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as that used in " Trap-ball;" but a piece of wood this shape is often employed:
and answers the purpose admirably. The bat consists of a piece of wood like a half-pint bottle split longitudinally, firmly attached to a long handle of stout cane; this handle varies in length from four to five feet, according to the height of the player.
The player, holding this bat by the extremity of the handle in both hands, touches the trigger, and whirling the bat round his head, catches the ball in the centre of his bat, if possible, and drives it far afield. The spot where the ball pitches is marked down, and its distance from the trap measured—in a regular match by a long cord knotted off into yards, but in ordinary games in any rough-and-ready way that happens to be most convenient. His opponent then tries his hand, and so on alternately, until the agreed number of strokes have been made; the number of yards each has covered are then added up, and he who shows the highest total is declared the winner.
A good player will drive the ball to a most astounding distance, more by knack, however, than by brute force. This knack is, to a certain extent, not difficult to acquire by practice and personal instruction, nor is considerable proficiency beyond the reach of even ordinary capacities; it is, however, quite indescribable on paper, and therefore the learner must, if instruction be unattainable, e'en set to work and acquire it for himself.
One piece of advice, though, may not be misplaced; that is, to hit high: when a stone or ball is to be hurled to any distance, it is wonderful how few give the missile sufficient elevation. The elevation that gives the best results is an angle of 450 with the plane of the horizon, and this angle may be roughly ascertained thus: Stretch out the arm at right angles to the body, then lift it straight above the head, now let it drop to a position exactly midway between these two positions, and you have the angle required. Hit your ball up at this angle—never mind its looking like sky-scraping—and you will get as much out of each hit, even to the last foot, as is possible.
This is a very good game to play along a country road or across a common, where other objects of interest arc not plentiful, and when it is not a matter of importance to get over the ground very rapidly. It is a game only for two, and is played as follows:
Each player arms himself with a roundish smooth pebble: one of them leads off by throwing his pebble forward some ten yards or so, and the other tries to hit it with his own; if he succeed, he counts one towards the game—which is mostly eleven, but may be any number previously agreed upon—and the first player has to lead off again; if, however, he miss, the first player picks up his stone, and standing where it rested, takes aim at the stone of No. 2, and so on alternately. Accuracy of aim is almost the only point in which special skill can be displayed.
In pitching his stone, the player must take care to do so with sufficient force to carry it, in case of missing, well beyond the one he is aiming at, or he will give too good a chance to his opponent. There is a game very similar to this played with marbles, which is very popular still in some parts of the country.
A very lively game for any number of players from four or five to a dozen. Each player procures a smooth, somewhat flattened pebble, and a large stone about ten inches or so in diameter, with a flat top, is set up to serve as "mammy" A "home" is marked out about ten yards or so from the "mammy * and from this the players "pitch for Duck," that is to say, they try to pitch their pebbles as near to the mammy" as possible: the one who makes the worst shot goes " duck." He puts his pebble upon the "mammy," and the rest of the party in succession stand at the home, and endeavour to knock the "duck-stone" off the "mammy."
So far there is not much life in the game, but the player, having pitched his pebble, has to get it back again for his next shot: the instant he touches his stone he lays himself open to be touched by the duck, in which case he has to take duck's place; duck, however, has this power of touching the other players enly as long as the "mammy " is crowned—that is, as long as his pebble rests on it—so that the displacement of this is the signal for a general scurry homewards, and duck must be very quick in replacing the stone, to get even a chance of touching one of the players.
When the players are well matched this is a very lively game, and all sorts of arts are employed on both sides, on the one side to effect a safe retreat, and on the other to cut it off. As a general rule the duck should stand near the "mammy," ready to replace his stone in a moment; he will also find it a good plan to devote his attention, not, of course, too openly and exclusively, to those who have pitched some way beyond the " mammy:" he will be nearly certain, sooner or later, to cut one of them off on his way home. If the play is at all good, he must not reckon on too much spare time in catching a fugitive, or perhaps—and this is not at all uncommon—just at the critical moment, as his hand is stretched out to effect the "touch," away will fly his stone, and he will have to return ignominiously to replace it. If the place in which the game is played be of any extent, it is well to confine it within arbitrary limits, or it loses all its life: if a player may run to any distance laterally, it is almost hopeless for the duck to touch him before the " mammy" is discrowned. The best way is to mark out boundaries at the sides and ends, about ten yards distance each way from the "mammy," making it, in fact, the centre of a square, twenty yards each way; this will be found to afford ample room, but will not be too wide to give the duck a fair chance. If a runner, in trying to elude the duck, overpasses either of these boundaries, except into home, he is considered to have been touched, even though, at the moment of doing so, the "mammy" be discrowned, and must change places with duck accordingly.
Strictly, this game should be played by nine players, and nine only, but the actual number is not material to the spirit of the game, and the number of holes may be modified at will, to suit the number of players. To play it, nine holes, about six inches wide and three deep, are dug near a wall, and a line is drawn opposite these at a distance of five or six yards. Each of the players takes one hole, and one of them, standing at the line, pitches a ball, which should be similar to the one described in rounders, into one of these holes. The player to whom the hole belongs snatches the ball out and throws it at one of the others, who have meanwhile scattered in all directions. If he hit him, the player just struck becomes "pitcher;" if he miss him he loses one, and himself becomes "pitcher." When a player has thus missed three times, or technically has "lost three lives," he is considered "dead," and stands out until the conclusion of the game. The winner is he who holds out to the last. Caps are sometimes used instead of holes, and serve the purpose equally well, though perhaps they would be better on the heads of their respective owners.
This is very good practice for balancing the body and acquiring steadiness on the legs. Chalk or otherwise mark out on the ground a figure like the accompanying diagram, on.a scale of about four feet to the inch.
Not more than two or three should play at one figure, or there will be too long a time between the turns. The players "pink" for first turn, that is, they pitch the stone or piece of tile with which they are going to play at the cat's face at the rounded extremity, sometimes also called and drawn as " the pudding." He who gets nearest leads off.
Standing at the square end, he throws his tile into compartment 1, hops in and kicks the tile out—still hopping—to the starting-point. He next throws the tile into No. 2, hops into 1, thence to 2, and kicks the tile out as before. He next goes on to 3, and so on until he reaches 8, which is called the "resting-bed;" having reached this he may rest himself by putting his feet into 6 and 7, resuming his hopping position, however, before he goes on with the game, in which he proceeds as before. Until he reaches the " cat's face" or " pudding," he may have as many kicks as he likes in kicking the tile out, but when he reaches that he must kick it through all the other divisions at one single kick, the successful achievement of which crowns the game.
If the tile be pitched into a wrong number, or rest on one of the lines, either in pitching or kicking, or it be kicked over the side lines, the player loses his innings; if he put down both feet while in the figure, except at the restingbed, or set his foot, in hopping, on either of the lines, he suffers the same penalty. Some players who are particular, and cultivate the refinements of the game, are in the habit of using a circular disk of lead, instead of the usual irregular, and therefore uncertain, piece of tile.
BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK.
This game must be so thoroughly familiar to all our readers, however young, that there can be little need for prolonged comment. It may be played by one person or several, but the single-handed game is apt to become very tedious and uninteresting, however ingenious the player may be in varying his style of play. To get any real amusement out of the game at least two should play.
The whole art of the game consists in keeping the shuttlecock in the air as long as possible. As a stimulus to extra exertion it is well to set a number as the standard of attainment, counting one for each flight from the battledores, and try to keep up the "cock" until you have reached it. Two good players will not find five hundred too many for them, but at first even twenty will be found
a long figure. The more players there are the more difficult does it become to keep the cock up.
If the game be played with any spirit, it will be found to afford very good exercise, and will prove very good training for other sports of a more advanced character, such as rackets and fives and the like.
The best kind of battledores are those called " drum," with parchment heads. The shuttlecock should be rather long and the feathers not too wide-spread, otherwise it is apt to be slow of flight, and to require very hard hitting to drive it at all.
The Chinese are great adepts with the shuttlecock, only with them the cock is driven by the upturned sole of the shoe, instead of with a battledore as with us. The players stand in a ring; and each as the cock comes to him spins smartly round, catches it on the sole of his shoe, and so passes it on to his neighbour.
This is played with a cylindrical piece of wood, about five inches long, sharpened at both ends, as in figure, and a bdt011 or stick. A small ring is marked out on the ground, and at a distance of about twelve feet from it is drawn a line called the " offing."
Two players toss up for innings, the winner taking the stick and stationing himself by the ring, while his opponent stands at the scratch or offing, and tries to pitch the " cat" into the circle. If he succeed, the first player is out and takes his place at the scratch, and becomes " pitcher," while the pitcher in his turn takes the bdton. If, however, he is not successful in his cast, that is, if the whole of the cat docs not rest within the ring, the first player proceeds as follows: He stands by the cat, and tipping one end of it smartly with his baton, causes it to fly up in the air, and then hitting it while in mid-air, drives it as far as possible. If the cat, or any part of it, rest on or over the ring, he is allowed only one turn at the cat, but if it be altogether outside, he is allowed three. Having struck the cat as far as he can, he measures with his eye its distance from the circle, and calls a certain number of sticks. If on measuring the distance it prove to be less than so many sticks' lengths, he is out, but if more he scores the number called to his game, and the cat is pitched to him again as before.
In some places the measurement is made by close-footed jumps, but this is not so certain as the other method by sticks, and it possesses the further disadvantage, too, of leaving a great opening for sharp practice if either party is so disposed.
If the striker in hitting at the cat while in the air miss it altogether, or if the cat be caught by his opponent, he is out, and loses his innings. After each player has had two innings, or any other number previously agreed upon, the scores are added up, and the larger wins.
There are several other ways of playing tip-cat in vogue in various parts of the country. One way is for the striker to stand in the midst of a large
ring some ten yards in diameter, and tipping the cat from thence, strike it as above. He is liable to the same penalties as before, with this in addition, that the cat must be hit over the ring, or it counts as a miss and he is out. If he strike the cat fairly beyond the ring, he counts the game as before; the distance being reckoned from the centre of the circle, not the circumference, as before.
A third method requires at least eight or ten players: these divide into two sides, and four or five bases, according to the number on a side, having been marked in a circle, one party takes the field, while the other, each armed with a bdton, station themselves at the several bases. One of the outing side now, standing at a scratch marked opposite one of these bases, and about three yards from it, " serves " the cat to the player at the nearest base, who strikes at it, subject to the same conditions as in rounders, which game, by the way, this method very much resembles. Directly the cat is struck or even tipped, the whole " in " side run from base to base, keeping their right shoulders inward, and continue to run as long as they consider it safe to do so. Every base they thus make counts one to their score. The striker is out, and with him the whole side, if he miss the cat, if he tip it behind him into the circle, if it be caught by one of the ficldmen, or if while a player is running the cat be thrown between the base he has left and the one he is making for.