Game of the Month: Tag!

by Dagonell the Juggler

The basic game is quite simple. One person is `it' and has to catch or `tag' someone else. The person caught generally becomes `it'. In some games, the original `it' may not be tagged again until someone else has been tagged, or at least until a short time period has passed. In other games, `it' must tag on the run to avoid being re-tagged immediately. Some game variations have safety areas or conditions for those being chased. If a player is in a pre-determined area or perfoming a particular action, `it' may not tag him. As "Tag" is a game of pursuit and capture, it is considered poor sportsmanship for a player to hover around a safety zone, likewise `it' should not wait around a safety zone guarding it from use or waiting for a player to emerge. Variations on this game also include limitations or restrictions to increase the difficulty of `it' tagging someone. In the case of extreme limitations, players are encouraged to dare each other into `its' reach. Players should agree to all rule variations in advance. There is no scoring in any variant, the game is played until exhaustion or boredom.

BLIND MAN'S BLUFF -- `It' is blindfolded. Players are encouraged to come as close as possible to `it' without getting caught. In the Middle Ages, this game was known as "Hoodsman's Blind" because the usual blindfold was simply a lirripipe hat or a hood put on backwards with the face opening to the back of the head.

JINGLING -- A reverse "Blind Man's Bluff", everybody except `it' is blindfolded. `It' has a string of bells. Whomever can catch `it', is `it' for the next round.

TOUCH IRON / TOUCH WOOD / TOUCH STONE -- A player cannot be tagged as long as he is touching the correct material. Players should agree on which material to use in advance. It should be something that is present, but not in overwhelming abundance. Playing "Touch Iron" in a desert is merely a game of "Tag", playing "Touch Wood" in a forest condemns the same player to be `it' forever.

FEET OFF GROUND -- A player cannot be tagged as long as his feet are off the ground. Sitting on an object, hanging from a tree branch and on his back with his legs in the air are all legitimate safeties.

PRAYER TAG -- A player cannot be tagged as long as he is on his knees with his hands together as if in prayer.

HORNS, HORNS -- `It' is a devil and places his hands on the sides of his head with his index fingers sticking up to represent horns. Whomever the devil makes body contact with becomes a devil and also chases players. The last person to become a devil is `it' for the next round.

TOM TIDLER'S GROUND -- An area is marked out and designated as Tom Tidler's Ground. Generally, this is done simply by dragging a heel in the dirt. `It' is Tom Tidler and must stay within the designated area. The other players run in and out of Tom Tidler's ground and try to avoid getting tagged. Whomever Tom Tidler tags becomes the new Tom Tidler. MODERN VARIATION: A half dozen handkerchiefs each loosely tied in a knot are scattered within Tom Tidler's ground. Players try to steal them without getting caught.

BARLEY BREAK -- As in "Tom Tidler's Ground", an area is marked out that `it' may not leave. The other players try to cross the area without being tagged. The first player `it' tags must join hands with `it' and together they try to tag others, each using only their free hand. As additional players are caught, they must join onto the end of the line. Only the original `it' and the newest player caught may tag, however players in the middle of the line may assist by helping to `net' free players. The last player captured becomes `it' for the next game.

QUE LOO LOO (WOLF IN THE HENHOUSE) -- An area is marked out and designated as the Henhouse. One player is chosen to be the Wolf, another player is chosen to be the Hen or Rooster. All other players are baby chicks. All players except Wolf must remain in the henhouse. When Wolf enters the henhouse, all the baby chicks try to run and hide behind Hen in single file, each holding onto the person in front of them. If Wolf catches them before they can get behind Hen, they are out of the game and must let Wolf lead them out of the Henhouse. Once they are in line, the closer Wolf gets to them, the louder the baby chicks have to say `Cheep!' Hen cannot be taken by Wolf as long as there are still baby chicks left. The Hen can `peck' Wolf, poking him with an index finger to drive him away from the baby chicks. The Wolf has to avoid Hen and tag only the last baby chick in the line. When a chick is tagged, he must let go of the chick in front of him and let Wolf lead him out of the henhouse. If the line behind Hen breaks, the broken off section is a new line and the chicks at either end are fair game for Wolf as is any chick by himself. The broken off section is NOT obligated to stay in a line and the individual chicks may break away and re-attach themselves behind Hen in any order. When the last chick has been caught, Wolf must then tag Hen who becomes Wolf for the next game. VARIATION: With only one Wolf and one Hen, it's fairly easy for Hen to interpose herself between Wolf and chicks. Try it with multiple Wolves and Hens.

BASTE THE BEAR (TEASE THE BEAR) -- One player is chosen to be Bear, another to be Bear-Keeper. Bear has one end of a rope tied around his waist. Bear-Keeper holds the other end of the rope in one hand and his `whip', another length of rope or a few stalks of wheat, in the other hand. All other players are Urchins. Urchins try to tease or baste Bear. Bear tries to catch Urchins. Bear-Keeper must keep Bear away from Urchins by pulling on Bear's rope and keep Urchins away from Bear by hitting them with his whip. If an Urchin is caught by Bear or hit three times by Bear-Keeper's whip, he becomes the new Bear, the old Bear becomes the new Bear-Keeper and the old Bear-Keeper becomes an Urchin for the next game.

HOW MANY MILES TO LONDON? -- `It' is blindfolded. All players stand in a line and ask `it' for directions. `It' tells them how many paces forward, backward, left or right they must go. `It' is led to the starting point and must follow his own directions. When `it' is where he thinks the other players are, he must try to touch one. Players are allowed to duck and sway to avoid `its' touch, but must not move their feet. Any player who is tagged by it, or moves his feet to avoid being tagged, is `it' for the next game. MODERN VARIATION: Players start at random points in the playing area. `It' starts in the center of the playing area and tells players how many steps they take; one, two or three; what size steps; big, as large as possible, medium, a regular step, or small, the length of one foot; and what direction, forward, backward, left or right. It then follows his own directions and tries to tag a player as above. If `it' cannot tag anyone, or there is no one within reach, `it' then gives a new set of directions which the players must follow, starting from where they currently are. `It' also follows his own directions from his current location. `It' should listen carefully to where players are, and try to give directions to bring them closer to him.