The Rules of The Game
There are two teams. In one version, one team goes off and hides. The other team counts to some number like 30 and then goes looking for them. In another version, each team has its own "jail", perhaps a park bench or other defendable turf. In Bay Terrace, Queens, both teams had a park bench jail, and whichever team could capture all of the other team's members, won. Often, the game would go on so long that it was called on account of darkness.
Anyone on the pursuing side can catch anyone on the pursued side by grabbing hold of them and chanting "Chain chain double chain, no break away." (In the Briarwood & Bay Terrace, Queens, neighborhoods in the 1970s, the required chant was "Ringolevio, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3!") If the person pursued breaks free at any point during this brief recitation, the person is not caught and is considered still "in". If caught, the pursuer takes the prisoner to an area called the jail (the area was called the base in some variations) and the captive is considered "out".
Jail is any confined area, a porch/ stoop (the front steps of a townhouse or Brownstone) or typically between two parked cars or bushes where members of the pursued team are accumulated. Any IN member of a team, can free all OUT team members in jail by barging into the jail without being caught, tagging the captives and shouting, "All in! All in! Free-all!". This means that all members of the team that were in jail are now free and have to be recaught, as they are then back in the game.
Many corruptions of the "all in, all in, all in, free allo" (such as "Olly olly in free") call at the end of game (when the other side gives up) have been concocted through the past century (not surprising, as the game's rules are passed by word of mouth from older to younger children), but when the jail is lacking just one or two opponents for a full win, the opposing team must concede defeat by announcing that the game is over and that all who were caught are in for free. Then the game starts again.
In some variations, the pursuing team cannot station any player of their team within line of sight of the jail. This is called "babysitting" ("puppy-guarding" is used in some areas). The cry of "babysitting" can be made by anyone in the jail who feels that any member of the opposing team is lingering near the jail and blocking their rescue.
Game ends when one team has caught all the members of the opposing team, at which point the captured team changes roles and now counts while the opponents hide.
Coordinated attacks to free the jail often employ military strategy in their use of terrain and engage in flanking maneuvers and feints that resemble battlefield tactics. The game itself, though, is rarely violent and fights are rare as all the running generally makes both the pursuer and pursued weak with laughter at the point of capture.
Each round of ringolevio lasts about half an hour, but the actual duration of play is a factor of the boundaries of play agreed to at the start of the game as well as the number of players on each side.
Games often have set boundaries of how far from the jail pursued players can go. Some games have been played with city-wide boundaries with up to 40 players. These games had rounds lasting for weeks with suspension of play for half an hour before, during and after school hours. Winners have been accused of going "off the block" when their strategy left them undetected in a one-city-block game. If you strike "the pose of invisibility", you may go unnoticed in an obvious place.
One other variation allows that the players in jail could extend out of the jail by holding hands, making it easier to be freed by your teammates. "Electricity" conducts the tag of the savior to the last player tied to the jail through the chain of held hands.
Read more about this topic: Ringolevio
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