People play this ping pong variant, under different names, all around the world.

Play with any number of players, each has one paddle. There’s one ball for all. In general, hit ball and move to your right. When you flub a shot, you’re out. The last two players face off. He or she who wins two out of three points wins the Runaround. Everyone comes back to the table. In Berlin they hit the table with the stubby end of the paddle handle. The sound summons everyone. The whole cycle takes maybe 4 minutes.

Runaround is a game of attrition where you cooperate. If big, the group starts with a slow walk, then faster, then they run, then they scramble.

However, we like to play Runaway (or “Round the World”) as a game where you cooperate to keep everyone in a jog that circles the table. The volleys last a long time. The group gets in rhythm. Everyone listens to the sound of people’s breaths, the feet as they hit the ground, the pock sound of the paddle hits the ball. Everyone dreads the gong sound of the ball hitting the net. No slams—until the two-person final: Reserve the kill instinct until you have only one opponent—if you make it to the final.

One player holds ball, serves, moves along table counterclockwise, to the right. Receiver of serve returns shot, and moves to right.