What Is Finska? Rules & Origin Explained

What Is Finska? Rules & Origin Explained

Image: @_finska

Finska is as essential to Australian summer holidays as huge family gatherings, prawns on the barbecue and cracking open a couple of cold ones. You may already be familiar with popular Finnish family game, but if not, then you’ve come to the right place to find out the history of Finksa and how to play it.

What is Finska?

Finska is an outdoor party game that requires you to knock down numbered wooden pins, using either a separate wooden pin or a dowel. There are 12 numbered pins to knock down, and the winner is the first to reach 50 points.

Where did Finska come from?

The Australian version of Finska is based on the Finnish game of Kyykkä, otherwise known as ‘Finnish skittles.’ In Australia, the game of Finska is a scaled down version of its ancestor, as players only need to start 3 to 4 metres from the numbered pins, whereas with Kyykkä, players must stand some 20+ metres away.

Kyykkä spawned the game Möllky in Finland, and this is more resemblant of the game of Finska played in Australia.

It is claimed that Finska was devised by two dads from Sydney, who were introduced to the game of Kyykkä by a Finnish friend, and realising there wasn’t an equivalent in Australia, decided to come up with their own version.

How to play Finska?

  • 2 – 8 players
  • Numbered pins must be arranged in specific order
  • 3 – 4 metre throwing distance
  • First to 50 points wins

Playing Finska is relatively simple, in the fact that players must take turns throwing a wooden pin at the 12 numbered pins, with the aim of knocking down as many as they can. However, there are a few rules to follow.

Firstly, the 12 pins must be setup in a specific way (as in the image above). The pins included with your Finska set will all have numbers on and the 10, 11 and 12 must go in the middle to form a triangle. The other numbers are arranged around them in ascending order from left to right.

One the pins are arranged, players take turns throwing the separate wooden pin (the Finska) using an underarm throw, at the 12 numbered pins from a distance of 3 – 4 metres. They player can score either a ‘multiple pin score’ or a ‘single pin score’. A single pin score offers the chance to score higher points than a multiple pin score.

For example, if a player only manages to knock down pin number 7, they score 7 points. But if they knock down multiple pins, such as a 7, 12 and 2, then they only score 3 points.

After each throw, the pins must be stood up in the position where they landed. This means the pins will likely end up being spread out across the ground. This can open up the opportunity for players to score higher single pin scores.

For a pin to be counted as a score, it must be fully horizontal. If a wooden pin is leaning on another pin, then it isn’t counted.

Getting knocked out of Finska

It is possible to get knocked out of Finska. If you fail to score any points for 3 consecutive throws, you are out of the game. If you are playing on a team, then your remaining team members can continue to play.

How to win Finska

The beauty of Finska is that it can be played anywhere. Image: @_finska

The winner of Finska is the first to reach exactly 50 points. If you go over 50 points when scoring from a throw, then you start the next turn on 25 points, and then have to build up your score once more.

So, while it may seem Finska is a simple knock ’em down game, it actually requires a lot more strategy, cunning and mathematics than you might have first expected.

If you’re getting close to 50 points, for example, and only need 3 points to win, but knocking down just 3 pins, or the number 3 is going to be tricky because there are multiple other pins nearby, then you may want to deliberately miss a throw so that other players can distribute the pins more using their throws.

Where to buy Finska?

Because Finska has become such a popular game in Australia, you can now buy Finska sets from a number of online retailers.

Finska Official

Finska is the official retailer of the game of Finska, and the company that also hosts the Australian Finska Championship (more on that below). Finska offers the original game in standard wood, a ‘Preemio’ version made from premium beechwood and finished with a varnish for durability and longevity, a ‘Mini’ version and a number of coloured versions.

Find them all at Finska’s official website.

Planet Finska

Offering many of the same Finska sets as the official company, Planet Finska also offers a Launch Bar, which you would use to mark an unpredictable throwing position. Using this could make your game easier or more difficult, depending where it lands.

Australian Finska Championship

The Irreducible Bretons were crowned 2022 Australian Finska Champions. Image: finska.com.au

Each year, Finska hosts the Australian Finska Championship. Each annual tournament sees 150 teams of two players compete against one another for the chance to be crowned Australian Finska Champion.

The 150 teams are divided into pool groups. Each team in a pool competes against the other teams in their pool, to determine who advanced to the knockout stages. The 2022 Australian Finska Championship was contested on Saturday 15th October at The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney.

The 2022 Australian Finska Champions were the Irreducible Bretons, who walked away with a $1,000 winners cheque and the Australian Finska Champion Trophy.


Image: @finskaroos

Due to the popularity of Finska in Australia, there is now an official national team called the Finskaroos. The Finskaroos competed in the Finska World Championships, which were held in Samoëns, France. The Finskaroos didn’t win, but since it was their first tournament, they gained valuable experience to try again in Finland in 2023 and Japan in 2024.