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Each player is provided with a stone, called a “duck,” about the size of a baseball. A large rock or post is chosen as the duck rock, and twenty-five feet from it a throwing line is drawn. On this duck rock one player places his duck and stands by it as guard. This guard is selected at the outset by all of the players throwing their ducks at the duck rock from the throwing line. The one whose duck falls nearest to the rock becomes the first guard. The other players stand behind the throwing line and take turns in throwing at the guard’s duck on the rock with their stones, trying to knock it from the rock. After each throw a player must recover his own duck and run back home beyond the throwing line. Should he be tagged by the guard while trying to do this, he must change places with the guard. The guard may tag him at any time when he is within the throwing line, unless he stands with his foot on his own duck where it first fell. He may stand in this way as long as necessary, awaiting an opportunity to run home; but the moment he lifts his duck from the ground, or takes his foot from it, he may be tagged by the guard. Having once lifted his duck to run home with it, a player may not again place it on the ground.
The guard may not tag any player unless his own duck be on the rock. Before he may chase the thrower, he must therefore pick up his own duck and replace it should it have been knocked off. This replacing gives the thrower an opportunity to recover his own duck and run home; but should the duck not have been displaced from the duck rock, the thrower may have to wait either at a safe distance or with his foot on his own duck if he can get to it, until some other thrower has displaced the duck on the rock, and so engaged the time and attention of the guard. Several players may thus be waiting at once to recover their ducks, some of them near the duck rock with a foot on their ducks, others at a distance. Any player tagged by the guard must change places with him, placing his own duck on the rock. The guard must quickly recover his duck and run for the throwing line after tagging a player, as he in turn may be tagged as soon as the new guard has placed his duck on the rock.
A stone that falls very near the duck rock without displacing the duck may also prove disastrous to the thrower. Should a stone fall within a hand span (stretching from finger tip to thumb) of the duck rock without knocking off the duck, the guard challenges the thrower by shouting “Span!” whereupon he proceeds to measure with his hand the distance between the duck rock and the stone. Should the distance be as he surmises, the thrower of the stone has to change places with him, put his own duck on the rock, and become the guard. This rule cultivates expert throwers.
When used in a gymnasium, this game may best be played with bean bags, in which case one bag may be balanced on top of an Indian club for the duck on the rock.
The modern Greeks play this game with a pile of stones instead of the one rock or stake with the duck on top. The entire pile is then knocked over, and the guard must rebuild the whole before he may tag the other players. These variations make the game possible under varied circumstances, as on a flat beach, or playground where no larger duck rock is available, and add considerably to the sport.
Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft