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PATOL STICK GAME

Source: Indian Games
Category: Hazard Games





_Properties_.--Three wooden billets; a flat stone about six inches in
diameter or square; forty stones about as "big as a fist" or like pieces of
wood; as many sticks for markers as there are players; counters to score
the game.

_Directions_.--The three billets, called pa-tol sticks, are made four and a
half inches long, one inch wide and half an inch in thickness; it is
important that the wood from which they are made be firm and hard. Two of
the billets are plain on one side, on the other side a diagonal line is
incised from the left-hand upper corner to a point about two inches below
the right-hand upper corner; another diagonal line is incised from the
right-hand lower corner to about two inches above the left-hand lower
corner. The third pa-tol stick has the same design on one side, and on the
other side the design is repeated and an additional diagonal line incised
from the right-hand upper corner to the left-hand lower corner. It would be
well to blacken all these incised lines in order that the designs can be
readily seen during the playing of the game.

[Illustration]

A circle, called the Pa-tol House, about three or four feet in diameter, is
made by setting forty stones "about the size of a fist" so as to form the
circumference. Between every tenth and eleventh stone there must be an
opening of four or five inches. These openings must face the north, east,
south and west; they are spoken of as "rivers." The flat stone is placed in
the middle of the circle.

Each player has a marker, a small stick or twig, which is called his
"horse." As many can take part in the game as conveniently can seat
themselves around the pa-tol house.

The following description of the game is given by Dr. Charles F. Lummis and
quoted by Dr. Culin (Ibid., pp. 191, 192): "When the players have seated
themselves, the first takes the pa-tol sticks tightly in his right hand,
lifts them about as high as his chin and, bringing them down with a smart
vertical thrust as if to harpoon the center stone, lets go of them when
they are within some six inches of it. The three sticks strike the stone as
one, hitting on their ends squarely, and, rebounding several inches, fall
back into the circle. The manner in which they fall decides the
denomination of the throw, and the different values are shown in the
diagram. Although at first flush this might seem to make it a game of
chance, nothing could be farther from the truth.... An expert pa-tol player
will throw the number he desires with almost unfailing certainty by his
arrangement of the sticks in his hand and the manner and force with which
he strikes them down. It is a dexterity which any one may acquire by
sufficient practice, and only thus. The five throw is deemed very much the
hardest of all, and I have certainly found it so. [See diagram.]

"According to the number of his throw the player moves his marker an equal
number of stones ahead on the circle, using one of the rivers as a starting
point. If the throw is five, for instance, he lays his horse between the
fourth and fifth stones and hands the pa-tol sticks to the next man. If his
throw be ten, however, as the first man's throw is very certain to be, it
lands his horse in the second river, and he has another throw. The second
man may make his starting point the same or another river, and may elect to
run his horse around the circle in the same direction that the first is
going or in the opposite. If in the same direction, he will do his best to
make a throw which will bring his horse into the same notch as that of the
first man, in which case the first man is killed and has to take his horse
back to the starting point, to try over again when he gets another turn. In
case the second man starts in the opposite direction--which he will not do
unless an expert player--he has to calculate with a good deal of skill for
the meeting, to kill and to avoid being killed by the first player. When he
starts in the same direction he is behind and runs no chance of being
killed, while he has just as good a chance to kill. But if, even then, a
high throw carries him ahead of the first man--for jumping does not count
either way, the only killing being when two horses come in the same
notch--his rear is in danger, and he will try to run on out of the way of
his pursuer as fast as possible. The more players the more complicated the
game, for each horse is threatened alike by foes that chase from behind and
charge from before, and the most skilful player is liable to be sent back
to the starting point several times before the game is finished, which is
as soon as one horse has made the complete circuit. Sometimes the players,
when very young or unskilled, agree there shall be no killing; but unless
there is an explicit arrangement to that effect, killing is understood, and
it adds greatly to the interest of the game."





Next: PLUM STONE GAME

Previous: INTRODUCTORY



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