Name in Original Language
Area Where Played
The word tsiliki is a corrupted version of the word xyliki, i.e. rod or wood, which constituted the basic prop of the game. It was very popular throughout the 20th century and up to the early ‘70s. It is still played in some regions of Greece, such as the island of Thasos.
Tsiliki was usually played by two players; each one held a rod about half a meter long. This rod was called “tsilikoverga” (i.e. tsiliki rod); in some places it was flatter, like a think plank, and was called “xylokopani”. The actual tsiliki, on the other hand, was a much shorter and broader piece of wood: its length was almost half than that of the rod and both its ends were carved to form pointing edges.
The players drew a circle on the ground and placed their “tsiliki” inside it. The first player attempted to hit his tsiliki on the pointing edges in order to make it jump as high as possible and when this happened he/she hit it with the tsiliikoverga in order to drive it as far away from the circle as possible. The blow reminded it a bit of American baseball. If the opponent, however, managed to catch the tsiliki in the air, the player who had hit it lost his/her turn. In another version, the opponent’s aim was not just to catch the tsiliki but to turn it against the first player, who was sitting within the circle after the blow, whereas the latter was trying, in his/her turn to avert the blow by hitting the tsiliki in the air with his rod (tsilikoverga). If he managed to do so, the players counted the distance at which the tsiliki landed from the circle by means of steps and the player who hit it got one point for each step. At the end of the game, the player who collected more points was the winner.