Creating a tech tool to promote European Traditional Sport and Games from an intergenerational and inclusive perspective.

Ref. Project: 579689-EPP-1-2016-1-ES-SPO-SSCP








Klostes or Kouvaristres

How is it played? (Rules)

A chasing game with a small introductory ritual dialogue and a few pretend roles played by 8-13-year-old girls and boys in Palaia Phocaea Attica (Greece) in the 1980s (see Gougoulis 2003: 293-294). The game involved one chaser and one chased child but the two roles interchanged quickly thus contributing to the fun derived from the game. The game was played by 10-12 children who counted out to allocate the two key figures in the game: that of the Mana (mother), who coordinated the players and played the role of the politis (shop owner) of a haberdashery and that of the agorastis (buyer) who entered the shop to buy thread. The rest of the children sat near the Mana and played the role of the threads or spools after secretly choosing a colour, which they revealed only to the Mana. The game began with the entrance of the agorastis in the shop who asked the Mana if a particular colour of thread was available. If no child had chosen this particular colour the Mana replied : “We don’t have any” or “its been taken” or “in the dustbin” and the dialogue went on until the agorastis asked for an extant colour in the “shop”. The child who had chosen the demanded colour of thread had to stand up immediately and the agorastis began to chase her/him. The chased child could gain immunity by touching the Mana in which case (s)he returned to the circle of children representing spools in the “shop”. The game then started all over again. If the child was caught however (s)he became the chaser-agorastis. Fun in this game is derived by the ritual introductory guessing of the correct colour and especially by the choice of funny or “difficult” colours such as sakouli (colour of paper bag) or diafanes ( transparent). Disputes broke out mostly because children broke the secret code and revealed their colour to each other and often had to change colour in midcourse (when a fellow spool became the chaser)in which case they were accused of cheating. Klostes or Kouvaristres is a game requiring physical skill (speed), strategy (in the clever choice of colour or in calculating the chase range in order to permit or prevent immunity) and chance (in the guessing procedure). It is furthermore a rule governed game with a high imaginative content (roles, dialogue). Its performance involves multiple power contests among players.

Sport or Game History and origins:

The game has been recorded by Gougoulis (2003: 293-294) as been played in available open spaces (school yard, wastelands, empty plots of land) of Palaia Phocaea Attica from the 1960s to the end of 1980s. The version played in the 1960s was different from the version that children played in the 1980s. The parents of these children reported that in the 1960s Kouvaristres was a school game played during recess. The game also involved a ritual introductory dialogue but there was only one central role, the role a travelling emboras (merchant) who advertised his merchandise in a loud voice and there were no colours. The children formed a circle which excluded the emboras. A child left the circle and asked the emboras for a spool of thread but refused to give money in return so the emboras started to chase the child. Immunity could be gained for the chase child by re-entering the circle in a similar fashion to Cat and Mouse or Wolf and Lamb. Brewster (1953: 180-3) has described a similar game under the name of Colours which was played by children in the former republic of Yugoslavia in the late 1940s to the beginning of 1950s.

Gougoulis, G.C. (2003) Τhe Material Culture of Children’s Play: Space, Toys and the
Commoditization of Childhood in a Greek Community, unpublished Ph. D thesis,
London: University College London.
Brewster, P. G. (1953), American Non-Singing Games, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

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The avoidance of capture by a chaser after an introductory ritual dialogue determining the role of the chased and signaling the beginning of the chase. Therefore the game should be classified under chasing games, a category not provided by Geoludens.


Physical: Physical condition improvement (strength, speed, endurance, etc).
Psychological: Psychological skills improvement (motivation, leadership, group cohesion, concentration, etc.)

Game’s materials

No other materials besides the children’s bodies are used in this game.

Is it related to an specific event or festivity ( festivals, religious or pagan celebrations)?


Graphic material: