Games Of Wit
( Originally Published 1906 )
City Chains.—Two groups of players face each other, and one group names a city. Be-fore the umpire has measured off a quarter of a minute the other group must name a city beginning With the last letter of the first-named city, and so it goes till one side fails and loses a member to the other side, when a new chain is started.
Lawyer.—Each person playing chooses a lawyer. One stands in the centre and asks questions of the different players in as natural and brisk a way as possible. No one must reply, on penalty of a forfeit, but his lawyer, on the same penalty, must at once reply for him. If he fails, he takes the questioner's place.
Proverbs.—Doubtless well known. A player is sent from the room, and the words of a proverb are assigned to the members of the company, in order. The player returns and asks questions of the others, each reply to intro-duce the assigned word till the proverb is guessed.
Shouting Proverbs.-This is like the above, except that when the player returns to the room, on a given signal every person shouts his word at the top of his voice, and this is kept up till the proverb has been guessed.
Matched Proverbs.—Choose sides. One side thinks of a proverb and tells its leading word. If the other side cannot name the proverb, they lose a member. On the contrary, they gain one from the other side for every proverb they can name that contains the word proposed.
Snap Proverbs.—Send one player out and arrange the rest in a row, giving each a word of a proverb. The player returns and asks the first player his word. When it is given, he at once turns to another player and requires him to name five—minerals, artists, cities, whatever he pleases—that begin with the same initial. if the player succeeds before the leader counts thirty, he goes to the head of the line. If he fails, he goes to the foot.
Acted Proverbs.—Played like charades, except that a proverb is the theme, and there is usually only one scene.
Pro and Con.—The players face one an-other in two lines. The first on one side gives a word beginning with "pro," and his antagonist must give one beginning with "con" before the umpire counts ten, or, failing, leaves the ranks. Thus it goes on till only one is left. No word may be given twice.
Theatrical Adjectives.—One player retires, and in his absence the others hit on an adjective. On his return he asks questions, and the company will answer in the manner pre-scribed by the adjective, that is, for instance, in a " lazy " fashion, or a " brisk " fashion, or an "indignant " way. The person whose action gives the guesser his clue takes his place.
Definitions.-One player thinks of a word, as, "tree," and tells a word with which it rhymes, as, " bee." The other must try to guess the word, but instead of asking, "Is it `sea' ? " etc., they must use definitions, and ask, " Is it a very large body of water ?" and the leader must reply, " No, it is not a sea." Thus proceed till the word is guessed, the guesser then propounding a new word.
Who Are You ?—A player leaves the room and a historical character is chosen. On his return he is bombarded with questions ad-dressed to him as if he were the person thought of, this being continued till he has guessed who he is.
Who Am I?—In this game one player chooses his character, and acts it out till the rest of the company have guessed it.
Progressive Spelling.—Put the players in a row. The first thinks of a word and tells its first letter. He thinks of " cat," we will say, and gives " C." " H," adds his neighbor, thinking of "chair." "I," continues the third player, thinking of " chisel." " C," says the fourth, thinking of chicken." " A," adds the fifth, having in mind "chicanery." If any one fails, his neighbor has a turn, and he is dropped from the line unless it turns out that no one is able to add another letter. f, on being challenged, a player is found to have added a let-ter without having in mind any corresponding word, he is dropped. Continue till one only remains.
Who Knows That Nose ?—Put half of the company in one room and half in the other, hanging a sheet in the doorway. Through a hole in the sheet one player thrusts his nose, the room in which he stands being dark. If he is not guessed after three guesses, one player is chosen from the other side. f guessed, he goes to the other room, which then takes its turn, darkening its own lights.
Significant Initials.—Take turns propounding descriptions of famous people beginning with their initials, such as, " Comical Delineator " (Charles Dickens).
A Senses Test.—Fill ten little numbered bottles with substances of various odors, each player being required to smell them and make a list of the substances. Do the same with ten little dishes whose contents must be deter-mined by sight—powdered sugar, white pep-per, ground cinnamon, sand, and the like. Ten sounds as different as possible are made simultaneously in a neighboring room, and each must make a list of the ten "instruments" from which the sounds proceed. Let the company file slowly past a table covered with a great variety of things, and then write down as complete a list as possible. Ten substances, disguised to the eye, will then be passed to be tasted. Finally, the room being darkened, ten objects will be passed from hand to hand to be determined by feeling, the names being written when the lights are restored.
Teapot.—Banish a player and choose a word of several significations though the same sound. The player returns and asks each of the others a question, to which he replies with a sentence bringing in the word agreed upon, except that the place of the word is to be taken by the word, " teapot." If the word is "pair, pear, pare," and the question, "Have you ever seen a lover?" the answer might be, " Yes, a teapot of them." The person whose reply gives the clue becomes guesser in a new round.
No-horned Lady.—The players sit in a circle and one turns to his right-hand neighbor and says, as rapidly as possible, "I, a no-horned lady, always no-horned, come to you, a no-horned lady, always no-horned, to say that this no-horned lady (referring to his left-hand neighbor), always no-horned, has a house with a table (or any other article the speaker may think of) in it." The formula is then passed on, each speaker adding a new article till it becomes a long list. For every mistake made a lamplighter is stuck in the hair, and the unfortunate player becomes a " one-horned Lady," a "two-horned lady," etc., and must always be thus described, on penalty of receiving one's self an additional horn.
Literati.—One withdraws, and the company think of some famous man, each taking a letter of his name. Returning, the leader questions the player that has the first letter, who re-plies, having in mind not the person to be guessed, but some historical character beginning with his letter. f Lincoln is to be guessed, he may answer with Lowell in mind ; the next player may answer with Isaac in mind, the next thinking of Noah, and so on. Whoever gives the final clue must become guesser in his turn.
Throwing light.—Thinking of a word of several meanings but the same pronunciation, the leader begins to talk about it, speaking of it in its various significations at random, the company interjecting guesses, until some one guesses correctly, and then starts a new puzzle himself.
What 18 It like ?—A player who has left the room returns to guess some object fixed upon in his absence. "What is it like ? " he asks. "Like a door, because it has four corners." " Like our Bridget, because it is green." Thus the answers may run until he discovers the word, " greenback." '
Advertisements.—Mount upon squares of pasteboard a series of well-known advertisements, leaving no proper names—nothing but the pictures, "catch " phrases, and the like. Number these, and pass them around for the company to make out a correct list.
Quotations.—Arrange the company in two rows facing each other. The leader of one row gives a quotation, and the leader of the opposite row must name the author or pass over to the side of his opponents. The quotations are proposed by each side alternately.
Catches.—A book might be written upon these forms of diversion. They are amusing, but a little of them goes a long way. For ex-ample, it is proclaimed that Mrs. Brown does not like tea, and it is asked what she does like, the players being required to suggest articles of food. if they mention " toast, potatoes, tomatoes," and so on, they are sent indignantly from the circle, but if they name " bread, milk, horseradish," and so on, they are warmly approved, and it will be some time before they discover that Mrs. Brown's aversion is to the letter " t."
" AEsop's Museum " is similar, AEsop asking each player what animal he has been eating lately, and permitting him uncondemned to eat any animal provided there is no " o " in its name. Then there are catches of the practical-joke type, like " Farmyard." Each player is given some animal whose characteristic noise he is to make as loudly as possible when the leader's hand is raised, but he is to be silent instantly as soon as the leader's hand is lowered. These instructions are whispered; but the unfortunate person who has to imitate the donkey is not given the latter half of the instructions, so that he innocently and vigorously brays out a solo.
" Pansy " is not unlike this. The leader whispers to each the name of some flower, and says that as each flower is named in the course of a story he will relate, the corresponding player must try to escape from the room be-fore he can be caught. After several narrow escapes the company is all eager attention, sitting on the edges of the chairs. Calmly the story-teller introduces the word, " pansy," whereupon there is a wild rush from the room of everybody but himself. All but two or three had been assigned the same flower.
Forms of "mind-reading," dependent upon some signal given by a comrade, are numerous and puzzling. Perhaps the most obscure is this : Each player writes some word on a piece of paper, which is folded and placed with the others in a box. The mind-reader draws a slip and rubs it mysteriously across his fore-head, naming at last some word. His reading is at once confirmed by one of the company, whose word has been agreed upon beforehand, and whose slip is folded in such a way as to be avoided till the last. The mind-reader opens the slip to make sure he is right, and reads, of course, a new word. Taking another slip, he proceeds to draw this word from it by his vast mental powers, much to the mystification of the company. Of course he may do without the accomplice and name first what he himself wrote, having marked his own slip.
My list of games of wit might be largely in-creased, and I fear I am not safe in taking it for granted that all my readers will know the good old games of " Clumps," " Twenty Questions," Beast, Bird, and Fish," " How, Where, and When," "Boston," "Traveler's Alpha-bet," " Steamboat's Coming," " I Love My Love," " Apprentice My Son," and " Buzz." f any of these names is unfamiliar, I advise you to discover its meaning without delay, and straightway practise it !