Chink, which is basically poor peoples racquetball, gets its name for the sound the ball makes when it hits the crack where the wall and the ground meet. Chink kept us busy and active for hours on end and was the source for much of my bragging rights. The reason the game was so popular is because of the equipment needed to play. All you need is a racquetball (or pimple ball) and an empty wall (usually a school yard or side of a commercial building). For this reason just about anyone could play chink, fifty cents for a racquetball and you’re ready.

The object of the game is simple, hit the ball and try to make the other person miss it.

There are a basic set of rules that you follow. First off there has to be boundaries, a left and a right boundary must be marked (or you can use chalk, cement cracks, doors, windows, drainpipes, etc). If the ball hits the wall outside these boundaries it is a point for the other person, some folks (novices) used to also create a rear boundary so you could not SLAM on them. When hit, the ball must hit the ground before hitting the wall, it can NOT hit the ground twice or the play is dead and the other person is awarded a point. When returning from the wall the ball may hit the ground ONLY once, more than once and a point is awarded to the other player. If the ball hits directly in the crack where the wall meets the ground you can call CHINK, which is basically a do-over, the play stops and the last person to serve gets the ball to start play again. This is because there is no clear cut way to determine if the ball hit the ground once before hitting the wall.

Play begins with a serve from one of the players. This person is determined in the usual way (shoot out, loser from last game, age, or just can get their ass kicked by the other player) before the game begins. The server has a duty to give a decent serve, the person getting the ball served to them also has the right to not play the ball and ask for a new serve. When served the ball must observe the rules, but ball must hit the ground first then the wall, just like normal play. Just like racquetball the ball is hit back and forth by each player until someone misses. When someone misses the other person gets a point and so on until the game point is reached. We used to play to 11 or 21 but you can use whatever number you want. There are many trick or speciality shots used in this game. Some for actual purpose and some just to brag about. Read on and we will outline just a few of the speciality shots…

The slam can be a very affective way to get yourself a back in the game, it can also kill you if not used right. The slam is when a weak ball is close to the wall and you SLAM it as hard as you can on a certain angle to make the ball go 50-100 feet behind you. This sends the other player far back into the court to hit the ball. BUT it also gives him the option to hit the ball to either side of the court if he gets to it, which will then leave you running! The SLAM is used most effectively when both players are in a heated battle close to the wall.

Master this shot and you will be feared in every school yard in the neighborhood. The SLICE is when a player gets low to the ground, swinging VERY hard with their hand inches above the concrete. When you make contact with the ball it zooms quickly just above the ground, slices the concrete and hits the wall just inches above the bottom. The trick is to put a backspin on the ball so when it returns from the wall it hits the ground and stops or does not travel to far. If this shot is done correctly it is very hard to defend. Only the most senior of player can make the necessary adjustments to play the ball. Even if he does he is usually in a position to get beat with the next shot, which is usually a SLAM. Because the player has to run very close to the wall to play the slice the slam is the best shot to send him deep into the court to try to play the ball. Perfect the slice and some player will ever get a chance to defend it off the serve.

The tap is used when your opponent is playing far back. You fake a SLAM or hard shot but just tap the ball. It makes the defender run full speed directly at a brick wall. This is a good tactic when a weak ball reaches the wall after a SLAM.

The skinner is a play when you find yourself stuck on one side of the court. The object is to skim the wall from the side and make it travel parallel with the wall. Remember the rules, it must hit the ground once before hitting the wall, after that your opponent is usually running into the street or across the schoolyard to get the ball! 馃檪

No get your kid off that friggin’ playstation and get him outside
playing. If your playing in Philly drop me a line and I will meet
you there!

37 thoughts on “Chink”

  1. In from south philly and go to central high school. We play everyday on our patio walls and I will play anyone who wants to. Some of the best chink players around are at central

  2. Wow! It's good to hear that there are those that still remember the game. In West Philly, we called it "Wall Ball". I tried to school a few young bucks a few summers ago but they couldn't keep up. I'm still interested in playing. Anybody else?

  3. I tried to teach my two teachers who are from Michigan and western PA what chink was. They thought I was being racist. I assured them it is a game only Philly kids know and they should return to their farm towns. This game is a classic and is much different from handball. Past summer days were filled with chink, stickball, and wiffleball. Those were the best days.

  4. For us, the CHINK shot hitting the wall and ground simultaneously was not a do-over, it was the perfect shot and was an unreturnable point. Usually when you hit a chink, the ball just rolled back to you. That made the CHINK the goal of the game.

  5. Great post and great thread. Grew up playing chink on the corner in South Philly in the late 60's early 70's. Always loved the game. I started my son playing when he was about 6. We live across from a playground, but summer nights the field is in use with softball leagues, and the b-ball courts are too busy for a little kid. One early evening I showed him how to play and he was hooked. He's 8 now and he and his best friend play all the time. It's also imperative that the dad's play.

    When I try to describe the game to other parents, unless they're from a city neighborhood, I often get a blank stare. The name "Chink" is always confusing and kind of off-putting. I did however, talk to another dad who grew up in Northeast Philly and he said they always called it "Ka-Chink" because of the pattern and the sound of the ball. Not sure if the name evolved from that, but it worked for me.

    Now if I can just find a decent pimple ball.

  6. I agree with you mike…definely longer rallies in a chink game. I have lived in NYC for 11 years and have watched many handball games. 2 different skill sets and strategies involved. chink is more about playing the angels and to borrow tennis terminology, has both a net game and a baseline game which lends itself to longer points. I'm fortunate to live close to a handball court in Brooklyn which is perfect dimensions for chink. I play with an old Philly friend several times a year

  7. I played chink at recess in grade school at Joseph H. Brown School in the early 1960's on Rhawn St in Holmesburg. We would have 20 or more kids playing and when you missed you were out. We moved away in 5th grade and I never found a playground with a the right wall to play again. I'm 57 now and would love to relive my childhood again by playing a one on one game a couple times a week to have fun and stay in shape. The thing I like about it is that its not as fast as racquet ball or squash and it allows for a more continuous game and a better workout.

  8. When I was a kid in Cheltenham in the 1970s, we played it with a big red ball, as Rocky said, and it definitely made a "chink" sound when it hit the wall or the ground. As I child, I assumed that the name of the game came from the sound; I hadn't heard the term used for Chinese at that time.

    I was just talking to somebody about insulting terms that are used in a way that has no connection to the insult (like, "welsh" on a bet has nothing to do with people from Wales), and I thought of the game chink, but he had never heard of it, so I Googled it. Nice to know I'm not the only one who remembers that game. 馃檪

  9. I have to differ with you, regarding the name. Chink' is the opposite of "handball"..which hits the wall first..then the ground. The opposite, or reverse' or 180 degrees ..would be the other side of he world..hence' China..Chinese ball…"Chink! As far as the sound, when you get a chink ball, it doesn't make a anything like the that of chink..matter of fact' I can't think of anything that makes a sound that could be referred a chink sound.Now' my reply may sound like we were a bunch of chumps' far from it brother! Growing up in Germantown, hanging on the corner in the 60's..we had to fight every other gang…'when we weren't trying to score with our girlfriends, drinking or playing Chink.. in the end..its the game that counts!..The best, most grueling street game there is!!!!

  10. We played this in the 60's and 70's in Roxborough.. Behind a bank and behind the "Pantry Pride" now a ShopRite…

  11. I played CHINK back in the early 70's in Upper Darby ,summertime playground activity. We played with a red ball a little bigger than your hand. The more people, the better. We also had what they called "milking", meaning that after the first round of play, (which could take a while) you were allowed to throw the ball at one of the players,peg them , and give them a point.Game could take hours to play. Brings back alot of good memories!

  12. played chink on the corner "tulpohocken&ogontz west oak lane" till we went in the service 1968..continued playing till 61 yrs old the "cut" you guys call it the .could win 10 points in a row easy! my friend, catman and myself will kick anyone's ass in chink!..we have a killer think ur good me. the name comes from it being the reverse of handball, hitting the ground first..hence the name CHINK..our cut rolls of the wall, all you can do is watch it! ashame there's no more pimple message board!
    living in philly.

  13. I taught my 8 year old this game the other day and he cannot get enough of it. I used to love it as a kid and still do 馃檪

  14. My God- would LOVE to play again!!! Was obsessed with it!!! NOBODY TO PLAY WITH!!! I'm 56 but feel pretty good!!! If I get KILLED, I get KILLED. So what? mark sassano spideymark401@


  16. Well in my school, Central High School of Philadelphia, chink was revived some time ago and we play it daily. If you're not good you're taken out quickly. The best of the best don't just play for bragging rights, we play for money. So if you want, we always play on our schools huge patio and there are three different walls at around 2:30. Whether you want to play against us or just bring back some memories you can come on by. CHS 270

  17. We played in Northwest philly at St Rays and a variation to the bottom of the wall were groves in the wall that when hit the ball would go directly down. We did it at recess, lunch and after school. After school we also added Ass ball in to the mix. Pimple ball!!!!!!! the best memories.

  18. I'm 67; we played Chink all the time in Atlantic City (South Inlet, Dewey Place). Rules were the same as yours, except we combined it with the game of Assball. Losers had to lean against the chink wall, bend at the waist, arms out in front on the wall. Winners got to throw the ball from across the stree as hard as they could, at the losers ass. Great fun….when you were 14!

  19. great posts. born and raised in kensington. we played this game with passion in mc pherson square, mc veigh and scanlon playgrounds. recently just started playing with another philly transplant in brooklyn. we found a handball court enclosed with a fence so we are able to play off of the fence.

    i loved this game as a kid and have enjoyed my weekend games. our only problem is that we are only 2 players. we are hoping to post on craigslist to recruit more players this summer.

  20. Grew up on Elmwood Ave across from 73rd Street Lanes. We used to play on 73rd street against Franks hoagie shop. Good times, late nights! Wiffle ball and fast ball with a wooden broom handle…hot summer nights.

  21. I remember this game too. It made it's way to Upper Darby in the late 80's, also called it chink or wall ball, depending on who you were playing with.

    It never really took off though. Wiffle ball and street hockey dominated.

    What I miss is the basketball games played with a piece of plywood and a milk crate. That was some serious impervised street ball. The abundance of $99 hoops from Wal-Mart killed that.

  22. Played back in 70's and early 80's…transplanted Germantown families brought it with them to the burbs…. Always time for a game of chink-a-dink…

  23. im from jersey, im 14, but my family all played when they were kids, and my cousin plays it and stuff so he showed it to me and i just love the game, and i brought it over here to my town. alot of my friends play it and stuff around here. only prob is not asmany brick walls and stuff we play on stores like wawa, kmart, acme, basically.

  24. Played this in SW Philly, 65th & Chester neighborhood. It was wall ball, not chink. The slice was known as a "grasscutter" to us.

  25. Used to play this game in elementary school in LA in the 80s, only we called it Handball. Most of the terminology was the same, except we called the situation where the ball hits the crack "Pops."

  26. Just reading this article and am amazed peoplr still play this game. Grew up in Philly (Parkwood), played it a few times a week along with stickball, halfball, hoseball, wallball, stepball, and the infamous wireball. Whatever happened to those days? OOPS! I forgot handball, and boxball. The handball I'm talking about is played outdoors and it's similar to stickball.

  27. Used to play chink in Southwest Philly on 73rd st across from the septa yard, we used the 73rd st lanes building as the big wall. The only sucky thing though was sometimes a slam would go right over the fence into the septa yard and we couldn't get it back! This was in the early 90s, like 91, 92.

  28. I remember playing "chink" when I was a kid growing up in Southwest Philly. Only Philly people know what chink is and how to play it, properly! gina b

  29. I am 16 years old and i play almost everyday at Torresdale playground i will kill you in chink anytime anywhere

  30. I'm from the Northeast and go to Central High School. We play after school for about an hour and it gets competitive. Some of the best are there at Central.

  31. Played it in Philly suburbs in the late 60's early 70"s. Played with several players at once (3-4) with a rear boundary. The loser had to crouch on knees, face to the wall and ground. The winners got three fast-ball throws each at the loser's butt. We played with a tennis ball.

  32. Played Chink on Myrtlewood St in Philly in the 60's and loved it. Watching the movie Fences brought the memories back. Went to Most a Precious Blood and played in the schoolyard ar recess also. Great memories.

  33. You guys still play at Central HS? Grew up with this game in South Philly. Looking for an opportunity to play again.

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