Office Ball! (Official Rules)
The game; The way of life
- One (1) office (not included). Office may be decorated/furnished in a manner appropriate to the type of "work" performed therein.
- One (1) table (not included). Recommended dimensions: One (1) meter wide by two (2) meters long.
- One (1) small rubber ball. The ball should be very "bouncy."
- One (1) plastic cup. Clear plastic cups work the best. The cup should be durable, yet lightweight. A paper cup may be substituted in an emergency.
- Push the table against the wall.
- Place the cup in the center of the table. The first cup placement shall be made by the player making the first toss (see Rule 8).
- Mark a line on the floor approximately three (3) meters from the table, parallel to the long dimension of the table.
An example of the appropriate set-up is presented in Fig. 1.
Toss the ball into the cup on the table.
- Players must stand behind the line. Players may stand anywhere behind the line, in any orientation.
- Players toss the ball towards the cup from their position behind the line. The ball must bounce on the floor at least once en route to the table. There is no upper limit on the number of bounds, and the ball may rebound off of the wall or any other obstacles on the table prior to striking the cup.
- Points shall be awarded to players in the following manner: (All ODDS presented below
are approximations based on the play of an individual with limited Office Ball! experience
(a "beginner"). Improvement with practice is typical, so your performance may vary
considerably from the odds listed.)
- The ball fails to reach the table (FTR): 0 points
- Players may sanction the player who FTRs with taunts and insults (verbal only).
- ODDS: 1 in 100
- Ball hits the table but misses the cup (TNC): 0 points
- See Rule 3, section a,1) above.
- ODDS: 1 in 10
- Ball strikes the outside of the cup (OTC): 1 point
- "Outside" shall be defined as any portion of the cup from the rim to the bottom which would ordinarily be described by a reasonable member of the society in which the game is being played as "not inside the cup." The rim of the cup shall count as "outside."
- The ball may strike the cup from any direction after any number of bounds, rebounds, etc.
- The cup need not remain standing after being struck.
- The cup need not remain on the table after being struck.
- ODDS: 9 in 10
- Ball strikes the inside of the cup, ball does not reach the bottom of the cup (ITC):
- Players may comfort the player who ITCs by congratulating him/her for nearly missing a BTC (see Rule 3, section e). Rule 3, sections c,2)-4) also apply to Rule 3, section d.
- ODDS: 5 in 10
- Ball touches the inside bottom of the cup, ball does not remain inside the cup (BTC):
- "Bottom" shall be defined as any portion of the cup which would ordinarily be described by a reasonable member of the society in which the game is being played as "not some portion of the cup that is not the bottom of the cup." Rule 3, sections c,2)-4) also apply to Rule 3, section e.
- ODDS: 5 in 10
- Ball touches the inside bottom of the cup, ball remains in cup, cup no longer standing
(BIC): 5 points
- The ball need not maintain physical contact with the bottom of the cup so long as a reasonable member of the society in which the game is being played would define the ball as being "metaphysically bonded" with the bottom of the cup. Rule 3 sections c,2)-4) also apply to Rule 3, section f.
- ODDS 4 in 10
- Ball hits the cup, cup lands upside down on ball, ball in cup (COB): 5 points
- Rule 3, sections c,2)-4) also apply to Rule 3, section g.
- ODDS 4 in 10
- Ball strikes the inside bottom of the cup, ball remains in cup, cup remains standing,
ball maintains physical contact with the bottom of the cup (WIN): infinite points
- ODDS: 2 in 10
- The ball fails to reach the table (FTR): 0 points
- Points are awarded for a player's final contact with the cup on any toss. Prior contacts with the cup on any toss are disregarded.
- The first player to score ten (10) points wins the game (but see Rule 6 and Rule 9, section a). Players may not score more than 10 points in regulation play. Any scores higher than 10 points will be rounded down to 10 points. Other players may complete the present round of the game (see Rule 7) in an attempt to tie. In the event of two or more players scoring 10 points, a tie-breaker will be played in which each of the players with 10 points takes a turn until one of those players scores. All tie-breakers are "sudden-death," meaning that the first player to score in a tie-breaker automatically wins the game.
- Players scoring a WIN automatically win the game. Other players may complete the present round of the game (see Rule 7) in an attempt to tie. In the event of two or more players scoring WIN shots in the same game, a tie is declared. There can be no tie-breaker as the Official Office Ball! Rules do not acknowledge the existence of numbers equal to or higher than (infinity + 1).
- The game is played in rounds. A round consists of one turn by each of the players in the game. A game is not completed until all players have had their turn in the final round.
- The order in which players take their turns in a round shall be determined using one
of the following rules:
- Players decide amongst themselves what an appropriate order would be in a spirit of camaraderie and friendship.
- Players take turns in alphabetical order.
- Players use some sort of random device (e.g. a coin toss) to determine an order.
- Players use the following procedure:
- Make a square matrix whose width and height are equal to the number of players in the game.
- Fill in the top row of the matrix using the following equation:
- A, B, X, C, X-1, D, X-2, and so forth
- where A is the first player (as determined by an alphabetical ordering of the players' last names), B is the second player, etc., and X is the designation for the last player.
- Once the top row is completed, fill in the columns by entering players' names in alphabetical order.
- The order in each round is determined by going across a row of the matrix. If players use all rows of the matrix prior to finishing a game, players may start over at the top of the matrix.
- The final round can be determined by using one of the following rules:
- Players may agree in advance that the game will end after a certain round. In this case, the game ends when all players have had their turn in the final round.
- The round in which any player's score reaches 10 points or any player scores a WIN will automatically become the final round (but see Rules 5 and 6 for rules governing completion of play in the final round).
- Players may not harass another player during a turn.
- Players may not physically impede or interfere with the progress of the ball at any point during a turn.
- The player who tossed the ball shall recover the ball and pass it on to the next player. Players shall hand over the ball in a courteous and polite fashion trying to avoid making the player receiving the ball look stupid fumbling around on the floor trying to catch the ball.
- If a player strikes the cup on a turn, that player has the option to reposition the
cup. Players may not reposition the cup unless they strike it on their turn, and once
the next player begins his/her turn, players lose the option to reposition the cup.
The cup may be placed anywhere so long as the following conditions are met:
- The cup must remain on the table.
- The cup must remain in an upright position (the opening of the cup shall be pointing up).
- Each player shall be responsible for maintaining his/her own score. Cheating in the maintenance of scores is encouraged as long as none of the other players notice. Players may be sanctioned for cheating consistent with Rule 3, section a,1).
- As they are, by definition, not participating in the game, spectators are free to behave however they wish. But, spectators are cautioned that they are not protected by the injunctions against physical abuse contained herein (see also Rule 16).
- Any spectator entering into the field of play (bounds) shall be considered a special
participant in the game. For purposes of this rule the following definitions apply:
"bounds" is any area which, if entered into by a special participant, would cause
a reasonable player who is a member of the society in which the game is being played
to define said special participant as "in the way"; "special participants" are persons
who would not ordinarily be considered to be in the game but who are governed by section
a of this rule, nonetheless.
- Special participants must get out of bounds as quickly as possible.
- Once started, the game may not be interrupted until the agreed upon final round has been completed.
Office Ball! With Danger Zone(s): The set-up may be altered to include negative point penalty areas (NPPAs) (office trash cans). Recommended NPPAs are round, approximately 2/3 meter tall and 1/3 meter in diameter. Square or rectangular NPPAs may also be used. NPPAs shall be placed in an area where the ball is likely to bound after a turn. The NPP is generally one negative point. NPPs are deducted from a player's total score after any points earned on the turn in which the NPPA was encountered have been added to the player's previous total score (but see Rule 14). For purposes of this variation, a NPPA is only considered to have been encountered if the ball strikes the inside bottom of the NPPA. Inside bottom is defined as in Rule 3, section e,1). In this variation, some player other than the player making the toss (PMT) shall recover the ball to prevent the PMT from stopping the ball on its way to a NPPA.
Napkin Ball!: Rather than tossing the ball with their hands, players may place the ball inside the tube around which paper towels are ordinarily wrapped (toilet paper tubes may be substituted in an emergency). The paper product does not have to be completely removed from the tube prior to play. Players then take their turn by rolling the ball out of the tube in the direction of the cup.
Office Ball! To N (where N is some number of points): The game may be played to any number of points provided that all players agree on a number of points prior to play. Once started, the game may not be interrupted until the agreed upon final round has been completed. The definition of final round in Rule 9, section b shall be considered to have been altered to reflect the fact that the "10" in Rule 9, section b is now "N" (the number of points needed to win).
Office Ball! With Innings: A turn can be redefined as more than one toss of the ball (an inning). A round is then defined as each player taking his/her turns. Generally, an inning is three (3) tosses, taken sequentially. If a player's score becomes high enough to cause the present round to become the final round, that player must complete any unused tosses remaining in that player's inning. The player may not go over the maximum score in the game (10 or N depending on the variation being played). However, that player may score a WIN shot, which will replace the player's previous score, or that player may land in a NPPA (see Variation 1), causing that player's score to be decreased by the amount of the NPP in use. Note: For completing an inning in the final round, even if the player strikes the cup on the same toss as hitting a NPPA, the player's score will still be decreased by the amount of the NPP as the player's score remained either 10 or N after striking the cup. If a player encounters a NPPA and does not strike the cup on a subsequent toss or has no remaining tosses in the inning, then the present round will no longer be the final round.
Office Ball! With Chairs: Standard office chairs (whose backs extend no more than 30 centimeters above the height of the table) may be placed against the table. The seat does not have to be under the table, but the back of the chair should be placed against the table as firmly as is physically possible. This configuration allows for bounds off the back of the chair that might result in the ball striking the cup. The only limit on the number of chairs is the length of the table.
Office Ball! With Intermission: The game may be interrupted prior to reaching/completion of the agreed upon final round if all players agree to such an interruption and all players swear to return at some later time to complete the game. Ideally, this variation, like all others, should be agreed upon by all players prior to beginning the game. However, in the event that a person serving in a supervisory capacity should enter the office unannounced to check on the progress of the "work" being performed therein, this rule may be invoked by the spontaneous and unanimous scurrying of the "workers" in the office as they attempt to return to their assigned "work" activities. Should the game enter an emergency Office Ball! With Intermission state, play shall resume as soon as said person serving in a supervisory capacity has vacated the office. To prevent emergency Office Ball! With Intermission states, players are encouraged to lock and or block access to all points of entry into the office during play.
Office Ball! With Obstacles:
Natural: Your table might be cluttered with such items as coffee-makers, telephones, etc. Players shall play the game in the presence of these naturally occurring hazards.
Incremental: Players may add an obstacle to the table during play. This obstacle may be placed anywhere on the table so long as it is not in contact with the cup. Obstacles may be added:
After each round. All players add an obstacle.
After a player strikes the cup. Only the player striking the cup is permitted to add an obstacle.
Office Ball! With Special Shots: Some obstacles, such as cardboard cut-outs of menacing old women (hereafter referred to as "Momma"), allow for the possibility of a player scoring bonus points for rebounding off of those obstacles prior to hitting the cup. For example, the "Momma shot" would include a rebound off of Momma at some point during the toss. If players agree in advance on which special shots will be included in the game, then bonus points consistent with the agreed upon bonus point structure shall be added to any points a player earns on a toss in which the special shot rule is in effect. The special shot rule is in effect if a player declares prior to tossing the ball that he/she intends to attempt a special shot. Under the special shot rule, no points may be earned on a toss if the player fails to meet the conditions of the special shot declared prior to tossing the ball. As special shots must be established prior to play, no bonus point structure can include special shots off of obstacles added in Office Ball! With Obstacles, Incremental. However, players shall receive their bonus points if they complete the requirements of the special shot, even if the ball rebounds off of additional obstacles on the same toss as the special shot (unless one of the conditions of the special shot is that no other obstacles may be contacted).
Office Ball! With Combinations: Any combinations of the variations listed herein may be used provided that all players agree in advance on the particular combination to be used.
Infinite Ball! (to be played when there is some danger of actual work being performed): Play as above, but the goal is to be the player with the fewest points at the end of the game (the option described in Rule 9, section a must be disabled to play "true" Infinite Ball).
WARNING: No variations not listed in this document may be used either alone or in combination without the express written permission of the Official Office Ball! Rules Committee.
The Official Office Ball! Rules Committee encourages Office Ball! participants to refine the interpretation of any rules that are unintentionally ambiguous. Discussions of rule clarifications may not exceed 95% of the playing time for any Office Ball! game.
Office Ball! was created by Bob Kachelski. These rules are maintained by William Langston. The information on this page is not intended for commercial distribution. Feel free to print it for your own personal use.
Would you like to suggest an additional variation? You may email the Office Ball! Rules Committee with your suggestions. Please put "Office Ball!" in the subject line of your message so that it can be more easily disregarded.