Review - Le Passe-Trappe

I wrote this review a long time ago, but I thought it would be good to add it here...

Le Passe-Trappe
by Jean-Marie Albert
Published by Ferti
Review by David Fair

Although the game rules are in French, and there is no translation yet available, my wife and I purchased this game some time ago. The game is very simple to understand and play is fast and fun.

There are two versions of the game available, Petit or Grande. Petit is about 2-feet long by 14 inches wide and Grande is over 3-feet long by just shy of two feet wide. I have only yet played on the Petit board. In either version, the board is made of a green, plastic-coated surface that is somewhat slick. Around the board is a handsome wooden (birch?) frame that rises about 1.5" above the board surface. The corners are toungue-and-groove and the construction is well done. Also going across the board in the middle is a wall that seperates the board into two areas, one for you and one for your opponent. In this wall is a hole just slightly wider than the disks. The sides of the hole are rounded to aid players who mis-aim slightly.

Also included are a 45-second sand timer, 6 scoring pegs which fit into conveniently drilled holes in the top of the frame, and 10 solid wooden disks (approximately 1.5" by 3/16"). Finally, the frame also includes two long elastic strings that are stretched across the width of the board and just about 1" in front of the back of each players "field".

To play, you place 5 disks in your play area while your opponent does the same. Then you start the timer and grab a disk. Placing it against the elastic and pulling back slightly, you attempt to send it through the hole in the wall, while your opponent does the same. Whoever has the fewest disks on their side when the time runs out gets a peg on their side. The winner is the first player to get three pegs.

The game is a lot of fun to play, and play is fast and laugh-inducing. The shot is just hard enough to make to make the game fun without it being too difficult. The fun of watching the disks fly back and forth and sending it back into your opponents area as it come flying through usually makes both players laugh.

We often play this at the end of the evening to end on a high-note, and sometimes open the nights with it when someone arrives early, or several are late. We would like to try out some of the variants listed in the included rules, but I have not been able to find a French-speaking person to translate them for me as of yet.

The playing surface has just started to show a little wear, and we have taken to waxing it with a high percentage carnuba wax (car wax) like is often recommended for Crokinole boards. This has to be done carefully so that you don't overly speed up the game-play or cause drag. I am sure that careful and judicious use of Mespi powder on the disks or board could help as well.

All told, this is a great game that my family and friends really enjoy. Crokinole, PitchCar, and Le Passe-Trappe make up the top three dexterity games, to me, and you can sometimes find all three in play at once after a long night of heavier games at my house. The components are top quality, and although the price is a bit steep, it is in line with other well-made wooden games.