Bottoms Up: “Hundo Cup League”

It’s 6:45 p.m. on a Monday evening during Winter Study – what are you up to? Eating dinner, you say? Well, while you munch down on southern fried catfish with lemon cream sauce at Driscoll, eight people are stretching, strategizing and getting their game faces on. Rex Ryan of the Red team (note: team and player names altered for anonymity) leads his other team members, Archer, Angel and Double-Scorpion, in a tai chi-inspired warm-up before leaving for the big game. Meanwhile, on the other side of campus, Dr. Strangelove, Twitch, DW and Washington join hands, as the Doctor pumps his Blue team up with some group affirmation. Rip-roaring and ready to go, both teams head to the basement of an undisclosed location on campus.

“Hundred cup doesn’t start ’til 16 cups,” said Hundo Cup League veteran DW. Nevertheless, this writer sat through the first 84 cups (and kept stats). That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, this week’s “Bottom’s Up” is the play-by-play of Monday night’s 100-cup game between the Red and Blue teams.

Winter Study’s Hundo Cup League began in the winter of 2009, when founders were searching for a tradition that would both defy school anti-drinking game policy and would, at the same time, out-badass Dartmouth’s famed traditions in ‘true beer pong.’ The only rule? There are no rules. Just kidding. Each team starts with 100 cups on their side of the table, arranging them in a 10 by 10 square. Each cup is filled with about three inches worth of water. Teams of four then take turns shooting small spherical orbs at the opposing team’s cups. As the cups are ‘eliminated’ from your team’s rack, you must drink them and remove them from the table. The rub? You can only take pee breaks at certain landmarks in the game. More specifically, when your opponents have 81 cups, 64 cups, 49 cups, 36 cups, 25 cups, 16 cups, 10 cups and at one other point, which is left up to the scoring team’s discretion. Perhaps even more importantly, at each of these benchmarks the scoring team is allowed to ask the defending team to rearrange, or ‘re-rack,’ their cups to cover holes left by eliminated cups in order to make the cups easier to shoot out. The team to eliminate all their opponents’ cups first wins. Additionally, if all four members of a team sink cups on the same turn, the orbs are returned to their fingers for an extra bonus turn. At the end of the season, the deserving teams will enter an elimination playoff round.

With the stage set, the rules reviewed and Eminem blasting from a speaker in the corner, Archer lined up to take the opening shot. With an embarrassing opening miss from the once-secret agent, it looked like the Red team might sacrifice the opening volley, which determines first service. But Rex, Angel and Scorpion rallied for their teammate, sinking each of their three shots and winning first service from their opponents’ grasp. By the time 10 turns had rolled around, the Red team was up two cups and had already re-racked once. The Red team had managed to obtain this lead by bringing the orbs back twice as often as the blue team. Twitch and his cronies were starting to look nervous. A veteran player himself, Twitch knows falling behind early in the game can lead to serious issues later on. The chemistry of the Blue team was showing cracks, with DW openly criticizing Dr. Strangelove for missing too many cups in a row. But DW quickly reined in his ire, choosing to lead by example. By the time 20 turns rolled around, DW had more than doubled his own cup pace and piloted his team to lead the Red team 50 to 48.

As the competition grew fiercer, without either team pulling ahead, the taunts began to fly. “My grandmother throws a better sphere than you!” said DW, following a particularly ugly-looking shot out of the mitts of Angel, who responded with, “You dance weird” – seemingly a weak response, and yet quite accurate in this writer’s opinion.

The cups became fewer and fewer as the Blue team’s trash-talking edge began to show in the cups. By the time the 30th turn of each team arrived (the Blues having caught up on bonus rounds), the Red team was down 68 to 76. Of course, in the realm of Hundo Cup, an eight-cup lead is hardly insurmountable, but it was at this point that the Red team made a series of crucial errors. In this last half-hour of the game the Red team had three ‘goose eggs,’ turns where not a single member scored. Furthermore, the Blue team scored a cup off a defensive penalty committed by Double-Scorpion.

In the end, it was the Blues that used their last rack first, putting their remaining four cups in a classic diamond formation. While the Reds were not far behind, eventually bringing the game within four cups as they took their last rack (a diamond-in-the-rough variation on the Reds’ last move), they never were able to turn things around, as DW sunk the last shot winning the game for the Blues.