Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Wales's Tails



Recently on Dartblog, Isaiah Berg mentioned that Dartmouth fraternities/sororities were playing the drinking game, “Tails” (see here). That rocked me back on my heels … as over 50 years ago at Sigma Nu we played a drinking game “Wales Tails” (in order to speed up the inebriation process.) May I assume that the current game is one and the same? To test this theory of tradition persistence I thought I would describe the game we played and see if it is equivalent to what fraternities and sororities are playing today.

The premise of this game was that the Prince of Wales had lost his cut-away tuxedo (his tails) and was trying to find it by accusing others at the table (usually from 4 to 7 others) of taking it. There was a pitcher or two of beer at the table and everyone had a plastic cup that was to be constantly filled with same. One person would be chosen as Prince (usually a senior) and he would begin by saying, “The Prince and [the number of players at the table, not counting the Prince].”

Then, “The Prince of Wales has lost his tails … Wales … tails … [a number] sir!” The number given would be the person being accused and it was the seat number of a person at the table counting counterclockwise from the Prince. This person was to immediately respond, “Nay sir, [and then the number of another person at the table … or ‘Prince’] sir.” This person accused was to respond in kind and this new person would offer up another culprit’s number (or “Prince”), until someone screwed up in answering at which point the loser had to take a slug of beer.

Now this seems simple enough, but there were a number of nuances that went along with this game:

   1) The Prince could declare a “tightening round” whereby the loser would have to chug-a-lug his beer instead of just taking a gulp.

   2) The Prince could declare a “rotating Prince” whereby the person accused automatically became the Prince and all numbers changed in kind dynamically counterclockwise around the table. This could get quite complicated really fast and pity the poor player who did not have all his faculties due to over imbibing.

   3) The person accused could call his own number (or “Prince” if things were rotating) and then respond with a denial and an accusation of another player … or even himself again, etc.

   4) The person accused could call another number but simultaneously turn to stare at another player who was not that number. This was called an “elementary head fake.”

This game would often go on until the wee hours of the morning … or the keg tapped out.

12 comments:

George W. Potts said...

Isaiah Berg responds
"I got your message regarding Wale's Tails. We don't play that game here at Dartmouth anymore to my knowledge; what I was referring to were 'Tails as in short for "cocktails". It's a relaxed time to sample a variety of mixed drinks (many experienced bartenders are to be found scattered about the student population) and socialize.

That being said, old traditions are always in need of revival!"

Dave said...
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George W. Potts said...

Dave,
Please update our readers on the rules for reverse, oscillating, olympic, (nick)name tales, and pussy-giz tales (you can omit the last one if it is too dirty.)

Dave said...
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Dave said...
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George W. Potts said...

Perhaps we did start off counting clockwise from the Prince ... it's been over 50 years.

James said...

This was very popular at my fraternity at Brown in the 90's. We had many variations, including 'anticipation': 3,nay,who,2-who,nay-5,nay,who,4, etc. I feel Beirut has replaced it now... ah well.

Trevor Chenoweth said...

Obviously I am late to the party on this but we ABSOLUTELY still play this game in my house at Dartmouth. I'm a current undergrad '12 and to my knowledge we're the only house that still does this. Alums from Sig Nu and Zete come over all the time to play.

Dave Silvan said...
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Dave Silvan said...
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Jerry Dino Braun said...

Found this searching for correct spelling, as we are having a reunion party in Glencoe, IL. We had arguably one of the best groups in Wales Tales skill, and our game rules was simply this: Prince starts by asking for a count of who is in, response in clockwise order from each player in succession is "1","2",3,4 for the 4 other players, then we start, "Wales Tales prince of Wales, Prince of 4 calling (any number like) 2, person 2 clockwise answers "nay", prince responds "who", answer may be "3", whoever is 3 clockwise from caller answers "nay", until someone mumbles (shit in the mouth), answers with a wrong response like a nay when a number was needed, or is too slow (delay of game). Drink if make a mistake, vote on arguments thumbs up or thumbs down, three mistakes in a row, down your beer. Came from our friends at Colgate, who brought back to Chicago, where we took it to Pike house at Univ of AZ circa 1974. We would like to invite (challenge) any others to a friendly game if you visit Chicago or Tucson. We will be honing our skills this weekend again. We used to have a lively fast paced game where a few tenths of a second was often charged as a delay of game. The votes were always fun too... Don't ever challenge if you have two in a row already, you are sure to lose the vote. Dino

CC said...

This was a popular game played by FIGIs and their friends at Davidson College in the 1980's. It was an impressive thing to watch some experienced gamers go at it! Nay Who Number, Nay Who Number, Nay Who Number.... drink! 3 times in a row and the player in error must chug a full cup to everyone singing, "Mine eyes .. are blind .. I can .. not see .. I have . not . got my specs with me!" I still find myself pointing with my elbow! Apparently no one plays that there anymore. Too bad. It was gear fun!