CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims priority of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/670,539, filed 12 Apr. 2005, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference as if fully recited herein.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the field of game tables. More particularly, the present invention is a device for providing a play surface for one or more popular drinking games.
There are many types of drinking games that require the use of a planar playing surface, especially a table. Among these are games commonly referred to as “Beer Pong” and “Flip-Cup.”
In “Beer Pong” and its variants, cups containing a beverage, typically an alcoholic beverage, are placed near opposing ends of the play surface, in a configuration determined by the rules of the particular game. The game is played by two sides, each side consisting of one or more players, but usually with an equal number of players on each side. The sides stand at the respective ends of the playing surface, behind one set of the cups. In turn, a player from each side attempts to propel an object, usually a ball, and typically a ping-pong ball, from the team's end of the playing surface into one of the cups at the opposite end of the playing surface, causing it to rest therein. In some variants of the game, the object is thrown; in other variants, the object is batted with a paddle or the like. In some variants of the game, the side on the offense has the opportunity to take two successive attempts.
Depending upon the particular set of rules adopted, the defending side may defend its cups. In one variation, no defense is permitted, yet in other variants, the defending side may use hands, a paddle or the like. If a ball comes to rest in a defending side's cup, the defending side must drink the contents thereof and the cup is removed from the playing field. When two balls are used and the offensive side is successful in landing both in the cups, the defensive side may be required to remove an additional cup from play and drink its contents. As cups are removed from play, some rule variations allow (or require) re-arrangement of the remaining cups. The side to remove all of the opponent's cups from the playing surface is the winner, and most rule variations require that the contents of any cups remaining on the winning side's end of the playing surface must be consumed by the losing side.
It is common to play the game of “Beer Pong” in a round-robin or elimination-type tournament, with many matches occurring in a venue on a number of playing surfaces. In such a format, the state of inebriation of each side may depend upon its success (or lack thereof) in prior matches.
The cups used in the game are usually of the disposable, plastic variety, typically with about a capacity of from about 10 to about 16 liquid ounces. A typical material for such a cup is poly(ethylene terephthalate), sometimes referred to as PETE. An amount of a beverage (usually 3 to 6 ounces) is added to each cup at the start of the game. Based on a 12-ounce can or bottle, about 2 to about 5 cans or bottles will be used per team per game to achieve this. A ping pong ball, with a nominal diameter of about 4 cm, will be about one-half the diameter of the open end of the cup, so it a reasonably sized for the game. Also, with its light weight and density, the ping pong ball keeps splashing down from that which would occur with a denser ball.
The preferred playing field for this game is from about six to about eight feet long, with a width in the range of from about two to about three feet. The cups are typically arranged within 18 inches from an end of the playing field, but usually no closer than about 4 inches from an end. As such, the preferred playing field is slightly shorter in length than a conventional table tennis table, and about one-half as wide. The preferred playing field is similar in shape and size to that of the surface of a door. The playing field is usually placed in a flat horizontal position about 29 inches off of the floor, that is, at the approximate height of a conventional table.
Until now, Beer Pong players have had to play the game on a variety of makeshift playing fields, including kitchen tables, homemade tables, and old doors, all of which are generally inadequate. Since the size of the playing surface is not standardized and because it is not primarily intended for use in the game, the cups are not placed consistently thereon. This can unfairly affect the difficulty of the game. To promote fairness, it is important that cups are placed in the same starting and regrouping positions on each end of the playing surface, and that this placement is consistent from game to game. It is therefore desirable for the game to be played on a surface that mandates the correct placement of cups.
Published US Patent application 2005/0029747 A1 to Grayson describes a drinking game cup holder that provides a plurality of cup-receiving openings. The holder places the cups within the holder in a correct relationship, but it does not provide a means for correctly positioning the cups at the opposite ends relative to each other. To this extent, the Grayson '747 published application exemplifies the fact that the game has been commonly played on a variety of make-shift playing fields.
Published US Patent application 2004/0188942 A1 to Trokan describes a non-alcoholic drinking game system, but the invention is concerned with the game rules and physical properties of the balls used in the game. While the published Trokan '942 discloses the triangular arrangement of the drinking cups used and the general size of the playing field used, it does not describe a playing field particularly adapted for use with the game.
“Flip Cup” is another drinking game that is played in many of the same venues as “Beer Pong.” In “Flip Cup,” two opposing teams line up across from each other at a table. Each player has a cup, filled with beverage. Starting at one end of the table, the first player on each team consumes the beverage in his cup and places the emptied cup, upright, along the table edge, with a portion of the cup bottom extending over the edge. The player strikes this portion of the cup bottom from below, attempting to flip the cup into an upside down position on the table. If the attempt is unsuccessful, the player places the cup again and repeats the flip attempt until successful. The game proceeds in the manner of a relay race, with each team member starting only after the prior team member has succeeded. The first team to successfully drink and flip all of its cups is the winner.
As with Beer Pong, Flip Cup can become very messy. The ability to contain spillage on the table is quite desirable. It is also desirable to have a landing surface that is slight lower than the flipping surface. It can be difficult to find a playing surface that is long enough to accommodate enough Flip Cup players, since Flip Cup is often played at large parties, where many players wish to participate.
Even in a commercial drinking establishment, it may be desirable to have a portable playing surface for playing games such as Beer Pong and/or Flip Cup, so that the playing surface may be readily moved for cleaning and may be readily stowed away when not in use.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is therefore an unmet advantage of the prior art to provide a standardized playing surface for drinking games such as Beer Pong and/or Flip Cup that is readily portable and easily cleaned after use.
This and other advantages are provided by a playing field for use with a drinking game involving a plurality of cups. The playing field comprises a planar playing surface and a means for maintaining the playing surface in a horizontal position. The playing surface is disposed on a planar member and is adapted for placement of the plurality of cups on the playing surface.
In some embodiments, the position-maintaining means comprises a planar surface opposite the playing surface, while in other embodiments, the position-maintaining means comprises a set of support legs.
In some embodiments, the planar member comprises first and second portions that are joined along an edge of each portion.
A plurality of cup-receiving recesses formed at each end of the playing surface provide for the placement of the cups.
In some embodiments, the playing surface is adapted for illumination from at least one light source positioned therebelow.
Many embodiments of the invention further comprise a raised edge around a periphery of the playing surface, particularly with a plurality of cup-receiving recesses along the raised edge on each of a pair of opposing sides of the playing surface.
The planar member may comprise a surface layer with a plurality of apertures therethrough, the surface layer affixed to an underlying layer so that the apertures and the thickness of the surface layer define the size and depth of the cup-receiving recesses. The surface layer is preferably polymeric material, especially an ABS material.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In a particular embodiment, the playing surface is from about six to about eight feet long and from about two to about three feet wide, each cup-receiving recess has a diameter in the range of from about 2 to about 2.5 inches and a depth of about 0.25 inches. The cup-receiving recesses are in a triangular arrangement of ten recesses near each end of the playing surface, with an apex of each triangular arrangement pointing at the opposite end of the playing surface.
The novel features and advantages of the present invention, in addition to those mentioned above, will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a reading of the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein identical reference characters refer to identical parts and in which:
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a playing field according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the playing field equipped with support legs to form a play table; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of an embodiment of the playing field equipped with support legs to form a play table.
In a first embodiment of the invention, a playing field 10 is provided for use with a drinking game involving a plurality of cups. As shown in plan view in FIG. 1, such a playing field comprises a member 12 with at least a front planar surface 14 that is adapted for receiving the plurality of cups in a configuration that is consistent with the rules of the drinking game. In the illustrated embodiment, the planar surface 14 is in the range of from about 6 to about 8 feet in length and from about two to about three feet in width.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the member 12 comprises first and second portions 16, 18, that are connected to each other along a common edge 20, so that the two portions form the planar surface 14. Connection of first and second portions 16, 18 can be achieved by a number of conventional means that will be known to those familiar with connecting table sections and the like to form a stable, planar surface, especially one that may be easily broken down in component parts for more compact storage. Once connected, the connecting means should retain the portions 16, 18 in position.
In the embodiment illustrated, each of the portions 16, 18 is adapted to receive one of the plurality of cups, in a configuration consistent with the rules of the game. In a variation of the game selected for illustration, ten recesses 22 are positioned in a triangular arrangement near each end of the playing field 10, similar to the arrangement used to arrange ten bowling pins in the game of bowling, with an apex of the triangle pointing at the opposing end of the playing field. Each recess 22 is sized and shaped to receive the base of a cup to be used in the game. A typical recess 22 will be circular with a diameter in the 2 to 2.5 inch range, and with a depth of 0.25 inches or less. The recess 22 is to provide approximate placement of a cup and not to retain the cup securely. The ability to tip the cup out of the recess 22 is a normal element of the game.
In some variations of the game, the removal of cups will result in re-arrangement of the remaining cups in the recesses 22. This is different, for example, from the game of bowling, where the standing pins are not re-arranged. To facilitate this possibility, the individual recesses 22 may be distinguished from each other by the placement of indicia, such as colors, letters or numbers, in or near each recess. In any configuration provided, it is anticipated that each end of the playing field 10 will be identically adapted for receiving the cups, both in terms of size and shape of the recesses 22 and any markings or indicia associated therewith.
A further feature of the present invention, while disclosed in FIG. 1, is considered optional, although it is a desirable option. A raised edge 24 is positioned around a periphery of the member 12, and particularly around a periphery of the front planar surface 14. In the illustrated embodiment, this raised edge 24 is about 2 inches high and about 4 inches wide. However, this width is intended so that the raised edge may be useful for playing the game Flip Cup, and in other embodiments, the width may be smaller. Also, the height of raised edge 24 may be varied. In the embodiment shown, a number of recesses 26 are located along an outer periphery of the raised edge 24 along the sides of the member 12. These recesses 26, which are typically the same size as the recesses 22, would be circular if they were positioned further inboard from the outer periphery. But, because they are centered less than one radius away from the outer edge, they allow a portion of the bottom of a cup placed in one of them to be exposed from below, enabling the flipping of the cup form below, in the manner described above with reference to the rules of Flip Cup. In a typical embodiment, these recesses 26 will be centered on a point that is about 0.5R away from the outer edge, where R is the radius of the recess 26.
Regardless of whether the raised edge 24 is provided with Flip Cup recesses 26, an inner periphery of the raised edge, particularly a continuous inner periphery, is useful with the game of Beer Pong by retaining spilled liquids, tipped cups, rolling balls and the like on the playing field 10.
While there are a number of construction techniques available for producing the playing field 12 of the present invention, the recesses 22 in the front planar surface 14 and the optional recesses 26 in the optional raised edge 24 suggest a construction based on laminated layers. A polymeric material, such as an acrylic material like poly(methyl methacrylate) or an ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) material, would be useful as a layer for the front planar surface. If this layer has the thickness of the recesses 22, then circular holes may be cut through the layer and the layer can be laminated to a solid underlying layer, thereby forming the recesses 22. In such an embodiment, selection of a transparent, and particularly, a colorless transparent, layer, provides a number of advantages, including the ability to place board markings on the underlying layer or permitting illumination sources, particularly LED lights, positioned in the underlying layer, to show through the top layer.
Similarly, raised edge 24 may comprise an upper and a lower layer of the selected material (or materials).
In some embodiments, and depending upon the materials selected for the layers, a further base layer or layers may be used, especially to provide structural support or stability to the playing field 10. This base layer is also useful for providing an appropriate surface for attaching legs or the like.
As shown in the perspective view in FIG. 2 and the side elevational view in FIG. 3, the member 12 has first and second support members 40, each of which is shown as being constructed of a continuous piece of metal that serves as a leg. However, in other embodiments the support members 40 may be shaped differently. They may be permanently affixed to the base layer of the member 12 or they may be removably attached. Those of skill in the art of constructing tables will readily appreciate the variations available for this issue. Preferably, one support member is provided at each end of the member, or, if the member comprises first and second portions 16, 18, one support member 40 should be provided beneath each portion.
Accordingly, the present invention is beneficial in that it provides Beer Pong players with a regulation-sized table that gives consistent positioning of game pieces and reduces spillage to the floor. The raised edge reduces spillage and game interruptions.
Having shown and described a preferred embodiment of the invention, those skilled in the art will realize that many variations and modifications may be made to affect the described invention and still be within the scope of the claimed invention. Thus, many of the elements indicated above may be altered or replaced by different elements which will provide the same result and fall within the spirit of the claimed invention. It is the intention, therefore, to limit the invention only as indicated by the scope of the claims.