Le Passe-Trappe comes in at least two different sizes, and although the bigger board is undoubtedly better, the comparatively tiny ‘micro’ version (pictured here) supplies the same energetically silly experience. Both come with a wooden board, lined with felt, with a stretch of elastic at either end. Across the middle of the board is a barrier, and central in the barrier is a small gap, just big enough to fit one of the ten wooden disks through.
Play could not be simpler. Players sit either side of the board, with five disks placed anywhere they like in their half of the board. Using one hand only – with the micro version, you should use the other hand to hold the board steady – you attempt to flick all of your discs through the narrow gap in the barrier, by pulling them back against the elastic, and letting go. The problem is not only your aim, but the fact your opponent’s discs may be coming through in the other direction… and of course, the stress of competition!
The first player to empty their area wins.
Somewhere between fantastic, ludicrous fun and bizarre, meaningless folly comes Le Passe-Trappe. It’s very very silly, but also manages to be very very tense at the same time. I’m not sure there’s many folk who will want to play it on a regular basis, but it’s a great one to pull out for those family occasions where anyone and everyone can join in. Results can surprise you, and big comebacks are possible as everyone yells encouragement/sighs at the state of humanity (delete as applicable).
If you like the palpable tension but want something for more players, you could do worse than the co-operative bomb-disposal game that is FUSE.