When I first learned the game I assumed that it had been made up on the spot by my creative friends. However, to my surprise, I later met people from distant cities who knew how to play. This all occurred in the 1970s on the west coast of Canada and I expect that the habit of herbally enhancing many evenings added to the hilarity of the game
This game is often played with a penalty when an error is made. The penalty is usually downing a drink, making errors a certainty as the game progresses.
To begin the game, one person - the 'zoomer' - looks directly at a second and says 'zoom'. Thus there are now two persons in play and no more than two at any time.
The person zoomed has three choices:
They may look directly back at the zoomer and say 'schwartz'. This returns play to the zoomer who now has the same three choices.
They may look directly at a third person and say 'pefigliano'. This returns play to the zoomer, who now has the same three choices. The third person is not in play and should say nothing.
They may look directly at a third person and say 'zoom'. This makes the first zoomed person the zoomer and moves play on to the third person, who again has the same three choices. The first zoomer is no longer in play until zoomed.
When someone makes an error, this is called a 'splivitch'. The non-offending players all point an elbow at the offender and say 'splivitch'! That player then pays the penalty.
Possible splivitches include:
Saying 'zoom' back at the zoomer.
Being the zoomer and saying 'zoom' a second time to the other person in play. This is called a 'double zoom'.
Saying 'pefigliano' while looking at the other person in play.
Saying anything when someone looks at you and says 'pefigliano'.
Hesitating - a sort of Zoom-Schwartz block, as it were. Half-a-dozen faces stare at you in anticipation of your stunning riposte; having cunningly exchanged schwartzes three times running and all you can do now is stare blankly about, wondering where your mind has gone1.
Saying 'splivitch', with or without pointing your elbow, when no error has been made.
Of course, sober people have very little problem with what is really a simple game so it is usually played at a time when the players' judgment has been voluntarily impaired in some way. Although it is possible to play with only three persons, a larger group makes it more difficult and interesting.
There are other variations on the game, such as the one described in the entry on Party Games. There are also variations on the words used. Any words would do of course, so the game may well be called 'Phloink, Blintz, Onailgifep' in other parts of the English speaking world.