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Sadomasochistic drinking game with a whiff of the primitive instinct, best played in domestic privacy - read on and you'll see why - in the company of friends and strangers alike.

Who can play?

Anyone who can count can play ibble dibble.

How many can play?

As many or as few as you like. Ideally, you'd want a minimum of 5 or 6 players. The upper limit is defined by the number of people you know, or who are present, and how much room you could afford in today's housing market boom.

What do you need to play?

Not very much. Apart from people, and space, you'll need:

  • Some alcohol, obviously.
  • Something that burns. A cork for instance.
  • Something to burn the something that burns. A lighter, for instance.
Enough intro already. How do I get things started?

Before the ibble dibbling can start, you'll need to assign every player a number. This is their ibble dibble number. For a beginner level game, you should attempt to go round the room in order - clockwise or anti-clockwise? it makes no difference in this game - starting with 1, and counting up sequentially. You might want to check that everyone knows their number at this stage (in case someone was unconscious / too busy trying to work out whether the girl opposite is wearing any underwear, by asking the players to repeat their numbers back to you in order.

Or you might not. As the ibble dibble master, the choice is yours. Your power has a limited shelf-life, so you may wish to abuse it while you can.

For advanced play, you could mix up the order a bit, or get everyone to move about after you've allocated numbers. There will be some drunken inertia, for sure, but this would give players the opportunity to move closer to someone they are hoping to flirt with during the game. Not that it's the ideal activity for flirting, branding people, as far as I can see. Actually, scratch that. It is.

All the players start the game with no ibble dibbles. If a player makes a mistake, he receives an ibble dibble.

OK - I have a number. I think. Let's play.

Here's a transcript of a typical game's opening jousts. For simplicity's sake, our example game features three players: Rod, Jane and Freddy (an unlikely ibble dibble line-up, but then, I always wonder what really went on it that dressing room):

Rod: ibble dibble number 1 with no ibble dibbles goes to ibble dibble number 3 with no ibble dibbles, ibble dibble.
Freddy: ibble dibble number 3 with no ibble dibbles goes to ibble dibble number 2 with no ibble dibbles, ibble dibble.
Jane: ibble dibble number 2 with no ibble dibbles goes to ibble dibble number 1 with no ibble dibbles, ibble dibble.

Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. No mistakes so far. But just when you're wondering how on earth anyone could make a mistake in such an easy game, up pipes Rod:

"So...er...how do we get ibble dibbles?"
And his fate is sealed as the first person to receive an ibble dibble. His mistake? Well, it was a very amateurish error really. You should never deviate from the script, unless someone else has just made a mistake and you think they deserve to be dibbled.

Let's dibble Rod!

When someone does make a mistake, they need to be punished to show the error of their ways. Any other player can mete out the punishment, so the first to leap up will generally have the pleasure. To give Rod his ibble dibble, take the cork, apply the lighter to it until it is nice and hot, blow any flames out, leaving only smoke, maybe let it cool for a moment (you don't really want to scar a celebrity do you?) and brand the former Rainbow presenter wherever you feel is appropriate, somewhere visible to the other players. Sort of an adult Mallet's Mallett. You should probably also make them quaff some ale at this point. If you have some vile or hideously strong concoction you won in a raffle lurking round the house (some absinthe perhaps this would be the perfect time to get it finished.

Don't worry if you think this might hurt, it doesn't. Just light the cork briefly, blow it out, wait a bit and apply gently but firmly to the offender. No pain is experienced, the only lasting effect is a dark round mark.

Rod now has 1 ibble dibble. And a nice cork shaped mark on his face / arm.

Play continues. From now on though, whenever anyone goes to ibble dibble number 1 (that's Rod) they have to say "...goes to ibble dibble number 1 with one ibble dibble, ibble dibble".

The game has no real set finish. Generally the dibbling will get more ridiculous as the game goes on, and eventually the game will degenerate and end by mutual consent.

And that's how you play ibble dibble. But it's not the end of my advice.

Common mistakes while ibble dibbling

You may recall that I mentioned primitive instincts in ibble dibble. Well, I did all the same. The truth is, almost anything can be considered a mistake in ibble dibble, and almost anything can get you dibbled. Common mistakes include:

  • Saying anything other than "ibble dibble number x with y ibble dibbles goes to...". Even the merest derivation from this could lead to trouble, such as:
    • Forgetting your own number and speaking out of turn, or not speaking when you should
    • Attributing yourself, or someone else the wrong number of ibble dibbles
    • Hesitation
    • Gabbling
    • Esoteric Pronunciation
However, the truth about ibble dibble is that anything can be called as a mistake. If, in the opinion of the other players in general, you did something wrong, then you did something wrong, and will have to face the consequences. Try to avoid the following common faults:
  • Being too slow / quick / smug / loud / quiet
  • Being called Geoff
  • Picking on someone popular / trying to get someone dibbled, but failing miserably
  • Never making a mistake - if you play perfectly, pretty soon you will be ibble dibbled for the obscure, but very relevant offence of "not having been ibble dibbled yet".
  • Standing up / leaving the room / sitting down / any kind of movement that might draw attention to you
Look, you're gonna get branded at some point, so ride with it. You can't beat 'em, so join 'em. Accuse people of anything you can think of, and hope you can garner enough popular support to pass your dibbling motion. You'll survive easiest in this drunk brand drunk world by following, or better still, leading the mob.


Don't burn your friends, kids. Or your enemies. If someone really does think the cork was a bit hot last time, let it cool down.

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