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Playing street-games in Galicia
Playing street-games in Galicia
The Games of Spain

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Carlos Velázquez, a teacher in Spain, believes that physical education can be used as a vehicle to promote intercultural knowledge and values. In pursuit of this goal he has been working to compile a listing of traditional children's games from around the world.

Several years ago Carlos conducted a series of interviews with people of all ages from various Spanish provinces. Below are 28 distinct games and their rules, played in different parts of the nation. His explanations are clear and bring to life an interesting and broad mix of play. We were also struck by the similarities between many of these traditional Spanish games and children's activities here in the United States.

Please contact us if you have any additional thoughts about these or other games, or even better, just add your story to the discussion area.

Name

English Name

Similar To

Pasi misí

No translation

 

Las cuatro esquinas

Four corners

 
Bomba Bomb  
Civiles y ladrones Policemen and thieves Cops and Robbers, Manhunt, Ringoleavio
Pies quietos Stopped feet Spud
Gol portero Goal goalkeeper  
Tiente No translation Tag
Stop (original name is in English)  
Corazón Heart  

Tiente envenenada

Poisoned tag

 

Cadeneta

Little chain

 

La araña

The spider

 

El rescate

The rescue

Ringoleavio

El pañuelo

The handkerchief

Steal the Bacon

Pelota pared

Wall ball

Chinese Handball, Ace King Queen

Cara o cruz

Face or cross

 

El escondite al revés

Hide and seek in reverse

 

Las tres cosas

The three things

 

Zapatito inglés

English little shoe

Red Light Green Light 1 2 3

Al Castre

To castrate

Crack Top

Al Corro

To the circle

 

La Semana

The week

 

Color, colorcito

Color, little color

 

El bote

The can

Kick the Can

El relojito

The little clock

 

La charca

The pool

 

Los tres navíos

The three ships

Capture the Flag?

Moros y Cristianos

Moors and Christians

Steal the Bacon


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Pasi misí (No translation)

Equipment: None.

Rules: The players line up in a row.  At the front of the line, two children stand opposite each other, link and raise their hands forming an arch.  The children standing in line go under the arch singing:

"Pasi misí, pasi misá,
por la calle de Alcalá,
los de "adelante" corren mucho
el de atrás se quedará."

"Pasi misí, pasi misá,
by the Alcalá street
the first ones run quickly
the last one will stay".

When the last verse ends, the two children forming the arch drop their arms down trapping the child who happened to be going under the arch. The trapped child has to choose between two fruits (e.g. banana and orange) secretly. Each fruit has a correspondence with one of the children forming the arc. The player places behind the child of the arc with this name of fruit.

The game continues in form we have two chains of children that do tug-of-war.

The winner is the chain who pulls the other one cross a line on the ground.

Notes: The name of this old game could come from the French word "Monsieur". So "Pase, Monsieur" ("Come in, Monsieur") could give the sentence without translation "Pasi misí".

This game is played in: Different villages of the province.


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Las cuatro esquinas (Four corners)

Equipment: A place with four corners or chalk to mark four circles on the floor.

Rules: One person is "IT" and he/she is in the middle of a square. The other four players are placed in the corners of the square. As each player runs to change their positions IT tries to scramble for a vacant corner. The person without corner has to stand in the middle.

Notes: There is a variation of this game where the person in the middle has to touch a person out of the corners to interchange roles. In another variation the players have to change corners when IT clap his hands.

This game is played in: Different villages of the province.


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Bomba - (Bomb)

Equipment: A ball.

Rules: Everybody stands up forming a circle, except one person who is in the center with closed eyes. While the person in the center silently counts to himself the others are passing a ball one by one. Each person has to give the ball to the person at his right without throwing it. When the person in the center arrives to 20 he raises his right arm, when he arrives at 40 he raises his left arm and when he arrives to 60 shouts "¡Bomba!" (Bomb!) and claps his hands over his head. At this moment the person who had the ball sits down on the ground.

This part of the game is repeated but the child on the left of the child who has sat down has to jump over his legs to give the ball to the next player. The difficulty increases when there are more children sitting down which must be jumped over (the person has to jump them one by one).

The game goes on until only one child is stand up. This child is the new IT.

Notes: Children play another similar game called "Patata caliente" (Hot potato) where nobody sits down, but it was only an interchange of roles between the person in the center and the person who has the ball when the first one ends the count.

This game is played in: Valladolid, Peñafiel, Laguna de Duero, Olmedo, Íscar.


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Civiles y ladrones (Policemen and thieves)

Equipment: None.

Rules: Children are divided in two groups: thieves and policemen. The policemen tries to catch (touch) the thieves.

Sometimes there is a space called jail, where a thief is brought when a policeman touched him. A thief can be set free if a free thief is able to arrive to the jail without being touched by a policeman.

When all the thieves are in the jail the groups exchange their roles and the game is started again.

Notes: This game is played in a big space.

This game is played in: Different villages of the province.


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Pies quietos (Stopped feet)

Equipment: A ball.

Rules: This game is usually played with five or six children. One of the children takes a ball and throws it up and calls the name of another child. The called child has to take the ball before the ball bounce on the floor. If he reaches it he throws up the ball again and this process goes on. But when a called child isn't able to catch the ball and it bounces on the ground the called child has to go and get the ball while the rest of the players run away. When the called child gets the ball he says: "PIES QUIETOS!" (Stopped feet) and everybody has to stop. The child with the ball can walk (or jump) three steeps to near to some of the players and then he throws the ball against some player. If the ball hit this player he has a penalty point but if the child who throws the ball doesn't hit any player is he to have a penalty point. In both cases the process starts again. When a player has three penalty points he is out and the game continues till only one child rests.

Notes: There is a variation of this game where the first child to have three penalty points isn't out but he has to do something like to kiss a girl, sing a song, dance or anything like this. When he does his mission the game starts again being everybody free of penalty points.

This game is played in: Valladolid, Peñafiel, Olmedo, Íscar.


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Gol portero (Goal goalkeeper)

Equipment: A ball.

Rules: Children make the soccer goal with two stones or with two trees. A person is the goalkeeper and the rest of the players (usually from two to four people more) play a little match with the mains rules of soccer, each person against the others. When somebody makes a goal he interchanges his role with the goalkeeper.

Notes: Sometimes children play in two teams (with two or three people each). If a child makes a goal, the goalkeeper goes with the team of the child who made the goal.

This game is played: Different villages of the province.


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Tiente (No translation, the equivalent would be tag)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and tries to touch another one. When IT touches another child, the touched player is the new IT.

Notes: This game has other names like Tula (no translation). The name of Tula seems to be an origin in the sentence "tú la llevas" ("You are IT"). Other names of this game are A pillar (To catch), Pilla pilla (Catch catch)…

This game is played: Different villages of the province.


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Stop (The original name is in English)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and tries to touch another one. A child can't be touched saying "Stop!" at time that he stops like a statue, opening his legs. Another free child can rescue him crossing under his legs. If IT touches another child, the touched player is the new IT.

Notes: This game is usually played saying "Cuba" to stop and "Libre" (free) when a person crosses under the legs of another player. The name of this variation is Cuba libre (Free Cuba).

In another version of this game, played in Peñafiel's zone, children say marks of tobacco to stop. It's forbidden to say the same mark of another stopped player. The name of this variation is Marcas de tabaco (Marks of tobacco).

This game is played: Different villages of the province.


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Corazón (Heart)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and tries to touch another one. A child can't be touched saying "¡Corazón!" (Heart!) at time that he links his hands in front of his chest and stops like a statue. Another free child can rescue him crossing under his hands and kiss him. If IT touches another child, the touched player is the new IT.

Note: Actually the name of this game has changed. Now this game is called "I love you" (original name in English).

This game is played in: Quintanilla de Arriba.


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Tiente envenenada (Poisoned tag)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and tries to touch another one. When somebody is touched he becomes the new IT and he has to run with one of his hands touching the part of his body where he was been touched.

This game is played in: Valladolid, Peñafiel.


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La araña (The spider)

Equipment: None.

Rules: Two parallel lines are drawn on the ground about seven meters apart. One person is IT and is in the space between these lines. The rest of the players are in a line. When IT says "¡Araña!" ("Spider!) everybody has to cross to the other line. If IT touches someone, the touched player and IT links by hands and, from this moment, they are a chain (the spider) which they can't break. When the chain is formed, only the persons in the extremes can touch the players that run from a line to the other. The game ends when everybody has been touched. The first person to be touched by IT is the new IT.

Notes: Sometimes the new IT is the last person to be touched by the spider.

This game is played in: Peñafiel, Valladolid.


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Cadeneta(Little chain)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and tries to touch another one. When somebody is touched he and IT join their hands (only one hand from each person) and both together try to touch another child. Each touched player has to join to the chain. Players in chain can unlink the chain to form two or more little chains with two conditions:

    1. A little chain can be formed by two or more children.

    2. Every touched child must become part of a chain.

    The game ends when everybody has been touched.

Note: There is another game called "La gran cadena" (The big chain) where there is a big chain only.

This game is played in: Valladolid.


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El rescate (The rescue)

Equipment: None.

Rules: About 1/3 of the players form a group, the IT group, and the rest 2/3 are free. People of the IT group run and try to catch the free children. When the first free player is caught, he has to go to the base (a tree, post or side of a structure) and stay there touching the base. When the second free player is caught he has to link one of his hands to the first one to form a little chain that grows up when more children has been caught. If a free child reaches to touch a player in the chain without being touched by a person of the IT group, everybody is free. The game ends when everybody has been caught.

Note: Sometimes players in chain kick their guardians without breaking the chain to escape.


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El pañuelo (The handkerchief)

Equipment: A handkerchief.

Rules: Three parallel lines are drawn about 7 – 10 meters apart. Two teams with an equal number of players stand one in front of each other, along each line in the borders. Each player of each team has a number from 1 to the number of players in the team. The leader places him/herself in the central line, between the two groups. The leader holds a handkerchief in his hand.

The game start when the leader says a number from one to any number (the maximum is the number of total players in a team).The person of each team who has that number runs and try to catch the handkerchief. There are three possibilities:

  • One person grabs the handkerchief and returns to his/her line without being touched by the other person. In this case, the person who didn't touch the other is out.
  • One person grabs the handkerchief and starts to run to his/her line but the other player touch him/her before arriving to his/her line. In this case, the touched player is out.
  • One person crosses the central line but the leader continues to have the handkerchief. In this case, the person who crossed the central line is out. (To achieve eliminate the other, players usually feign to hold the handkerchief without doing and start to run to their line).

If a team lose a player, another player takes his/her number. So, after the first situation there is a person in one of the teams with two numbers.

The game finishes when all the players of one team are out.

Notes: sometimes children play in another form. Eliminated players are prisoners of the other team and if the two teams agree, prisoners can be interchanged. Usually one by one, but sometimes a prisoner is interchanged for two or three people.

This game is played in: Different villages of the province.


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Pelota pared (Wall ball)

Equipment: A tennis ball and chalk.

Rules: A parallel line to the floor is drawn on the wall with the chalk about one meter of it.
Every player has a number. The player with the number one has to bounce the ball on the floor and hit it with his hand throwing the ball against the wall calling another number. The player who has the called number has to hit the ball before it bounces twice on the ground and call another number, and go on.

One player fails if he isn't able to hit the ball before the second bounce or if the ball hits the wall under the line drawn on it. When a player fails he is out. The last player is the winner.

Notes: There is a variation of this game called BURRO (Donkey). In "burro", the first time that a player fails he has the first letter of the word "burro", the B. The second time he has the U, and go on. When a player completes the word "burro" he lost and he usually has to do a penitence to play again.

This game is played in: Peñafiel, Langayo, Canalejas.


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Cara o cruz (Face or cross)

Equipment: a coin.

Rules: The lies of the figure are on the ground. The players are divided in two teams, one team is called "Face" and the other one is called "Cross". Every team is placed in a line opposite the other. A neutral leader places between two teams with a coin.

Face team

Leader

Cross team

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

V

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

About 10 Meters

About 2 Meters

About 10 Meters

The game starts when the leader toss the coin up and say "Face! or cross!" (depending of the position of the coin). If he says "Face!", the face team chases the cross team. Every touched player before to cross the home line is out. If the leader says "Cross!" is the cross team to chase the face team. The game finish when a game doesn't have any player.

Notes: Sometimes there is no coin and the leader is free to say "Pepes" (Josephs) or "Pepas" (Josephines). This variation was usually played in two teams, one team of boys an another of girls only.

This game is played in: Peñafiel.


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El escondite al revés (Hide and seek in reverse)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and it hides. The rest of people looks for IT. When someone sees IT he/she hides with him/her without being seen by the others. The last one in discover the group is the new IT.

Notes: This game is played in a big place, usually all the village.

This game is played in: Peñafiel, Pesquera de Duero.


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Las tres cosas (The three things)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT. IT has to say three things that it's possible to see (for example: a tree, a wall and a stone). Then, IT has to count until 10 (very slowly) or 20 (fast) while the rest of players run to touch the three things and to hide (a person can hide directly or can touch one (two or three) of the things before hiding). When IT finishes counting he/she open his/her eyes and looks around trying to see somebody, IT can walk only three steps.

If IT sees somebody, he/she says "Por… (and the name of the seen player)" "(FOR (and the name of seen player)". In this case, the seen player is out.

If IT doesn't see anybody, he/she says: "Vuelvo a contar" (I'm going to count again"). When IT starts to count again, the rest of the players continue touching the three things and hides again. When a person has touched the three called things, he/she to arrive to IT and touched IT without being discovered and he/she says: "Por mí" ("For me"). This person is the new IT and the game starts again.

This game is played in: Castrillo de Duero.

Source: Sandra Lucas Arranz, born in 1988.


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Zapatito inglés (English little shoe)

Equipment: A wall.

Rules: A line, parallel to the wall, is drawn on the ground about 10 meters apart. One person is IT and IT is at the wall. The other players start the game behind the line on the ground, looking at the wall.

IT starts the game looking at the wall and saying: "Un, dos, tres, zapatito ingles" ("One, two, three, English little shoe"), while the other players walk to the wall. When IT ends the sentence, IT turns his/her head and try to see somebody moving. If IT sees somebody moving, seen person has to return to the start point.

The first person who arrives to the wall touches it and says: "Chorizo" (a traditional Spanish salami). Then, everybody tries to cross the start line without being touched by IT. If IT touches a player, this person is the new IT. If IT doesn't touch anybody IT doesn't change.

Notes: Sometimes the game ends when a person touch the wall. This person is the new IT.

Other names: Un, dos, tres, escondite inglés (One, two three, English hide and seek). Un, dos, tres, pica pared (One, two, three, knock wall).

This game is played in: Different villages of the province.


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Al Castre (To castrate)

Equipment: Spinning tops.

Rules: A circle with about 30 centimeters in diameter, is drawn on the floor. Each player throws his top without an order. The tops have to hit in the circle and spin. If a top doesn't hit in the circle or doesn't spin, the player have to put his top in the center of the circle where it can be hit by the tops of the rest of the players

When a top of one player hits the top in the circle this top is removed from the circle, the owner can take his top and return to the game. When a top spins in the circle, the rest of the players can hit it with their tops. When the top spinning goes out the circle by itself or because it's hit by another top, it can be recuperated by his owner. So, it's possible to find two or more tops in the circle at the same time.

This game is played in: Peñafiel, Canalejas, Castrillo de Duero, Langayo, Encinas de Esgueva…


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Al Corro (To the circle)

Equipment: Spinning tops and coins.

Rules: A circle with about 30 cm. in diameter is drawn on the floor. Each player puts in one coin.

Players have to establish the order to throw the tops. It has done playing "Al baile" ("To the dance"). For this, all the players throw their tops at time, the player who his top has stopped the last one will throw the first one, and go on.

The first player starts the game throwing his top and trying to make it hit a coin (or several coins) and then to go out the circle. If the top reaches a coin and goes out the circle, he/she takes the coin. It's necessary that the top spins because if it doesn't, the throw is not right and the player has to put back into the circle the coin that went out and to wait one or two turns, to throw another time. The game finishes when there are no more coins in the circle.

Notes: This game isn't played actually.

This game was played in: Olmedo.

Source: Félix García Martín, born in 1934.


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La Semana (The week)

Equipment: A space with some stairs.

Rules: There are six stairs that represent six days of a week: Monday, Tuesday... and Saturday. One player is IT and is on the ground. IT calls different days of the week without an order. Children go up and down to arrive to the stair that represents the day called. When IT call "Sunday!", everybody has to step on the ground and go up to the first stair. If in the moment that a player is stepping on the ground IT reaches to step on his foot the player stepped is the new IT.

Notes: When children haven't six stairs they draw parallel lines on the ground that represents the stairs.

This game is played in: Peñafiel.


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Color, colorcito (Colour, little colour)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT. IT says: "Color, colorcito… (the name of a colour)" "Colour, little colour… (the name of a colour)".Then, all the players run to look for objects and things in that colour to be "on safe" and the leader must run after them to catch them before they can touch it. If IT catches someone, this person becomes the new IT.

This game is played in: Peñafiel, San Llorente.


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El bote (The can)

Equipment: None.

Rules: A little circle is drawn on the floor and children put the can in the circle. One person is IT. Another player kicks the can. IT has to go to the place where the can is now, IT has to take the can and to return walking back to put the can in the circle. While IT returns with the can, the rest of the players hide. When IT put the can in the circle says "¡Bote, bote. Voy!" (Can, can. I go!) and try to find to the hidden players. When IT sees somebody, IT returns to the can, takes it and say: ¡Bote por...! (Can for...) and call the name of the found player. This player has to place near the circle with the can. One hidden player can go to the can without being seen for the person who is IT, then this player can kick the can and says "¡Bote por mí y por todos mis compañeros!" (Can for me and for everybody!). So, everybody is free and can hide another time while IT has to go to the can, taking it and returns to put it in the circle. The game finishes when IT finds everybody and nobody has been able to free them. In this case the game starts with the first player who has been found is the new IT.

Notes: Actually the can is being changed for a ball, usually a ball without air.

This game is played in: Different villages of the province.


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El relojito (The little clock)

Equipment: None.

Rules: One person is IT and stands with the rope at the center of a circle formed by the other players. IT holds the string on one hand from an end of it; then, he turns and spins around and moves the string making a low circle around him/her. He cannot move it higher than the players' knees. The other players must jump the rope every time that it passes by them. If one person touches the rope, or doesn't jump it, he or she is the new IT.

Note: We have identified two variations of this game in Peñafiel. In the first one, when a person make a mistake is out and the last one is the new IT. The second one is called "Los colores" (The colors). In this variation the person who is at the center says: "¡Que entre el color...!" (Come in the color...) and called a colour. Then every child who has the called colour on it jumps the rope while says: "¡Este niño tiene el color...!" (this child has the colour (name of the colour) on it). When they finish everybody goes over the rope and the person at the center called a new colour. If the rope touches a player, this player is the new IT.

This game is played in: Quintanilla de Arriba, Peñafiel, Langayo.


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La charca (The pool)

Equipment: A flat stone and chalk.

Rules: Various circles are drawn on the ground. Each circle has one number.

A person starts the game saying a number. Another person takes the flat stone and throws it trying to get that the stone to drop into the circle with the called number. If he fails, another player tries to do it. This goes on until one player get it in the circle. Then, this player jumps on one foot stepping in the circles to reach the stone, takes it and returns. If he is able to do it without stepping out of the circles he writes his name in the circle where it was the stone. From then nobody can step on this circle excepting the person who has his name on it. The game goes on until every circle has a name. The aim of the players is to get more circles that the others.

Notes: It seems this traditional game was introduced in Peñafiel for a gypsy girl who came from a suburb of Madrid and it was very popular for a little time.

This game was played in: Peñafiel.

Source: Sheila Jiménez, born in 1984.


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Los tres navíos (The three ships)

Equipment: None.

Rules: Players are divided in two groups. All the children of one group hide together, excepting one of them that waits at a corner until every child of his group are hidden. Then he shouts "¡Los tres navíos ya están escondidos!" (The three ships are hidden). Then he runs to hide with his group.

The children of the other group wait at the base, called "tuba" (without translation), and when they hear the signal start to look for the other group, all together. If they can see the player who shouts before he was able to hide, they shout: "¡Tierra descubierta!" (Discovered land!) and the game starts another time but changing the roles. If they can't see the player who shouts before he's able to hide, there are two possibilities:

  • The hidden group is found by the other group. So, the group who looks for them shouts "¡Tierra descubierta!" (Discovered land!) and the game starts another time but both groups change their roles.
  • The hidden group is able to come back to the base without being discovered by the players of the other group. Then, when children arrive to the base shouts "¡Los tres navíos ya están en la tuba!" (The three ships are in the base) and the game starts without changing roles.

Notes: This game is usually played by night and in a big space, usually all the village.

This game is played in: Fuenteolmedo, Olmedo, Peñafiel, Pesquera de Duero, Quintanilla de Arriba.


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Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians)

Equipment: None.

Rules: Two parallel lines are drawn on the floor. These lines are separated about 8 - 10 meters. There are two teams, one of them is placed behind a line and the other team is placed behind the other one.

A player starts the game. He/she goes to the other team. The players of this team are waiting with a hand in front of them. The player who arrives walks in front of the players of the other team and suddenly hits the hand of a player, then he/she runs trying to return safely across the line of his/her team. The hit player tries to touch the opponent before he/she crosses their home line. If the player who hit cross his/her line without being touched by the other player, this last player is out. If the player who hit is touched before crossing his/her line, the player who hit is out.

Then it's the other team to send a player to hit another player. The game goes on and ends when a team has lost every player.

Notes: There is a more modern non competitive variation of this game where nobody is out. The person has to change team. The game ends when everybody is in the same team.

This game was played in: Peñafiel.

Source: Manuel Vera, born in 1954.

 

 


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