Hopscotch


Hopscotch is a traditional children’s game in which one or more players hop over a series of squares drawn on the ground. A puck or game piece is thrown progressively across the squares, and players have to hop their way across the hopscotch framework according to certain rules without losing balance or stepping on the lines of the framework.1 Requiring some dexterity and physical prowess, the game was popular among children in Singapore in the mid-20th century.2

Origins
According to some sources, hopscotch might have originated in early China. The puck was seen as representing the soul and the aim of the game was to reach heaven while gaining merits along the way. Avoiding the lines signified maintaining a life freed from uncertainty and ensuring the soul remained strong.3 Later references to the game locate it in Great Britain where it was called “Scotch Hoppers”.4

Setting up the game

First, the hopscotch framework is set up.5 Made up of squares drawn on the ground with chalk or scratched onto sand or soil with a stick,6 the framework is usually drawn with eight numbered squares in a double T-shape, ending with a large semicircle labelled “home”.7 Squares numbering one, two, three and six are single squares, while those numbering four, five, seven and eight are double squares. Players then select game pieces or pucks to throw onto the squares.8 A puck could be a stone or any hard object with enough weight to be thrown and to land where aimed.9


These days, the hopscotch framework is sometimes built into playgrounds and drawn in paint in school courtyards.10 Students in Singapore may play the game during recess or before and after school.11

There are usually four to five players in a game. Although there is no limit to the number, the game becomes too drawn out with more than five players because players have to wait for each other to finish a round.12 To begin, the players need to determine the playing order.13 Sometimes, each player throws a puck on the framework, and the person whose puck lands closes to the horizontal line starts first.14

Playing the game
The player throws the puck in numerical sequence.15 First, she throws it on the first square. Then she hops with one foot onto the second square and then on to the third square. She lands on two feet on the fourth and fifth squares at the first T-junction, followed by one foot on to the sixth square, and then two feet on the seventh and eighth squares.16


Turning around with a hop and landing on two feet on squares seven and eight again, the player hops back in the same direction. When she finally reaches square two, while balancing on one foot, she attempts to pick up her puck, after which she hops on square one and throws her puck on square two this time.17 The player misses a turn if she misses her designated square, or, while hopping, steps out of the designated square.18

Otherwise, the player repeats the whole process, avoiding the square that her puck is on and picking it up only on the way back.19 On the turn that the player reaches square 8, she throws the puck into the semicircle instead. She hops through the squares again and at squares 7 and 8, she hops around so that she lands with right foot on square 7 and left foot on 8. She then attempts to reach out and grope for the puck in the semicircle behind her, without looking at it and remaining in a squatting position. The player can only make a stake for a “house” after she has completed all the above steps.20

Upon finishing a round, players enter the next stage – owning houses. Standing at the baseline where square one is, a player throws her puck with her back turned to the frame. Whichever square it lands on, the player can initial her name on it and claim as her house. If it fails to land on a square and instead lands on a line, she must try again. However, if her puck lands on the semicircle, she will miss a turn. During the following round, the player can land with both feet on her house, but no other player can place a foot there. At the end of the game, whichever player owns the most number of houses emerges the winner.21

Variants
In Malaysia, hopscotch is known as ting-ting or ketengteng.22 A variant of the game is Chinese hopscotch – a square box with nine squares numbered one to three in the centre and with letters “A” to “C” on either side.23



Author

Bonny Tan



References
1. Chew, J. (1989, May 23). Hop, throw and win a house. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Teo, E. (2012, July 23). The kampung games. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. SportsKnowHow.com. (n.d). History of hopscotch. Retrieved 2017, January 16 from SportsKnowHow.com website: http://www.sportsknowhow.com/hopscotch/history/hopscotch-history.shtml
4. Parker PR. (2011, May 19). World hopscotch record to be broken in Sheffield. Retrieved 2017, January 16 from Parker PR website: http://www.parkerpr.com/news-and-releases/282-world-hopscotch-record-to-be-broken-in-sheffield
5. Lim, R. (Ed.) (2006). Gateway to Asian games. Singapore: Asiapac Books, p. 24. (Call no.: JRSING 790.15095 GAT)
6. How to play hopscotch. (1982, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Lim, R. (Ed.). (2006). Gateway to Asian games. Singapore: Asiapac Books, p. 24. (Call no.: JRSING 790.15095 GAT)
8. Chew, J. (1989, May 23). Hop, throw and win a house. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. How to play hopscotch. (1982, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Hougang to build $4m park for all in the family. (1992, November 27). The Straits Times, p. 33; Schools for the 21st century. (1996, November 17.) The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Chew, J. (1989, May 23). Hop, throw and win a house. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. How to play hopscotch. (1982, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. SportsKnowHow.com. (n.d). Hopscotch rules – Governing bodies: Rules of hopscotch. Retrieved 2017, January 16 from SportsKnowHow.com website: http://www.sportsknowhow.com/hopscotch/rules/hopscotch-rules.html
14. How to play hopscotch. (1982, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. SportsKnowHow.com. (n.d). Hopscotch rules – Governing bodies: Rules of hopscotch. Retrieved 2017, January 16 from SportsKnowHow.com website: http://www.sportsknowhow.com/hopscotch/rules/hopscotch-rules.html
16. How to play hopscotch. (1982, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. How to play hopscotch. (1982, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Chew, J. (1989, May 23). Hop, throw and win a house. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Lim, R. (Ed.). (2006). Gateway to Asian games. Singapore: Asiapac Books, p. 24. (Call no.: JRSING 790.15095 GAT)
20. Chew, J. (1989, May 23). Hop, throw and win a house. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Chew, J. (1989, May 23). Hop, throw and win a house. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Lim, R. (Ed.). (2006). Gateway to Asian games. Singapore: Asiapac Books, p. 23. (Call no.: JRSING 790.15095 GAT); Yang, K. Y., & Chan, M. W. (Eds.) (1972). Kamus umum bahasa Malaysia. [Singapura]: World Book, p. 1475. (Call no.: Malay R 499.2303951 KAM-[DIC])
23. Traditional games. (1998). Singapore: Curriculum Planning & Development Division, Ministry of Education, pp. 13–15. (Call no.: RQUIK 796 SIN)



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Games--Singapore
Recreation
Hopscotch
Sports and Recreation
Sports, recreation and travel