Koutso | Greece

Name in Original Language

Κουτσό

Area Where Played

Greece

History

The word κουτσό (koutso) in Greek means “lame”. It refers to the game being played by jumping on one foot only. Koutso is a version of the “universal game” known as hopscotch and practiced under different names all over the world.It has been claimed that the oldest attestation of the game is to be found in ancient Rome. There are references to it in English documents from the 17th century. As to Greece, a game requiring jumping on one foot is attested in Greek antiquity under the name ασκωλιασμός (askoliasmos). The game involved jumping or running on one foot as much (or fast) as possible, or even hopping in multiple directions in order to catch the other players. In another variation for grown-ups, the players had to jump on one foot on an inflated and greasy skin bag without losing their balance. This version of the game is also attested in the Byzantine period and exists even today in Epirus (Greece) under the name ασκί (aski, skin bag).

Detailed Description

Most widespread among children of former generations was the following variation: A board is drawn with chalk on the ground. It consists of four or more subsequent squares (sometimes circles are also included). The players have to drop a pebble into the first square, to jump on one foot into the square without touching the lines and to push the pebble by using only one foot to the adjacent square, until they reach the last one. Then they have to push the pebble all the way back and out of the board. In other variations the squares are drawn differently and the players have to move also diagonally, to come back by using a parallel row of squares or to touch the ground with both feet on specific squares.
A game requiring jumping on one foot is attested also in Greek antiquity under the name ασκωλιασμός (askoliasmos). The game involved jumping or running on one foot as much (or fast) as possible, or even hopping in multiple directions in order to catch the other players. In another variation for grown-ups, the players had to jump on one foot on an inflated and greasy skin bag without losing their balance. This version of the game is also attested in the Byzantine period and exists even today in Epirus (Greece) under the name ασκί (aski, skin bag).

Rules

Koutso is played all around Greece (mostly by girls) in different variations. One of the current ones is the following: Using chalk, the children draw on the ground a board consisting of consecutive squares that indicate the spaces in which the players have to move. The squares are numbered, usually up to 10. Some of them are placed next to the other; on these squares the player is allowed to stand with both feet, with one feet on each of the adjacent squares. Each player throws a flat pebble in one of the squares and starts hopping on one or two legs (according to the board’s pattern) until reaching the square with the pebble. The player picks up the pebble and goes back. Then she throws the pebble to the next square and so on. In a variation, the player has to reach the last square (called “house”) and to pick up the pebble on her way back. If the player throws the pebble out of the square or if she steps on a line while hopping, she loses her turn. The winner is the player who manages to throw the pebble in all consecutive squares and pick it up again.