Mumblety-peg is a knife-throwing game with various versions, including a basic one where players try to get the knife as close to their feet as possible. Safety concerns led to its decline in popularity in the early 20th century. The loser in early versions had to pull a peg out of the ground with their teeth. Other variations involve throwing knives at each other or demonstrating progressively more challenging knife-throwing moves. Some versions involve gaining territory by throwing knives into the opponent’s territory.
Mumblety-peg is a game played with pocket knives. There are a number of variations on the mumblety-peg, ranging from an almost warlike version to one that requires demonstrations of skill with a throwing knife. Up until the early 20th century, mumblety-peg was a very popular children’s game, played in schoolyards around the world, but safety concerns about games involving knife-throwing led to a phasing out of this once popular pastime.
The game’s name comes from “mumble the peg,” a reference to the fact that in early versions of the game, the loser was required to pull a peg out of the ground with his or her teeth. The game is also known as “mumble-de-peg” and “mumbletypeg”. All versions of the game are based on the same basic principle: if thrown correctly, a knife will land blade first, penetrating the ground. Most versions of the game are designed for two players.
In the most basic version of mumblety-peg, players simply try to get the knife as close to their feet as possible. In another variation, players throw knives at each other, with the opposing player having to move their foot into the space where the knife lands. The idea is that eventually players won’t be able to stretch a leg all the way to the landing point and will become unbalanced; the first player to fall or lose balance loses.
In a more complex version of mumblety-peg, players must demonstrate progressively more challenging knife-throwing moves. In some regions, there are a prescribed set of moves that players would have to complete, and in other regions, players simply imitate each other, creating a series of increasingly challenging throws. If a player’s knife fails to land upright, they lose.
Some people may remember a version of mumblety-peg that is all about gaining territory. In this version, a circle or other shape is split in two by the players to create two territories. The first player throws their knife into their opponent’s territory, establishing the start of a line which can be used to seize control of a section of their opponent’s territory. In many versions of the game, only straight lines can be drawn, making this game progressively harder to win as the territory is repeatedly shattered.