Are there any competitive games played with string?
June 18, 2017 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Do you know of any games where two or more people compete using some string and one of them emerges "the winner"?

I've only been able to find either collaborative string figures or puzzles where the other person has to work out how you either created a figure or did an escape.

I am familiar with the resources linked to previously on the blue as well as the Ashley book of knots - though maybe (hopefully) I missed something in one of them?
posted by coleboptera to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
well, if you allow that kites connect to the string, then you have kite fighting which can get quite competitive.
posted by alchemist at 11:32 PM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

None of these possibilities would meet strict criteria, but in addition to toys/puzzles like you mentioned, Games of the North American Indians describes a guessing game played with beaded strings, a wide variety of ring and pin games akin to cup and ball but where score is kept (one example is almost all string and fiber in construction), and a wide variety of double ball games where string is at least sometimes involved. BoardGameGeek also lists String Railway, String Safari, and Jiggle-Joggle as competitive games in which string is a key component of the game system.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:21 AM on June 19, 2017

Conkers (if you allow that horse chestnut seeds connect to the string).
posted by plep at 12:34 AM on June 19, 2017

Cat's cradle. (Upon rereading - this is collaborative not competitive so doesn't meet the criteria).
posted by plep at 12:35 AM on June 19, 2017

Tug o' War? I mean, it's an elaborately large and strong piece of string.
posted by bumcivilian at 12:49 AM on June 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

String Railway!
posted by pharm at 1:41 AM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

The ear pull is an Inuit game of pain endurance. Two competitors sit facing each other, connected by a loop of string behind one ear of each competitor. The goal is to pull the string until your opponent gives up from the pain. Here's a video.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 2:05 AM on June 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

posted by sammyo at 3:15 AM on June 19, 2017

The string in a tennis or badminton racket?
posted by lakeroon at 3:59 AM on June 19, 2017

Using the same stretching of the definition of "string" as "Tug o' War", there seem to be lots of competitive rodeo events involving rope.

Are there competitive events involving macramé, weaving, or knitting which would fit?
posted by XMLicious at 5:15 AM on June 19, 2017

Elastics was super common in Australia in the 80s and needed only stretchy string. I don't remember it as a competitive game per se, but it did increase in difficulty and eliminate players as it went. The internets tells me it was played in other countries under different names.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:16 AM on June 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Double dutch jump rope? That can get quite competitive.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:52 AM on June 19, 2017

Apparently there's such a thing as speed knitting contests.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 7:19 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Boy Scouts do (or did) things like, 'Who can tie a bowline' the fastest'.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:15 AM on June 19, 2017

If you count competitions that involve making the string, those are a thing. The Longest Thread is a famous one. I've participated in an informal contest at a spinning get-together to see which team of three could spin the longest yarn in a given time. Sheep-to-shawl or sheep-to-sweater races are common at sheep and wool festivals.
posted by clavicle at 8:19 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

State/County Fairs have knitting contests, my mom won one back in the 70's.

My neighbor was judging at a wool festival last weekend.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:32 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Chinese jump rope? That was competitive as hell on the playground, with different variations and jumping patterns. The person who didn't mess up even when the rope was at hip level, definitely was the winner with bragging rights.
posted by book 'em dano at 1:03 PM on June 19, 2017

Thanks everyone! One I remembered that's also tangentially related (and fun) is 'horse-racing' games where you tie a 'horse' (i.e. a lump of wood or something else) to a length of string while the other end is attached to a dowel/pencil. Players then race their horses to the finish line by winding the pencil. There's also versions where all the 'horses' are dragged by a single winding mechanism - they vary in complexity
posted by coleboptera at 12:09 AM on June 20, 2017

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