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How to Play Mumblety-peg

How to Play Mumblety-peg

Mumblety-peg was an outdoor game played during the early 20th century, with a pocket knife. It goes by many names - mumbly peg, mumble-de-peg, mumble-the-peg, etc. This article tells you how to play the mumbly peg game.
Vijith Menon
Did You Know?
Mumblety-peg was first mentioned in Tom Sawye, as a game played by Tom and his friends.
Wars were constant in the 19th and 20th century, and recession was always around the corner. Not every kid on the block could afford a ball or buy a baseball bat. But knives were pretty much affordable, and almost every kid had them. Pocket knives were used by kids for self-protection in those lean times. It was used to test the manliness of every kid who didn't want to be called chicken. The game of mumblety-peg was derived from here.

Mumblety-peg involves throwing a pocket knife deep into the ground. The position at which it hits the ground―sideways or straight up―decides the number of points. It involves different stunts that can be performed, which obviously gets more points. The name of the game is derived from a stick driven into the ground by the winner using a pocket knife, which the loser has to pull out using only his teeth, while mumbling curses at the winner.
Versions of the Mumblety-peg Game
Although the basic version of the game involves throwing a pocket knife into a circle in the ground, a variant of this involves two people standing away from each other and throwing a knife near their own foot. Whoever throws the knife closest to their foot without getting hurt, wins. If the player moves his foot, the opposing player wins.

Another version of the game involves throwing the pocket knife from different angles, and the other player tries to imitate the same and land it successfully at a straight angle with the blade thrust into the ground.

The last variant of the game is called 'Chicken'. The player is asked to keep some sticks between his feet. The other player then throws the knife as close to the center of the gap. The first player then moves his foot to the place where the knife is stuck. This goes on till the player reduces the gap between the feet with the least amount of knife throws. If the player decides to forfeit or thinks he's about to lose, he's termed chicken; hence the name of the game.
Playing Rules
Let's follow the basic version of the game of throwing a knife deep into the ground. To make it interesting, there are 24 different trick tosses that one can perform. If you forfeit or are unable to perform more tricks than the opposing player, you lose the game.

▶Close the fist of your right hand, with the back of the hand facing the ground. Place the knife on your palm, with the blade pointing towards the right. Now, with your hand close to the ground, swing the knife in a semicircle continuously, so that it falls to the ground with the handle sticking upright. Now perform the same toss, but with your left hand.

▶Hold the knife blade between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand. Now flip it with a downward motion, so that it spins and lands in the ground. Now perform the same trick, but with your left hand.

▶Hold the blade of the knife as described in the above trick, in your right hand, and bring it close to your left ear so that the handle touches it. Now let the other hand touch your right ear. Now throw the knife so that it flips once and lands in the ground. Now do the same trick with the left hand.

▶Hold the knife blade as told in the above trick, and let the handle touch your nose. Throw the knife and let it flip through the air and stick in the ground. Perform the same trick, except bring the handle close to your right eye. Continue to do the same by holding the knife near the left eye. It can be done by either hand.

▶Place the blade on top of the head, with the forefinger holding the knife upright. Using your forefinger, strike a blow to the back of the handle, so that the knife spins in the air and lands on the ground with the blade embedded inside. This can be done by either hand.

▶Hold out your left hand with the fingers pointing up. Now place the blade of the knife on the thumb of your left hand, with the handle being held by the forefinger of your right hand. Using your forefinger, hit the handle, and make the knife spin and land on the ground, with the blade embedded in the ground. Repeat this with the left forefinger, left middle finger, left ring finger, and left pinky. Now repeat the same trick by holding the blade on the thumb of your right hand, with the knife being held by your left forefinger.

▶For this trick, sit with your knees up. Place the knife point on your right knee, with the knife being held by the right forefinger. Throw the knife using your forefinger, so that the it lands in the grass, blade side down. Repeat the same trick with your left knee and forefinger.

▶While kneeling down, hold the blade point between the thumb and forefinger of your hand, and toss it behind you, in a backwards toss, so that it lands in the grass.

▶The last trick is known as 'plowing the field'. With the knife stuck in the ground from the last trick, land a blow on the handle so that it spins and lands a yard farther.
If you perform all the tricks successfully and faster than your competitor, you win. Mumblety-peg has become extinct, and is rarely played due to people losing a toe or getting stabbed in the foot. If you still wish to play, it would be advised to do so under proper supervision.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. This game is dangerous. Play it at your own risk.