. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, material availability, etc., other types of fasteners may suffice. Further, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, material availability, etc., other types and voltages of solenoids, such as twelve-volt, one-hundred ten-volt, etc., may suffice.

Further illustrated in FIG. 7 is the game activation means 156 preferably mounted on the front surface of the support 154. Also shown in FIG. 7 is the approximate preferred location of the central electronics 167 used to coordinate the interaction of the electronic components of the game system 100, (such coordination hereinafter more fully explained with respect to FIG. 18 and at least embodying herein an electronics means for coordinating the functioning of such post activation means, such scorekeeping means, such timing means, such display means, and such game activation means). The location of the central electronics 167 is within and attached to the box-frame structure comprising the support 154; although, under appropriate circumstances, other suitable places of attachment may be used.

FIG. 8 is an exploded view, partially in section, of the tabletop horseshoe game system 110 specifically showing the details of the interrelationship of the main components comprising the tabletop horseshoe game system 100, as shown. It is noted again that the scoreboard housing 158 is preferably connected with game system 100 by the use of connecting members 162. It is also noted that the central electronics 167 for coordinating the interaction of the electronic components of the game system 110 is hereinafter more fully explained with respect to FIG. 18. The location of the central electronics 167 is preferably within and attached to the box-frame structure comprising the support 154, as shown, although, under appropriate circumstances, other places of attachment may be used. It is also noted that, in order to emphasize other details in FIG. 8, the various parts of the playing assembly 164 (detailed previously, for example, in FIG. 5, but for the movable posts) are not shown in this figure.

FIG. 9 shows a rear view, partially in section of the scoreboard assembly as well as the location of the scorekeeping and timing means of the embodiment of FIG. 6. FIG. 9 is a partial back elevation view of the illustrated tabletop horseshoe game system 110 (of the tabletop horseshoe game system 100 shown in FIG. 8). Specifically illustrated is an embodiment of the scoreboard assembly comprising a preferred scoreboard 146 mechanically attached to a longitudinal scoreboard support 159, which, in turn, is rigidly attached to the top ends of a pair of vertical support members 150, as shown. Preferably, the bottom ends of the vertical support members 150 are attached to a planar support member 153 by the use of a pair of substantially square vertical support member bases 152 which are rigidly attached to the bottom ends of the vertical support members 150. Preferably, the square vertical support member bases 152 are provided with through-holes to facilitate attachment to the top surface of the planar support member 153 preferably by mechanical fasteners 160 (FIGS. 8 and 9). Further illustrated are a score readout 147, timer readout 148, and scorekeeping button 149 which are housed within apertures cut into the scoreboard 146 and located near each transverse end of the scoreboard 146. The score readout 147, timer readout 148, and scorekeeping button 149 are connected to the central electronics 167 by score readout leads 168, timer readout leads 169, and scorekeeping button leads 170, as shown.

FIG. 10 shows a side view, partially in section of the post raising solenoid of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 6. The post activation mounting means preferred for use in the illustrated commercial embodiment is shown in FIG. 10. Specifically illustrated is base board 141 having a base board post hole 143 therein, playing board 126 having a playing board post hole 142 therein and structured and arranged for concentric alignment with the base board post hole 143. Also shown is padding 136 overlying the top surface 133 of the playing board 126 and covering 137 overlying padding 136. Post activation means in FIG. 10 comprises a twenty-four-volt electrically powered solenoid 166, as shown. Preferably, the post 127 is integral to the solenoid 166 and preferably of a sufficient length to permit a height of about one and three-quarters inches above the playing surface 128 when the solenoid 166 is activated. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other post 127 heights may suffice.

When the game system 110 is in the off mode, because either the winning score has been achieved, or the pre-determined time to play the game has elapsed, current ceases to flow through the solenoid coils 190 (shown in FIG. 18) located within each solenoid 166, thereby terminating the internal electromagnetic field inside each solenoid 166. When this occurs, each post 127 is retracted so that the top end of each post 127 is at or below the playing surface 128. Conversely, when the game is activated by placing an appropriate token in the game activation means 156, an electrical signal is sent from the central electronics 167 to the solenoids 166, energizing the solenoid coils 190 (shown in FIG. 9) thereby raising each post 127 to the appropriate playing height.

The residential-styled tabletop horseshoes game 102 version of the game system 100 is preferably played by having each player, being situated at the transverse ends 130 of the playing board 126, toss a one-tenth-scale horseshoe 135 at the opponent's post 127 located at the opposite transverse end. In order to maintain a degree of difficulty and to ensure fair play, when tossing a horseshoe a player's hand may not cross the transverse plane situated at the location of that player's post. Each player's turn consists of pitching two horseshoes 135. The rules of the game are such that a player scores three-points if the horseshoe 135 “rings” (encircles) the post 127, two-points for a “leaner” in which the horseshoe comes to a rest by leaning against the post 127, one point if the horseshoe touches the post 127 but does not lean against it, and one point if the horseshoe touches or breaks the line comprising the scoring circle 139. The first player to obtain a score of twenty-one-points wins the game though other winning scores may be used by the players without deviating from the spirit of the game.

To play the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game embodiments requires that the players insert the appropriate amount of coins or tokens in the game activation means 156. Once the game system 100 is activated, the players have a pre-determined period of time in which to play. Preferably, the playing time is set to between fifteen and thirty minutes, most preferably seventeen minutes. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other playing times may suffice.

The players may obtain the horseshoes 135 to be used in order to play the game system 100 in a number of ways including renting them from the commercial establishment, purchasing their own either from a vending machine in the commercial establishment or from the vending machine 157 incorporated in the game system 100 (as shown in FIG. 6), or by using previously bought horseshoes 135. The game system 100 is then played according to the same rules and scoring scheme as the private residence version except that if either player does not obtain a score of 121 points prior to the expiration of the pre-determined time limit, the game will automatically end. This system embodies herein a method of playing a tabletop horseshoes game, comprising the steps of: users inserting a token in a game activation structure to raise miniature horseshoes posts to a playing position on a flat tabletop, to reset a scoring structure, to reset a game timing structure, and to activate a scoring and timing display; users tossing miniature horseshoes at such miniature horseshoes posts; users entering scores in such scoring structure at the end of each turn; and users finishing such game when such display indicates that a winner has achieved a selected score or when such game timing structure registers no time left, whichever first occurs, thereby lowering such miniature horseshoes posts.

FIG. 11 a shows a front view of another commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 11b shows a section view through section 11b-11b of FIG. 11a. FIG. 11c shows a top view of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 of FIG. 11a. Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 is similar to the tabletop horseshoe game system 110 in construction of the playing assembly 164, however, the tabletop horseshoe game 200 comprises pneumatically-operated post assembly 202, an alternate scoreboard embodiment, additional lighting fixtures, base levelers and additional component arrangements, as shown.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 comprises pneumatically operated post assemblies 202, as shown. Preferably, the pneumatically operated post assemblies 202 comprise posts 204 which are located as described above in embodiment 110, however, the post 204 are raised and lowered by air. Preferably, the pneumatically operated post assemblies 202 (further detailed in FIG. 15 and FIG. 16) are each connected to an air pump 206 by an air line 208, preferably one-half inch O.D. air line, preferably Watts pressure braided PVC tubing, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other air line sizes, dimensions, etc., may suffice. Preferably, each respective pneumatically-operated post assembly 202 comprises a separate air pump 206, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, product availability, etc., other air pump arrangements, such as a single air pump, multiple redundant air pumps, a remote pressurized air source, etc., may suffice.

In the illustrated preferred embodiment of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200, the air pumps 206 are preferably Top Fin model number 17551-17556 fish air pumps such as available from, for example, Petsmart Inc. Fish air pumps 206 may preferably comprise more than one air outlet 207, as shown. Preferably, when more than one outlet 207 is present the air lines 210, preferably one-quarter-inch O.D. (outer diameter) plastic air line, are combined with an adapter 212, preferably a tee adapter, preferably a Lasco brass tee No. 17-7401, as shown (sized for the appropriate sized air line). Preferably, the air line 208 is then attached to the single adapter end 216, as shown. Preferably, the air pumps 206 are connected to a switchable (on/off) power supply 214, preferably, a surge protector device such as a model number 335529, available from Ace Hardware stores. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, preferred electronic routing, etc., other power supply arrangements may suffice.

Preferably, the air line, air pumps 206 and pneumatically operated post assembly 202 are enclosed within a protective cover 211, preferably a metal cover, preferably removably screwed into the bottom 134, as shown.

Preferably, the switchable (on/off) power supply 214 is connected to a power supply timer assembly 218, preferably a model Infinitec ATCR54C. Preferably, the power supply timer assembly 218 can be programmed to provide power to the switchable (on/off) power supply 214 for a set number of minutes, preferably about fifteen to seventeen minutes for the tabletop horseshoe game system 100 game play as described herein.

Preferably, the power supply timer assembly 218 is connected to a vending mechanism 220, preferably a monetary-operated coin/dollar bill vending mechanism, preferably a Coinco model No. BA50B. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other vending mechanisms, etc., such as token operated, etc., may suffice. Furthermore, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, electronic preference, etc., other timer mechanisms, such as a combined timer and vending mechanisms, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 comprises a horseshoe vending machine 222 such as that described previously, preferably mechanically attached to the front surface of the support structure 224 for dispensing the 1/10th scale horseshoes 135. The horseshoe vending machine 222 may be coin, dollar bill or token activated, and upon inserting the appropriate amount of coins or tokens in horseshoe vending machine 222, a predetermined number of miniature horseshoes 135 with which to play the game using the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 are dispensed. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other methods of dispensing the horseshoes 135, such as over-the-counter sales, remote vending machines, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, support structure 224 is similar to support 154 with the stated exceptions described herein for the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200, as shown. Preferably, the support structure 224 is used to support the game and maintain an elevation between the floor and the playing surface 228 of approximately thirty-six inches. Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 uses a box frame configuration for the support structure 224; however, under appropriate circumstances, other suitable cross-sectional shapes may be used. Preferably, to provide a convenient and comfortable place for players to place their feet, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 preferably comprises a pair of foot stands 226 as an integral part of the support structure 224, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, location size restrictions, etc., other support structure arrangements, such as round, trapezoid, rectangular, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 comprises a set of lights 230, preferably white lights, preferably situate along the underside 232 of the playing assembly 164, preferably along or adjacent the perimeter 234 of the playing assembly 164, preferably opposite the vending mechanism, as shown (best seen in FIG. 11c). Preferably, at least one light 230 is placed directly above the vending mechanism 220, as shown. Preferably, the lights 230 are courtesy lights, (for example, Blazer model No. B450C lights—twelve-volt lighting), preferably low-energy use lighting. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, desired lighting level, etc., other lights and light bulb arrangements may suffice. Most preferably, the lights 230 function to assist a player in finding horseshoes when they miss or fall from the playing assembly 164. Preferably, the lights 230 are wired to direct power such that the lights are switchable to be always on or off regardless of whether the game is being played. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, location of the game, etc., other lighting arrangements, such as placing lights adjacent the game, utilizing a translucent surface, utilizing a mirrored surface to reflect light, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the support structure 224 comprises a set of lights 236 and 242, as shown. Preferably, lights 236 are placed along the bottom portion 240 of the support structure 224, as shown. Preferably, lights 242 are placed under the accessory shelf 244, as shown. Preferably, the lights 236 and 242 are red in color and are accent lights, preferably twelve-volt low-energy-use lights. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other colored lights, such as white, green, etc., may suffice. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, country of origin, etc., other voltage supplies, such as twenty-four-volt, one-hundred-ten-volt, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, accessory shelf 244 is placed adjacent the playing assembly 164, preferably adjacent the longitudinal rails 131, as shown. Preferably, the accessory shelf 244 comprises holders 246, for example to hold cups or ashtrays, as desired. Preferably, accessory shelf 244 is mechanically attached to the underside 248 of the baseboard 141, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, etc., other accessory shelf arrangements may suffice.

Preferably, the support structure 224 comprises a set of levelers 250, as shown. Preferably, the levelers 250 provide height adjustability for leveling the support structure 224, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other leveling arrangements, such as shims, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 comprises a scoreboard 260, as shown. Preferably, scoreboard 260 is constructed of a substantially rigid yet lightweight material, preferably plastic. Preferably, the scoreboard is triangular in shape, preferably about forty-eight inches wide, about twenty-one inches tall and about four inches thick, as shown. During shipping, preferably, the scoreboard 260 fits on top of the playing surface 128 and within the two longitudinal rails 131 for easy transport and storage (as illustrated in FIG. 19, below). Preferably, the scoreboard 260 comprises two score readouts 262 and 264 and two respective scorekeeping assemblies 266 and 268, as shown. Preferably, the scorekeeping assemblies 266 and 268 each respectively provide a three-button scoring arrangement, preferably comprising a one-point button, a two-point button and a three-point button, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other scoring button arrangements may suffice.

Preferably, the scoreboard components are all items available commercially and combined as shown and stated herein. For example, a Hoopscore model NO. JH1000 scoreboard 167′ may be used to provide the combined score readouts 262 and 264 and two respective scorekeeping assemblies 266 and 268. Preferably, the scoreboard 260 further comprises a logo area 270 preferably having a backlight 272, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering issues such as, promotional needs, cost, etc., other backlighting arrangements, such as, for example, multiple lighting effects, marquee lighting effects, video displays, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the logo area 270 comprises a logo or other such indicia referencing the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 or manufacturer as desired. Preferably, the scoreboard 260 comprises a game indicia board 274, preferably made from one-quarter-inch thick masonite, as shown. Preferably, there is a light 276, preferably a fluorescent light (such as a GE brightstik PC12257), mounted behind the game indicia board 274 to provide lighting to the playing surface, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, lighting preference, etc., other lighting may suffice.

FIG. 12a shows a front view of another commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 12b shows a sectional view through section 12b-12b of FIG. 12a.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 is similar to the above-described commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 in construction of the playing assembly 164, and arrangement of the pneumatic post assemblies; however, the tabletop horseshoe game 350 comprises a simplified scoreboard system, and comprises other improvements intended to reduce manufacturing cost and increase in-service durability.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 comprises the pneumatically-operated post assemblies 202 of commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200, as shown. Preferably, to reduce the number of operating parts, both pneumatically-operated post assemblies 202 (as detailed in FIG. 15 and FIG. 16) are actuated by a single air pump 206. Preferably, air pump 206 is coupled to the pneumatically operated post assemblies 202 by air line 208a and air line 208b, as shown. Preferably, both air line 208a and air line 208b comprise an outside diameter of between about one-quarter inch to about one-half inch, preferably comprising Watts pressure braided PVC tubing, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other air line sizes, dimensions, etc., may suffice. Furthermore, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, product availability, etc., other air pump arrangements, such as the use of two or more air pumps, a remote pressurized air source, etc., may suffice.

In the preferred embodiment of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350, the air pump 206 is preferably mounted to the underside of the playing assembly 164, as shown. Preferably, the air pump 206 comprises a commercially available aquatic-type unit, such as, for example, Top Fin model number 17551-17556. Preferably, fish air pump 206 comprises dual air outlets, one connectable to air line 208a and the other connectable to air line 208b, as shown. Alternately, when the air pump 206 comprises only a single air outlet, an adapter (similar to adapter 212 FIG. 11b) is preferably supplied to split the single line originating at the pump into two lines. Preferably, each line beyond the split is then routed to one of the two pneumatically operated post assemblies 202.

Preferably, support structure 224 is similar to support 154 with the stated exceptions described herein for the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200, as shown. Preferably, the support structure 224 is used to support the game and maintain an elevation between the floor and the playing surface 228 of approximately thirty-six inches. Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 uses a box frame configuration for the support structure 224; however, under appropriate circumstances, other suitable cross-sectional shapes may be used. Preferably, to provide a foot rest and additional stability during play, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 preferably comprises a pair of foot stands 226 as an integral part of the support structure 224, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, durability, location size restrictions, etc., other support structure arrangements, such as round, trapezoid, rectangular, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 comprises a set of lights 230, preferably white lights, preferably situate along the underside 232 of the playing assembly 164, preferably along or adjacent the perimeter 234 of the playing assembly 164. Preferably, at least one light 230 is placed directly above the vending mechanism 220, as shown. Preferably, the lights 230 are courtesy lights, (for example, Blazer model No. B450C lights—twelve-volt lighting), preferably low-energy use lighting. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, desired lighting level, etc., other lights and light bulb arrangements may suffice. Most preferably, lights 230 function to assist a player in finding the horseshoes when they fall from the playing assembly 164. Preferably, the lights 230 are wired to a constant source of power (see FIG. 12c) such that the lights are switchable to be always on (or off) regardless of whether the game is being played. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, location of the game, etc., other lighting arrangements, such as placing lights adjacent the game, utilizing a translucent surface, utilizing a mirrored surface to reflect light, etc., may suffice. Furthermore, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other light arrangements, such as using colored lights, line voltage fixtures, Light Emitting Diodes, fluorescents, fiber optics, etc., may suffice. Even further, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, country of origin, etc., other voltage supplies, such as twenty-four-volt, one-hundred-fifteen-volt, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, accessory shelf 244 is placed adjacent the playing assembly 164, preferably adjacent the longitudinal rails 364, as shown. Preferably, for economy of construction, the accessory shelf 244 comprises a solid shelf for supporting non-system accessories such as cups, ashtrays, etc. during play. Although less preferable due to cost, the accessory shelf 244 is modifiable to comprise integral accessories, such as, for example, cup holders or ashtrays, as desired. Preferably, accessory shelf 244 is mechanically attached to the underside of baseboard 368, as shown. In alternate preferred embodiments, accessory shelf 244 is mechanically attached directly to support structure 224.

Preferably, the support structure 224 comprises a set of levelers 250, as shown. Preferably, the levelers 250 provide height adjustability for leveling the support structure 224, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other leveling arrangements, such as shims, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 comprises a manually operated scoreboard 352, as shown. Preferably, scoreboard 352 is constructed of a substantially rigid yet lightweight material, preferably plastic. Preferably, the scoreboard 352 is triangular in shape, preferably about forty-eight inches wide, about twenty-one inches tall and about four inches thick, as shown. Preferably, the manually operated scoreboard 352 comprises two abacus-style scorekeeping assemblies 354 and 356, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other scoring arrangements, such as electronic scoring, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, scorekeeping assembly 354 and scorekeeping assembly 356 each comprise a simple set of abacus-style beads 111, preferably arranged along a rod, as shown. Preferably, there are twenty-one beads 111 along each rod, as shown. Preferably, the last three beads are colored to indicate the end of the game is near. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other bead arrangements, such as multiple colors, colors indicating one, two or three point scoring, etc., may suffice.

Furthermore, indicia may be placed on the beads 111, such as advertising, logos or other such indicia to indicate, for example, a restaurant/bar, brewing company or other such sponsor. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, advertising preference, etc., other indicia, such as specially manufactured beads, shaped beads, etc, to represent, for example, football helmets, casino chips, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the scoreboard 352 further comprises a logo area 358 preferably having a backlight 272, preferably located within the interior of scoreboard 352, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering issues such as, promotional needs, cost, etc., other backlighting arrangements, such as, for example, multiple lighting effects, marquee lighting effects, video displays, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, the logo area 358 comprises a logo or other such indicia referencing the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350, bar, casino, etc., as desired. Preferably, logo area 358 comprises a translucent plastic panel inset into an opening within the front face of scoreboard 352, as shown. Preferably, the scoreboard 352 includes an informational board 360, comprising written indicia, typically comprising a brief summary of “rules of play”, means for acquiring the miniature horseshoe 135, etc. Preferably, informational board 360 is constructed from one-quarter-inch thick plastic, as shown.

Preferably, lights 362, preferably a pair of low voltage surface mounted lights, are mounted to the front of scoreboard 352 above scorekeeping assembly 354 and scorekeeping assembly 356, as shown. Preferably, lights 362 provide lighting to both the scorekeeping assemblies and playing surface, as shown.

Preferably, longitudinal rails 364 of commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 comprise a modified construction using a continuous interior metal angle 366, in lieu of the cylindrical PVC member described in FIG. 5. Preferably, metal angle 366 comprises an extruded aluminum member mechanically fastened to baseboard 368, as shown.

Preferably, playing assembly 164 of commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 is adapted to pivot upward to permit access to the interior of support structure 224, as shown. Preferably, baseboard 368 is pivotally joined to support structure 224 by means of hinge 370, as shown. Preferably, playing assembly 164 comprises at least one, preferably two padlock hasps 372 adapted to retain playing assembly 164 in a closed position, as shown. Removal of the padlock from the hasp permits playing assembly 164 to be opened upward (as shown by the depiction in dashed lines).

Preferably, scoreboard 352 is retained in operational position by a pair of arch-shaped supports 374, (described in greater detail in FIG. 14). Preferably, supports 374 are removably fastened, preferably bolted, to the rear structure of support structure 224 and the interior structure of scoreboard 352, as shown. In addition, at least one of the supports 374 is utilized as a conduit for the routing of electrical conductors between scoreboard 352 and support structure 224.

Electrical components of commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 are organized within the interior of support structure 224 to provide convenient service access, as generally described in FIG. 12c below.

FIG. 12c shows a diagrammatic view of the operating components of the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 of FIG. 12a. Preferably, commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 350 represents the successful effort on the part of the inventor produce an embodiment comprising a reduction in manufacturing cost and increase in-service durability. Preferably, line voltage, such as from a 110-volt electrical wall outlet, is conducted to first surge protector device 376 via power cord 378, as shown. Preferably, first surge protector device 376 comprises, for example, surge suppressor model number 335529, available from Ace Hardware stores. Preferably, first surge protector device 376 supplies continuous power to vending mechanism 220, power supply timer assembly 218, and first low voltage power supply 380, as shown. Preferably, vending mechanism 220 comprises a monetary-operated coin/dollar bill vending mechanism, preferably a Coinco model No. BA50B. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other vending mechanisms, such as, for example, token operated, accepting only paper currency, etc., may suffice. Preferably, vending mechanism 220 is electrically coupled to power supply timer assembly 218 by means of signal wire 382, as shown. Preferably, vending mechanism 220 is adapted to send a control signal to power supply timer assembly 218 on receiving an appropriate deposit of money. Preferably, power supply timer assembly 218 comprises a model Infinitec ATCR54C. Preferably, the power supply timer assembly 218 is adapted to provide power to the second surge protector device 384 on receiving the electrical signal from vending mechanism 220. Preferably, the second surge protector device 384 also comprises a commercially available a surge protector device, again comprising a model number 335529, available from Ace Hardware stores.

Preferably, power supply timer assembly 218 is programmable to supply power to the second surge protector device 384 for a set number of minutes, preferably about fifteen to seventeen minutes for the tabletop horseshoe game system 100, as described herein. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, electronic preference, etc., other timer mechanisms, such as a combined timer and vending mechanisms, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, second surge protector device 384 supplies power to the air pump 206 and to the second low voltage power supply 386, as shown. Preferably, the operation of both the air pump 206 and to the second low voltage power supply 386 is intermittent, operating only during the period of play as controlled by power supply timer assembly 218.

Preferably, first low voltage power supply 380 supplies continuous 12V DC power to a first power strip 388, as shown. Preferably, first power strip 388 supplies power to the lights 230 (illuminating the vending mechanism 220), backlight 272, and other lights functioning to catch the attention of a customer. Preferably, second low voltage power supply 386 supplies 12V DC power to a second power strip 390, as shown. Preferably, second power strip 390 supplies power to lights 362 during play. Preferably, “quick” connectors 392 are utilized, as required, within the circuiting to facilitate maintenance operations.

Reference is now made to FIG. 13 with continued reference to the above Figures. FIG. 13 shows a rear view of the scoreboard of FIG. 11a. Preferably, the scoreboard 260 is supported in an elevated position by the use of vertical support member 280, preferably a bent steel bracket, as shown. Preferably, to support the weight of the scoreboard 260, the vertical support member 280 is rigidly attached to the support structure 224, as shown in FIG. 11b. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, material availability, weight requirements, spacing, etc., other scoreboard mounting arrangements may suffice.

FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of the scoreboard support 374 of the preferred embodiment of FIG. 12a. Preferably, support 374 comprises a rolled steel tube 394 having a mounting plate 396 welded to each end, as shown. Preferably, mounting plate 396 comprises apertures 398 to permit passage of mechanical fasteners. Preferably, fasteners for support 374 are selected to be of a “bolt-on” and “bolt-off” type to assist in compact shipping and on-site assembly.

FIG. 15 shows a perspective view, partially in section, of a pneumatically operated post assembly 202 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 16 shows a perspective exploded view of the pneumatically operated post assembly 202 of FIG. 15.

Preferably, the pneumatically operated post assembly 202 comprises a cylinder 290, piston 292, post 294, alignment tube 296, cylinder cap 298 and mounting bracket 300, as shown. Preferably, the pneumatically-operated post assembly 202 operates on minimal air pressure as provided by the air pump 206. Preferably, piston 292 is mounted into cylinder 290 through open end 302, as shown. Preferably, the piston 292 has a cylindrical bottom portion 304 that has a slightly smaller diameter, preferably five one-thousandths of an inch, than the inside diameter of cylinder 290, as shown. Preferably, the cylinder 290 has a round inside diameter, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, manufacturing preferences, etc., other cylinder shapes, may suffice.

Preferably, piston 292 has a hollow space 310 within the vertical portion 308 to reduce piston weight and to assist air pressure in moving the piston 292 through the cylinder 290. Preferably, cylinder cap 290 is threaded into the open end 302, as shown. Preferably, alignment tube 296 is threaded into the top piston opening 306 of the cylinder 290, as shown. Preferably, the vertical portion 308 of piston 292 moves freely within the alignment tube 296 with a clearance of about ten one-thousandths of an inch. The desired clearance in combination with the purposeful omission of seals within the piston design permits some air pressure to escape such that the air pumps 206 do not overheat and such that when the air pump 206 stops the piston 292 will retract, by gravity, the post 294. Furthermore, the piston 292 is exceptionally reliable (over electrically-actuated solenoid-type pistons) and not prone to mechanical breakdown due to not having seals and maintaining minimal clearances.

Preferably, screws 314, preferably three screws, attach a mounting bracket 300 to the top 312 of the cylinder 290, as shown. Preferably, the screws 314 are recessed into the face 316 of the mounting bracket 300, as shown. Further, the mounting bracket has three additional apertures 316 to assist mounting the pneumatically operated post assembly 202 onto the commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 as described above and as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, fasteners, etc., other mounting arrangements may suffice. Furthermore, upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, manufacturing preference, durability, etc., other methods of pneumatic piston manufacture, using materials such as molded plastic, etc., may suffice.

Preferably, post 294 is threadably attached to the vertical portion 308 of piston 292, as shown. Preferably, the post 294 is stainless steel. Preferably, the post may be replaced if bent or damaged by a user. This feature is very useful for the commercial models and allows for easy post replacement without accessing the pneumatically operated post assembly 202.

Preferably, air enters the cylinder through air inlet 320, as shown. Preferably, air inlet 320 is threaded such that an air hose coupling 322 can be threaded into the air inlet 320, as shown. Preferably, air line 208 is then attached, preferably by a clamp 324 to the air hose coupling 322, as shown. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, material availability, durability, etc., other materials and methods to attach the air source to the piston may suffice.

FIG. 17 shows a diagrammatic view of the operating components of the pneumatically-controlled commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 of FIG. 11a according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the pneumatically-controlled commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game 200 is plugged into a constant power source 330, as shown. Preferably, the above-described lights are run on a second open-circuit power source 332 to constantly power the lights (such as Logo, courtesy lights etc). Preferably, the game is activated by having a player deposit the appropriate amount of money or tokens in the vending mechanism 220. When the appropriate amount of money or tokens are deposited, the vending mechanism 220 activates power to the timer and to the switchable (on/off) power supply 214 thereby allowing current to simultaneously activate the power supply timer assembly 218, reset the scoreboard 260 and start the air pumps 206, as shown. Preferably, upon energizing the air pumps 206, the pneumatically operated post assemblies 202 begin pressurizing the air line 208 and the posts 204 raise up for play to begin as previously described. When the timer 218 has expired, the power to the air pumps 206 are stopped thereby stopping the air pressurizing the pneumatically operated post assemblies 202. When the air pressure within cylinder 290 drops, the posts 204 retract and the game is over. Most preferably, additional coins can be added to extend the game length if needed prior to the expiration of the timer.

FIG. 18 shows a diagrammatic view of the operating components of the solenoid-controlled commercial-styled tabletop horseshoe game of FIG. 6 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 18 is a schematic view of the central electronics 167 preferably used in the illustrated commercial embodiment of the tabletop horseshoes game system 110. The operation of the central electronics 167, as described below, is within the understanding of those of ordinary skill in the art of arcade electronics. Having a player deposit the appropriate amount of tokens in the game activation means 156 activates the game system 110. When the appropriate amount of coins or tokens are deposited, electronic switches 178 in the coin counter circuit 179 are closed, thereby permitting current to pass, and to simultaneously activate the game system 100 visual lights by means of the visual-lights circuit 180, the set and reset circuit 181, the points and reset circuit 183, and the solenoid post circuit 184. Upon energizing the set and reset circuit 180, the timer 185, as well as the internal electronic calculation of the number of points scored, is reset to zero (“00”) as displayed on the timer readout 148 and score readout 147, both illustrated generally by the display board designation 188 which comprises part of the display counter circuit 189.

Preferably, an Intel 4076B microprocessor is used for the display counter means, and an Intel 4520B microprocessor is used for the coin counter circuit. Simultaneous with the score and time being reset to zero (“00”), an electromagnetic field is created within the solenoid coils 190 which causes each post 127 (shown in FIG. 6), which are integral to the solenoids 166, to raise to a preferred playing height above the playing surface 128. As points are scored, the scorekeeping button 149 (shown in FIG. 6) is pressed, thereby changing the count displayed on the score readout 147. When the requisite number of points have been earned by a player, or if the pre-determined time to play a game has elapsed as evidenced by the timer readout 148, the game system 100 is deactivated thereby shutting off the current to the solenoids 166 resulting in the retraction of each post 127 below the playing surface 128, and thereby ending the game. Though applicant has described the preferred embodiment of the central electronics 167, the addition of other types of circuits, such as tilt sensors to stop rough play, may be added without deviating from the spirit of the present invention. Furthermore the above-described arrangement is readily adapted to operate pneumatically-operated post assembly 202.

It is also noted that the pneumatically-operated post assembly 202 raises the posts 294 with very minimal air pressure such that the posts 294 will retract easily when pressed. This arrangement provides a safety feature in case a person or object impacts the post 294; in which the post will quickly retract rather than injure the person or object. For example, in a bar fight or accidental fall the post 294 would retract until the person or object is removed from the game board. Upon reading the teachings of this specification, those with ordinary skill in the art will now understand that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, user preference, etc., other safety arrangements for protecting injury due to the post, such as break-away posts, etc., may suffice. This arrangement embodies herein wherein said at least one post is structured and arranged to permit normal accidental pressure to lower said at least one post without causing serious damage to human tissue.

FIG. 19 shows a top view of a scoreboard transport/storing arrangement on the playing surface of the tabletop horseshoes game system 100 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the scoreboard 260 (or scoreboard 352, as applicable to the embodiment) fits on top of the playing surface 128 and within the two longitudinal rails 131 (or longitudinal rails 364, as applicable to the embodiment) for compact shipping.

Although applicant has described applicant's preferred embodiments of this invention, it will be understood that the broadest scope of this invention includes such modifications as diverse shapes and sizes and materials. Such scope is limited only by the below claims as read in connection with the above specification.

Further, many other advantages of applicant's invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the above descriptions and the below claims.