Hopscotch is a children’s game involving hopping through a series of numbered squares in a grid, in sequence, and back again. The game is simple yet demanding, requiring a high degree of co-ordination and balance. The game is thought to originate in Britain from Roman times, when it was used by Roman troops to improve co-ordination and agility. As the court marked out for these exercises could be 100 feet long, and the troops did the exercise in full battle gear, it would also test the troops’ endurance. Another theory has the game originating in China, involving boxes drawn on the ground, a puck to represent a soul, and the object of the game being to reach heaven.
The basic layout for the court is for single squares in a line numbered 1,2,3, then 2 boxes marked 4 and 5 side by side, box 6 on its own, boxes 7 & 8 side by side, and lastly boxes 9 & 10 on their own. The last square is usually curved and the player can rest with both feet (like the side by side squares). Other than that, the player can only hop on one leg. Play starts by throwing a marker onto square 1, hopping over any square with the marker in it, and the player can only use both feet on side-by-side squares (if the marker is in neither of the squares). The player turns around at the end square and come back to the start, stopping to pick up the marker on the way. Back at the start, player throws the marker into the next numbered square to continue.
A variation on this called escargot (or ‘snail’) is played in France, where the course is shaped like a spiral; there the players have to hop into the middle of the course and back out again. Players here can mark a square as their own; then they can rest on it, and everyone else has to hop over it. Eventually the course will become impossible to complete, as the squares get taken up. Another variation is ‘two foot hop’ where players have to carry the marker (like a bean bag) between both feet without dropping it. while a game played in German-speaking countries is called “Heaven and Hell” and has different rules; players need to kick the stone from square to square when advancing, and cannot stop at the “Hell” square which is the second-to-last in the game. In Cyprus and Greece, they play Ayaktasi, where the player throws a stone into a square in the usual way, but the game is played in stages and only ends once the stone has landed on all possible squares. In Albania there are additional challenges such as hopping backwards, spinning in each square and hopping like a frog.
Different names for the game around the world are “Marelles” in France, “Templehupfen” in Germany, “Hinkelbaan” in the Netherlands, “Pico” in Vietnam and “Rayuela” in Argentina. In Cuba the game is called La Peregrina (Pilgrim) .The version called “Ekhat-Dukhat” in India has only two squares. The New York version of the game is “Potsie”.
Record Breaking Hops – from Guinness World Records
The fastest game of hopscotch was completed in 1 min 1.97 sec by Ashrita Furman (USA) in New York, New York, USA, on 9 November 2010. Furman suffered from just one errant throw in his attempt, needing two slides of the rock to successfully land it in the “3” square.
As of October 2011, children support groups from Canada completed the world’s longest game of hopscotch, which featured a course slightly over 18,000 feet long. The groups which took part in the event were Step Up 4 Change, Right to Play and Free the Children, all of which are based at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
Posted by PMG