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Did you play Beetle when you were a child? - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Did you play Beetle when you were a child?
Last Wednesday I went to the Merched y Wawr meeting.[1] It was a special social evening for Welsh learners so instead of the usual talk, we were to play the game "Beetle".

I haven't played Beetle for years, but we used to play both as a family and at "Beetle Drives" held as part of the local Methodist church's social evenings.

Some of you will have played Beetle, I'm sure, but if you haven't, it's a simple game. All you need is paper, pen or pencil and a dice[2]. Any number can play, but for this kind of organised game you arrange four people per table. The first person throws the dice and if they get a six, they begin by drawing the beetle's body. If it's any other number, the dice is passed to the next person who throws the dice in turn. As soon as your beetle has a body, you can add a leg (by throwing a 3) or a wing (a 4). When you've added a head (5), you can also give your beetle eyes (1) and feelers (2). These numbers may vary depending on where you play the game and our beetles didn't have wings and instead had a tail, but the principle is the same. The first person to complete their beetle with body, head, six legs, two wings, two eyes and two feelers is the winner.[3] Everyone then adds up their score and (if it's an organised event), the winner and next highest scorer move to the next table so people get to move around and meet and chat with others.

Below you can see my beetles and my score. As you can see, I won all three games. This is a bit embarrassing because in previous months I've won the raffle twice. As I've only attended four meetings in total and I normally never win this sort of thing, it is somewhat puzzling as to how the rules of probability seem to favour me just in this location. If only you could buy lottery tickets in the hall where we meet. I'd be tempted to break the rule of a lifetime and actually buy one!

Chwilen / Beetle

It was a rather silly evening, but fun and a good icebreaker for the Welsh learners who came to join us.

[1] Merched y Wawr being the Welsh equivalent of the Women's Institute in England.

[2] Or, if you want to be pedantic and/or you're a statistician, a "die".

[3] Beetles should not have more than these, but when we were kids, we sometimes amused ourselves by adding whatever we threw to the beetle and ended up with some truly terrifying creatures sporting a myriad of legs, multiple eyes and feelers and several tails!

Current Mood: amused amused

9 comments or Leave a comment
nutmeg3 From: nutmeg3 Date: February 6th, 2016 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never even heard of this game. For me, "Beetle" will always be the name of a late and much-missed cat.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 6th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it might be a British game. When I googled the links were all British. It's such a simple idea that I'm surprised it didn't cross the Atlantic.
veronica_milvus From: veronica_milvus Date: February 6th, 2016 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
My Auntie Nellie had the same game with plastic beetles that we clipped together. I'm sure she once took me to a beetle drive.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 6th, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I vaguely remember the plastic beetles, though we never had any and always played with paper and pencil. Beetle drives were a regular event at the Methodist church I attended when young.
pennski From: pennski Date: February 6th, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes we used to play and I have also been to a beetle drive. We have a game called "Flounders" which is very similar, whereby you put together cardboard flounders and if you throw a one and a six you get a whole flounder.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 6th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
We used to play it at home quite a lot during long dark winter evenings. I think I've heard of "Flounders", but never played it.
puddleshark From: puddleshark Date: February 6th, 2016 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember seeing notices for Beetle Drives when I was young, but until now I had no actual idea what they involved!

Does sgôr = score and gêm = game?
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: February 6th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now you know what you were missing!

Does sgôr = score and gêm = game?

You have correctly deduced the meaning of those words! They are straightforward borrowings from English, but spelled phonetically in the Welsh manner. A circumflex over a vowel lengthens it.
cariadwen From: cariadwen Date: February 13th, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had no idea that was what happened in a Beetle drive.

The Women's Institute first meetings were in Wales somewhere, but I can't for the life remember where.
9 comments or Leave a comment