Fives is not the same as Long Fives, which is played in a real tennis court.
There are two main forms of the game, Eton Fives and Rugby Fives. Eton Fives is played competatively as a doubles game, while Rugby Fives is played as both a singles and a doubles game. The rules for Eton and Rugby Fives were both published in 1931.
The Eton Fives court is modelled on part of Eton College's Chapel and is enclosed on three sides and open at the back. A small step splits the court into upper and lower sections, and sloping ledges run horizontally across the walls, one of which forms the "line". The first courts at Eton were built in 1840.
Eton Fives has a more complex variation and some specific court features or 'hazards'.
Rugby Fives uses a simpler court, more like a small squash court, and has a back wall. A variation of Rugby Fives, known as Winchester Fives, differs by the addition of a buttress (resembling the tambour of a real tennis court) on the left-hand wall.
Fives is a minority sport played by enthusiasts numbering perhaps 4,000 active adult players in the United Kingdom. A similar number play in schools. About forty schools are affiliated to the Eton Fives Association (the governing body of the Eton Fives variation), and there are a number of Old Boys' and university clubs. There are some well-established clubs overseas, such as the Zuoz Fives Club in Switzerland, and the game is also vigourously pursued in northern Nigeria. Like the Eton Fives Association, the Rugby Fives Association (the governing body of Rugby Fives, founded in 1927) has affiliations from over forty schools and thirty-two clubs, from Edinburgh to Tavistock, and there are also a number of clubs overseas, for example in South Africa and the United States.
Although the image of Fives has been dominated by the well-known eponymous public schools, courts do exist at state schools, and in recent years many of these have been brought into full use. The advantages of economy of space and low playing costs (ball and gloves) make it an attractive sport for schools. Fives continues to developed in England and has started to attract interest from the wider community.
There are also numerous championships, notably the (doubles) Eton Fives Kinnaird Cup and the Rugby Fives Singles Open championship (The Jesters' Cup). Other events include schools, university, age-group, Winchester and (recently) ladies championships.
Exceptional players in recent times have included John Patrick Reynolds and Brian Matthews (Old Citizens, Kinnaird Cup) and Wayne Enstone (Manchester Y.M.C.A., Rugby Fives).