AMUSEMENTS AND GAMES

BACKGAMMON.

A game played on a board divided into two equal parts, each half being marked with twelve points of alternating colours. The game is played with fifteen pieces (draughtsmen will do), movements being determined by 3. throw of the dice. The object of the player is to move all his men to the proper points on his own table, playing them off and bearing them away by throws of the dice, thus making a ‘ hit.’ If this is accomplished before the adversary succeeds in placing his men in the opposite territory, the player wins a ‘ gammon ‘—equal to two ‘ hits.’ Two games out of three get the ‘ rubber.’ BAGATELLE.

A game played with cues and balls in a similar manner to billiards, but with a considerably smaller table (from five feet long by eighteen inches wide). At one end of the table, cup-like holes are arranged circularly, and numbered 1 to 9. The object is to drive one’s first ball from the opposite end of the table, and hit a black ball which is placed before the first hole, and then the rest of the balls are played up to the holes ; the sum total of all the holes filled being the striker’s score.

BILLIARDS.

This game is played on a slate-topped table 12’ by 6’ 1 1/2’, covered with fine green cloth, and enclosed by, cushioned edges about 2A’ high, having six pockets. A tapering leather-tipped cue is used, and three ivory or composition balls—white, spot-white and red. The object is to drive one or other of the balls into a pocket by striking the white ball with the point of the cue, making what is called a ‘ hazard,’ and to ‘ cannon ‘ one against the two others. The red ball is never struck with the cue, but is placed on a given spot at the outset, somewhat in the manner of a ‘ jack’ at bowls. A ‘ break ‘ is made by striking a white ball from a space behind the ‘ baulk ‘ line, and if the red is pocketed, or the player’s own ball after striking the red be driven into a pocket, three is scored. If both balls enter a pocket, six is scored. The red ball is replaced after being pocketed, and the striker may attack it from the position at which his own ball comes to rest. If the player fails to strike another ball with his own, this counts as a point to his opponent, who thereupon becomes the striker ; if, on a miss, the first player’s ball enters a pocket, it must remain there—three is counted to the antagonist and the red ball alone remains to be menaced.

Pool.

A game all of winning hazards, several players playing with variously coloured balls. Each time a ball is ‘ holed,’ the owner scores a ‘ life,’ and is then required to play at the nearest ball on the table, until he fails to ‘hole.’ If the player’s ball should run into a pocket, he forfeits a ‘ life.’ Each player has three lives, and the last one to be left with a ‘ life ‘ takes the ‘ pool.’ Two being left with an equal number, share the stakes.

Pool, Russian, is played 100 up, with five balls of various colours. It is much more intricate than –

Pool, as each coloured ball must be played into given pockets. There are a number of elaborate rules and penalties attached to this game.

Pyramids.

In this branch of Billiards, fifteen red balls are arranged in a triangle by means of a wooden frame at one end of the table—the apex being towards the player. The winner is the one who succeeds in pocketing the largest number of red balls. The first plays from baulk with a white ball, and pockets one or as many red balls as possible. When the player makes a losing hazard, his adversary continues the game. To pocket the white ball, force any ball off the table, or miss a ball, necessitates forfeiting one point. There is a variety of Pyramids known as ‘ Shell-out.’

Snooker is a combination of Pyramids and Pool, and is played with the red balls and six variously coloured ones. It may be played by two or more contestants. Each striker must ‘pot’ a red and coloured ball alternately. If, when endeavouring to ‘ pot’ the red, he hits a coloured one, he loses points to the value of that colour.

CARDS.

A pack consists of 53 cards, arranged in four suits, 13 in each—Spades, Diamonds, Clubs and Hearts; Hearts and Diamonds being red and Spades and Clubs black. Generally the most valuable cards are the Ace, King, Queen and Jack, the values decreasing from thence : two being the lowest in the suit. Occasionally the Ace is the least valuable card, counting only one; in such games, the King is the highest. There is also a card bearing the picture of a sitting jester, known as the Joker ; in games where it is used (as Poker), the Joker is an invaluable card, as it may represent anything from the Ace downwards. In most games all suits are of the same value, but in Poker, Bridge and Auction, the most valuable suit is Hearts, the next Diamonds, then Clubs and lastly Spades. One suit is usually made trumps in the Whist series of games—that is, one suit is given a higher value than the others—hence, if Hearts are Trumps, the smallest Heart is worth more than the highest card of any other suit. After well shuffling, the cards are ‘ cut ‘ ; they ‘ cut ‘ again for Trumps and also to choose a dealer—the one drawing the lowest card has the deal. The cards are dealt beginning with the player on the left— known as the ‘ eldest hand ‘—who is the first to play. In most games the object is to win ‘ tricks ‘ ; the most valuable card played, according to the rules of the game in progress, wins the trick ; the player of that card not only scores the trick, but usually leads in the next. The following terms are used in card playing : Court Cards : comprise King, Queen and Jack, and sometimes Ace and Ten. Honours : Ace, King, Queen, Jack and (in Whist, etc.). Ten. Knave : the old name for Jack. Deuce and Tray mean Two and Three of a suit. To Revoke means failure to play a card of the suit led by the first player when the rules provide that such cards shall be played, if held. A Singleton is one card only of a suit as originally dealt.

Bezique is a game for two players, though there are variations for three or four. Two packs of 32 cards are used, from which the numbers two to six are eliminated. They rank as follows : Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, Nine, Eight and Seven. After shuffling, the cards are dealt, eight to each player, usually by threes, twos and threes ; the seventh is turned up as trump and placed face upwards between the players. The other cards, placed face downwards beside the trump, are the stock. A player’s object is to score points by ‘ declaring ‘ the various combinations as under : points Common Marriage (King and Queen of same suit) scores

Royal Marriage (King andQueenof Trumps) ,,

Single Bezique (Queen ,, of Spades and Jack ,, of Diamonds) . ,,

Double Bezique same points combination again declared in the course of same hand by same player, but with fresb cards) scores

Four Jacks duly declared …. ,,

Four Queens duly declared …. ,,

Four Kings duly declared . . . .

Four Aces duly declared . . . .

Sequence of five best

Trumps (Ace, King,

Queen, Jack, Ten) ,,

To score these points, the necessary cards must be at the same time in the player’s hand, and must be duly declared and laid on the table. Points are also scored for : (I) seven of Trumps either played or turned up, for which ten points are awarded; (ii) the second seven duly declared scores ten ; (iii) every Ace and Ten in the captured hand (known as ‘ brisques ‘) counts ten, and (iv) ten points are awarded for taking the last trick. A game is usually 1,000 points. The score is kept by means of Bezique markers having two dials with pointers, one showing tens up to a hundred, and the other, hundreds to a thousand.

Bridge is a development of Whist, from which it principally varies in that (a) The dealer or his partner decides the Trump suit for the hand, (b) The cards of the dealer’s partner are laid exposed on the table, and the dealer plays them as well as his own : his partner takes no part in the play of the hand, (c) The suits have each a dilferent value, and the scoring is consequently very different. Tens, as well as Court Cards, are honours-, but honours do not count towards winning the rubber—being added to the trick-score afterwards to determine the value of the rubber. When twelve tricks are won, this is known as ‘ little slam,’ for which twenty points are allowed. Forty points are given for taking all the tricks (the ‘ grand slam ‘). Points are also granted (depending on what suit is trumps) for ‘ clucane,’ I.e. holding no trumps in the hand. One hundred poiuts are awarded for the rubber. The game is finished when thirty has been won by tricks.

Bridge (Auction) is still in a condition of evolution, modifications and improvements being continually notiiicd. Players should get a copy of the latest revised Auction Code from one of the (inns manufacturing Playing Cards. The game is fast superseding Bridge, from which its principal difference (apart from the difference in scoring) lies in the fact that instead of the declaration being made by the dealer or his partner, it is put up for ‘ auction,’ each player bidding in his turn. The highest bid becomes the final declaration on which the hand is played: the player who first made the trump suit or ‘no trumps ‘ of the final declaration, plays the hand, and his partner becomes ‘ dummy.’

Whist is played with an ordinary fifty-two card pack—four persons in partnerships of two. The cards are first ‘ cut’ for partners, the two highest against the two lowest. The partners sit opposite one another, and thirteen cards are dealt to each. The object is for each pair to make as many tricks as possible. The ‘ eldest hand ‘ leads first, and afterwards the winner of each trick leads the subsequent one until all cards are played out. The cards are played into the centre of the table. Always follow suit if cards of the played suit are held in the hand ; failing this, trump or ‘ throw away.’ Only tricks above six are counted ; thus, a partnership winning seven tricks out of thirteen, scores one point (the odd trick). Five points make a game, and the winners of two games out of three take the rubber. If one side wins two games straight off, it is unnecessary to play the third—a fresh rubber is commenced. No points may be carried forward to the next game. The following conventions should be noted : The ‘ Eldest Hand ‘ should always play from strength, that is, his strongest suit. The

Second Player must be guided by circumstances ; few rules can be laid down for him. The Third Player should play his best card except when (I) the Second Player plays a card higher than that held by the Third hand : the lowest card is then played (ii) a sequence is held such as King, Queen, Jack, etc., when he should play the lowest card of the sequence ; (iii) when a ‘ finesse ‘ is obligatory or desirable. (N.B.— ’ Finessing ‘ consists in winning a trick by an inferior card when another, perhaps the top card, is in the hand.) The Fourth Player takes the trick if he can ; he plays the lowest card in his hand which will take the ‘ hand.’

There must be no collusion, signalling, etc., between the partners. Tricks won should be turned face downwards and collected by only one of the partners. Napoleon ‘(Nap)’’ and Solo are varieties of Whist.

CHARADES.

Consist of a series of plays or sketches embodying parts of a given word—the last act containing that word in its entirety. That part of the company constituting the audience are expected to discover what the hidden word is. If, for instance, the chosen word is ‘ monkey,’ the first sketch should introduce the word ‘ mon ‘ ; the second scene contains ‘ key’ and the third gives the whole word ‘monkey,’ after which the audience are given time to solve the riddle. If the kitchen and the domestic wardrobe are called into requisition to improvise costumes, this will add greatly to the amusement.

CHESS is played on a sixty-four square board, with carved pieces in black and white—each player selecting a colour. The ‘ men ‘ are King. Queen, two Bishops, two Knights, two Rooks or Castles and eight Pawns. The King may only move one square in any direction ; a Queen, any number of squares either obliquely or straight. A Bishop’s move is unlimited diagonally, while a Rook has an unlimited straight course, either to right, left or straight ahead. The progress of the Knight is unique—a combination of one square forward or backwards and one obliquely, or one obliquely and one forward, etc. It is the only piece which may hop over another. Pawns move one square at a time, and only forwards, except when leaving the home square, when they may take two straight strides. In taking another piece, however, a pawn takes one step diagonally ; it is the only piece which goes out of its course to capture. Should a pawn succeed in reaching the eighth square in the enemy’s territory, it claims the dignity of queenship or the lesser honours of rook or bishop. The only man which cannot be taken is a king, but should he be menaced by another piece, he is said to be in Check and must vacate the dangerous position before another move can be taken. The whole object of the game is to make the enemy’s King Check-mate— that is. in Check, and unable to move without running into Check with another piece. This finishes the game. Should the King, whilst being safe in his present position, be unable to move therefrom without running into check, then, if no move can be made with another piece, and he has no comrade to relieve him, he is said to be ‘ Stalemate,’ and the game is a drawn one.

CONUNDRUMS, PUZZLES, ETC.

When entertaining a party, a few amusements which will exercise the mental powers of the guests are occasionally welcomed ; hence, Riddles, Conundrums and Puzzles should be on hand to eke out the programme. Here are a few Conundrums : (I) The oldest in the world— the Riddle of the Sphinx (0,00(1 years old)—is: ‘ What is that which walks on four legs in the morning, on two at mid-day and on three in the evening ? ‘ The answer is ‘ A man, who in the morning of his life crawls on all fours : in the noon of life he walks upright on two legs, and in his old age hobbles on two legs and a stick ! ‘ (ii) Why is the letter F like a banana skin ? Because both make all fall. (iii) Why is it wrong to speak of the number 288 ? Because it is too gross. (iv) What key is the best for unlocking the tongue? Whisky. (v) What letter is the greatest scandalmonger, and why ? The letter W; because it makes ill-will. (vi) Why is a lady’s jumper like a piece of orange-peel ? Because it is easy to slip on. (vii) What is it that occurs once in every minute, twice in a moment, but never in a year ? The letter M. (viii) What did Adam and Eve do when ejected from the Garden of Eden ? They raised Cain. (ix) Why is a cart-horse like a benevolent gentleman ? Because they both stop at the sound of woe. (x) Why is a chicken crossing the road like a smash-and-grab raid ? Because it is a fowl proceeding. (xi) What did William Tell Junior say when his father shot the apple ? ‘ That was an arrow escape.’ (xii) Why was the man, about to hit somebody, like a clock with the hands at 12.59 ? Because he was about to strike one. Puzzles.— (I) In a house belonging to a friend of ours there was a window 4 ft. high and 3 ft. wide. He wanted to cut out half the light and yet have the window 4 ft. high and 3 ft. wide. How did he do it ? He bricked up the corners and left a diamond-shaped window. It was still 4 ft. high and 3 ft. wide, and yet only half the area of the original window. (ii) A clock takes eight seconds to strike 8; how long does it take to strike midnight ?

When striking 8 there are only seven pauses of one and a seventh seconds. In striking midnight, there will be eleven pauses of the same duration. Eleven multiplied by one and a seventh equals twelve and four sevenths. (iii) Think of a number, without naming it ; multiply it by three and add one to the product. Multiply by three again and add the number first thought of. Declare the result. To know the figure thought of, merely delete the last figure and the remainder will be the number required :

Number thought of ..

Multiplied by three .. 61

Plus one .. .. ..

Multiplied by three ..

Plus number thought of (17) ..173 if we reject the unit, we have 17 left (iv) Instruct the party to write down the figures 1 to 9 in a square of three rows, three figures per row, so that whether the addition be made horizontally, vertically or diagonally, the result is always the same. Here is the solution :— 8 1 3 5 4 9 (v) The luggage of a much- travelled old lady became plastered with labels. In process of time they became torn and overlapping. Finally they arranged themselves into the following : ‘ Old Aunt came bang over the hat- stand.’ What stations did this represent ? Old (ham), (T)aunt(on), Came(lfoid),

Bang (or), (And) over,

The(tford) and (W)hat-stand(well). (vi) If the number 37 be multiplied by each of the following 3, 6. 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, all the products are composed of three repetitionsof the same figure ; and the sum of these figures is equal to that by which the 37 was multiplied : 37 37 37 37 37 3 6 9 12 111 222 333 444 37 37 37 37 18 21 24 666 777 888 (vii) A snail climbs the side of a wall; it rises three feet per day but slides down two feet per night. If the wall be 20 feet high, how long does it take to reach the summit ? Eighteen days. Although the daily rise is only one foot altogether, the last day’s work was not followed by any backsliding—the snail having reached the summit.

DANCING (BALLROOM).

At the present time the Waltz, the Tango, and various modifications of the Fox Trot are the most popular dances, the latter (danced in 4/4 tempo) being undoubtedly the favourite. Other dances, as the Lancers, etc., are revived occasionally, while the Sir Roger de Coverley and the Quadrilles have joined the Gavotte and Minuet as subjects of interest to the antiquary.

Five rudimentary attitudes form the basis of all dances, and, whilst the only satisfactory means of learning is by the medium of an instructor, these rudiments may be studied with advantage :— (I) Bring the heels together, turning the toes out to an angle of about 45 degrees. Stand firmly on the feet. (ii) Resting the weight of the body upon the left foot, ‘ glisse ‘ (I.e., slide) with the right foot sideways, to about 12 inches from the left, the right toe pointing downwards. (iii) Return the right foot, with the heel against the left instep, the right toe splayed to an angle of 45 degrees. Bring the right foot smartly back so that the positions are reversed— that is, the right foot is against the left heel. (iv) Rest the full weight on the left leg and extend the right leg forward, the toe pointing to the floor. Bring the right leg backwards to about a foot behind the left, the toe still pointing down. (v) Cross the right foot over the left, with the heel resting level with the left toe. The same sequence applies when the feet are reversed.

DOMINOES.

Played with 28 oblong blocks of uniform size, white dotted with black spots (or vice versa) indicating every combination of figures from double-blank upwards to double-six. The dominoes are placed face downwards on a table and well mixed. Each player takes seven, any over remaining in the ‘ pool,’ and the game consists in joining and matching one’s own pieces with those played before. The first player who exhausts his stock is ‘ domino ‘ or ‘ chips,’ and wins the game. When a game becomes ‘ blocked,’ I.e., when neither is able to match any number already played, the winner is the one with the smallest number of dots on the dominoes which remain in hand. The point is to dispose of the higher numbered pieces as early as possible. If, in the course of play, it is found that a player has nothing in his hand to match the numbers exposed on the table, he must draw ‘ blindly ‘ from the pool. DRAUGHTS.

This is a game for two players on a board with 64 squares. Two sets of twelve men are provided—black and white— and a colour chosen by each player. The men are set out in three rows facing each other at opposite ends of the board, only the white squares being used. The pieces are moved forward diagonally—each playing alternately—keeping only to the white squares, until they reach the eighth square on the enemy’s side, when they become kings, and have the power to move either backwards or forwards. If, in its course a piece encounters an opposing one having a vacant square on the other side of him, the invader must leap over such piece and remove it from the board, occupying the vacant space on the other side of the lost piece. Some- times a whole sequence of alternating spaces are encountered, enabling the player meeting them, to hop over them all, removing them en route, and thus assisting his journey to the other end of the board. Failure to take a piece when opportunity arises, renders the delinquent liable to ‘ huffing,’ I.e., he loses the piece failing to make the capture. There is no limit to the number of pieces which may be crowned. The player having one or more pieces, crowned or uncrowned, on the board when his opponent’s are all removed, is the the winner. After pieces have been arranged, if a piece is touched, it must be played or the game forfeited. False or improper moves forfeit the game to the opponent, without another move being made. Black invariably starts the game.

PARLOUR GAMES.

There is no necessity to describe such well-known games as ‘ Blind Man’s Buff,’ ‘ Twirl the Trencher ‘ or ‘ Hunt the Slipper.’ One or two lesser known games are given herewith. (I) Air Ball.

This is played with an air ball. Sides, of say seven each, are picked, and six chairs placed facing six others in two rows about a yard and a half apart. Six of each side then sit on the chairs, and are known as ‘ forwards.’ One ‘ back ‘ on each side stands behind the chairs. The ball is thrown into the centre of the forwards, who must hit it with their hands towards the opposite back. The duty of the back is to prevent the ball from touching the ground on his side of the chairs; it if does, a goal is counted to the other side. No forward may leave his seat. If he does, this is a foul, and the umpire gives a free hit to the other side. This is done by throwing the ball into the air high enough for the back to hit, and if he can so punch the ball that it falls to the ground on the opposite side, it counts as a goal. No forward may attempt to stop a free hit, but the back may defend his own goal. Each game should continue for ten minutes. (ii) Blind Man’s Stick.

The party form a circle, and one of the number, blindfolded, stands in the centre, with a stick in his hand. He must hold this low, and gently touch one of the party, who keep moving round in a circle. The one touched immediately takes hold of the end of the stick and the rest stand quite still and silent. The blind man must then imitate some call—animal or otherwise— and the player holding the stick must promptly repeat it. The blind man must then guess who he is. If successful, they change places. (iii) Blowing out the Candle.

A lighted candle is placed on a table and the competitors are expected to blow out the light whilst blindfolded. Each one stands a dozen paces from the table, and on being blindfolded, turns round three times and then must endeavour to walk up to the candle and extinguish it. Most people lose all sense of direction, and the result is very ludicrous. Somebody should be stationed by the candle, and be responsible for its safety. (iv) Dumb-Acting Rhymes.

Half the party leave the room and those remaining chose a word which must be a verb (play, run, dance, etc.) Those outside then return, and are told a word which rhymes with the one chosen; if the word be ‘ dance,’ they are told that the selected word rhymes with, say, ‘ lance.’ The ones from outside must then dumb-act the word they think is correct. If they guess wrongly, they are hissed, but if rightly, they are clapped, and the other side leave the room. (v) The Elements.

Players sit round in a circle, and one is chosen to stand in the centre, being given a handkerchief rolled into a ball. It is thrown without warning at one of the seated players and at the same time the thrower calls out ‘ Earth ‘ ‘ Air,’ ‘ Water,’ or ‘ Fire,’ and the person hit must name an animal living in the ‘ element ‘ named. When ‘ Fire ‘ is named, an exception is made—the caller remains silent. The whole point is lost unless this game in played with breathless speed. 16 (vi) Hish, Hash and Ritz.

Each member of the party, taken alternatively is given one of the words ‘ Hish,’ ‘Hash,’ or ‘ Ritz,’ and at a given word from the leader, must shout it out—all three words being shouted absolutely simultaneously the result is an amazingly realistic sneeze. The greater the party, the more effective the result, but everything depends on the whole party shouting in , unison. PUZZLES.

See Conundrums. RIDDLES.

See Conundrums. ROULETTE.

Players sit round an oblong table which has a revolving wheel in the centre, the table on either side of the wheel being covered with a cloth marked off into sections named Passe, Pair, Manque, Impair, Rouge and Noir. The wheel itself is divided into 37 numbered compartments (0-36). The players put their money on any one of the given numbers, sequences of numbers, odds or evens, black or red, etc., and the croupier sets the wheel in motion, throwing a ball into it. When the wheel comes to rest, the ball settles into one or other of the compartments, and the banker pays out at various odds on the successful stakes ; the remainder of the stakes that are lost are raked in by the croupier

SICK-ROOM AMUSEMENTS. If the patient be not too weak to sit up, all sorts of amusements and handicrafts are at his disposal, Stamp-collecting is a never-failing source of happiness to many (of whom our King was one). Sketching, Leatherwork, Fancy Needlework and Embroidery are always a solace to those with ability, as also the making of numberless little toys and ornaments, useful and merely pretty, out of odd scraps of paper, material, wood or other ‘ junk.’

TABLE TENNIS.

This is a drawing-room adaptation of Lawn Tennis, and is played on a table 9 feet long by 5 feet wide and 2 feet 6 inches high, the net being 6 inches high. The balls are of celluloid, and weigh from 12J to 13£ to the ounce. They measure between 4f and 4 inches in circumference. The rackets are usually made of cork, rubber or vellum faced wood, but are occasionally made of plain wood. A game consists of 21 points up. THEATRICALS, AMATEUR.

Few amusements cause such rapturous pleasure to performer and audience alike as Amateur Theatricals. Unfortunately plenty of accommodation and a certain amount of capital are required, and amateurs are advised to band themselves into a party, pool their resources, and form an amateur dramatic society. If they can afford to take a course in Elocution and Deportment at one of the numerous schools, so much the better, and a professional ‘ coach ‘ should be engaged if means permit The usual officials of a club should be appointed, plus a stage manager, property master, musical director and wardrobe director. Also, one of the party, who is handy with lighting, should assume the duties of electrician. If the members are industrious, and possess some little artistic ability, they can manufacture everything for themselves with a few exceptions, and, as Theatrical Supply Stores charge most outrageously, this is a great desideratum. Nothing ambitious should be attempted for the start— period costume should be studiously avoided, as also should elaborate scenery; modern middle-class costume, and simple drawing-room interiors, scenery for which can be easily knocked together or hired cheaply from the local theatre, are quite sufficient to start with. Over-ambition is the besetting sin of the amateur stage aspirant.

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