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Foosball or Table Football is a table-top game based on football (soccer), and invented by Alejandro Finisterre, an editor and poet from Galicia, Spain.

Alejandro Finisterre was injured during one of the fascist bombings of Madrid during the Spanish civil war. Seeing many children injured like himself in the hospital (i.e. unable to play football), he thought of the idea, which was borne from the concept of table tennis. Finistere credits his friend Francisco Javier Altuna, a Basque carpenter, for making the first table football following the directions he gave him. Although the invention was patented in 1937, Finisterre had to escape from the fascist coup d'état to France, and he lost the papers of the patent in a storm.

Table football is also known in the US as Foosball (from the German Fußball: literally "football" in the European sense, or "soccer" in American English). In German itself it's called Kicker or Tischfußball. The Spanish for table football is futbolín. In Argentina it is called metegol. In France, the game is called Baby-foot. In Turkey it's called langırt, the onomatopoeic word describing the sound when playing. In Italy, its name is calcio balilla, calcetto or biliardino. In Chile, it goes by the name of taca-taca. In Portugal, it goes by the name of matraquilhos, or matrecos. It is known as Jitz in some regions in Canada. In Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, it goes under the name of karambol as well as stolni nogomet in Croatia only. In Bulgaria it is known by the name "djaga" or "djagi"

The game

Drawing of a Tornado (American) style tablePlayers attempt to use figures mounted on rotating bars to kick the ball into the opponent's goal. A ball may travel at speeds up to 75 mph in competition. Most of the time it is hard to even see the ball, it is more of a blur. The sport/game/simulation requires quick reflexes with a delicate touch using the player's fine tuned motor skills, control and knowledge.

The basics include 'passing' the ball, where you have the ball in your possession with one bar, and pass it to another bar, and 'shooting', where you find a hole in the defense and attempt to score.

The winner is determined when one team scores a predetermined number of goals, say 3 or 11. A two goal victory is most often required. In competition, every ball that enters the goal is counted, unless the player or players on the scoring team broke a rule during the play. Large events have referees that determine the infractions and penalties.

A foosball table can vary in size, but is typically about 4 ft long and 2 ft wide. The table usually contains 8 rows of "foos-men", which are plastic, metal, wooden, or sometimes carbon-fiber figures mounted on horizontal metal bars. Each team of 1, 2, or 3 human players controls 4 rows of foos-men.

The arrangement of the foosballers is standard. Looking from left to right on one side of the table, you see:

Row 1 Your goalie 1 foosman (sometimes 3)
Row 2 Your defense 2 foosmen
Row 3 Opponent's attack 3 foosmen
Row 4 Your midfield 5 foosmen (sometimes 4)
Row 5 Opponent's midfield 5 foosmen (sometimes 4)
Row 6 Your attack 3 foosmen
Row 7 Opponent's defense 2 foosmen
Row 8 Opponent's goalie 1 foosman (sometimes 3)

Foosball is often played for fun in pubs, bars, workplaces, schools, and clubs with few rules. "House rules" often include a ban on spinning your foosmen, so one's hand must maintain continuous contact with the handle. And also the off-The-Feed rule, where if the ball is scored before it touches a player or bank the goal is given to the team who had been scored upon.

Foosball is also played in official competitions organized by a number of national organizations. Organized competition can be traced back to the 1940's and 50's in Europe. But the professional tours and bigtime money events began when the founding father of modern professional table soccer, Lee Peppard of Seattle Washington, USA announced a QUARTER MILLION DOLLAR TOUR in 1975. Peppard went on to award several million dollars in prize monies and since his Tournament Soccer Organization went out of business in 1981 several orgs and promoters have continued holding large purse professional table soccer events worldwide. An international organization named ITSF (International Table Soccer Federation) was established in August 2002 to bring together all of them, as well as organizing World Championships.

A Garlando style table with a game in progressA vast number of different tables exist. The table brands used on the world tour and official ITSF tournaments are "French-style" Bonzini, "American-style" Tornado, "Italian-style" Roberto-Sport, "Belgian-style" Eurosoccer/Wood (Jupiter/ABC). Other major brands include Kicker, Garlando, Löwen-Soccer, Warrior, Lehmacher, Leonhart, Smoby and many more. There was also a 7-meter table created by artist Maurizio Cattelan for a piece called Stadium. It takes 11 players to a side.

Differences in the table types have great influence on the playing styles. Most tables have one goalie whose movements are restricted to the goal area. On some of these tables the goalie becomes unable to get the ball once it is stuck out of reach in the corner; others have sloped corners to return the ball. Other tables have three goalies, one in the center and one in each corner to reach the ball so sloped corners aren't needed. Another major difference is found in the balls, which can be made of cork, plastic or even marble and metal, varying the speed of shots a great deal, as well as the "grip" between the man and the ball.

Foosball strategy varies greatly. With teams of one human each, it is impossible for each person to control all four rows of foosmen simultaneously. Some players keep the left hand always on the goalie or defensemen and move the right hand among the other three rows. More aggressive players may take up an attack with the offense and midfield, leaving the goalie unattended.

With practice, it is possible to learn very fast "set-piece" moves, including the "snake", "pull-shot" and "front-pin". The pull shot is where you position the ball near the top of the oppositions goal. Then you pull your bar, which moves the ball downwards, and you aim for the hole or corner that is no longer guarded. The snake and front-pin both involve pinning the ball, or clamping the ball with your men. That way one can sway either direction.

Source: Wikipedia

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