Red Rover

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Youths playing the game

Red rover (also known as forcing the city gates and octopus tag) is a game played primarily by children on playgrounds. This 19th-century children's group game (requiring 10+ players)[1] is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom and then spread to Australia, Canada and the United States.


The game is played between two lines of players (usually called the "East" or "West" team, although this does not relate to the actual relative locations of the teams), usually positioned approximately thirty feet apart with hands or arms linked together. The game starts when the first team, in this example the "East" team, calls a player out, by saying or singing a line like "Red rover, red rover, send [player on opposite team] right over", or "Red rover, red rover, let [player on opposite team] come over", or even "Red rover, red rover, I call [player on opposite team] over".

The immediate goal for the person called is to run to the other line and break the "East" team's chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the player called fails to break the chain, he or she joins the "East" team. However, if the player successfully breaks the chain, he or she may select either of the two "links" broken by the successful run, and take the link to join the "West" team. The "West" team then calls out "Red rover" for a player on the "East" team, and play continues. The game needs five people to play at least, although this would be a very short game.

When only one player is left on a team, he or she must try to break through a link. If the player does not succeed, then the opposing team wins. Otherwise, the player gets a player back for his or her team.[1][2]

In other languages[edit]

In Russia and other former USSR countries, this game has been known as "Ali Baba", in Hungary as "Adj, király, katonát!" (King, give us a soldier!)[3] and in Serbia as "Јелечкиње, барјачкиње" (jelečkinje, barjačkinje, i.e., city crier and flag bearer).[4]

In Romania, the game is known as "Țara, țara vrem ostași" (Country, country we want soldiers).[5]

In the Czech Republic, the game is known as "Král vysílá své vojsko" (The king sends out his army), with the difference that each team chooses which of its members will attempt to break the other team's line, rather than sending the member called by the other team.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Red Rover: A Traditional Favorite Outdoor Game". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Red Rover". 28 January 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  3. ^ As explained on this link in Hungarian
  4. ^ As explained on this link in Serbian
  5. ^ Explanation in romanian on this link
  6. ^ As explained on this link in Czech