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Dartmouth Pong

submitted by
Julian from Dartmouth College

We play with paddles, two on a team. Table about 3 feet in width, 7-8 feet in length. Paddles are sawed off, which means we play without handles. The ball is hit in a lob fashion, and no balls that are hit below chest level are allowed. All houses here play with 10oz cups in various formations, but all follow the same basic rules. the basic rules are:

There are several types of games, but all with the basic rules.

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Beer Pong Down Under

submitted by
Chris (unchanged letter from Chris presented below)


I am astounded that beer pong exists outside Australia.

Our rules are very different but the ultimate aim still remains - basking in the wonderful co-existence of beer and pong.

Our game involves one stubby (bottle) of beer for each player, which can be placed wherever they choose along the baseline of their half of the table. The aim of the game (aside from getting plastered) is to force your opponent to knock over their beer whilst protecting your own. The beauty of the game is in the fact that it is not quite as simple as it sounds.

Each player begins with a full stubby and the rules follow the normal pong rules, ie: first to 21, five serves each with the exception of course that if you knock over your beer, you lose automatically. Included in the five serves, must be at least one which is served by hitting the ball from the top of the stubby; effectively using the bottle as a tee.

Conventionally, experienced players will place their beer in a corner (least likely to knock it over) and so normal play will alternate with players forcing their opponents as close to their beer as possible. The results can be fairly spectacular as players lunge to keep the ball in play and wipe out the bottle in the process.

The tee-up rule is also very effective in raising tension. Hitting a ball from the top of a beer bottle with a ping-pong bat is not the easiest thing to do and takes quite a lot of practice. Inevitably (and particularly as the night wears on), the server will over-compensate and continually air swing as they try to hit the ball and not the bottle. This is an excellent opportunity for sledging and trash-talk.

So where’s the drinking? Actually, it is quite incidental. After each five serves, each player takes a swig. Once a game has been finished (no matter how long or short) all beers must be finished there and then. What happens to the poor bastard who spills his beer? Apart from suffering ridicule, he has to clean the mess on the table and then go and get everybody else a beer for the next game. Doesn’t this seem like a waste of beer? Beer is a privilege, not a right and you must do whatever it takes to protect what little you have (which in actual fact is quite a lot).

We’ve been playing for years now and have held many tournaments (entry: one case of beer) throughout garages and spare rooms across Sydney, all of which have ended with us awash in spilt beer. Mike even fell through a window once, when trying to get a tricky cross-court drive. There was also a nasty night when we ran out of beer at the end of the semis and had to play the final with two bottles of 12 year-old Scotch Whiskey.

I essentially wanted to write and say hey, and even though our games may be as different as baseball and cricket, beer pong is flourishing in Australia and long may it. If ever we’re in the States, we’ll make sure we drop by and kick your arses at whatever form of beer pong we come up with.

Yours in beer and pong,

Chris Bray back to top

Union College Rules

submitted by

Except for the drinking, beer pong is played pretty much like regular ping pong. After the ball is served, the receiving player or team must let the ball hit their side of the table once before returning it (no volleys). If the ball hits your side of the table twice you lose the point. If you return it long and it misses the other side of the table or if you return it short and it hits your side of the table again or goes into the net you lose the point. Beer pong is played to 21 and the winning team must win by two points.

There are two major differences between beer pong and ping pong (again besides the drinking). The first is that beer pong is a LOB GAME! You are trying to win points by hitting your opponents cup not by blasting the ball back faster than they can return it or hitting it across the table where your opponent has no chance of returning it. While there are really no penalties for playing that way, it is considered unsportsman-like. If someone keeps playing fast after repeated warnings you can just call them an asshole and refuse to play against them until they slow down. Proper speed is a judgment call but you should generally play at a speed that everyone playing agrees on.

The other difference from ping pong is that when you are playing doubles you must alternate shots with your partner. In other words, you hit then your partner hits then you hit.

Cup Placement:
Beer pong is played with four 12 oz. plastic cups - one in each quadrant. They are centered between the centerline and the edge of the table one paddle length in from the back edge of the table. If 12oz. cups are not available you can play with 16 oz. cups but you should consider playing six hits to a cup instead of four and realize that those bigger targets are going to result in more hits and a more intense hangover. When you play one on one you should still use four cups and should put some water or beer in your other cup so it will not be as easy to knock over.

Hitting and drinking:
Every time a ball hits a cup it counts as one drink against the player or team whose cup gets hit. You don't have to drink until you are 4 hits down (if you are playing four hits to a cup) but it is a good idea to keep up with your drinking so you are not forced to chug it when you get to four down. One important thing to remember is that the point is not dead when the ball hits the cup. If the ball hits your cup and you are able to return it, it is still in play. It is possible for each team to get hit several times in one point. When your cup gets hit you are said to be "one down". When you get to four down (called "cupped") you have to finish your beer at the end of that point.

If the ball lands in the cup it is called a "Plop" and counts as four hits or a full beer. If you were three down when you get plopped you must finish that beer and you are still three down on the next beer so if you get hit again in the next point you would be four down and would have to finish that beer. If you are three down and you get hit again but manage to keep the ball in play and then you get hit again you are five down. You would have to finish your beer at the end of that point and would be one down on the next.

One important point about hits that you should remember is that when you get hit the drink counts against both you and your partner. It doesn't matter who gets hit - you both get the penalty. The same goes for plops and knocked over cups. You both drink no matter which cup the ball lands in.

The Serve
The serve is a huge part of the game and having a good serve is one of the most important things a player needs to work on to be good.

To determine who gets the first serve you "volley for serve". One team throws the ball so that it bounces on their side first then goes over the net. The team that wins the point after the first cup is hit wins the serve. In other words, if you throw the ball and the other team hits your cup but you keep it in play and go on to win the point you would win the serve even though your team was not the one that hit the cup first. As with any other point, it is possible for each team to get hit more than once in a volley for serve. If, after having thrown the ball, the point ends without having hit a cup you just throw it out again and keep doing that until someone hits the cup and the serve is determined. When you get hit in volley for serve that hit counts but there are no points won or lost. For example if you get hit once you would start the game one down but the game starts at zero-zero. Also, if you get plopped you have to finish that beer before you start the game. When a team wins the serve the player on the right side of the table serves first.

When you serve you must serve from your quadrant into the opposite quadrant. In the picture above, if the player in position 4 is serving he would hit the ball so that it bounces first in quadrant 4 then goes over the net and lands in quadrant 1. If it hits quadrant 2 or if it bounces in quadrant 3 first it is a "Box" and the player serving must serve again. There is no point penalty for serving a box and there is no limit to how many box serves a team can make. They just keep taking the serve over again until it is good. It is the responsibility of the receiving team to call box and it is also the receiving team that has the final word on whether a serve was a box or not. They are like an umpire - even when they are wrong they still get to make the call no matter how bad their call was. If the ball touches the net on the serve but makes it over it is a "let" and is done over. Like boxes, there is no limit on how many lets a person serves and no point penalty.

There are two very important things to know about the serve. The first is that you are allowed to serve the ball as fast as you want - the "Lob Game" aspect does not apply. The return of the serve can be as fast as the serve but no faster. After the return, the pace of play should return to normal.

The other very important thing about the serve is that you do NOT want to hit the cup on the serve. If you hit your opponents cup on the serve it counts as a drink against you (or your team). If you hit your own cup on the serve it also counts against you. If your serve lands in your cup or in one of your opponents cups it counts as a plop against you or your team.

The serve alternates every five points and it alternates across the table (quadrant 4 to 1 to 3 to 2 and back to 4) If the game is tied at 20 all (deuce) the serve alternates on EVERY point.

Advanced Concepts:

Rookie Move:

If a ball hits the edge of a cup and goes off the table without having hit the table first it is the same as hitting it off the table and the team that hit it looses the point. If that happens to you you should let the ball continue so that your opponents loose the point. Sometimes people screw this up and hit the ball. This is known as a "Rookie Move". If you do hit the ball and manage to return it the ball is still in play and the point continues.

Sometimes when the ball bounces off the edge like that it will bounce up and hit your paddle even though you never intended to return it. This used to lead to many arguments over whether a player "intended" to hit the ball and therefore deserves to loose the point. To resolve this it was decided that if a ball hits your paddle it counts as a rookie move reguardless of whether you intended to return it or not. This is ofter referred to as the "Automatic Rookie Move Rule"

Knocked over cups:
When a player knocks over a cup during play it counts as a full beer or four hits against that player and his teammate. If you are unfortunate enough to bump the table and knock over all four cups that would count as four beers. In most cases the player (or team) that knocks over a cup gets the penalty. However if you hit your opponents cup and knock it over it counts as a full beer against them not you. When you are drinking your beer it is a good idea to leave it about a third full so that it will not fall over when a ball hits it. You should be especially careful about knocking over your own cup when you are returning serves. Often a good player will serve the ball as close to the cup as he can without hitting it in the hopes that his opponent will knock over his own beer or that the cup will get in the way of his opponent's return. When a cup gets knocked over the point is dead and the person (or team) that has to drink also loses the point. The knock-over rule only applies during play and not between points or between games.

Cup Tending:
When a ball is headed towards your cup in flight and has not hit your side of the table you are not allowed to hit it before it hits your cup. You must allow the ball to hit the table or a cup before returning it.

External Objects:
If a ball hits something while on the way over the net it is a dead ball and the team that hit it loses the point. In other words you can not play the ball off walls, the ceiling, or other objects. The one exception to this is overhead lights. If a ball bounces off of an overhead light in flight and makes it over the net it is still in play.

Multiple Hits:
There are some instances when the ball hits both of a team's cups on the same shot. Both of these hits count so long as the ball does not hit the table more than once. For example: A ball goes over the net, bounces once, then hits a cup and ricochets off and hits the other cupwithout hitting the table again - counts as two hits

A ball goes over the net and hits the first cup on the fly, bounces once on the table then hits the other cup - counts as two hits. A ball hits the first cup on the fly, hits the table then hits the other cup - counts as two hits. A ball goes over the net and bounces off the edge of the first cup and lands in the second - counts as 5 hits. A ball goes over the net, bounces once on the table, hits a cup and ricochets off and lands in the second cup - counts as five hits (hit and a plop - believe me this does happen) A ball goes over the net and hits the first cup on the fly then bounces off the second cup then off the table without ever hitting the table - it counts as two hits but the team that hit that shot loses the point because the ball never hit the table.

Five Minute Rule:
When you reach four or more down and have to finish your beer you are expected to do so fairly quickly. The only exception to this is after a plop. If you get plopped you can invoke the "Five minute rule" and you have five minutes to finish your beer and return to the game.

The Paddle Throw:
If a ball lands really short and you won't be able to get to it you can throw your paddle at it . If the paddle hits it and the ball and the ball makes over the net it is good and the point continues so long as the ball never touches your side of the table more than once before it goes back over the net. This can be an effective but risky move. If you pull it off, your opponents will probably be too surprised or stunned to return it and you will win the point. The danger though is that when you do it there is the chance that the paddle will slide right under the net and knock over one of your opponents cups and you would have to chug a beer whether you win the point or not. The other danger is that if they do manage to return it you will no longer have a paddle and you are not allowed to hit it back with your hand. I once saw a situation where a person threw his paddle then used his teammate's paddle to return the shot when it was his turn. The point continued that way with the players passing the same paddle back and fourth and they eventually went on to win the point. The jury is still out on whether that is legal or not but they were granted the point at the time if for no other reason than sheer audacity and creativity.

There are many times when a shot is unreturnable. A ball can hit the net then drop and just die over the net. It can be hit in such a way that it barely grazes the table before going off. It can hit some little particle of crap on the table and bounce in a way that makes it impossible to return. These are all good but are referred to as "Cheese". A point is considered cheesy if you didn't really deserve to win it.

Landing Pad:
When you fill up your beer it is a good idea to blow off the foam and drink down a little bit. Sometimes a shot will be really close to a plop but then spin out at the last minute. If you leave that foam in there (the landing pad) it will suck that kind of shot right into your beer.

It is a generally accepted rule that you are allowed to puke up your beer between points without penalty. This can be done intentionally or unintentionally. Intentionally puking has been an effective practice during tournament play and is known as the "Vomit Technique". While legal, it is frowned upon by pong purists.

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