What is Blind Man's Bluff?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Blind man's bluff is a form of tag which has been played since the Tudor era, and it may be even older. Many people have played some form of this game in childhood, and sometimes adults play it as well, especially at organized ice breaking events. Blind man's bluff is easy to learn and simple to play, and because it requires no props other than a blindfold, it can be played by anyone at any time.

Young boy eating an apple
Young boy eating an apple

In this form of tag, the person who is designated as “It” wears a blindfold. Depending on the variation being played, the other players may be required to disperse and then stand still at the beginning of the game, or they can move at any time while the game is played. It attempts to tag players, using his or her senses to find them, and the game ends either when a new It is chosen, or when all of the players have been tagged out of the game.

Many people play the form of blind man's bluff which requires It to tag everyone. Others prefer to ask It to identify the person tagged; if It is correct, that person becomes the new It, while if It is wrong, he or she remains It until someone can be positively identified. In the variation where players stand still, they are typically allowed to contort themselves to avoid being tagged, as long as they do not move their feet; when movement is allowed, anything goes.

Because of the obvious dangers involved when someone staggers around blindfolded, this game is often played outdoors in a wide open area, or in a large indoor room. Before playing blind man's bluff, it's a good idea to clear obstacles, and some people like to designate a referee who can shout out a warning to It if an obstacle is spotted, or if It wanders too far out of the boundaries of the game. Since players can get caught up in the fun, a referee is a good idea to keep It safe.

Numerous paintings and contemporary accounts from the Tudor era show that blind man's bluff was a very popular game, especially for the Elizabethans. Some form of the game may have existed before this point, but it became widely popularized during this period in English history, spreading outwards from there. Today, blind man's bluff and its variants continue to be played in many English speaking nations, with many communities developing their own unique regional rules to make the game distinctly their own.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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When was Blind's Man Bluff invented?

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