Knuckles

When I was a kid growing up in Australia we used to play a game called “Knuckles”. It was based around the “knuckle” from a leg of lamb. We would have 5 or 6 knuckles and play the game by tossing the knuckles into the air, catch them on the back of our hand then toss them back into the air and catch as many as we could in the palm of our hand. The remaining knuckles fell to the ground and were retrieved by tossing one knuckle into the air and whilst it was still airborne, pick up 1, 2, 3 or 4 knuckles from the ground, then catching the airborne knuckle before it hit the ground.

I got to try the Mongolian equivalent of this game last night. Here the “knuckle” is referred to as the “ankle bone” of a sheep. Instead of throwing a knuckle into the air, a short length of chain is used – kind of like a bracelet. More importantly, instead of playing with 5 or 6 knuckles, we played with a couple of hundred.

The knuckles are in a pile in the centre of a group of players. The chain is tossed into the air and a group of knuckles is moved from the pile. You then have to retrieve the pile of knuckles you moved by tossing the chain into the air again, picking the group of knuckles up, then catching the chain before it hits the ground. Winner is maybe the person with the most knuckles at the end.

A variation was that we all started with a pile of 30 knuckles. These were placed into the centre (there were 4 of us playing so that was 120 knuckles in the middle). Play around until all knuckles are retrieved. Then take the person with the lowest score (usually me) and count their knuckles. If, for example, they had 21, then all players would put 21 in the centre and play around again until all were retrieved.

This continues until a player has no knuckles left (again, usually me). I guess eventually that person drops out and they keep playing in a similar way until there is only one winner.

It was enjoyable (and kind of a reversion back to my childhood) to play the game again.

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