Welsh Stone Skimming

Stone Skimming/Skipping has been covered before on Strange Games but Welsh correspondent Mark Davies (or Davies the Stone as he is known locally) has brought to my attention the inaugural Welsh Stone Skimming Championships.

These will be held on 12th August in Castle Pond, Pembroke. Welsh Stone Skimming (carega yn crychneidio?) follows closely the rules of the World Championships that are held in Easdale Island, Scotland: stones, no more than 3 inches in diameter, are skimmed for greatest distance but each must make at least three bounces in the water. Entrants can have up to five skims of the stones which are supplied by the organisers.

As Britain sinks under flood waters maybe the skipping of stones (alongside Swamp Soccer) will become the country's national sport replacing the dullest of games, football.

The accompanying diagram reveals the perfect positioning of stone and water for best results. Just make sure that the base of the stone is vertically z below the water surface, with length S(cm) submerged at an angle to the horizontal of Theta(radians). Throw the stone with velocity V(m/s) at an angle beta into the water. Anyone wanting the optimum numbers for these parameters, email me at montegue_blister@hotmail.co.uk.

stone skipping world record video

Seal Racing #2

After my previous post on Seal Racing I received an e-mail from Sonia Gund, a Strange Games reader who also does research into Inuit culture, and she kindly pointed out that Seal Racing as she has seen it played on Baffin Island is slightly different. In fact it's a much harder game. She also generously provided a photograph she has taken.

Sonia Gund: The form of seal racing I've seen on Baffin Island differs somewhat from your description. Contestants hoist their entire bodies up into the air like planks (no curving cobra position) that are supported in front by their fists and in back by their toes. They then propel themselves forward in "hops" using (as far as I can tell) just their forearms (toes keep them balanced). They do this as long as their knuckles hold out (not long, in most cases!).

Seal Racing

The greatest childhood chants and games are often based upon real life events and environments. Ring-a-Ring-a-Roses' genesis in the years of the European Plague is well known; less known about is the English chair shortage of 1673 that gave us Musical Chairs.
But, one of the the best strange games inspired by it's environment is the Inuit game of Seal Racing. All players lie stomach down on the floor, then they raise their upper bodies off the ground by placing their hands under their chest and extending their arms. They should now resemble a seal (or be in the Cobra position if you are familiar with yoga). Now, maintaining this position and using only their arms to propel themselves, players race each other to the finishing line. It's not till you've tried it that you realise how much upper body strength you need to be successful at Seal Racing.
Probably best played indoors on a smooth floor, or on ice if you want authenticity, but also good on the beach, Seal Racing deserves to be played much more widely outside of the Arctic Circle.

strange games no:133
The attached photo shows a young Herbert Rowsell, concerned about trailing, in a game at Formby Sand Dunes

Ikusimmiaq - Elbow Racing

Recent posts on Strange Games about Victorian Street Games (especially Crocodile's Food) have reminded me of an Inuit children's game that would fit perfectly in either those past times or even better as a more interesting alternative to Bear Racing at school sports day.
To play Ikusimmiaq, or Elbow Racing, simply crouch down on your knees, place both elbows on the ground and both hands over your ears. Now, maintaining this position - race. You can not remove your hands from your ears and you must propel yourself forwards using only your knees and elbows. Just describing this in plain text the game seems a little lame but I would encourage you to get down, on a nice thick carpet, and have a race with someone. The fastest person over the course, or more usually the person who can stop laughing the longest, wins.

strange games no:132

Swimming in Bluewater

Another of Mr Jolley's highly unusual Victorian Street games is one called Swimming in Bluewater. I have just finished giving it a trial play with Mrs Blister and some members of her Womens' Institute group and confidently predict it will soon be clutched to the hearts of strange games enthusiasts everywhere.
Get all players into teams of two. One member of each pair bends down, holding their hands behind their knees (a piggy). The other players now lie, stomach down, crossways across their backs and simultaneously perform the swimming strokes of their choice (I can recommend breast stroke). The team that lasts the longest, without the swimmer falling off or the piggy collapsing, wins.
If you want to be really daring go for backstroke.

strange games no:131

Frogs & Crocodile's Food

My recent posts about medieval games encouraged Mr Jolley (Strange Games' South of England Correspondent) to send me some descriptions of, what can only be described as, some extremely bizarre Victorian street games. Frogs & Crocodile's Food is one such game.
A race game for teams of two players. One player bends over, holding his knees, forming a traditional 'frog', his team mate now leapfrogs over him and upon landing makes himself into the crocodile. He does this by lying on his back on the ground then by raising his body up on his hands and feet (better known as a crab position) . His team mate now rests his flat cap on the crocodile's stomach (thus forming the crocodile's food). The crocodiles race head first down the street with their assistants guiding, encouraging and retrieving the crocodiles' caps when they fall off. Obviously, with few children these days making the wise fashion choice that is the flat cap this part of the game would need changing; a baseball cap would probably work equally well.

strange games no:130

Crazy Stair Climbing

Back to games from more modern times and the childish stupidity (but fun) that is Crazy Stair Climbing.
Crazy Stair Climbing is the perfect name for what appears to be a more mobile branch of the well documented and inspired sport of House Gymnastics. All that is required is a narrow stairwell with metal banister rails on each side and some imagination. A variety of methods can be used to traverse either up or down the stairs but at no time must your feet touch the ground.The basic Crab Method involves holding onto the banister rail with both hands, placing your feet against the wall below, then crab 'walking' in a hand over hand style down the stairs keeping toes off ground at all times. With one player on each rail this makes for a grand race.
For single players, the Crab Straddle involves placing a foot on top of each rail and then by stretching forwards placing your hands on the rails too. In this straddle position you now have to shuffle upwards to get to the top of the stairs. Once mastered the next step(sic) is the downhill Crab Straddle – exactly the same but head first down the stairs.

web: see footage of crazy stair climbing on Strange Games the Videos
web: House Gymnastics official site
strange games no:129

Strange Games with Fire #3:Balance, Burn & Splash

My previous post has led to a number of readers asking for more games to play at what seem to be increasingly popular children's medieval-themed parties. Extensive research has unearthed a gem of a game I will call Balance, Burn and Splash. It is hardly an overstatement to say that this game is due a revival as it probably hasn't been played in the last 200 years.
To play simply place a narrow plank on two trestles. In the centre, underneath the plank place a large tub or pool full of water. At one end of the plank place a lighted candle. Players must now balance themselves in the middle of the plank, above the water, holding an unlighted candle, and must try to light it by stretching and shuffling towards the lit one. Any player who puts a foot down or falls into the tub is out and it is the next players turn.
The accompanying illustration from circa 1500 shows a young player who has successfully completed the task.

previous Strange Games with fire: Knee Balance Burn, SnapDragons
strange games no:128