Recently we’ve had opportunities to play two traditional Finnish games: pesäpallo and mölkky. Both were great fun – and I’d not decline the opportunity to play them again soon!

Mölkky skittles set up at the start of a game


Mölkky is (apparently) a simplified version of a much, much older Karelian game (kyykkä) – my best attempt to explain the concept simply would be that it is like playing 501 (darts) with skittles. I’ll not repeat the rules that are available online, but can say that this is a really fun and easy game – we played it during our church’s mid-summer retreat, and picked up the idea very quickly. I think it would work well at a braai or on the beach, and we’ll be making my own set one day. [Update: yes, after playing mölkky again, we’re sure it’ll be worth buying or making our own set!]

Pesäpallo in action (from WikiMedia Commons)


Pesäpallo is often called “Finnish baseball”, and superficially it does seem quite close to baseball. Indeed, the game was influenced by baseball but differs in a few crucial ways – most obviously that the ball is pitched vertically (i.e. thrown upward from the home base). This gives the batter much more control over the placement of the ball; however this is countered by there being a foul-line at the back of the field (i.e. hitting the ball out of the “park” is therefore a bad thing). You can find more detailed rules on Wikipedia (and links therein).

What next for us? Maybe Afrikan tähti (a boardgame) or Tikka (Finnish darts)… and how about curling in winter?

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