Thursday, November 13, 2008

Parlor Game: Blind Man's Bluff.

   Blind Man's Bluff or Blind Man's Buff is a children's game played in a spacious area, such as outdoors or in a large room, in which one player, designated as "It," is blindfolded and gropes around attempting to touch the other players without being able to see them, while the other players scatter and try to avoid the person who is "it", hiding in plain sight and sometimes teasing them to make them change direction. (The game is a variant of tag.)
   There are several versions of the game:
  • In one version, whenever any player is tagged by the person who is "it", that player is out of the game. The game proceeds until all players are out of the game, at which point another round of the game starts, with either the first player or the last player to be tagged becoming the next person who is "it".
  • In yet another version, It feels the face of the person tagged and attempts to identify the person, and only if the person is correctly identified does the person become "it".
   The game is known as blind man's buff in the UK and Ireland, "buff" meaning a small push. It is possible that the American name is a corruption, or it may originate from the older sense of bluff meaning to blindfold.
   Blind man's bluff should be played in an area free of dangerous obstructions so that the It player will not suffer injury from tripping over or hitting something.
   The game was played at least as far back as the Tudor period, as there are references to it being played by Henry VIII's courtiers. It was also a popular parlor game in the Victorian era.

A favourite game of Christmastide, is thus described by Thomas Miller, in his "Sports and Pastimes of Merry England":—

      "The very youngest of our brothers and sisters can join in this old English game: and it is selfish to select only such sports as they cannot become sharers of. Its ancient name is 'hoodman-blind'; and when hoods were worn by both men and women—centuries before hats and caps were so common as they are now—the hood was reversed, placed hind-before, and was, no doubt, a much surer way of blinding the player than that now adopted—for we have seen Charley try to catch his pretty cousin Caroline, by chasing her behind chairs and into all sorts of corners, to our strong conviction that he was not half so well blinded as he ought to have been. Some said he could see through the black silk handkerchief; others that it ought to have been tied clean over his nose, for that when he looked down he could see her feet, wherever she moved; and Charley had often been heard to say that she had the prettiest foot and ankle he had ever seen. But there he goes, head over heels across a chair, tearing off Caroline's gown skirt in his fall, as he clutches it in the hope of saving himself. Now, that is what I call retributive justice; for she threw down the chair for him to stumble over, and, if he has grazed his knees, she suffers under a torn dress, and must retire until one of the maids darn up the rent. But now the mirth and glee grow 'fast and furious,' for hoodman blind has imprisoned three or four of the youngest boys in a corner, and can place his hand on whichever he likes. Into what a small compass they have forced themselves! But the one behind has the wall at his back, and, taking advantage of so good a purchase, he sends his three laughing companions sprawling on the floor, and is himself caught through their having fallen, as his shoulder is the first that is grasped by Blindman-buff—so that he must now submit to be hooded."

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