What Do You Want / More Spectacular Deaths

The childhood pastime of Spectacular Deaths has all but died out these days (sorry) but its coverage on Strange Games no:139 prompted an e-mail from Molly McDoodle about a variation played in Scotland called What Do You Want?

Players stand in front of a chanter who shouts out,
"What do you want, what do you want, Gun, Arrow or Atom Bomb?" After which all players must act out their death as if they were killed with a gun or a bow and arrow or most spectacularly of all an atomic bomb.

The 'winner' of the game is decided not just by who can die in the most sensational or realistic way but who can 'remain dead' the best when the chanter walks among them and prods the bodies with his or her feet.

It's a sort of combination game of Spectacular Deaths and a violent version of that old party favourite Statues. Marvellous!

strange games no:175

Stange Games New: Finger Jousting Rules

The king of hand games Finger Jousting has been covered by Strange Games a few times before but it is only now, after 2 years solid work, that the full, unabridged rules for Finger Jousting tournaments have been finalised.
Written by self styled Lord of the Joust Julian Gluck the rules run to 30 pages. The main structural change to competitive Finger Jousting is the move to 3 rounds of 2 minutes each with a minute break in between and an overtime round of 1 minute in the case of a tie.
My favourite rules, however, are:-

~Taking care of your fingernails is a sign of respect for your opponent and shows an interest in maintaining a healthy body.

~A finger jouster is prohibited from wearing clothing that is profane or lewd; exposes the bosom, belly or groin; contains sharp or excessively hard parts.

~The length of a competitors finger shall not be longer than 6 inches

~Bending ones own ‘lance' (finger) down or dropping it so that it no longer sticks out, known as sheathing, is illegal.

~Illegal fingernail length is an automatic disqualification unless an approved glove is worn or the fingernail is trimmed immediately.

The rules also come with a great diagram indicating hand signals for referees should you wish to get involved in the judging and refereeing side of this marvellous game. You can download the full rules from the World Finger Jousting Federation site

video of finger jousting
download finger jousting rule book here

Caterpillar Racing

There has been a flurry of odd racing games on Strange Games recently (Spit Racing and Banana Racing being particular highlights) and Caterpillar Racing is yet another children's racing game about to be resurrected from the past.

For as many players as want to play. From a standing start, lie face down flat on the ground as quickly as possible with your arms stretched above your head. Where your fingertips touch the ground will be your next starting position so now you have to leap to your feet and place them where your fingertips used to be. And so on. Players continue performing this set of moves as quickly as they can to get to the finishing line first.

strange games no:174

High Heel Racing / Stiletto Running

Recent posts about strange forms of racing prompted reader Boris Spedding to mention the sport of High Heel Racing.

High Heel Racing, or Stiletto Running, is exactly as it says on the tin...running as fast as possible whilst wearing stiletto shoes. In the last two years the sport has taken off in Europe with large organised events taking place in Russia, Germany, Holland and Poland.

The minimal rules state that the shoes worn must have a heel of 7cm or longer with a tip of diameter no more than 1.5cm (i.e. you will be disqualified if you turn up in your 1970's platform heels)
At this years Berlin race competitor Denise Hanitsch won the 100m race in a stunning time of 14.7 seconds.
But Europe can not claim Heel Racing as its own. There is an annual High Heel Race held by local drag queens in Washington DC. And it has been held for the last 19 years.
Surely it is time for the marvellous sport to extend to other track events. The High Heel Hurdles would surely be an event worth staging.

video of russian high heel racing
video of drag queen high heel racing
strange games no: 173

Tackling Childhood Obesity: Modern v Old Fashioned

Childhood Obesity is literally a big problem but fortunately Kaiser Permanente have found a solution.... a video game!
"Kaiser Permanente recently launched a video game that teaches kids to eat healthier foods, be more active and manage how much time they spend in front of the computer and television.
Developed by the producer of the "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Monsters, Inc." and "Rugrats" video games, "The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective" is the first game of its kind available for free on the Web in both English and Spanish." read the full article

Old Fashioned:
A great old street game 'Anything Under the Sun' (a variant of games like 'Shop Windows', 'I sent my Son John', etc) is known under many names such as 'John Bull', 'Odds & Ends' or simply by the category name used to play it, “Boys Names”, “Countries”….
To play: One player stands on the far side of the street – this player is the caller. All other players remain where they were. The caller picks a category and shouts out his challenge,”A boys’ name starting with ‘M’?”
If a player wants to guess they must run to the caller then back to their place then back to the caller once more and shout out their guess. “Is it Montegue?” If more than one player runs then only the one arriving first can guess. If they are correct then places are changed and they become the new caller. Otherwise the game continues.
A great game for reducing obesity and (if you select the category Countries) increasing your knowledge of geography.
If only some bright spark would make a computer version of it.

strange games no:172
Strange Games is indebted to Ducky for this superb chanted intro to the game:
Boys, Girls
Fruits or Flowers
Ice Cream, Cake or Candy
Anything under the sun, except dirty rotten bubble gum

Association Bobbage (International King of Sports)

In the unlikely event that you switched on to Channel 5 (UK) at Sunday teatime in 2002 you would have been transfixed by a television programme called International King of Sports. This superb programme, (the Superstars for the 21st century) alongside the game Walking Trippy, is one of the main inspirations for this blog.
International King of Sports contained the sorts of sports that you may have made up or fantasised playing as a child; games like backwards running races, underwater shot put and longest skids. King of Sports featured real sportsmen performing the stupidest sports. If you get chance to watch it (usually open mouthed) look out for one of its greatest games- Association Bobbage.

Association Bobbage is delightfully simple to play. Strap on your best diving flippers and your speedos and jump vertically into a swimming pool. However, your face must remain dry. You must jump into the swimming pool and try to ensure that no part of your body above your neck touches (or goes under) the water. From the pool edge, and wearing flippers, this is relatively easy - but players must jump from successively higher platforms. A wet face means elimination until an Association Bobbage winner is found.
On the show the highest bobbage was by Hungarian footballer Laszlo Fazekas - from an incredible height of 2.4m. Watching him jump it is hard not to believe that he is made of balsa wood.

bring back international king of sports facebook group
strange games no:171

Strange Racing: Banana Racing

Another almost forgotten but brilliant childrens' racing game from Duncan Flann (Strange Games' Crewe Correspondent). Once played, never forgotten, Banana Racing is fun and physically demanding to play and hilarious to observe, especially if played by adults.

Mr Flann writes:

Banana Racing is simplicity itself. Slide one foot as far forward as you are able, as if slipping on a discarded banana skin. Then drag the trailing foot back up to meet the first. Both of your feet must remain touching the ground at all times. And once you have mastered the required feet movements you need to practice increasing the speed - obviously the faster the better.

A marvellous game for indoors or out, but remember the official shoe of the Banana Racer is not training shoes or sneakers but the well weathered, leather-soled brogue.

duncan flann's spitting race /spitfires
video of banana slipping
strange games no:170

Gorodki / Russian Street Skittles

Strange Games is extremely grateful to reader Larches Yeltsin for highlighting the brilliant street game of Gorodki.
Gorodki (Russian for 'little towns') is a truly unique Russian street skittles game that has been played for centuries but only got a standardised set of rules in the 1920s.
The target skittles are five cylindrical wooden blocks (about 6" in length) which are set up in a series of 15 distinctive formations. These formations (the towns) are placed inside a chalked square area (the city) 13 meters away from the throwers. The said throwers wield impressive 1m long heavy wooden batons which they hurl aggressively at the skittles in a sideways throw - the aim being to knock all sticks in the town outside of their containing square. Once all skittles have been removed then the next formation is set up. The team that takes the fewest throws to destroy all 15 'towns' wins.

Gorodki is famed for being a popular game of Lenin, Tolstoy and Gorky and it also makes an appearance in Vladamir Nabakov's 1957 novel Pnin:
"The favourite recreation was Gorodki...One drew a big square on the ground, one placed there, like columns, cylindrical pieces of wood...and then from some distance one threw at them a thick stick, very hard, like a boomerang, with a wide development of the arm. I still hear the trakh! when one hit the wooden pieces and they flew into the air."

strange games no:169

Blindfold Water Pistol Fighting

My recent post on Street Wars reminded me of a blindfolded party game that is immense fun yet rarely played these days.

Blindfold Water Pistol Fighting is a great game for 2 or even 3 players at a time. Simply place two loaded water pistols in the centre of the room and then stand two players at the side of the room, blindfold them and set them off. Their first task will be to find their weapon, then they have to fire it in the direction of their opponent. First player to shoot the other wins. Non playing party goers add to the fun and confusion by shouting out directions to the players.

best ever water pistol game: high noon vitamin C
strange games no:168

Hopping Bulldog

Hopping Bulldog is a great lost street game with similarities to Dance, Fight or Windmill and of course British Bulldog and is surely due a revival amongst street games enthusiasts.

One player stands in the middle of the street, balanced on one leg with his arms crossed. All other players stand facing him on the kerb. The centre player now chooses one, and only one, to cross first. This player must now try to get to the other side of the street but must travel in a likewise fashion by hopping with his arms crossed. It is the job of the center player to crash into him with the aim of knocking him over/getting him to put a foot down before he gets to the other side of the street. If he is successful in this spoiling activity then the travelling player is captured and joins with the centre. Another victim is then picked. If, however the travelling player successfully gets to the far side undisturbed (or if the centre player falls/puts foot down) then all the other players must hop across at once. The centre player attempts to disrupt and capture as many as possible.
The game continues with more and more 'hoppers' becoming centre players and eventually a solitary winning crosser is left.

web: hopping increases bone density research
strange games no:167

World Conker Championships: Conker Facts & Terminology

With the 2007 World Conker Championships being held on the Green at Ashton, Northamptonshire on 14th October it seems appropriate that Strange Games makes a post. Everyone is familiar with the game itself so this post concentrates on some of the more unusual rules, terminology and facts that are associated with the king of seed sports.

~Conkers is also known as ‘Cheggies’, ‘Hongkongs’, ‘Cobs’ and best of all ‘Obbley-onkers
~Flat conkers are known as ‘cheesers’ or ‘cheese cutters’
~Old conkers are known as ‘seasoners’, ‘yearsies’ or ‘second yearsers

~First to call out ‘strings’, ‘clinks’, ‘tangles’ or ‘snags’ when you get tangled strings gets another go.

~Hardening methods: bake for an hour, leave in dark drawer for a year, soak in soda solution or vinegar but best of all : pass the conker through the digestive system of a pig!

Having first strike is an advantage and can be gained with the use of the following rhymes,
Bagsie first cracks’,
‘Idly idly ack – my first smack’,
Hobily hobily honker my first conker’,
'Obbly oh, my first go’.

If a conker is knocked out of opponents hands, shout ‘stamps’ and jump on it! But if they shout ‘no stamps’ first you can’t.

In the 1970's a re-usable toy conker was produced made from plastic. It never caught on, presumably because of the above 'stampsies' rule plus it is a stupid idea to begin with.

In 1952 Huw Wheldon, for some reason, suggested a televised conker competition, The Conker King. Tens of thousands of children applied to enter. The finale pitted a 460-er a 1136-er, a 2385-er and a 3367-er together. The winner became a 7351-er!

strange games no:166

Spit Racing / Spitfires ~a very strange racing game

It is not our job at Strange Games to comment upon and judge games, rather we are a conduit for unusual activities. And if you are looking for an extremely unusual game that combines athleticism, stupidity with possible hygiene issues then you need look no further than Spit Racing.
Suggested by reader Duncan Flann, who remembers playing it as a youth in the 1970s, Spit Racing (or Spitfires) appears to have died a death with that decade.

The simple, and disgusting, idea is that players race against each other by spitting saliva as far forward as possible then rush to the point it hits the ground. Then they must spit again. And so on until they reach the finishing line first and are declared the winner. Obviously a combination of solid running and spitting ability is required to be good at the game. Duncan writes: "I remember that the fastest time achieved for the 100m was about 90 seconds. Although there was quite a strong following wind that day."

strange games no:165

Street Wars~ the king of urban games

If you have ever held a water pistol and fantasised about being a Jackal-like assassin, slipping through crowds un-noticed before clinically dispatching your victim, then Street Wars is the game for you.
Street Wars is the brand name for an urban hunting game that is staged in various large cities around the world at different times. The game is designed to last 3 weeks and is for 100-150 players. Once players have signed up they are given an envelope containing their victims details (name, work and home address, photo) and they have to wipe him out as quickly as possible. Obviously, every player as well as being a hitman is a target himself.
Players can hunt down and eliminate their victim anyway they like as long as it involves the use of a water based weapon: water pistols, water bombs, even a glass of water. If you wet him, you kill him. And on his death the victim must give the killer his own envelope, the person inside being the new target for the victorious player. If, however, the envelope contains your own details then you are a winner of the game.
The excitement of minutely planning a hit is amplified by the fact that as you work out how to get into someone's place of work whilst carrying a super-soaker someone else at that very moment may have you in their sights. And for up to three weeks every time you are in a lift and the doors open you will feel the fear.
Street Wars events have been staged in New York, Vancouver, London and many other major cities.

streetwars video (poland)
strange games no:164
hitman online: amazing banned book, technical manual for independant contractors

Urban Pacman

Urban Pacman is another great recommendation for the bored city dweller from Strange Games reader Tommy Teal. Mr Teal writes:

Many computer games are representations of the real world. NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications graduate program however decided to see what happens when you convert a computer world into a real life one and so Pac Manhattan was born.

Utilising a six by four block of Manhattan for the course, one player is dressed as the pacman and four others are dressed as the ghosts Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde from the classic 80's arcade game. Five other controlling players are needed. These ‘generals’ sit together in room and control one player each using a mobile phone. They can't actually see the players that they are controlling but whenever a pacman or a ghost gets to a street intersection they must then report their position and the ghosts are told the pacman’s state but NOT his position.
As in the computer game the pacman's state can change by eating one of the corner power-ups. These are imaginary, but fixed in position before the game starts by the generals, and provide the pacman with invincibility for two minutes and he can then be directed to chase ghosts. If he catches one then that player has to return to the game's starting position before being able to chase again. Point are gained for the total distance the pacman achieves before being caught.

pacmanhatten website
strange games no:163

Snowball Fighting / Yukigassen

Unsurprisingly the simple pleasure of throwing a snowball at someone has been turned into a game with standardized rules and field definitions. Snowball Fighting, or Yukigassen as it is called, originated in Japan in 1988. Since then it has snowballed, so to speak, and has been taken up by the Nordic countries, especially Finland where an annual two day Yukigassen festival is held in Kemijarvi.
Snowball fighting is played by two teams of seven players on a ten by forty meter pitch which has a series of snow walls for hiding behind. Play consists of three sets of 3 minutes each and during each set the team has a supply of 90 snowballs only. The snowballs are created before each game using a snowball making machine ensuring uniformity of size and density and stopping the childhood technique of adding a little ice to the finished ball.
Each team's home area contains a flag and they must defend this whilst trying to capture their opponent’s and avoid being hit by a ball. If a player is hit he is out for the whole of the set. A set is won by either capturing the flag or by having more players left on the pitch at the end of 3 minutes. If there is a tie then the team that used the fewest snowballs wins that set. Surely there should be a push to get Yukigassen into the next Winter Olympics, at the very least as a demonstration sport.

yukigassen on yuki-tube
strange games no:162

Tommy Teal's Human Curling

Recent Strange Game no:158 Inuit Airplane Game prompted reader Tommy Teal to write:

"A great extension to the Inuit Airplane Game would be for teams to play it on ice. The aim being to throw one player, in full airplane position, stomach-down onto the ice with enough speed so that they reach a target. Just like in real curling other team members could rush in front of the 'stone' frantically brushing at the ice. The team that gets their 'stone' nearest to a target wins."

After a little research it appears that the game already exists, albeit not in such an extreme form as Tommy describes. Human Curling is usually played by teams diving onto large rubber innertubes that are attached to a base board. Nearest the target wins.

video of human curling
brilliant (spoof) video of yogic curling!
strange games no:161

Split the Kipper - strange games with knives #1

Split the Kipper, incredibly, was a popular game played by children in the 1970’s.
All that is required to play is soft ground, stout shoes, a knife and large amounts of stupidity. That’s right, a game for children involving knives.
Players stand facing each other a distance of 1 or 2 meters apart with their legs together. The leading player, the one with the knife, then aims and throws his weapon so that it lands outside his opponents feet. That is to the right of his right foot or left of his left foot. The knife must stick into the ground blade first and must be within 30cm of said foot. If it is further away or if it doesn't stick in the ground at all then it is a ‘no-throw’ and doesn’t count. If it is within 30cm then that player has to move his nearest foot to where the knife landed. He now pulls the knife out of the ground and it is his turn to throw back in the same way.
The game continues with each player taking turns to throw whilst all the time trying to remain standing, their legs getting further and further apart. If a player falls over or gives up, he loses.

When one player feels he can’t take it any longer he may decide to ‘split the kipper’. Here he aims the knife between his opponents feet and if he throws it there successfully may now close his own legs to the starting position. Obviously, the number of times you are allowed to ‘split the kipper’ should be decided before starting otherwise games can continue a long time.

strange games no:160