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.

13 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...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Silvan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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!

Adam Dauer said...

Wow...really enjoyed reading all the different comments on who played where and when and how each played a little differently. My fraternity, Delta Chapter of Chi Phi at Rutgers, played every Thursday night and also whenever we felt the need. The brotherhood got very good and added names to different versions so players had to pay attention to the game in order to answer the accuser properly. Just #s was Jet Jet, No-Who was Regular Regular, and No-Who had Lightening round. An accused could also speed up the Regular Regular game by answering No, a #, and Who? at the same time requiring everyone else to switch to that game mid flow. The toughest games played were one of those with the addition of "Revolving Reverse" meaning every other accusation was the opposite. We played clockwise to the left and reverse to the right. All these additions made it very hard for a new player but still competitive for the veterans. I found the most accurate original story on another site: "Long, long ago, in days when brave knights and chivalrous noblemen roamed the land, the countryside was divided into many kingdoms. The mightiest and most glorious of these kingdoms was ruled by a wise and judicious king. The kingdom was the Kingdom of Camelot, and its king was King Arthur. Camelot was a realm that grew rich and prosperous under the leadership of King Arthur and his council of nobles. These were the Knights of the Round Table called this because they sat at a round table so that no man among them would be viewed as having higher rank than his peers. Camelot was a land of peace for many years and then came the Holy Wars.
King Arthur left Camelot to lead his men in what was thought to be the most noble of campaigns but some knights stayed behind to guard their precious kingdom. Upon his return, King Arthur’s greatest desire was to rejoin his wife, Lady Guinevere. Imagine his horror then, when he learned that she had laid down with another. King Arthur was furious, and called an emergency meeting of the Knights of the Round Table, for he knew that only one of his knights would have been able to charm Lady Guinevere. The knights did not know why they had been called, but all were overcome with a sense of dread. Hearing of King Arthur’s anger, which he had never before shown, they trembled in anticipation of his fury.
A chill filled the room as King Arthur spoke: “Which man among you has defiled my wife?” Sir Gallahan, unable to contain his fear, sprung to his feat and pointed at Sir Lancelot. “It was him”, he shouted. And in one swift movement King Arthur rose, drew his sword the mighty Excalibur, and lopped off Sir Gallahan’s arm at the elbow, and as he shrieked in pain the dead limb fell to the ground with a thud. “We are all gentlemen here!”, the King shouted as his eyes searched the eyes of his men. “We do not point!”
Stunned, the men fell silent. Regaining his composure, Sir Lancelot then accused another knight to cast blame away from himself, who accused another, who accused another. And so it went, each man passing on the blame."