In 2016, some students of foreign languages in the Tampere university decided that they should play an April fool’s prank on their freshers. They began spreading a rumor that there was a game so dangerous it was not to be played under any circumstances. In truth, the game was very simplistic and safe to play. Such were the makeshift origins of the game that its groovy name was thought of first, and only then the mechanics of it. The game was invented for the coming spring as a pastime that would mix drinking, picnicking and sports. The inventors decided to take two games popular among students, Kyykkä or Finnish skittles, and Beer pong, and fuse them together. Thus, Kyrpong was born.
The game is played on a rectangle court, with the two competing teams at either end of it. In the middle of the court is a row of empty cans, stacked in two layers. Each player has a can of carbonated drink, usually alcoholic, though the game can also be played with non-alcoholic drinks. The teams take turns throwing two tennis balls at the cans. If a team knocks over at least one can with the two throws, they get a chance to drink for the duration it takes for one member of the opposing team to run to the cans and put them back in their place. Once the person returning the knocked-over cans to the row is back behind the end line of the court, the drinkers must stop drinking. The team whose members have all finished their drinks first, wins. A referee is needed for each game to maintain order and to make sure rules are followed.
The game’s a lot of fun. There is a half-bakedness and jokiness to it that is kind of amusing. One can tell by playing it that the rules were invented rather haphazardly, which adds to the charm of the game, yet the basic idea of it is so simple and so attractive that it makes for perfect casual pastime with friends. The biggest challenge one faces is carrying around tennis balls and enough cans to make up the court. That is why the game is more suited to gatherings of groups of about a dozen people or more. The good thing about it is that the teams can, at least in theory, have as many members as there are willing players, although 3-5 is the most ideal number of members. The game does also have a disparity in the drinking speeds of the players; some players need only to knock over a single can, and that gives them enough time to finish the entire drink, whereas others might need several rounds to finish theirs. A team, ultimately, is only as fast as its slowest drinker.
In 2019, Lexica began to organize the Kyrpong world championship tournaments, at which point the game assumed a more official capacity. In these events, the rules are upheld more rigidly, and there is an element of genuine competition. And yet, even within these more official parameters the game never lost its silly heart, nor its humble beginnings as a joke of a social game. The main point was only ever to have fun playing it. The world championship tournaments have had hundreds of participants and attenders who have come to play and observe this goofiest of academic sports. That speaks volumes as to just how enjoyable the game is.
Pictures taken by the author
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