Imagine a sunny afternoon, a patch of green sod and children off from school. All these are invitations to play some good ol' Mumblety peg. This game doesn't require much of a setup. Just a pocket knife and two to three players can make a game. A popular game among children - Mumblety peg is very easy to play with only a few rules to follow. It originated in the US, and was one of the most popular games among children during the twentieth century.
What is the history behind Mumblety Peg?
The history of the game is traced back to 1896 when Mark Twain mentioned in his book "Detective" that Tom Sawyer's favorite game was Mumblety peg. Mumblety peg gained popularity during the first half of nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As it was a game played with pocket knife, parents became increasingly concerned about the safety of their children and hence this game slowly became extinct. To this day, Mumblety peg is played in some parts of US. The game is derived from the phrase ‘Mumble-the-peg’, as the player is required to remove the knife out of the peg with his mouth in case he fails to stick 2-3 feet into the ground. Known by different names like mumble peg, Mumbled peg etc, Mumblety peg still remains a favorite historic game.
How to play Mumblety Peg?
There are at least two players required in Mumblety Peg
There are many variants of Mumblety Peg. In the basic version of the game, the first level involves each player throwing the knife on the ground with the blade facing the ground. The more the blade is stuck above the ground the higher the points for the player. The player who has failed to stick the knife in the ground has lost and has to remove the knife from ground with his mouth.
The second level is where the throwing of knife becomes more difficult. The players try to throw the knife in various methods for example: tossing the knife to the ground with open hand or trying to flip the knife with two fingers. The player who fails to stick the knife to ground fails and has to remove the knife from ground with his mouth.
The third level would be to declare a war and by conquering each other's territory by throwing the knife on the ground and declaring it conquered.
The fourth level is where the players throw the knife close to their own feet. The game is lost if a player trips and falls.
Another level or variant of the game is where a matchstick is drawn into the ground and players are asked to push it to ground using the pocketknife. The player who fails to do so has to remove the stick with his mouth.
Similarly each region of the U.S. had its own variant, each being more complex than the other.
What are the risks involved in playing Mumblety Peg?
As the game is played with a pocket knife, its sharp edge can be dangerous for children.
This game when played without any adult supervision can prove injurious to children.
As the game does not have concrete written rules, children may come up with their imagination and create different new rules which may actually prove to be harmful.
Usually the punishment for not sticking the knife to the ground is that the lost player has to remove the knife with his mouth. As mentioned, there are no hard and fast rules for playing Mumblety peg. Mumblety Peg as a game started declining after the second half of Twentieth century due to safety concerns.
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