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The Times (UK)
31 December 2001
A wizard game for Russian muggles

HARRY POTTER is so popular in Russia that aficionados have created a down-to-earth version of his favourite sport, Quidditch. In J. K. Rowling’s books, Quidditch is played in the air on broomsticks. Together with the staff of a Russian newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Alexander Maryin, of the Adventure Collection, a Moscow children’s club, has transferred the game on to an ordinary playing field.

In the Russian version, broomsticks are replaced by human beings who carry the players on their shoulders. The “human broomsticks” change places every five minutes to avoid exhaustion.

The dilemma of replicating the golden snitch, the small winged ball that plays a vital role in the game, was solved with pieces of string and eggcups. Two golden snitch prototypes were developed, one for younger players and the second for those who want more of a challenge.

The first consists of a ball on a string attached to a wooden egg cup. The idea is to throw the ball into the air and catch it in the egg cup. The second variation is a rod, on to which a ball with a hole in it is attached with a length of string: the aim is to spear the ball on the end of the rod.

The first Muggles Quidditch match was played in a temperature of -15C in Moscow last week.

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