Sunday, February 17, 2008

Beer Games – Part Three

Beer Pong

So successful has our series on beer games been (I even had one comment on the last instalment, thanks Zak!) that I have decided to continue it. Partly because there are plenty of beer drinking based games around but mostly because the games, and researching and writing about them is just so much fun. Today we look at the American College students’ favourite drinking game, Beer Pong.

I have only a vague recollection of this game from my younger days and I only ever heard about it and never actually saw it played. It is full on in the States and they hold tournaments and everything. I have been researching these games topics extensively of late and I have come to realise that the US is not just another country, it’s a whole other universe. Nowhere have I come across so many differences between Americans and normal people and it has prompted me to put together a post regarding the various amusing dissimilarities. Stay tuned. But don’t let on to the Yanks, OK? The ones who I know and who love their beer are good people.

Back to beer pong. The game itself is simple. A number of plastic cups are set up in a triangular formation in front of each team of two players. Six, twelve or fifteen cups seems to be the standard and each team may have two, three or four members. The cups are filled with beer and teams take turns to throw ping pong balls at the opposition cups. When a ball is landed, the opposition has to drink that cup’s contents. The game is won by the team who can make the opposition drink all their cups. The ‘punishment ‘ for losing is that you must then drink any of the winning teams remaining beers.

The rules vary from high school to high school, Uni to Uni and from State to State and even from pub to pub with paddles being used by some to hit the ball and some use quarters instead of balls. Why you’d want to play with coins that have quite conceivably found a recent home in a beggars’ bumcrack, I don’t know. I guess if you are using Bud for the beer, it may give the stuff some semblance of flavour.

I have found some interesting features on Wikipedia which I shall be very slack about and copy here. Check out just how fair dinkum these blokes get about this game;
There are four major ways to shoot in beer pong:

Arc - The most common throwing technique is to grasp the ping pong ball with the tips of the thumb and forefinger of the player's dominant hand, and hold the arm at an angle with the ball upwards, then throw by using gentle elbow motion, holding the upper arm parallel with the table. The arc motion allows one to put enough force on the ball to get it to the other side of the table, while conserving velocity and slowing it down so that it is not as likely to bounce off the rim of the cup but gently roll into the cup.

Fastball - Some players throw "fastball" style, also known as "throwing darts", which uses more of a hard chopping motion to send the ball in a more direct line to the intended target cup. This can be done with the hand in the usual "pistol grip" orientation or in an overhand "slam-dunk" orientation. The fastball is especially favored by taller players, as it is easier to throw from a higher position. Due to the straighter path the ball will follow, the player may feel more confident in hitting using the fastball. Fastballs are also much more likely to knock down a cup, which may have positive or negative consequences depending on house rules. As noted above, the higher horizontal velocity of the ball will also cause less-precise shots to bounce off the rim rather than gently bounce into a cup.

Bounce - A bounce is performed by bouncing the ball toward the cups. Since the other team has the opportunity to swat away a bounced ball, a bounce is usually worth two cups. The "muck" bounce is a low trajectory shot achieved by bouncing the ball in a sideways motion as opposed to overhand. This shot is particularly effective because in addition to being difficult to block, it leaves the opportunity for the other team to knock cups over. In some house rules, the bounce shot is not allowed.

Underhand - This technique is best when there are still many cups left on the table, because it is hard to control the left to right movement, but is very good for achieving the desired distance. Use of this technique is often against house rules. Australian readers see TREVOR CHAPPELL

I even found the standard regulations for table dimensions including the height from the ground to the top of the table, as listed in The World Series of Beer Pong! Can you believe how fair dinkum these guys get? It’s a drinking game, not an Olympic sport!!

It appears that alongside the standard set up for play and turn taking is a standard guideline for the amount of beer in total to be used per round – two cans (total) of light or low strength beer! that’s light as in low carb and low strength as in light alcohol beer. Two cans!? No wonder it hasn’t taken off here. Can you imagine the Australian Variation Rules for an International series?

We would have VB for the Vics and Toohey’s for the Cockroaches, XXXX for the Cane Toads and West End for the Crow Eaters. Cascade for the Taswegians and ‘Big Chook Piss’ (Emu Lager) for the Drug Dealers, sorry, Sandgropers. The regional finals would be played as Day/Nighters with the Final at the ‘G on the day after the Grand Final. The TAB would want in on this, of course, and we’d have professional handicappers setting the markets. Good teams would have to drink strong lagers like Platinum Extra Dry, average teams could drink light and the token Gay Pride Team could drink wine spritzers, Bacardi Breezers or Coronas.

The Yanks have a whole section in the rule book about defence; sorry, ‘dee-fence’ which is divided into sections on ‘psychological’, ‘blowing and fingering’ (!??!) and ‘ball blocking’. All of these, I assume, are legal in all but three States. Psychological defence, or ‘shit-talking’ consists of abuse, distracting visual cues and arm waving and grotesque facial expressions. As for the second section, I’ll let the Americans explain it for themselves;

Blowing/fingering - If the ball is spinning inside of a cup, players may either blow into the cup or put a finger in the cup it out in an attempt to make the ball fly out before it touches the liquid. Once the ball stops spinning, it is considered "dead", and no further defensive actions will count. Frequently, only females are allowed to blow, while men are allowed to finger. Note that some rules disallow such actions and count them as goaltending.

Now that’s funnier than anything I could have written.

Ball blocking is NOT, as you may think, what English soccer players do when preparing to defend a free kick but beer pong players swatting the ball away before it gets to their cups. Of beer. Some rules allow for all out blocking while others say it can only be done on a second bounce shot. I think they probably have a ‘one hand off the shed’ rule, too. If a player knocks beers over when blocking, he has to drink those cups. What!? They’re knocked over! Unless you’re playing with beer-jello, the cup should probably be empty. If we were to play this game then anyone knocking beer over would be labelled a ‘dickhead and sent from the table immediately.

Speaking of dickheads, Anheuser-Busch brought out a ‘Bud Pong’ game kit in 2005. They claimed that the game was not meant to encourage under age or binge drinking because the game was intended for use in bars and not campuses and because its rules called for the use of WATER instead of beer. But it is designed to be played in bars. With water. What the ...!?

Now, like ‘jumbo shrimp’ or ‘military intelligence’ this seems a little like a double negative in its very lunacy. Why does a brewery promote and distribute a game that discourages beer drinking? Why does a brewery think that a drinking game will NOT be used for drinking beer? Why does the Marketing Department of said brewery proclaim surprise when told that teenagers were using this drinking game to drink beer? Because, as I said, they are dickheads. It’s another sad case of a brewery being about the money instead of being about the beer.

Having said all that, let’s get behind any attempt to bring an international series to these shores, or support a touring team to go to the States and take on their best. After all, this drinking game business is something that we have become pretty competent at in our past. We’ll whip their skanky-yanky arses.

Prof. Pilsner

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