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Beer Pong: another weird pastime

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

Possibly still suffering from the effects of seeing in the New Year, a group of dedicated suds lovers will compete for a $20,000 grand prize in The World's Beer Pong Championship in one of the four casinos in Mesquite , 80 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada, from January 1 to 5.

What, you may well ask, is beer pong? It's a beer-drinking game played mostly by feisty and usually thirsty young American university undergraduates who, having reached the age of 21, are legally entitled to consume alcoholic beverages.

"Beer pong, also known as beirut, is a unique collage of throwing balls into cups, intense competition, social relaxation, and witty psyche-outs," says the championship webpage. "The game is simple, yet it can be intense.

"Two two-man teams stand at opposite ends of a table (commonly ranging from 6 feet to 10 feet in length) and take turns attempting to lob a ping-pong ball into a formation of cups arranged at their opponent's end of the table.

"The cups are often partially filled (1/4-1/3 a cup) with a liquid, often beer (hence the name), to keep the cups from falling over. If a player successfully lobs a ball into a cup, the cup is removed from the formation. The team to sink all its opponent's cups first is declared the winner."

The championship will take place in the Oasis Resort and Casino. There's an entry fee of $100, and the organisers warn that "those who dislike parties, pong, music, girls, trash-talking, and gambling need not apply."

It wasn't until we researched the subject that we learned that beer pong is also played in Australia, apparently under slightly different rules. Here's how someone called Chris describes it:

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...

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.

We would probably have enjoyed beer ponging when we were several years younger than 21, but we feel now, a trifle regretfully, we must heed the warning that "those who dislike parties, pong, music, girls, trash-talking, and gambling need not apply." Mind you, we did bet a few dollars on the Melbourne Cup.


Story first posted December 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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