In Mexican wrestling the mask is sacred, and its loss in the ring is the ultimate insult. The first Mexican wrestler to lose his mask was El Murciélago Enmascarado, The Masked Bat, and it all happened eighty years ago.
For the several of the first modern Olympic Games you could win a gold medal in sculpture, painting, music, literature, or architecture.
Shengguan Tu is a board game from a millennium ago that charts players’ rise through the many layers of Chinese bureaucracy.
In simultaneous play, a chess master competes against multiple opponents at the same time. In 1951, International Master Robert Wade began such an exhibition match with 30 teenage schoolboys from Moscow. He would not win one game.
Courier chess, played from the 12th century CE on, had kings, queens, bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns… but it also had henchmen, fools, and couriers.
A Christmas Eve parlour game played in Victorian England involved grabbing burning raisins with your hands and eating them while they were still alight.
The 19th century had many different cue sports, like everlasting pool and scratch pool. Life pool, one of the ancestors of snooker, gave each player three ‘lives’ which other players could eliminate until only one was left standing.
Sometimes the image says it all; in the 1990s the United States military experimented with skateboards for urban warfare.
Many Buddhist scriptures include a list of games that Buddha would not play. It is the first list of games in history.
The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest board game for which we have a near-complete set of rules. People were playing it five thousand years ago, and it is still played today.
The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that random independent events “even out” over time. In Monaco in August 1913, this belief cost casino gamblers millions because of an extraordinary streak at a roulette table.
Want to catch a fish but don’t have any equipment? Try tickling, tramping, or noodling them.
Okay okay, I know I said that chess boxing was my favourite hybrid sport, but now there’s a new contender. I have one word for you, just one word: parahawking.
Three minutes of chess, then three minutes of boxing, then back to chess. Of all the hybrid sports out there, this might be my favourite.
It’s a move that comes around maybe once or twice in a lifetime. It’s perfect, it’s obvious but only in hindsight, it changes the course of the game. In the game Go, it’s the divine move.