Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Musical Chairs is a game played by a group of people, often in an informal setting purely for entertainment such as a birthday party. The game starts with N players and a set of N-1 chairs; the chairs are arranged in a circle (or other closed figure if space is constrained; a double line is sometimes used) facing outward, with the people standing in a circle just outside of that. A non-playing individual controls a source of music. While the music is playing, the players in the circle walk in unison around the chairs. When the music controller shuts off the music, however, everyone must sit down in one of the chairs. The player who is left without a chair is eliminated from the game, and one chair is also removed to ensure that there will always be one fewer chair than there are players. The music resumes and the cycle repeats until there is only one player left in the game, who is the winner.
"Musical chairs" is or was formerly also known as "Going to Jerusalem." Laura Lee Hope describes it under that name in chapter XIII of The Bobbsey Twins at School, as does John P. Marquand in chapter XXXI of Wickford Point.
In the non-competitive version of "Musical Chairs" one chair but no player is eliminated in each round. All players have to sit down on the remaining chairs, while their feet must not touch the floor. A Cold Wind Blows is another noncompetitive substitute for "Musical Chairs."
"Playing musical chairs" is also a metaphorical way of describing any activity where items or people are repeatedly and usually pointlessly shuffled among various locations.
Musical Cars is a term used to describe a similar shuffling of cars, such as when one has two cars but only a one car garage.
See also: Chinese fire drill
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