Ever play 4-way Tug of War? We did. Back in the 70s, I believe, during the Games Preserve days. Matt Weinstein and I introduced it at the world’s first Playfair, or at least the first time we used that name to describe the loving mayhem we were able to make manifest.
We paid a small fortune to get the ends of 4 very strong ropes woven around an industrial strength steel ring. Our main discovery was that after a short while, the lines would start moving, not back and forth, but side to side, as teams tried to create a different equilibrium. Move close enough to team B, who was positioned closely enough to team C, and you could all pull against team D. Conceptually, at least. Though of course, Team D would move the other way, and you’d either wind up with two teams pulling against two other teams, or people running circularly amuck.
You can purchase your own for around $295 from Wilderdom.
Which reminds me about another Games Preserve era invention, originally called the “Group Loop,” and a bit later, the “Danger Band.” We joined pieces of rope into a circle with pieces of inner tube, creating a wonderfully stretchy loop. 4 players would get into the loop, stretch it into something roughly squarish, and then two kids, standing opposite each other, would run across in an effort to exchange positions. This would cause the other two kids to pull apart, and then be impelled towards each other, at speed. Their objective was to avoid crashing into each other and secure positions at the opposite sides of the loop, which would then impel the other two kids towards each other. It was actually great fun, and, amazingly, no one got hurt. We later purchased, at significant cost, a wide band of the stretchiest rubber we could find, and found somebody to seal the band into a loop. This provided excellent stretchy bounciness, and, shortly after its premier, earned its rightful title as the Danger Band.
Today, you can find saner versions of the Group Loop from physical education equipment suppliers.