Four square regional

This branch of Four Square describes the wide varieties of the game as it is played across the world. For general rules and descriptions, refer to the main page.
Typical adaptations
In the United States, this playground game freely adapts to available materials. The game may change in the following areas:
* Rubber balls are available in sizes from to . (Outside the United States, a tennis ball or other ball of comparable size is used, as described below.)
* The size of the court is adapted to the ages and skills of the players. Squares may be drawn on pavement with chalk, or adjacent sidewalk squares may be used as player boxes.
* There is no standard for naming the squares. Some regions use numbers, letters or titles.
* A local rule should govern the legal reaction to a high volley that does not bounce in a player's square but comes directly toward the player. Typical options are: (1) Any contact before the bounce is an error; the player's only legal response is to try to evade the ball; (2) The player may catch the ball; if successful (and, sometimes, after uttering a designated word or phrase), it constitutes an error for the last player to hit the ball; (3) The player may block the ball, let it drop in the player's square, and give the ball a legal hit to another square.
* A local rule may correct the problem that it is easy to deliver a serve that is unmanageable.
* A local rule may prevent the use of excessive force to deliver a volley that is unmanageable.
Two square
Two-person four square
Two people can play the game of four square on any two adjacent squares of a four-square court, or using two squares drawn for the purpose. If the server commits an error, the players sometimes agree for simplicity not to exchange positions. The players may keep score using rules comparable to those of volleyball.
Team two square
Two square also refers to a game played in the USA by two teams of two players each.
A team wins the game by scoring points until its score is both (a) 11 or greater, and (b) at least two above the other team's score. Play pauses when a team commits a ball-handling error, including a violation of the two-square rules set out below. If the serving team commits such an error, the other team becomes the serving team but the score does not change, and the teams do not exchange boxes; if the receiving team commits an error, the serving team scores one point and serves again.
;Court Size and Shape
Unlike four square, the courts in two square are not adjacent (separated only by a line), but are separated by a neutral zone. The official sizes are as follows:
*The individual team boxes are 10 ft. wide by 7 ft. long.
*The entire field of play is 18 ft. wide by 20 ft. long
Play begins when a member of the serving team hits the ball. This serve, and any subsequent volley, must bounce once in the neutral zone, then once in the receiving team's box. It is an error to touch the ball before it has taken both these bounces. It is an error to hit the ball outside the neutral zone, or to hit the ball so that it bounces twice in the neutral zone. If the ball bounces in the receiving team's box, but bounces again before the receiving team can play it, it is an error to the receiving team.
After the ball bounces in the receiving team's box, each player on that team can hit the ball twice; once above the waist and once below the waist, for a maximum of four touches, in any order. The final touch must send the ball back to the other team, bouncing once in the neutral zone as for serves. As in four square, all touches must be momentary.
The teams continue volleying the ball back and forth in this manner until someone commits an error.
Regional rules
United States
Often, the server is allowed to declare custom rules to be observed during their service.
-Airball: A player may strike a ball before it hits the playing surface
-Pacman: When one runs around the lines and the king/ace runs anywhere and tags a player with the ball. That player is out.
-Black Magic: When the top person (the King/Ace) moves somebody around to a different square. Alternatively, this may refer to "faking someone out", or pretending to throw the ball one way, then throwing it in another direction.
-Inner Square Beware: All hits in the game must be towards the 4 line intersection at the center of the court.
-Double Taps: A player may hit the ball twice before it goes into an opponent's square
-Whips: A player throws the ball quickly and at a low angle, making it difficult for an opponent to effectively counter.
-Cherry Bomb: The king spikes the ball as hard as they can into the other person's square. The other person will have a hard time serving the extremely high ball.
-Pops: Players are able to get another player out by catching the ball midair before it hits their square.
-Soccer Style: No contact with hands or arms is allowed.
-Poisons: When a ball is hit towards a player, the player may catch the ball before it bounces in their square and immediately say "Poison!", and the person who had last hit the ball is out. If the player forgets to say "Poison" or takes too long to say it, they are out instead.
-Backstops: After a ball is hit towards a player and bounces in their square once, the player may lightly tap the ball, have it fall and bounce in their square again, and then hit the ball to an opponent.
-Bus Stops: At any time before the king serves the ball, the king may declare "Bus Stop". The king places the ball in the middle of the court where all the lines intersect and all the players must place their hand on the ball. The last one to do so is out.
-No Powers (or No Slams): If a ball is hit towards a player very fast or very hard and is not returned by the player, the player may accuse the hit of being a "power" or "slam". This means that the ball was hit too hard to possibly be returned. If it is decided that the pass was a power, the person who had hit the ball is out. This may be decided by the king, a designated judge, or by taking a vote of the other three players or of the players waiting in line.
-Firecrackers: If a ball is hit towards a player, bounces in their square, and then bounces out of the court without being returned, the player in whose square the ball last bounced has the opportunity to run, retrieve the ball, and throw it into an opponent's square within a designated amount of time (for example: Five-Second Firecrackers, Three-Second Firecrackers, etc.). Play then resumes as normal.
-Jackpot or Black Magic: Catching the ball before the ball touches the ground in your square causes the person who hit it before you to be out.
-Four Corners: When the king calls "Four Corners" (before the ball is served), all players except for the king must retreat to their corner. The last to reach their corner is out.
-Bus Stop: When the king calls "Bus Stop" (before the ball is served), all players except for the king must dash to the center of the court. The last to reach the center is out.
-Statue of Liberty: When the king calls "Statue of Liberty" and holds the ball up in the center of the court (before the ball is served), all players except for the king must dash to the center of the court and touch the ball. The last to reach the center and touch the ball is out.
-War: The king can declare war on any player at any time, at which time the king and the chosen player must hit it back and forth between only themselves. If either one is in error at anytime or if either one hits it to somebody else, that player is out. If the king calls "Peace" before the end of the round the game returns to normal.
-World War: The king can declare world war at any time, at which time the ball must go either clockwise or counterclockwise around the square until either the king calls "Peace", a player breaks the pattern, or a player is out.
-Treetops or Double Hits: If the king calls "Treetops" or "Double Hits," players can hit the ball twice before it goes into another person's square.
-Bobble: Players may catch the ball and hold indefinitely as long as they "bobble" the ball by bouncing up in down in one or both hands.
-Chicken Feet: Players may slam the ball against another player's feet, causing the ball to bounce away erratically.
-Cherry Bomb: Players may slam the ball toward the ground with extreme force into another square, causing the ball to bounce far away very high in the air.
-No Passbacks: A player may not return a ball to the player who had it previously.
Due to the speed of using tennis balls as standard, the rules for England are altered, to create slightly fairer, yet more difficult gameplay.
*After the ball is returned, it must bounce in a players own square, before another player's.
*If the ball is hit into another player's square prematurely, the shot is called 'Direct' and the offending player is out, and thus moved to the back of the queue.
*If the ball lands on a line, and the players are unsure of which square it landed in, a 'Line' is called, and the game is restarted (known as a 'retake').
*The ball may be hit by any body part, this allows for very skilled players to feint and dummy, hitting the ball in intricate ways, rarely, but sometimes, with their feet, so as to confuse other players.
*A player may only hit the ball with one hand/body part, if more than one part of the body touches the ball, a 'Double Touch' is called, and the offending player returns to the back of the queue.
*The square numbers are reversed, with 4th square being the lowest rank, and 1st being the highest.
*Underarm serves are also legal, even though the ball can literally be bowled very low, and the first returner has no chance of a clean hit.
*Sometimes, a game will get very low, very fast, or very gentle. The game ends when the majority of the queue call 'Pea Roller' and the last player to have touched the ball is 'out'.
*If any player makes a mistake, to the degree that they are 'out', if another player 'plays on' or hits the ball further, the offense is passed to the last player to hit the ball, and thus, that player is 'out' instead. The addition of this rule, makes the English variation very unforgiving, but breeds very aware players, thus increasing the general skill level present in the game.
*If desired, the court can be an indefinite length or width, with a simple cross in the centre, and its protruding lines spanning as far as the game requires.
*Sometimes the two higher ranking squares are larger or longer than the other squares, to add a handicap to the better players.
In primary schools in Gravesham, Kent, the game uses the rules above but court markings differ in that the letters A (Ace), K (King), Q (Queen) and J (Jack) are used instead of numbers. Furthermore, there is a no play circle in the middle of the whole square covering each lettered square - the ball is not allowed to land in that circle. Jason Owen, a school consultant introduced this adapted game to over 150 primary schools in the UK with no charge after discovering it on - Gravesend in Kent is a particular hot spot of 4 square action and many schools have their own fully marked out courts on the playground.
Hatfield College, Durham
An eight square variation is played in Hatfield College at the University of Durham, under the name of handball. Play is largely similar to the above, with the King responsible for pointing out mistakes by other players, the Queen pointing out the King's mistakes and the Jack adjudicating disagreements between the two.
Custom rules include:
Cageball - the ball can bounce off surrounding objects without going out of play. Players are encourages to hit the queue.
Kingball - players can choose to volley the ball with anything but their hand directly into another player's square.
Keeping It Real - if a player hits the ball once into their own square then out of play, the player whose box the ball travels through on its way out of play is out.
Kangaroo handball - players must hit the ball while in the air.
There are also large numbers of self-explanatory rules, including sitting down, stuck-in-the-mud, one legged, left handed and not-looking-directly-at-the-ball handball. Many rules require the player to shout something as they play, including back yourself, word association and word disassociation handball.
Hong Kong
In some English schools in the area of Hong Kong, there is a large addition to the custom English rules. Some differences are:
*Steal- When a player hits the ball and says "Steal", he/she can hit the ball on another player's square instead of his own as his first land of the ball. The second hit of the ball has to be on a different square then the first square the ball landed on.
To simplify this, imagine your square is in the bottom left . You say "Steal!" and hit the ball. It lands on the top left square, then on the top right one and it is a legal move. This customization can greatly stylize and change the flow of the game among very advanced individuals.
*Volley- Instead of saying "direct", a player needs to say "volley" and attempt to catch the ball to make the volleyer go out.
*Footshots and headshots are much more popular and are often point winners.
*Instead of calling the squares 1 to 4, They are named King, Queen, Jack and Dunce, from highest rank to lowest.
*A huge difference in the rules is that when a player commits a mistake, instead of going right to the back of the queue, he goes to Dunce, the lowest rank. Only if the player that is in dunce makes a mistake, then he goes to the back of the line. Some long-queue games are decided by the boy who owns the ball to be "Jack Dunce". This means that when Jack makes a mistake, he also goes to the back of the line. This concept makes the game more forgiving, but also makes the line move much slower.
*Another rule is that when somebody says "Play On" after a mistake has been made, the players are to proceed with the game like there wasn't a mistake. This is extremely useful when playing with a friend, where you can "Play On" his errors and vice versa. The other competitors should catch the ball before the fouler's partner plays it, and declare the mistake.
When there are fewer people in the area, some may play a smaller variation called 2 square, with the same rules but a more friendly environment.
(For the general rules and descriptions, refer to the main page).
* A tennis ball is the primary ball used for gameplay.
* Four Square is played with four squares of (generally) equal size. Games can be played with more than 4 squares in a 2xN configuration. If there are more players than squares a line is formed behind the furthest square from the King position.
* Squares are given the titles of King, Queen, Jack and Dunce (some variants use Ace as the highest position and continue with King, Queen and Jack or Dunce). When a player is called "out" (for whatever following reason) in any position, they move immediately to the back of the waiting line. In some variants however, the King may move to Dunce and everyone remaining in moves up a square. If this does happen, the person who was in the King square can call an "Old King", which means that they have to have the ball served to them, and they override all other "service" calls.
* Each player is required to hit the ball into their own square before bouncing in another, failure to do so is called a "full" or "straight over" and the player is out. Some variants use a "full-played" rule, if after a player hits a full, another player continues play hitting the ball into another square, it can be caught and "full-played" is declared, in this case the player who continued the game is declared out whilst the original full is not out. Additionally, if the player continues on after a "full-played", a "full forgotten" is declared, and no one is out.
* Play often becomes so low that when hit, the ball rolls along the ground instead of bouncing. Here a "rolls" is called, and the player is immediately out. On occasion, a "jumps" (see below) is called as an alternative. Some games require a call of either "rolls re" or "rolls rack". Whichever one is called first takes preference. A rolls re results in the game simply being restarted, and a rolls rack means the player who last touched the ball is out. The term "pix" is also used, and saying this results in the same action being taken if a "rolls re" was called, ie. the game continues.
* Due to the fast-paced nature of the game, it is often unsure in which square the ball was bounced, with it landing on the line. This is called a "liner" or "lines", and King usually re-serves. However, a "jumps" is sometimes called, and a player (usually Queen) bounces the ball in the middle of the court. Players then jump and compete to tap it into another square, similar to the ruck in Australian Rules Football. Incidentally, this is the only occasion a player is permitted to hit the ball into an opposing square on the full.
* Often, players incorporate an alliance play aspect into the game. These teams are not locked, and as a result betrayals often, and commonly occur. When betrayals occur often players will use the slang term "Biggest Dog" or "Dog Act".
* When the ball is touched by a player waiting in line, or any other unintended target, an "interference" is called and King re-serves or a "jumps" takes place.
* "Headsies" and "Footsies", otherwise known as "body fulls" are permitted in some variants depending on the rules the participants decide upon.
* In some cases, the game is played according to the English rules.
* In some cases, the rule "Two and Up" can be brought into play, this is where the ball bounces twice in your own square or out of court and you hit it upwards into an opponents square, you cannot use a "Two and Up" if the ball bounces once into your own square and once into another players square.
* When an argument about a call comes up and there is no other way to deal with it, the two players can call for a death match between the two arguing players.
* "Rally" can be declared in some variants by the King or sometimes any player, in which the declarer and the person who receives the ball must only return the ball to each other, and if returned to a different player's square, the person in the rally is out. "Break" can be called by the declarer, after which the play continues like normal. "Rally to the Death" is a variant on rallies in which no break can be called. "Around the World" can be declared in some games in which the players must play the ball in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction to the next player.
* Special serving techniques can be called before the King serves the ball. "Overhead" is a call made when there are more than 4 players and the server wishes to serve to a square not adjacent to themselves, if the serve does not land in an overhead square, then the server is out, but if an adjacent square touches the ball, they are declared out. "Out of Square" may be called in which the server can serve from outside their square, but must still bounce the ball in their square before any others. A "replay" may be called by a player receiving a serve if the ball's bounce is determined "indecent", forcing the round to start over. Additionally, any player can make the call of "service" and the King must serve to them. If more than one person calls a "service", the King serves to the first one that called out.
* If a player walks out of their square, thinking they are out, they are deemed to have "walked" and are now out, despite the fact they had not violated any rules during the point.
* In recent times the 2xN version of the game has grown significantly, often being referred to as "jockball". This version often incorporates the rule of no body fulls, and death matches are used to decide all "liners", instead of the traditional centre bounce method.
South Africa
South African rules are some of the most difficult and fast-paced of all.
*The game is played with a tennis ball, or a rubber ball of comparable size.
*Similarly to German rules, the ball cannot be caught. A player is out when he catches the ball.
*The squares are named, in descending order: King, Queen, Jack, and Ace.
*The players progress in an anti-clockwise order.
*Upon serving, the King must hit the ball so that it first bounces in his own square, and then in the Ace square.
*Excepting the serve, a player may not hit the ball into his own square. If he does he is out.
*If the King faults a serve (I.E., serving out of play, or failing to bounce in his own square etc.), he is granted a second chance. Just as in tennis, if he hits a double fault, he is out.
*Any serve that bounces once in the King's own square and then in the Ace square (see above) is legal. If the King is an adept server, and can hit the ball hard and low, it will be very difficult to return. If the King is a good server, this "anything goes" method of service makes the game vicious on the Ace.
*If the ball goes out of bounds, the player who hit it is out.
*If the ball hits a line, the player who hit the ball is out.
*If the players disagree with what has happened, the King may retake the serve.
*The ball is not allowed to touch a player twice.
*If a player has made an error, then another player can save him by continuing play; the player continuing play has to call 'play on'.
Continental Europe
There are several different rules to play by in Europe. Notably different from other versions, the squares are labelled with A, B, C and D; A having a line through it and being the King's square and the highest rank.
Let's get to some general rules:
*The ball may not be caught under any circumstance.
*All squares are out of bounds for opponents, for example C may not enter anyone else's square.
If this occurs, it's called an invasion and the invader is out
*The king's serve goes to the middle of the four squares, challenging C. The king's serve is always a smash into the centre, unless the king chooses to pass to any player.
*Certain children set queue limits of 4-6 children.
*The lines are present as square separation and inbound lines. If a ball hits outside the outer lines, the ball has gone out.
*The ball may not be willingly rolled out by the attacker.
*The ball may bounce multiple times in one square, but cannot be dribbled.
*Up-hitting lets a player hit the ball upward, before an attack, to gain control.
*If the ball flies out of the squares, the player can run retrieve it before it touches the ground. The player can return it to the court only by hitting it from hand to hand rapidly. This is called "Frying pan" or "Popcorn". For a greater challenge, the rules sometimes limit the player to up-hitting (see above).
*The people standing in line can take two jobs:
1. Guardian angel or Shield
This rule means that a player can give up their spot in the queue and be "hired" by any player as a guardian. Guardians stand outside their "client's" square and watch for balls. If a ball is hit irretrievably far, the guardian may catch this ball and return it to their "client". The Guardian angel does not play an offensive role in the game. If the guardian is offensive, it means that the person has lost both their jobs and their client is out. If guardians aren't wanted or required by any people in or are just not allowed, they must all take their place in the line.
2. Juror
This rule is taken by anybody in line. If the jurors see any faults or mistakes made by players such as invasions or catches, the jurors can eliminate players. The players then cannot argue. If there is only one juror, then the approval of the people that are in is required. Jurors aren't simply an optional rule like Guardian angel, but are a requirement.
*A lot of children set up a "game owner". The owner(s) can either own the ball used, or the court. The owner decides who may play or not. They also decide what basic rules will be set. For instance, the owner may say frying pan is allowed or that the ball may not be deliberately kicked. The owner has to set the rules in the beginning and can't change them to his/her advantage during the game.
*The king's serve can't eliminate players.
*If the king's serve is not accessible by a receiving player, then a retake is called.
*If multiple people are out, priority goes to those with higher rank.
*The rules that the king can set or change are:
*Guardian angel
*If the line is hit before the ball goes out, it means a retake.
*One foot invasion
*Complete invasion
*War can be set by any player. War is when one player challenges the other to war. This means that these two player are privately fighting. If any player interferes, they are eliminated. It the ball leaves the two players, the player who let it leave is out.
*Civil war means that two players team up on two other players for war. From here on the above rules go, except the fact that everyone involved can touch the ball.
*Mercy can be set by beginners and means that they cannot be eliminated by difficult hits.
*Cherry bomb. Players are allowed to copy the king's serve at any time.
*Dictatorship. The king can eliminate players during their serve.
*Nasty Serve. If the king's serve is not saved by any player, they are all out.
*King's advantage. King chooses an ally. If the ally eliminates the king, then the ally is eliminated and the king is back in. If the king says "undo" to an ally they are no longer allies.
*No mercy. Everyone against everyone. If the ball being hit is not offensive, then the passer is out.
*Queue horizontal. The queue is to the left of D. This makes the queue horizontal, meaning that balls don't bounce of them anymore.
*Queue vertical. This makes the queue vertical, protecting the king.
*Queue interference. If any player in the queue touches, holds or returns the ball, there is a retake.
There are countless other versions in Europe but this one is the most popular.
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