Ever played hopscotch as a kid? Hopped from square to square on one leg? Haven’t heard of it? Impossible! Hopscotch’s great fun. It’s a traditional game played by kids all over the world with many variations. I used to play it with other kids near my home. Okay, I’ll let you in on this game if you will tell me about some you played as kids.

All hopscotch requires is a rectangular area, a piece of chalk and a flat stone chip. And it requires a couple of people to play it, of course!

Do you have any open stretch near your house? Say about six feet by four feet? Well, take eight l-o-o-o-ng steps, turn left and take four steps. Do it again, till you come back to where you started. Mark this court with chalk. Now divide the court by first drawing a line through the centre into two halves. Cut these into eight equal squares. Each square will later become a castle.

The squares can be numbered from one to eight in a sequence. The aim of the game is to capture these squares and mark it as a castle — as many as possible. The first player to capture the maximum number of castles wins.

How to play

Hopscotch
Hopscotch [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
Now the game starts. The first player stands in front of the rectangle and throws the stone chip in the first square.

He then stands on one leg and hops it from the other end. He has to complete a round of all the squares. Just before the square that has the stone chip, he has to lean over, without falling, pick up the chip and hop out!

This exercise is repeated till a player has visited all the squares. To capture a square, the player turns his/her back to the court and tosses the stone chip over the head. If it falls within a square, the player can mark it as his castle.

Other players cannot step on this castle. They have to hop over it.

Now comes the interesting part. You are out if:

You put your feet in the house or square you are trying to capture. You have to pick up the stone chip without touching it with your foot or resting your other hand on the ground for support.

You put both your feet in one square. You can’t step on the boundary line or any of the lines.

The stone must not touch any line and must fall within the square and in sequence. If it falls on a square already attempted or on a castle taken, you are out.

If your other leg touches down or if you step on a castle, you are out.

There are many variations and the design of the court can vary depending on the expertise of the players. In the end, the player owning the maximum number of castles wins the game.

But if you think it is as easy as falling off a log, don’t be too hasty. Try it out. And if you fall flat on your face, remember, you are out!