|Playing time||10-20 minutes or less|
|Skill(s) required||Aiming, Drinking ability|
Hammerschlagen (the "Striking Hammer" or "Hammer-Striking") is a brand of the German game Nagelspielen (the "Nail Game" or "Playing With Nails"). Nagelspielen reportedly dates to the first Oktoberfest in 1810. Shortly after opening in 1966, the first instance of Nagelspielen in the United States was reportedly found at the Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter in Stillwater, MN. It was played there in the traditional fashion until the restaurant owner's father branded the Nailspielen service and vested the brand of Hammer-Schlagen and the related intellectual property in WRB, Inc..[clarification needed]
Hammerschlagen and Nagelspielen are essentially the same game. Nagelspielen is a Bavarian game, traditionally played with the sharp end of an axe held against the vertical edge of a stump and swung at stag nails. Hammerschlagen is typically played with a Cross-peen hammer or blacksmith's hammer and a large (24-36") cross-section of pre-cut soft hardwood. In some northern German taverns, this game sits in a corner and losers are bound to buy the next round.
Cottonwood (Populus sect. Aigeiros) is suitably soft for Hammerschlagen. The hammer must have a wedge-shaped (but not sharp) end on it and should be at least 2.5 pounds. The log is set up waist high with the flat sides facing the floor and ceiling. A bright common nail (12/16d) is driven about a half inch into the wood in front of each player. Each player's turn consists of setting the wedge-end of the hammer on the log next to their nail and taking a single swing at it. The swing must be done in a smooth up and down motion. Male players must use one hand. Female players may use both hands.
Frequently, a player will bend their nail in such a way as to make driving it further nearly impossible. In this case, the player may use their turn to make a single-motion swing at the nail from the side in an attempt to straighten the nail. You are not required to stand in the same place for the entire game. Often it is necessary to switch sides of the log to get a better angle on your nail.
Play continues to the right and lasts until one player has driven the head of their nail to (or below) the surface of the wood.
In a bar setting, each player pays a nominal amount to get into the game (~$2) and the winner is rewarded with a small prize or a shot of a German spirit, often Apfelkorn. Conversely, the last player to drive his nail into the wood might be forced to buy the next round of drinks.
A derivation of Hammerschlagen in the United States is called Stump. Stump has several large deviations from the rules of Hammerschlagen, primarily that the goal is not to drive your nail in first, but to be the last to have their nail driven into the stump. This variation was purportedly developed after a lawsuit threat made by WRB for the continued infringement of the federally protected Hammerschlagen family of marks in Pennsylvania.
- Trademarkia. "Let's Play Hammer-Schlagen HS". http://www.trademarkia.com/lets-play-hammerschlagen-hs-75655244.html. Primary Source: United States Patent & Trademark Office.
- Star Tribune. "Local bars rev up for Oktoberfest; Hammerschlagen. The glass boot. David Hasselhoff. What of them? All are on the minds of German bar owners." Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). September 24, 2010.