A game often played by children under the direction of adults (it requires someone who isn't playing to control the music).

Start with a group of players and a number of chairs (at least one fewer chairs than players). Turn some music on; the players all walk around the chairs while the music plays. At some random moment, the person controlling the music will turn it off and all the players will dive for chairs. The last person not sitting in a chair is out for that round. Then you take away at least one chair and start over, repeating until only one chair is left; the person sitting in it wins the overall game.

(Or you could do it like Bart Simpson's remedial class in one episode, where there were more chairs than players so no one was ever out.)

Tem42 suggests "It might be interesting to note that given the three standard rules of 1. no passing 2. no pushing and 3. no going backwards, that this is one of the few games to favor the slower children. Walking slower than the person in front of you means there are more chairs ahead of you. The faster, impatient children cut off their options by crowding the others."

Can be used as part of an expression. For example "What is this, musical chairs?" Used to express the feeling that everyone/everything is changing around you unpredictably. If Orion and guinea-pig change their IRC nicks to Sirius and Orion, it makes you wonder whether we are all involved in a cosmic game of musical chairs and nobody bothered to let you know. In fact, Orion and Sirius and guinea-pig are the same person. Strange world.

The Chair Game works best with ten or more players, a good kindergarten game. The players (hereafter called contestants for oomph) have one chair each, except for one. The chairs are placed back to back in a line, kind of like this:

< >
< >
< >
< >
< >

There can (should?) also be chairs at either end. The contestants now stand around the chairs, facing away from the chairs. Someone not playing the game (a kindergarten uncle, perhaps?) then puts on some music. When the music starts to play, the contestants move around the chairs (in the same direction). The game controller then stops the music suddenly, unexpectedly and all the contestants have to find a chair. This is naturally not possible, as there is one less chair than there are contestants. The person with no chair is out of the game. One chair is then removed.

The process repeats, and there are fewer and fewer chairs (and contestants). This can lead to overly desperate contestants fighting over a chair. When only one chair is left, the contestant who gets it is the winner. (D'Oh!)