pool

What it is: A way fun physically active game played around a pool table.

Best for: Group of about 5 to 10 players.

What you need: A pool table with plenty of room around it to move in. And a group of people to play.

How to play: First, get rid of all the balls except for the eight ball and the cue ball. Those are the only ones you’ll need. You won’t need any cue sticks, either. Next, decide playing order by lining up around the table. Remember who you go after.

The object of the game is to always keep the eight ball moving. If it stops moving on your turn, you get a letter. If you get four letters (S, P, A, and Z), you’re out of the game.

Here’s how it works. Everyone lines up in order around the pool table. Let’s say Kim is playing, and it’s her turn. She steps up to one short end of the pool table and grabs the cue ball. Then another player stands on the opposite side of the table, grabs the eight ball, and rolls it across the pool table pretty hard, so it starts bouncing back and forth between the two ends. Kim’s job is to roll the cue ball and hit the eight ball with it. As soon as she hits the eight ball, her turn is over and she moves away from the table. Then the next player (say, Frank) is up. He grabs the cue ball and has to hit the eight ball, too. If the eight ball loses momentum and stops moving before he can hit it, he gets a letter.

Now, there are two important rules. First, the player who’s up must always stand between the pockets on either short end of the table:

spaz

No standing on the long ends; only on the short ends. Second, you can only hit the eight ball when it’s on the opposite side of the table as you. So in the above picture, pretend there’s an invisible line connecting the two middle pockets on the long ends. If the eight ball is on the left half of the table, you have to be on the right side, and vice versa.

That’s where the physically active part comes in—as the eight ball keeps rolling across the table, you end up running around it a lot to make sure you’re on the opposite side before you can hit the eight ball. You end up jogging more and more if the eight ball is on the other side, you roll the cue ball towards it, and you miss—then you’ve gotta run around the table, grab the cue ball, run back around, and hope the eight ball hasn’t stopped moving yet. There are no limits on how many times you can miss, as long as the eight ball keeps moving. Also, if you accidentally hit the eight ball when it’s on the same side of the table as you, you get a letter.

There’s one more way to get a letter in spaz: if the person whose turn precedes yours knocks the eight ball into a pocket. So say Kim’s up again, and she grabs the cue ball and rolls it towards the eight ball. The eight ball is hit and rolls right into the corner pocket—that means Frank, who goes after Kim, gets a letter. He also loses his turn and the person after him starts again.

So that’s spaz. Play proceeds around the circle. Keep track of your letters, and when you get all four, you’re out. The number of players gets smaller and smaller as players are eliminated, until a sole champion remains.

If you want to see a sample game, here’s one. Just letting you know, the video quality isn’t super great, it’s noisy, and it’s not super clear, but hopefully it’ll help give you an idea if you’re a little lost.

Spaz sample

Strategies: One of the best strategies is, when it’s your turn, to wait until the eight ball is moving pretty slowly, almost stopped, and then very lightly hit it with the cue ball. Then the player after you really has to hustle to avoid getting a letter. Of course, hitting the eight ball into a pocket is a great strategy, too. But often the game is so fast-paced that aim might not have much to do with it. 🙂

Cautions: This game is best suited for teens and older. Be careful of smashed fingers or flying pool balls…yes, very careful.

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