For centuries, American college students have been developing a vast array of creative alcohol consumption methods. Within the genus of beer pong, a clear winner has emerged: Dartmouth pong.
Everyone who goes to Dartmouth College shares two common traits: they are all smart kids, and they are all raging boozebags. I have a few friends from home who go there and I was honestly flabbergasted when I visited them. Have you ever seen that picture of New Jersey governor Chris Christie pouring a regular-sized bag of M&Ms into a family-sized bag of M&M’s? That’s what it’s like watching Dartmouth nerds put down cheap racks of Keystone Light. It’s like watching Joey Chestnut scarf down hot dogs. Their drinking habits are nothing short of apocalyptic.
You may be wondering why these theoretically intelligent Ivy League students literally fuck themselves with alcohol every damn day of the week. Is it because they are stranded in the middle of the frozen wilderness that is New Hampshire? I mean, that has to be a contributing factor. The real answer, however, is simple: it’s because they have invented — hands down — the best drinking game known to man. Dartmouth pong is so dangerously fun that you will continue playing until you physically cannot.
The game is tangentially similar to regular beer pong (Beirut) with some key differences. The most significant change is the fact that the game is played with handleless table tennis paddles. The second most significant change is the size of the table. Because the game is played like actual ping pong, you need a larger playing surface than your standard skinny pong table. Most Dartmouth tables have dimensions of roughly five feet by nine feet with a long wooden plank placed in the middle to function as a sort of net (four feet by eight feet also works). Another key difference is the orientation of the cups; the most common cup orientation is a normal ten-cup rack with one cup behind the rack to give it the appearance of a pine tree. You can also play with seven cups.
Now for gameplay. The game begins with one player serving to the opponent diagonally opposite from them. The serve is friendly, as are the returns. This is a gentleman’s game; there is no spiking the ball at the cups and you are supposed to put as much arc on your shots as you can. If you mess up the serve twice, you drink half a cup. Scoring is a bit more complicated in Dartmouth Pong, but, as Stan Halen says, “rules make drinking way more fun.” If you hit the rim of any of the opposing team’s cups and they are not able to return it, they must drink half of that cup (cups are filled most of the way to the rim). If your shot goes straight into one of the other team’s cups, they must drink the entire cup. This scoring system makes the game more intense, as you must remember to defend against rim shots. There are no re-racks (other than gentleman’s), and no two-cup shots. Saves can be spiked. If someone screws up on a return or misses the table, they become the server.
This game is a lot of fun, and it’s easy enough to set up in any basement or social room. It may take longer to complete, but it is played with much more beer so that really doesn’t make much of a difference. Happy hitting..
Image via Dartmouth85.com/David Carson