A Game Repertoire
( Originally Published 1906 )
FEW greater blessings can come to this overworked age than a sane, pure, jolly game. In this century we need to echo Sancho Panza's "God bless the man who first invented sleep ! " and add a further blessing on the man that invents a good game.
But those that recognize the high moral and physical—yes, and spiritual—blessing of a proper game, are often astonished to observe how few have learned the best games. One of the most pitiful things about the playgrounds for city children is that the poor little waifs, when let loose in their new playgrounds, are at a loss what to do. They have never learned how to play, and a teacher of games has at once to be provided. I do not believe that such teachers are easy to find, for most of us grown-ups are in the sad condition of the street children.
Every Christian that is bent on making his life as bright and sunny as possible will store his memory with a plentiful supply of games, and `will put his cheery knowledge in practice as often as he can.
A game repertoire is not easy to obtain. You must be alert to gather from friends accounts of all bright amusements they may know. Let no allusion to an unfamiliar game pass without full explanation. You must keep your eye on the papers and magazines that make a specialty of reporting the freshest ideas in this important field. You must glean from the odd corners of odd books. After a few years of such study and search, you will find yourself inventing games as good as any of them, and you will become a benefactor of the race.
I have already advised all that have any-thing to do with the entertainment of friends —and who of us has not ?—to keep a little blank book for the purpose of recording these discoveries. Simply the names of the games will usually be enough, but sometimes the rules must be added. Have a division of the book for games that can best be played only by two; another for the games for four; another —and this you will find most useful, and at the same time most difficult to fill—for the games that are suitable for large companies. How often this list will come in play after you have become familiar with it, you cannot, without trying it, have any idea.
" Life is real, life is earnest." No one feels this more deeply than I do. No one is more anxious, young people, that you should make the most of it, for the sake of the One who gave it. But for that very reason I am an advocate of healthy amusement, because with-out it you will not—you cannot—make the most of life, and the most of the powers of body, mind, and spirit, that God has given you. It is for His sake, and to be used in His service, that I urge you to get a repertoire of games.
It may well be thought that this book should contain at least the outline of such a repertoire. I have attempted to supply it in the following lists, for which I am sure my readers will come to thank me more than for any other portion of this volume. My limitations of space have compelled the most extreme-brevity, so that I may be pardoned for a reference here to two of my books in which all these games are fully described, together with many others : " Social Evenings " and " Social to Save," both published by the publishers of this book. In those volumes I have also given full directions for scores of "socials," or entire evening's entertainments for large parties, and I have made no attempt to condense here any of these more extended schemes.
The following list does not include, either, that large class of games suitable only to special holidays, such as the games that have grown up around Christmas or Halloween. There are numerous books, such as " The Book of Days," which supply full information concerning these interesting but restricted games. The list that follows is one suited to all times and seasons.
Doubtless every reader will glance with amusement, if not with disgust, at some of the paragraphs below, saying, " Why has he filled up his space with that commonplace game which I have known since I was a baby ? " Doubtless, too, these scorned paragraphs will be in each case an entirely different set, since the games with which one person or one section of the country is familiar are often entire strangers and most welcome acquaintances to many others. My only fear is that in taking it for granted that every one knows about some capital old game like " Clumps," I have been a faithless master of ceremonies and left some noble veterans to stand awkwardly as wall flowers.
First in the catalogue shall stand.
Games that require bodily activity, that call in play the muscles, make the eye keener, the hand readier, the feet more prompt, have a decided value in themselves. They have a value for the mind, rendering it more alert, and they have an immediate value for the spirit, freshening it and invigorating it as more intellectual games may not be able to. Besides, these action games are most useful to intersperse among more sedate and arduous amusements, and serve admirably to lighten an evening's entertainment.
The list that follows is, of course, far from complete, but it is representative and I hope suggestive, and will constitute a good nucleus to which your own observation and invention may add.
Dumb Crambo—Divide the company into halves. One half thinks of a word, say "quay," and tells the other group that it rhymes with " tree." Group number two must proceed to act out words rhyming with "tree" till they light on "quay." Group number one must guess each time what word group number two is acting.
Ruth and Jacob—Form a ring, putting a man and a woman in the centre. Blindfold " Ruth." " Where art thou, Jacob ? " she must cry. He answers promptly, " Here am I, Ruth," at the same time dodging her. When he is caught, he is blindfolded and chooses a new Ruth, whom he catches, and thus the game alternates.
Bookbinding.—Each player sits with closed hands extended, knuckles up, a book resting across. The bookbinder must snatch a book and rap the knuckles before the owner of the latter draws them back. f he succeeds in this, or if he merely pretends to snatch the book and the holder lets it fall, the victim be-comes bookbinder._
Meal-Bag Races.—Tie the contestants in stout sacks, their heads alone out, and let them race across the room.
Three-legged .Raee.—Tie your contestants in pairs, the right leg of one to the left leg of his partner, and let the pairs race.
Spin the Platter.—Number the company, and seat them in a circle. One player spins a plate on the floor, at the same time calling a number, whose owner must catch the plate before it falls. f he fails, he becomes spinner.
Bringing It Down.—Hang a bag of candy from the ceiling by a string, and let the players take turns in advancing toward (?) it blind-folded and trying to hit the bag with a cane, thus scattering its contents for a scramble.
Egg Football.—At each end of a table set up two saltcellars as goal posts. Appoint two players as goal-keepers, and arrange their sides so that they will alternate down the table. A blown egg is the football, and it is to be moved solely by blowing against it. f it falls, put it back where it fell off.
Porca, or Italian Blindman's Buff —Form a circle, which moves several times around a blindfolded player in the centre.. He touches a player with a stick, which the player must seize. He then grunts like a pig, or makes some other animal noise, which the player must imitate as closely as possible. When the blindfolded player guesses who holds the other end of his stick, that person takes his place in the centre.
Clothespins.—The opposing sides stand in rows facing each other, and see who can first pass a pile of clothespins down the row to a chair and then back to a chair at the head of the row. The piles contain equal numbers of pins. The pins may be transferred from player to player one at a time, or all at once. A dropped pin must be picked up before the bundle can be passed on.
The Hidden Paper.—Hunt for a piece of white paper two inches square placed in plain view. The players seat themselves as each discovers the paper.
Spoons.—Blindfold two players and seat them on the floor. They are to feed each other cracker crumbs or bananas with spoons. Each player may also be required to feed himself water with a spoon, holding the spoon by the extreme end.
The Runaway Feather.—The players hold a sheet at the level of their mouths, stretching it tight, and blow from one to another a bright-colored feather which a player standing out-side the circle tries to catch. The player nearest whom he catches it takes his place.
Dumb Band.—Each player acts out in panto-mime the playing of some instrument, in time to a brisk tune on the piano. The leader plays an imaginary violin, but changes rapidly to the different instruments, and as he changes, each player in turn must take up the violin, on penalty of a forfeit.
Peanut Race.—This is harder than the bet-ter known potato race. Each contestant must transfer a pile of peanuts from one plate to another at the other side of the room, taking them as many at a time as he can carry them upon a table knife. The victor is the one who transports the largest number of nuts within the time set.
Cobwebs.—Threads of different colors are wound intricately about the room. Each player, choosing a badge of a certain color, must find the end of the thread of that color, and wind the thread upon a spool, the victor being the one who first completes his task:
Three Deep.—Arrange the players in two circles, one within the other, each player on the inside standing just in front of one on the outside. One player remains out and pursues another, who may stop on the outside of the circle at any point. When this happens, and the circle thus becomes three deep, the inside player leaps to the outside (or he may be caught) and is pursued in his turn, until he chooses to make the circle three deep. When any player is caught, he becomes pursuer, and the person who caught him becomes the pursued.
Needles and Thread.—T his is a contest for the young men, who are to see which one can first string. ten needles upon a thread, tying a knot after each needle.
Number Groups.—Each person is given a card bearing a number. The leader chooses some large number and calls it out. The players strive to form sets.the united numbers on whose cards equal the sum announced, and the first complete group to present itself to the leader is victorious, each member of the group receiving a slip of red paper. After several rounds of this, the person with the most red slips is declared the winner.
Throw the Handkerchief.—Knot a handkerchief and throw it from one side to the other of a circle of players, one player in the centre trying to get possession of it. f he succeeds, the person that threw it must take his place.
Other action games, such as " Do you know Uncle Ned ?" " Feathers," "Hunt the Slip-per," " Going to Jerusalem," " Hunt the Ring," "Magic Music," and "Up Jenkins," might be added to the list, but they are probably well known to all my readers, and I can pass on to give a list of Adjective Stories.—Some one writes a comical story, with many personal allusions, leaving frequent blanks for adjectives, which are supplied hit-or-miss by the members of the company, each giving one. The story, thus completed, is then read.
Psychology.—The leader announces a word, say "Boston," and for five or ten minutes each player makes a list of the successive suggestions that come spontaneously to mind ; that is, " Boston " might suggest " baked beans," and that might suggest " oven," and that " oven bird," and so on. All the lists are read slowly by the leader, the company guessing the various authors.
Sonnets.—Give out one by one the terminal words of a sonnet. Each player must fill out the- lines, as they are given, with the proper ten syllables, the productions then being read aloud.
Telegram.—A set of ten letters is fixed upon at random, and each player writes an imaginary telegram whose words begin, in order, with these ten letters.
Illustrated Proverbs.-Each person present makes a drawing illustrating some proverb he has in mind. These drawings are passed around, and the players write their guesses as to the proverb intended, the guesses being folded over so as to be concealed until the close of the game, when they are read aloud.
Illustrated Quotations.—The same, using common quotations.
Novels.—T his is played like " consequences," only- the players first write at the head of their slips of paper the title of a story, real or imaginary, fold the paper so as to hide what they have written, pass and write the name of some author, then in the same way a name of a hero, one of a heroine, a brief synopsis of the plot of the unknown book, and finally a brief review of it, after which the papers are opened up and read.
Doubles.—Choose sides and see, for instance, which side can change " head" to "tail " in the fewest moves, the winning side to choose one member from the other side. The solution might be : " Head, heal, teal, tell, tall, tail." Next you might change a " wren" to a "hawk," etc.
Composite Pictures.—Each player draws on the upper third of a piece of paper the head of some animal. Fold this under, leaving merely the ends of the necks visible, and then pass. Next the bodies are to be drawn, and finally the legs. Then open the papers, and behold ! a new zoology.
Nouns and Adjectives.—Give each player a letter of the alphabet and ask him to write on a piece of paper a noun and an adjective be-ginning with his letter. Distribute these slips at random. Each player must then draw a. picture illustrating what has been assigned him. If " chair, cowardly" is the prescription, for instance, draw a girl standing on a chair, looking at a mouse.
Outlines.—Provide the players with cards upon which is drawn the same irregular line, which each player must then incorporate in the picture of some animal or person.
Alliteration—See who can write the longest story on a given subject, using words be-ginning with the same letter. Or draw letters by lot and let each write a sentence whose words all begin with the letter he has drawn.
Rhapsodies.—The company will make up a list of words, of all parts of speech, and will then set themselves to incorporating these words in stories in the order in which they are given. Limit the stories in length.
Spello.—Choose a word with a great variety of vowels and consonants, and see who can make the most words beginning with the first letter and containing no letters not found in the model word, doubling only the letters found doubled therein. Each word of your list will count for you as many points as there are per-sons that did not think of that word, multi-plied by the number of syllables in the word. Goon to the other letters in order, and at the close sum up your counts.
Transpositions.—Each player chooses from a set of letters the letters that make up the name of some famous person or place, and passes the set around the circle, accompanied with a brief written description giving a good hint in regard to the proper name chosen. The victor is the one that solves, within the time assigned for examination, the largest number of these puzzles.
Alphabet Stories.—Set the company to writing little stories of twenty-six words that begin with the letters of the alphabet taken in order.
What Would You Do If ?—Number the -company and ask each to write a question be-ginning : "What would you do if—" such or such a thing should happen. Collect these and re-number. They will next write, using their new numbers, an independent answer : " I should--." Collect and distribute by chance, a question and answer to each. Let the questions be read in order, and after each the answer that has the same number.
Capping Verses.—Each person present writes in a vertical column a set of rhyming words, and hands it to his neighbor, who must fill it out, forming a stanza.
Cento Verses.—Each player writes a line of poetry, passes the paper, and his neighbor must write a line rhyming with the first. So it goes on as far as is desired.
Advice Gratis.—Write a large number of pieces of witty advice. Each member of the company must draw one and read it aloud, solemnly stating before he looks at it whether it is good advice or bad.
Noted Men.—The players make lists of famous men whose names begin with A, and when the allotted time has expired, each reads his list. Each name counts for him as many points as there are persons that have not writ-ten it down.
Blank Proverbs--One player of a small group thinks of a proverb or familiar quotation, and writes a line of dots separated by vertical lines, to represent the letters and the words. The other players call for a letter—say " e "—and he inserts it wherever it belongs. So with other letters, till the proverb is guessed, f, however, the proverb is not guessed by the time three letters that are not in it have been called for, the propounder of the puzzle is victorious.
There are many other writing and drawing games, such as " Crambo," and " Consequences," that are too well known to need description. We can go on to games that do not require paper and pencils or anything but a quick brain; and which, therefore, I have called