Rules for playing "Zoom Schwartz Profigliano"

An updated version of the Kingsian rules is available as of 2012: Here.


ZSP is a game for at least four players. Five is immeasurably better, six or seven is optimal. More than eight often results in overly long periods of inactivity for most players. It takes time: a good ZSP session will occupy an entire evening. ZSP is social game, it is a gentlemen's game. But most of all, it is a drinking game. Besides the players, a generous amount of beer is required. ZSP is essentially an ongoing conversation within the group of players.

The players sit in a circle of sufficient circumference to allow each player to easily see all others. The list of words that may be used is finite and well-defined.

The game is started by one player reciting all the words that will be in play for the current game (this is called the "preamble") followed by one word from the list that begins a conversation. At any given time, it is exactly one player's turn to speak. The conversation continues until a player speaks out of turn, uses an illegal word, or violates the rules associated with the word spoken. This player (or players, should multiple fouls occur) must drink, and is then responsible for restarting the game. It may seem that very little drinking will go on in such a game. Try it.


This is the complete list of words used in officially sanctioned ZSP play. Not all words are necessarily in play for a given game. Each word has a verbal, a visual and a semantic component. That is, each word has a way it is pronounced. Mispronouncing a word is a foul. Each word also has a direction or target the speaker must be looking toward when the word is spoken. In general, the player must look at whom they are addressing. For many words, though, this would result in a foul. Finally, each word has a meaning. The meaning of words is easily the most complex facet of ZSP. Some words change the meaning of the following word. Some words change slightly in meaning depending on the overall state of the conversation. Some words place restrictions on the words the next player may use. Each word is given a "logical equivalent" phrase to help in understanding. But be warned: there is really no perfectly equivalent phrase for all words.

There are two kinds of active conversations in ZSP: a two-player and a three-player conversation. A two-player conversation may be called a "zoom", and the players are said to be "in a zoom". A three-player conversation is usually called a "volvo", and the players are said to be "in a volvo". Which kind of conversation is active changes the meaning of some words. There is only one active conversation at a time: any word that creates a new conversation also terminates the previous one. Often some players from the terminated conversation remain in the new one. These players are said to be "inherited".

Verbal: Zoom rhymes with room.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: ZOOM is one of the most basic words in ZSP. Many other words are said to possess an "implied zoom function". Its function is to put the speaker and the player spoken to into a two-player conversation. The zoomed player is always made part of the active conversation, this conversation always includes the zoomer, and it is always then the zoomed player's turn to speak. There is one simple rule governing the word ZOOM: it is a foul to zoom any player who is already in the active conversation. During a three-way conversation, ZOOM effectively terminates the current conversation and opens a new two-player conversation between the zoomer and the zoomed.
Logical Equivalent: "Let's talk"

Verbal: Schwartz rhymes with quartz. There is no vowel sound bewteen the SCH and the W: shwarts not sha-warts. "Shorts" is a foul.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: SCHWARTZ, like ZOOM, is a base word. Many other words function exactly like SCHWARTZ. It is a simple word. It means that the conversation continues unchanged in shape or status, with the schwartzed player now being obliged to speak. There is one simple rule governing SCHWARTZ: you must be in conversation with the player schwartzed. If you are not, it is a foul.
Logical Equivalent: "OK"

Verbal: Profigliano has five syllables: pro-fig-lee-ah-no, per-fig-lee-ah-no.
Visual: The speaker must look at a player OTHER than the one to whom they are speaking. Semantic: PROFIGLIANO is a SCHWARTZ word. That is, it has the exact same function as SCHWARTZ, with the subtle but devastating difference that the the player the profiglianoer looks at is NOT the player to whom they are speaking. This is the first, simple rule governing PROFIGLIANO: you may not look at the player to whom you are speaking. The player to whom you are speaking (but not looking at) is in exactly the same position that would result had you schwartzed them. In a two-player conversation, the player to whom the profiglianer is speaking is clear: there is only one player they could possibly be addressing. In a three-player conversation, there MAY BE no such clarity. In the case where the player LOOKED AT at is outside the three-player conversation, it is assumed that the player in the conversation to most recently speak is the addressee of the PROFIGLIANO. In the case where the player LOOKED AT is part of the three-player conversation, it is implicit that the OTHER player is the addressee. This "player to most recently speak" rule is used for many other words which, like PROFIGLIANO, do not always make clear which player is being addressed. However, there are words that remove the speaker from the conversation. Following such a word, if PROFIGLIANO (or a similar word) is used, it is assumed that the addressee is the remaining active player, not the "last to speak".
Logical Equivalent: "Look!"

Verbal: Like Boy-Ink as one syllable.
Visual: The speaker must look down at their lap or their feet.
Semantic: BOINK is another SCHWARTZ word. Like PROFIGLIANO, the player addressed is not always made clear by the visual component. The same rules as PROFIGLIANO apply. Note that a head movement, dropping the chin to the chest, is required to fulfill the visual requirement. You can't look at your lap by having you head level and just looking downward. You must look at your lap.
Logical Equivalent: "Whatever".

Verbal: Bell-veh-deer
Visual: The speaker must look directly upward.
Semantic: BELVIDERE is a ZOOM word. The meaning of BELVIDERE is to zoom the player to the speaker's left. Thus BELVIDERE has the "implied zoom function" mentioned earlier. It is important to note that this "implied zoom" does not carry the same prohibitions as ZOOM. That is, it is legal to belvidere when the player to your left is already in the active conversation (in which case it acts as a SCHWARTZ to that player). BELVIDERE changes meaning slightly when used by a player in a three-player conversation: in this case the player in the conversation who is the first to the speaker's left is the addressee, and therefore a BELVIDERE inside a three-player conversation is always equivalent to a SCHWARTZ.
Logical Equivalent: "Hey, you on my left!"

Verbal: Like Beep-Beep, but with Ms.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: MEEP-MEEP is unique. Its meaning is to drop the speaker from the active conversation. The player spoken to must be part of the active conversation. Aside from the fact that the speaker has retired from the conversation, the player spoken to has, in effect, been schwartzed. In two-player conversations the one remaining player is obliged to ZOOM (implied or otherwise) someone. In a three-player conversation, MEEP-MEEP results in a two-player conversation between the remaining players. Note that the "implied schwartz function" means that the player meep-meeped must now speak.
Logical Equivalent: "Bye now"

Verbal: Quaffle rhymes with waffle. Kwaf-ful.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: QUAFFLE is one of a few words in ZSP that can be interpreted as a question. Its meaning is to require the quaffled player to repeat the word used immediately before the QUAFFLE. QUAFFLE has an "implied zoom function". That is, the quaffled player (if not already in the active conversation) has also been effectively zoomed. Unlike BELVIDERE, a QUAFFLE to a player outside a three-player conversation terminates the three-player conversation and establishes a two-player conversation (perhaps very briefly). It should be noted that while the word must be repeated, the target of the word may be changed (in some cases, like ZOOM, it must be) assuming it is legal to do so. See the word FLESH for special cases.
Logical Equivalent: "What just happened?" HEDGE
Verbal: Hedge rhymes with wedge. Use a dictionary.
Visual: The speaker may look anywhere, or even close their eyes.
Semantic: HEDGE is the equivalent of BELVIDERE, except that the player to the right of the speaker is zoomed. It has the same "implied zoom function" and the same modification when used in a three-player conversation.
Logical Equivalent: "Hey, you on my right!"

Verbal: Wembley has two syllables: wem-blee
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: WEMBLEY is a complex word that can be largely, but not entirely, described as a combination of MEEP-MEEP and ZOOM. Like MEEP-MEEP, the speaker retires from the conversation. Like ZOOM, the player spoken to is made part of the conversation. WEMBLEY can only to spoken when the speaker is in conversation with at least one other player. The wembleyer retires from that conversation, and is in effect replaced in that conversation by the player spoken to. Any three-player conversation is "collapsed" by WEMBLEY, resulting in a two-player conversation. This conversation is between the wembleyed player and the "inherited" player, who is determined as follows: for a WEMBLEY from a two-player conversation, it is obviously the one remaining player. For a WEMBLEY from a three-player conversation to someone outside the conversation, it is the remaining player to most recently speak. For a WEMBLEY inside a three-player conversation, the "collapse" obviously leaves the wembleyed player and the one other remaining player. Note that a WEMBLEY inside a two-player conversation is a foul. In any event, it is the wembleyed player's turn to speak and they are required to use a word that gives the next turn to speak to their partner in the current conversation. That is, they cannot zoom into a new conversation immediately, but must use a word addressed to the player in the active conversation. This prohibition would include any word with an "implied zoom function" that denies that player the next turn.
Logical Equivalent: "YOU talk to 'em"

Verbal: Xavier has three syllables: eks-zav-yer
Visual: The speaker must look at a player OTHER than the one to whom they are speaking.
Semantic: XAVIER is very much like WEMBLEY, with one crucial difference. Like WEMBLEY, the player LOOKED AT is made part of the current conversation, the speaker retires from the conversation and is replaced by the player LOOKED AT. But with XAVIER the addressed player is not the player looked at, but like PROFIGLIANO is a player already in the conversation. Again, any three-player conversation is "collapsed". It is the addressed player's turn to speak, and like WEMBLEY there are restrictions placed on the words they may use. They are required to use a word that gives the next turn to speak to the player LOOKED AT during the XAVIER. From a three-player conversation, the same rules for determining the inherited player apply as for WEMBLEY. That is, an XAVIER to someone outside the conversation means that the remaining player to most recently speak is the addressee. Inside a three-player conversation, the two remaining players are the xaviered player and the addressee. See ADOLPH for example cases of inheritance.
Logical Equivalent: "Talk to that person instead"

Verbal: Flesh rhymes with mesh.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: FLESH is a unique word, similar to QUAFFLE and having implications for the response to QUAFFLE. Like QUAFFLE, it has an "implied zoom function" when addressed to a player outside the active conversation, terminating the current conversation. Like QUAFFLE, it forces the fleshed player to respond in a certain way, which is: the fleshed player must look at someone with whom they are in conversation and say exactly one word, any word, that is in play for the current game. Any word, in response to FLESH, always means SCHWARTZ. The usual meaning and visual requirements of the chosen word are not in effect: the meaning of the chosen word is SCHWARTZ and the visual requirement is the same as SCHWARTZ. This suspension of the normal meaning and visual requirement is in effect only for this response to FLESH. There is one exception to this: if after the FLESH, the player "schwartzed" in response then says QUAFFLE, the quaffled player must respond with the same word as was chosen in response to the FLESH, and must use it as it was used: it means SCHWARTZ. The meaning of QUAFFLE is consistent - the quaffled player must repeat the last word spoken - the point is that what must be repeated is not only the word spoken, but also the meaning the word had when it was spoken.
Logical Equivalent: "Mention a word"

There is a long-standing tradition (though scoffed at by purists) to include an option word in the preamble, called "F-OLOGIST". If included in the preamble it MUST be inserted after FLESH and before VOLVO. The preambling player has the right to include or skip this word. If skipped, the word is not in play for the current game. A short but memorable phrase must also be agreed upon.
Verbal: Actually pronounced kind of something like "Fuckologist".
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: F-OLOGIST is certainly a very unique word. It has the "implied zoom function", exactly like QUAFFLE or FLESH. Its meaning is to require some, or all of the players in the game (not necessarily in the active conversation) to raise their beer and say the agreed upon phrase. The f-ologisted player has the next turn to speak. The rules of who must say the phrase are as follows: If the f-ologisted player is part of a three-player conversation, only those players in that conversation are included. If not, everyone is included. Any player not included who says the phrase or any part of it has fouled, and any player included who fails to say the phrase has fouled. Note that an F-OLOGIST in response to FLESH is not an F-OLOGIST at all, nor is any repetition of the "fleshed" F-OLOGIST by QUAFFLE. However, the repetition of a normal F-OLOGIST by QUAFFLE is an F-OLOGIST. Raising one's beer but remaining silent in an attempt to get others to foul is legal. Saying the phrase in a side conversation is a foul. Close attention should be paid to laggards who wait until the phrase is started before joining in. Ideally, the phrase should be chanted in unison.

Verbal: Volvo, like the car. "Vovlo" is a foul.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: Thus far there has been much discussion of three-player conversations, but no words that create such conversations. VOLVO is the first such word. VOLVO is similar to WEMBLEY, with the difference that the speaker does not retire from the conversation, but remains to form a three-player conversation. Therefore, in order to use VOLVO the speaker must already be in conversation with at least one other player. The player volvoed must be outside the active conversation. It is the volvoed player's turn to speak, but unlike WEMBLEY, there are no restrictions as to who may be addressed. When volvoing from a two-player conversation to a three-player conversation, the players involved are clear. When volvoing from an existing three-player conversation, the player to speak immediately before the volvoer remains in the new conversation with the volvoer and the volvoed player, while the other player is dropped. See ADOLPH for some subtle implictions of the "inheritance rules". Logical Equivalent: "Join us" ADOLPH Verbal: Adolph has two syllables: ay-dolf Visual: The speaker must look at a player OTHER than the one to whom they are speaking. Semantic: It may be said that ADOLPH is to VOLVO as XAVIER is to WEMBLEY. That is, like VOLVO the player LOOKED AT must be outside the active conversation and the speaker must already be in conversation with at least one other player. Like VOLVO, the player LOOKED AT is brought into the conversation with the speaker and one other player to form a three-player conversation. But like XAVIER the player looked at is not the player addressed. Like XAVIER, the player addressed is the player the speaker was already in conversation with. Again, in the case of adolphing from a two-player conversation to a three-player conversation, the addressee is clear. And as always, when adolphing from an existing three-player conversation, the player to speak immediately before the adolpher is the addressee (but see below). The adolpher, the player looked at, and the addressee form the new three-player conversation. In some combinations, the "last player to speak" rule does not really apply. It may be better formulated as the "last player to speak unless they retired, then whoever's left" rule. For example, assume players 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are playing ZSP. Player 1 preambles, and ... 1 zooms 2 (1 and 2 are in conversation, 2 to speak) 2 xaviers 3. (2 retires, 1 and 3 in conversation) (1 was addressed and must address 3) 1 adolphs 4 (3 was addressed and is inherited; 1, 3 and 4 in conversation) (3 to speak. NOTE: 3 is inherited without speaking). Logical Equivalent: "Let's talk to this person" COUNTER Verbal: Counter as in one who counts: cownt-er. Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to. Semantic: COUNTER is a deceptive word: it looks easy but it is not. The meaning of COUNTER is not the hard part: it has the "implied zoom function" like QUAFFLE and FLESH, and like those words requires the countered player to respond in a specific way. The player must use ZOOM in response to the first use of COUNTER in a round, SCHWARTZ for the second, PROFIGLIANO for the third, and so on through each of the words in the preamble. After the response to COUNTER is the last word in the preamble, the next response to COUNTER starts over at ZOOM. Note that for the purposes of COUNTER, CHAN is exactly like SCHWARTZ. The hard part about COUNTER is getting everyone to agree what the correct word is. It is not uncommon for COUNTER to bring the game to a screeching halt while everyone argues over whether the respondant fouled. This is a sticky point, because in all other cases the issue can be resolved by going over the last three or four words of conversation, while with COUNTER it can degrade into a matter of opinion. Be forewarned.
Logical Equivalent: "Next word!"

Verbal: Chan as in Charlie Chan.
Visual: The speaker must look at the player spoken to.
Semantic: ZSP is a gentleman's game. CHAN exists solely to provide, within the rules, a countermeasure for ungentlemanly play. For this reason, it is often omitted from the preamble. It may have been noted that the words QUAFFLE, FLESH, and COUNTER allow a player to monopolize the conversation. A player can, having been schwartzed, say QUAFFLE, forcing the response SCHWARTZ and then repeatedly say QUAFFLE on their turn. Likewise with FLESH and COUNTER. If any player uses QUAFFLE, FLESH, COUNTER, or any combination of these words for four or more consecutive turns as described above, each player addressed by the fourth or greater instance has the option to respond with CHAN. This is the only case when CHAN can be used (except as a response to COUNTER or a normal FLESH, but see below). CHAN requires the channed player to use a word other than QUAFFLE or FLESH in response. Note that it is not a foul to say CHAN is response to a first, second or third FLESH, but the CHAN only has the ability of CHAN to break the player's hold on the game when used as the fourth or subsequent response. It is expected, but not a rule, that any player who is channed will drink out of shame.
Logical Equivalent: "Cut it out!"


A game of ZSP begins with the preamble. At the beginning of the session, it is customary for the least experienced player to start the first game. If all players are equally experienced, it is the last to arrive. Any mutually agreeable method may be used to select the first player to preamble. Thereafter, it is the player whose foul ended the previous game who must preamble. In the case of multiple fouls, a player who spoke out of turn has precedence over one who fouled on their turn. There are many rules covering the preamble, as well as many traditions. It is traditional, but not required, that the preamble be introduced with a phrase that gives warning that the preamble is about to begin. The most common is "The name of the game is...". The preamble itself is a recitation of all the words in the game. The words must be given in a very definite order. Other words may not interrupt the order, nor may any word be repeated. The list may be ended and the game started anywhere after the third word. In this case only the words included are in play for the current game. The use of a word not in play is a foul. The order the words must be given in is: Zoom Schwartz Profigliano Boink Belvidere Meep-Meep Quaffle Hedge Wembley Xavier Flesh F-ologist Volvo Adolph Counter Chan One very important rule is that once a player has said "Zoom, Schwartz, Profigliano..." the preamble has been started and must be completed within the rules and a game begun. Even a non-fouling player MUST complete the preamble and start a game if they have said these three words, in order, with no intervening words. To fail to do so is a foul. Note that the words must be correctly pronounced, but the visual component is not required. Please note that any reference to written material by the preambler is prohibited. It should be pointed out that while a player is preambling, it is traditional for the other players to attempt to distract them (verbally) and cause a foul. While the preamble is underway, the other players may say words from the preamble, but once it is completed and the game is started, using these words is an out-of-turn foul. But should any of the heckling players be foolish enough to say the first three words in order, they have started a second preamble, which is a foul. Pausing between words is allowed, but vocalizations like "um" or "er" or laughter are fouls. Once the preamble has been completed, the player must then use a word to start the game. Depending on how many words were included the possible words are: Zoom, Belvidere, Hedge, Flesh, F-ologist and Counter.


Fouls are often blatant, sometimes subtle. Any player can call a foul. If the majority of players agree that the foul was committed, the player called must drink. If not, the caller(s) drinks. How much? ZSP is a gentleman's game, and the rule of thumb is "a healthy swig". At times, especially for an out-of-turn foul, it may be possible for the game to continue while the fouler drinks. Fouls generally fall into the following categories:

Mispronunciation: The words should be stated clearly and correctly. Allowances should be made for regional accents. How closely to call pronunciation is a matter of taste, but it is always stricter for the preamble. Multiple syllables cannot be separated by more than the briefest pause. Vowels count. Intonation and accenting are up to the speaker: "PRO-fig-lia-no", "pro-FIG-lia-no" and "profigliano?" are all legal.

Incorrect or inadequate visual component: The visual component must be applied for the entire pronunciation of the word. The eyes cannot start the word on one player and end somewhere else, or vice-versa. Depending on the seating, a head movement may need to be added to that of the eyes to make clear who or what is being looked at. It is the responsibility of the speaker to make sure that it is possible for all players to discern where they are looking. This certainly does not prohibit the zooming of someone who has turned away from the speaker. Each player is also responsible for paying attention and knowing who to watch. ZSP is a gentleman's game. A legal BOINK requires a head motion downward to address one's lap. It is tempting to shoot off an XAVIER while the boinker is in this vulnerable position, but it is expected that the boinker will be given a chance to bring their head to a neutral postion before the next word is spoken. Again, it is the boinker's responsibility to do this quickly, without breaking the pace of the conversation. There is no obligation to allow for the severe disorientation that results from drinking heavily, then rapidly moving one's head.

Illegal words: These are usually obvious to anyone familiar with the rules. The most common subtle errors are the failure to comply with the addressing restrictions for WEMBLEY and XAVIER, and to repeat the "schwartz" function of a fleshed word. One point to be made is that only the first foul of a "cascading" set of fouls is called. For example, if a wembleyed player illegally zooms someone, the fact that the zoomed player responds is not a foul, nor is it a foul for the player who had to be addressed to speak anyway. Only the illegal ZOOM is called.

Out of turn: This is usually manifested by two players speaking at once. If the proper player's word was intelligible and there is no doubt as to who fouled, play may continue if the general flow is not broken and all players allow. This category includes fouls by players who use a preamble word in a side (non-ZSP) conversation, in this case it is hoped that the game can continue. In the case where one player speaks, but is out-of-turn, there is no foul charged to the player who should have spoken, unless an unacceptably long silence preceded the out-of-turn foul.

Silence: This is the opposite of out-of-turn, the failure to speak in turn. A conversation usually has a discernable "pace" and players are expected not to break it. Allowances should be made for inexperienced players, but not too much. Although this is a judgement call, experienced players say "you know silence when you hear it."

Interference: Once the game has started, quiet informal side (non-ZSP) conversations are permitted (if unwise). If any such conversation interferes with play, it is a foul. Also, any physical interference during play or the preamble is a foul.


It is wise to introduce new players to the game slowly. At first, use only the first three words until everyone gets the general feel of play. Then add BOINK, BELVIDERE and MEEP-MEEP. Add more words as the session progresses, and USE them. By the end of a few hours, everyone should be able to play with the full preamble. Be sure to explain each word clearly and completely. Provide examples. Then prey upon the weak, or they will never learn. A note on strategy: experienced players know that planning ahead is unwise. "To plan is to drink", they will say. It is better to go with the flow and react. It is difficult to get someone else in trouble without placing yourself at risk, but fun to try. Experienced players can often be spotted by their habit of leaning as far back in their chairs as they can, in order to see as much of the conversation as possible without turning their heads. In times of high stress, like rotating VOLVO-ADOLPH combinations, they may use their hands to keep track of inherited players. There are two very common ploys to draw fouls.

The first is the "head fake". It will be noted that players tend to follow the conversation, keeping their eyes on the player whose turn it is to speak. A ZSP game will often resemble a tennis match. To "head fake" is to look at a player, eyebrows raised in anticipation of their speaking, in an attempt to convince them it is their turn to speak. The second is the "feint", where a player leans forward, draws breath, opens their mouth... and remains silent. Responding to a head fake with a feint often causes players to miss their turn. There are also a number of combinations of words that are known to strike fear into the hearts of even the most experienced players, such as the aforementioned VOLVO-ADOLPH.

Another is the FLESH-QUAFFLE-QUAFFLE. Either WEMBLEY or XAVIER from inside a volvo is a killer. Please, please refrain from trying these out until you know what you're doing. There are many traditions associated with ZSP. First and foremost is that it is a gentleman's game, and players are expected to acknowledge fouls without prompting. MEEP-MEEP is meant to be used sparingly, and in cases of need. Like the bathroom or a fresh beer. Overuse of MEEP-MEEP should be met with merciless zooming. BELVIDERE and HEDGE have produced the tradition of swapping seats between or even during rounds.