The game of Hand is of great antiquity, and is common to almost every nation, whether savage or civilized.
In many of the rural districts of England this universal pastime is known by the name of “Coddem.”
To play at Hand, sides must be formed, and the players of each side must seat themselves at a table opposite their antagonists. Chance decides which of the sides shall first hide the piece; which may be any small object that can be easily held in the closed hand of one of the players.
One of the fortunate players now exhibits the piece to his opponents; having done which, he cries out, “Hands down!” at which signal he and his comrades put their hands out of sight, and in the language of the game, commence “working the piece,” which operation is performed by shifting the piece from hand to hand, so as to deceive the opposite players as to its whereabouts. When the piece has been properly worked, the chief player calls out, “Hands up,” and he and all his comrades simultaneously place their closed fists on the table.
The top player on the opposite side has now to fix upon the hand in which the piece is concealed.
There are two ways of guessing, either of which he may adopt; the first is to point at once to the hand supposed to contain the piece, and cry out, “Hand!”
The second mode of guessing is to point to those hands which appear to be empty, saying with each guess, “Take that hand away!” and when most of the hands have been removed from the table, to fix upon the most likely-looking one among those that remain. If the guesser can find the piece without making a mistake, he claims it for his party, and is entitled to guess again when the opposite side regains it; but if he makes a mistake, either by ordering the hand that holds the piece to be removed, or by “handing” an empty fist, his antagonists retain the piece, and having concealed it, the second player attempts to discover its whereabouts.
From our description, the reader will probably regard Hand as a mere frivolous game of chance; but we can assure him that chance has little to do with the discovery of the piece.
A good Hand player watches the faces of his opponents while their hands are engaged in working the piece under the table; he scrutinises the different hands, and does not allow himself to be misled by any of the cunning devices which the hiders employ to throw him off the right scent; again, when he has the piece in his possession, he takes care not to let a tightly-clenched fist, a guilty smile, or an anxious expression, betray the fact to his wary antagonist.
Excerpt from the book:
EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS.
EDITED BY EDMUND ROUTLEDGE.
With more than Six Hundred Illustrations
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS.
LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET.