Pitt 4-square club a stress reliever

By Andrew Shull

Whether you like to drop wicked cherry bombs or you seldom make it past the second square, the… Whether you like to drop wicked cherry bombs or you seldom make it past the second square, the Pitt 4-square Club thinks it is the place for you to unwind on Monday nights.

Cold weather has put the Pitt 4-square Club on hiatus, but members plan to resume their usual weekly bouts when spring rolls around.

Jim Cervone, club president, said that there are usually 15 to 20 people at meetings, and 75 to 100 people attended the group’s last big gathering, a Halloween party. That event was funded by a $675 mini-grant for alcohol-free events provided by First Year Experience. The event featured music, food, board games and, of course, 4-square.

Nicole Yousef, club vice president, said that over spring break the club would plan and set a date for the spring semester event, which she said will be a dance party. Cervone said that although they haven’t finalized any details yet, plans are still in development for that event.

The club members try to create a laid-back atmosphere when they play at 7:30 p.m. on Monday nights between Posvar and the Hillman Library, weather permitting. Music usually accompanies the games, and although the club’s constitution includes a provision for the removal of players for unsportsmanlike behaviors, Cervone said that this is unsurprisingly not a problem.

“Nobody shows up to, like, win 4-square, or get too intense about it,” he said. For the members of the 4-square Club, it is all about a fun way to relieve stress.

The club isn’t just for people who played the game in elementary school. While Cervone said he enjoys the nostalgic aspect of it, the club’s business manager, Feras Khalbuss, said he had only played the game about three times before joining the club.

“Once you get past the misconceptions you have about it and get rid of the excuses and actually play, it’s a lot of fun,” Khalbuss said.

Khalbuss joined because he walked past the club on multiple occasions and started looking into an organization he could join on campus that wasn’t too strict or selective with its membership.

Cervone joined because he saw the club at the activities fair and decided that it would be fun. A year later, he is now the president.

The game is played with a rubber ball on four numbered individual squares inside a bigger square outlined on a hard surface. The group compares the game to pingpong: the ball can bounce only once in your square, and if it bounces twice or bounces in your square and then out of the large square, you are out. Somebody then enters the first square, and everybody who was in a lower-numbered square than the ousted person advances to the next square.

The object of the game is to maintain the fourth square for as long as possible. The club refers to this square as the “king square.”

Holding that square comes with the privilege of making your own rule. These novelty rules last for one game.

Cervone said his favorite rule is the “Nick Rule.”

“It’s named for a former vice president [who still plays with the club]. The rule is, if you don’t get Nick out, then everybody is out,” he said.

Khalbuss said he invented his favorite rule, which he named “Three Kings.”

“Basically how it works is that you put three people in the king square and then one person in each other square. I made it just to create chaos. People were like, ‘What are you doing?’ but it was fun,” he said.

Khalbuss also likes the rule because he said sometimes the better players “hog the king square,” but his rule gives more access to the top spot.

Yousef based her favorite rule, “Imperative Dancing,” on her propensity to “shake her butt involuntarily” to the music. When she occupies the king square, she demands that the other players shake along with her.

Her other favorites include “T-Rex Arms,” where all players need to keep their elbows attached to their sides, and the “Kick the Cup” rule. Kick the Cup came about as a play on the “Cup Rule.” A cup is placed at the center of the square, and if somebody knocks it over, they are out. Kick the cup then dictates that a player who is out gets to kick the cup as hard as he or she can after getting out.

“It’s a nice consolation prize for losing,” she said.