Ring Game

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"Ring Game" is the accepted English name of the Central Asian sport of Araınıņ Paranjı, literally "Arai's Scarf" (see below). The Ring Game is a women's sport featured in the Central Asian Games; the most recently-developed sport that the Games includes. In some ways it resembles a kind of equestrian frisbee event.

Rules

Ring Game is a women's sport; no men are allowed to play. It takes place on a kökbörü (buzkashi) field with a pole set up at each end, using instead of a headless goat carcass, a wire hoop wrapped in silk.

A Ring Game team consists of seven riders, and there are three umpires.

The idea is to score as many goals as possible in the 2 hours of play. Goals are scored by hanging the silk ring on the pole at the opposing team's end of the field; double points are awarded if this is done by the Araı (team captain). The ring is thrown from person to person as play continues, and when a goal is scored, the ring returns to the other team

In order to prevent the scoring of a goal, the ring may be snatched directly as it is passed from one rider to another (interception) , or the current ring-bearer may be forced off their horse (tackling), in which case they must surrender the ring and remount. The time clock does not stop for this, and umpires are very strict at penalising "holding violations", ie failure to yield up the ring in a timely manner.

Penalties may include removal of the offender from the field for a set period (eg 5 minutes), a free throw between two of the other team's players (giving a positional advantage), or a penalty throw (allowing a free throw at the goal from a set distance).

Development

Certainly the sport was created in Turkestan during one of the earliest Qurultaıs; if the story connected to its origins is to be believed, it was at the very first one.

According to the story the Ring Game owes its invention to a prank played on Araı, daughter of Qorbanbaı Xan of the Great Horde Qazaqs by seven of her companions. Apparently Araı Qorbanbaı Xan-qızı had a very long silk scarf which she was inordinately proud of; as a joke, seven of her companions snatched the scarf and rode off with it. As Araı gave chase with six other companions, the thieves began to toss the scarf from one to another in order to keep it from Araı, and as they chase one another, they drifted onto the empty kökbörü field. The thieves hung Araı's scarf on the branch of a tree at one end of the kökbörü field, and the game of Araınıņ Paranjı, or "the Ring Game", was born.

With all of them laughing, the original thieves among Araı's companions loudly vowed to do the same next Qurultaı, and this seems to have given rise to the sport. The following year, Araı Qorbanbaı Xan-qızı brought another long silk scarf and wound it around a thin silver hoop, so that when she and her companions played the new game the scarf would be easier to toss.

Whatever the beginning, with royalty taking a leading part in its development the Ring Game quickly spread to the other peoples of Turkestan, and from there it spread all over the Central Asia region.

The rules were systematised in 1932, wherein the ring's size and parameters were specified. The current rules state that the Ring shall be "a wire hoop exactly 50cm in diameter, wrapped around with a 5m length ribbon of silk at least 30cm wide". Variation of the weight of the wire is permitted, and different local Ring Game leagues prefer different weights; however, the systemised rules did lay down a "standard weight" to be used in national and international competitions, and most of the larger leagues use this.

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