Ringolevio is a game which may be played anywhere but which originates in the teeming streets of Depression era New York City. It is one of the many variations of tag. It requires close team work and near-military strategy. In some quarters this game is known as Manhunt which is really another game with different rules. In Canada, this game is known as Relievio. In Boston and Ireland in the 1960s, it was also called Relievio and is mentioned in Roddy Doyle's Booker prize winning novel "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha". Emmett Grogan wrote a book called "Ringolevio" which was published in 1972.


Two sides are drawn up, roughly of even number. One side goes out. The other counts to some number like 300 and then goes looking for them.

Anyone on the pursuing side can catch anyone on the pursued side by grabbing hold of them and chanting "Ring-O-Levio 1-2-3" three times in a row. If the person pursued breaks free at any point during this brief recitation, the person is not caught. If caught, the pursuer takes the pursued to an area called the jail (the area was called the base in some variations).

Jail is any confined area, typically between two parked cars or bushes where members of the pursued team are accumulated. Any free member of the team that is out can at any time free all team members in jail by barging into the jail without being caught and shouting "Free all!" This means that all members of the team in jail are now free and have to be recaught.

In some variations of the game, the pursuing team cannot station any player of their team within line of sight of the jail. This is called "babysitting". The cry of "babysitting" can be made by anyone in the jail who feels that any member of the opposing team is lingering near the jail and blocking their rescue.

Game ends when one team catches all the members of the opposing team at which point the captured team reverse roles and now count while their opponents hide.

Coordinated attacks to free the jail often employ military strategy in their use of terrain and engage in flanking maneuvers and feints that resemble battlefield tactics. The game itself though is rarely violent and fights are rare as all the running generally makes both the pursuer and pursued weak with laughter at the point of capture.

Each round of Ringolevio lasts about a half hour, but the actual duration of play is a factor of the boundaries of play agreed to at the start of a game as well as the number of players on each side.

Games often have set boundaries of how far from the jail pursued players can go. Some games have been played with citywide boundaries with up to 40 players. These games had rounds lasting for weeks with suspension of play for a half hour before, during and a half hour after school hours.

One other variation allows that the players in jail could extend out of the jail by holding hands, making it easier to be freed by your teammates.


A variation of Ringolevio, which was called Ringolario, reached the suburbs of South Eastern Pennsylvania in the early 70's. Two or three neighborhood properties (yards) were set to be the boundaries. The front porch of a home was used as the jail. Sneaking through shrubbery around the porch added to the surprise when team members freed their jailed teammates. The game was played at dusk and often lasted long after dark on summer evenings which added to the military nature of the game. Players would sometimes dress in dark clothes to elude capture. The rules required that the captor cry 1-2-3 Ringolario after grabbing or sometimes tackling (on grass) the pursued.

In Northeast Philadelphia, the variation played was called "Freedom." Players were captured by being taken hold of long enough to say "1-2-3 come with me, you're my prisoner." Players were released from the base/jail when a member of their team was able to sneak close enough to touch a team member and cry "Freedom!" at which point all members of the team rush out in a bunch to make it as difficult as possible for the jail-keeper to recapture them. The jail was a railed porch (the railing looking like the bars of a jail and providing a single approach to guard.)

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