Dwile Flonking / Dwyle Flunking

Resurrected in the late 1960’s Dwile Flonking (or Dwyle Flunking) is an outdoor pub game of dubious origin but startling originality. Centred around the villages of Bungay and Beccles in Suffolk this is a bizarre game made even more unusual by its incredible array of yokel terminology.
The game requires two teams formed of twelve players each. One team forms a circle (called the Girter). A member of the opposing team takes his turn to stand in the middle of the Girter and be the Flonker. The Flonker carries a 2-3 foot long stick (or Driveller) on the end of which is a beer sodden sponge (or dwile). As the Girter members dance around him the Flonker must flonk his dwile using his Driveller to try and hit a member of the Girter. He has two attempts and scores as follows:

Hit on the head (a Wanton) 3 points
Hit on the body (a Marther) 2 points
Hit on the leg (a Ripple) 1 point

Miss totally (a Swadger) 0 points, plus the poor Flonker must now, as a forfeit, quickly drink a pint of ale. A process which for some reason has no rustic alternative name in the yokel-lexicon.

Each member of the team has a go at being the Flonker then the two teams change places. The highest combined team score wins although often games finish with no-one knowing or even caring about the score.
Like many village games, Dwile Flunking's origins are cloudy to say the least but a game very similar in appearance appears in the 16th century painting “Children’s Games” by Breughel.

strange games no:159

Inuit Airplane Game

The last post about Human Battering Ram brings to mind the traditional Inuit game of Airplanes.

A game for teams of four that appears at first glance to be easy but requires phenomenal upper body strength. One member lies on the floor, feet together and arms outstretched - the 'airplane'. The other three team members now lift the 'airplane' up - one person holds the ankles with one each holding the players wrist/forearm. The airplane must keep his body totally rigid - sagging is not allowed - as long as possible whilst his team 'fly' him around the room. The team that flies their plane the furthest wins.
For the ambitious games player you could always try getting a Human Airplane formation team together - a sort of Inuit Red Arrows!

video: wheelbarrow racing the nearest Western equivalent game
strange games no:158

Human Battering Ram

Yesterday's post on Piggy Back Fighting led to a missive from Resh Dorka (Strange Games' expert on playground stupidity) detailing a pleasingly violent variation he played as a child.
Human Battering Ram is best played with a large number of players. Everyone gets into groups of three people and then every group bar one forms a Piggy Back Horse as detailed in the previous post (two players form the horse, one rides them). The sole remaining team of three now forms a human battering ram: basically two players hoist the third onto their shoulders so that he is horizontal to the ground with his feet facing forwards - some players prefer to hold the 'ram' under their arms. Play commences with the battering ram rushing at horses and riders, their aim being to knock a rider off his mount. That team will then be out of the game. Play continues until a victorious horse and rider remains.
strange games no:157

More Piggy Back Fighting

The last post on Kibasen prompted the following mail from Herbert Rowsell (Strange Games Expert on Playground Games):

"Monty, I remember a piggy back game very similar to Kibasen being played on the school playing fields. It was a more complicated version of piggy back fighting in the sense that it was really horse back fighting. A couple of boys would form a horse by one bending down behind the other and placing his arms around the standing boy's waist - a little like the position needed to be a pantomime horse. A third boy, the rider, would now climb upon his back. Other groups of three boys would form their horse and riders and then battles would commence. Horses would charge into each other and the riders would attempt to pull others off their mounts - thus securing victory. A relatively harmless game as long as it was played on grass although I do remember it being banned when an irresponsible boy brought in some pool cues to use as lances and tried to have a jousting competition."

the attached picture is a Picasso sketch showing how to make a horse
strange games no:156

Kibasen / Cavalry Battle

The traditional schoolyard game of piggyback fighting, with its associated back, arm and head injuries, is probably near the top of the league of banned games in Britain's schools (just behind British Bulldog and Red Rover) The Japanese version Kibasen (Cavalry Battle) however is so popular in Japan that it even forms part of school sports day.
Kibasen is for teams of four players. Three people stand in a triangular formation, facing the same way, and hold hands. This enables the fourth member to perch on the back of the front player with his feet supported by the others hands (see picture). All riders wear a hat or headband. Now battle commences. The aim is for each group to charge towards the other and for the rider to grab and remove an opponent rider's hat thus eliminating that team from the game. Falls and injuries are commonplace.

Games can be simply between two teams of four, or as often happens the whole school forms two armies and a full scale Kibasen battle is held.
strange games no:155

Strange Games for the Bedbound: A Toy Lift

Strange Games receives many e-mails like the following: "Montegue, my child has (fill in contagious disease of your choice) and has to remain resting in bed for two weeks. Are there any unusual activities that will entertain him during this time? regards, Roland Puleston Jones."

Obviously you want to avoid new-fangled entertainments such as television, portable games machines and MP3 players (in my day you were lucky to get a copy of the Dandy and a bottle of Lucozade) so I suggest you make a Toy Lift.

Here are the original instructions for a Toy Lift from the book Something To Do' (1966)
You need a very long piece of strong string, some cotton and three curtain rings. Put the long piece of string through the bar of the bed behind your head and secure loosely. Thread the other end of the string around the rail at the end of the bed and slip the three curtain rings onto it. Holding on to the end, untie the string at the head of the bed and tie both ends together, making a belt of string that can be pulled around. Tie a small aeroplane, or a little doll, or anything which might enjoy riding in space on to the middle ring with cotton. Then lie back and send your traveller off on his journey. Marvellous!

The original illustration from the book shows how much fun can be had.
strange games no:154

Strange Swing Ball Variations

My last post about Office Face Ball, a game that uses the string and ball part of a swingball, has led to Strange Games being deluged by an e-mail (thank you Maurice Tweddle) regarding other odd variations on Swingball.

Blind Swing Ball: Like all blindfolded versions of normal sports and games (blindfold driving, blindfolded football) blindfolded swingball is inspired, stupid and often painful. Simply position yourself at opposing sides of the swingball, put on your blindfolds and try and hit the ball. All normal swingball rules apply.

Space Hopper Swing Ball: Like Blind Swingball this is a game that is entirely described by its title. Both players must bounce on a space hopper, holding on with one hand whilst they try to hit the tennis ball with the other. Inspired.

video of space hopper swing ball in action
strange games no: 152 & 153

Office Face Ball #2

Randy Linebacker (Strange Games American Correspondent) writes:
Your recent post on the brilliant office game of Face Ball (
strange game no 147) reminded me of a game I've played myself in offices when the boredom becomes too much. We used to call it Face Ball but really it is more of a cross between Face Ball and Wallhookey/Ring the Bull (strange game no:107).

Simply get a tennis ball and attach some string to it, or even better get one from a Swingball set and fix it to the office ceiling. The height should be adjusted so that when the string is at about 60 degrees to the vertical the ball will be at face height of the competitors. Two players now stand either side the dangling ball and set it off in a circular motion. They then take it in turns to flap at the ball with their hand, when the ball is closest to them, so that if they make contact it swings and strikes their opponent in the face. Simple. The most scores out of ten attempts wins, or the first player to retire injured loses.

video of Office Face Ball from You Tube
strange games no:151

Sitting Ducks

There is nothing like the expectation of pain to make a game more interesting.
Sitting Ducks is the playground equivalent of the fairground game where you must shoot moving ducks to win a prize.

The ‘ducks’ are created by players finding a narrow playground wall and walking back and forth along it. The shooter stands 15 meters or so away from the wall with his supply of footballs. He has a limited number of shots of the footballs to knock as many ‘ducks’ off the wall as possible. It adds a frisson of excitement to the game if the drop from the wall for the ducks is of a reasonable height.

strange games no:150

Are You There Moriarty?

Strange Games is extremely grateful to Sky Croeser for highlighting this superb activity.

Are You There Moriarty? a game involving the magic ingredients of blindfolds, violence and chance is like a supine version of the game
Big Brother (strange games no:96). For two players, each is blindfolded and lies on the ground, flat on their backs but with their heads facing each other. Each wields a plastic sword (or rolled up newspaper for the less brave). One player now calls out, "Are you there Moriarty?" to which the other must respond, "Yes" whereupon the first can now strike out by flinging her sword arm over her head in an attempt to strike the other. The other, once having said "Yes" can turn over to their left or right side, or remain stationary in an attempt to avoid the blow. If the first player makes a successful strike then she gets to go again, otherwise the roles are reversed.

strange games no:149
the accompanying photograph shows members of the Western Australia Strange Games Association playing Are You There Moriarty? at their Summer Shindig

web: video of Sideways version of the game

Face Ball and Ball Ball

Every so often the human brain surpasses itself with its ingenuity and invents a game so sublime that Olympic status can surely only be seconds away. Face Ball is one such game.
Created by the febrile minds of the staff at Flikr.com the game Face Ball is like a stationary version of dodgeball.
For two players, each sits on an office chair ten feet from his opponent. Players then take it in turns to throw a beach-ball type ball at their opponents face. If they manage a successful strike they retrieve the ball and throw again. If they miss it is their opponents turn. Target players may not move to avoid the ball but must remain still whilst their opponent throws. Points accumulate with each strike over a set number of rounds.

For rules, purchases of regulation Face Balls and videos of game play visit: FaceBall.org
If you find strange office ball games like Face Ball too tame and long for more hardcore action then the game you need is Ball Ball. Again for two players but this time using one of those gigantic plastic inflatable balls used by rhythmic gymnasts. Here one player clutches the ball to his chest, the other has none. Both players then run towards each other at the greatest speed they dare and see what results. The player that falls over or falls over most spectacularly is the loser. See video of Ball Ball here.
strange games 147 &148
web: face ball on vimeo

High Jimmy Knacker

A playground game of uncertain origin but it was played in playgrounds in the 1960s and 70’s and goes under a variety of names but it is maybe best known as High Jimmy Knacker.
Two teams of players are selected, sizes of 5 to 10 work well. One team is selected to be the ‘horse’. To do this the first player stands upright with his back to a tree. The second team member faces him then bends so that the top of his head is against the leaders stomach and his arms go around his waist. Successive team members then join the line by adopting a similar position: head between the player in front’s thighs, arms around his legs. Like this the human horse is created.
It is now time for the action. One by one the opposing team must run and leapfrog over the tail of the horse trying to land as far up towards the head as possible. Once they land on the backs (with a leg either side, not on knees) they must remain in that position. The aim of the jumping team is to leapfrog all its members onto the horse and then hope the horse will collapse or break at some point. If that occurs then the jumping team has won and it is their turn to jump again. If they fail to get all team members onto the horse then they lose and form the horse themselves next time. If they all get on but the horse remains standing for a set time (20 seconds or so) then they again lose and must form the next horse.
An excellent game that is both stupid and occasionally dangerous but one that has been a source of constant employment for a generation of Osteopaths.

strange games no:146

Strange Jumping: Tiliraginik Qiriqtagtut and Underpants Jumping

Inuit culture has produced many fantastic games (see Seal Racing and Elbow Racing ) but with Tiliraginik Qiriqtagtut, or the slightly easier to say 'Jump Through Stick', they have created one of the great strange games that requires athleticism, jumping ability and the ownership of a good stick.
To play simply get a solid stick (a broom handle works well) and hold it in both hands in front of your body. Hands should be shoulder width apart. Now the objective is to jump both feet off the ground at once and through the stick without releasing your grip and land without toppling over. You should now be in a slightly crouched position with the stick behind your knees. Now, simply, jump both feet backwards over the stick to return to your starting position. Repeat until exhausted.

There is a modern day equivalent of Jump Through Stick, namely Underpants Jumping (or the Sport of Philanderers as it is sometimes known). Keep your clothes on and use a spare pair of underpants - old ones where the elastic has gone may be the best, but avoid the use of the thong. The game is simply to hold the pants then jump both feet simultaneously into them and then pull them up to your waist, take them off and jump again. Players play against the clock to see who can do the most underpants jumps within a set time. See the video in the link below for some pantastic players.
strange games no:144 &145
note: the accompanying picture shoes the German Record Holder (Hans Skidmarx) in action

Onion Eating

Competitive eating is not really an area that Strange Games covers but we make an exception for Onion Eating, especially when it takes place at the annual Newant Onion Fayre.
The Onion Fayre at Newant, Gloucestershire is a modern revival of an event that has been staged possibly since the 13th century and is a joy for agitated Allium addicts the nation over. In fact, so onion obsessed are the organisers that it took concerted pressure in 2002 to allow leeks, chives and spring onions into the event. The fayre stages the usual horticultural competitions, onion sales and onion soup tasting but the highlight is the onion eating competition: contestants vie with each other to eat a raw peeled onion in the fastest time. The competition is open to all except presumably hypnotists and the French and this year is held on the 8th of September.

(The world record time for eating a whole onion is 48 seconds and in a remarkable 3 bites - held by Samuel Grazette)

strange games no:143