IV. SELECTION PROCEDURES PRIOR TO PLAYING
Each game is usually associated with one or two selection procedures, prior to playing, that are inevitably used.
The leaders are the ones who generally decide at what they are going to play. If the competing teams are already established, which of them starts the game has to be decided. Otherwise, the teams have to first be formed. In both cases, the selection systems are well defined and even ritualised.
The most common selection method is the one that includes reciting a formula while the participants are being selected one by one.
Others such as “heads or tails” or “a pies” [walking and distance way of selecting] follow it in terms of importance and frequency.
There are times where no choice is made and the order of participation is established according to how quickly the children ask for their turn to play. In Artziniega (A), a child says: “bagsie first”, another: “bagsie second", “bagsie third” and so on. This procedure has also been found in other locations, often before starting to skip.
- 1 Procedures requiring an object
- 2 Procedures that do not use an object
- 3 Drawing lots procedures using chants
Procedures requiring an object
The methods described in this section use a small object, usually a stone or a coin.
Heads or tails. Idor ala busti?
This just involves throwing a coin into the air after two opponents have chosen between the only possible options: “heads” or “tails”. The coin can be left to fall on the floor or the same person who throws it, catches it in the palm of his hand. The person who has chosen the side of the coin that is facing upwards is the winner.
Guessing in which hand an object is hidden
A procedure that does not have a name but which has been found in some locations consists of a child hiding a stone of one of its hands and the other has to guess or more exactly not be right in which the stone is in.
Drawing the shortest straw. Txotxetara
In Zerain (G), it was called “Txotxetan”. Wooden sticks of different sizes and as many as there are players are needed. The players agree beforehand if the winner is the one who draws the smallest or the longest.
Other selection methods
In Portugalete and Zeanuri (B), when a game is going to be played involving two teams, the captains of each group use a stick to establish the right to choose first. The two opponents hold the stick the bottom by closing their hands round it. They then take turns in moving their hands up it, but making sure they are always in touching the stick. When they reach the stop, the player who has no stick left to hold is the one who will have to choose in second place.
In Portugalete (B), they also “pull petals off the daisy” for the well-known purpose of finding an answer to two possibilities as the procedure to establish who is “it” or who chooses. The petals are alternatively picked off the flower and the one who removes the last one gets to choose or not.
They also use another method with a lit match to establish who is “it”. The children who are going to take part in the game stand in a circle and pass the match to each other until it goes out or a child throws it to avoid being burnt. Some children usually hold it for longer than necessary to force a specific person to be “it” or to make sure it does not complete a circle and it could be them again.
Procedures that do not use an object
A pares o nones [Odds and Evens]
In San Martín de Unx (N), the players stood in a circle and hid their hands behind their back to decide “Evens” or “Odds”. When some shouted “now”, the players showed the fingers that they had stretched out. The number was then added up and the figure obtained was drawn: for example, if it was twelve, the person with that number would be freed.
A hacer pies [walking and distance way of selecting]. Hankak egin
Two children stand a certain distance apart and facing each other and they then take turns to step forward. They have to place the heel of the foot that they move forward touching the tip of the one that does not move each time. As they move forward, it is usual for one of them to say “gold” and the other “silver”. When the distance that separates them is apparently smaller than the length of the foot of the person whose turn it is, they step on the tip of their supporting foot and that of the opponent, while saying “mount”. Then, they introduce it perpendicularly between both and adds “and fits”. If both conditions are met, that child is entitled to be the first to choose. If the child's attempt fails, they move away and the one who said "mount and fits" starts the approach.
Drawing lots procedures using chants
No object is needed for this selection method. The participants in the game stand in a circle and one of them recites the relevant verses or numbers. Before starting to draw lots, that child usually raises their hand in the air and then points to the others in turn, including himself and making sure that each player coincides with a syllable or word. Sometimes the child touches them on the chest or just points at them. The child who is the last one is safe or has to be “it”, stop it or pay it, depending on what has been previously decided. For example, if they wish to choose quickly, the first one to be the last syllable of the verse is it.,Otherwise, the first one is safe and the selection continues until everyone is eliminated except for one.