The players are divided into equal-sized groups, with each group having the name of a fruit. A circle is formed with a number of chairs equal to one less than the number of players. The players sit on the chairs, ensuring that members of each group are evenly distributed around the circle. One player will be left without a chair, and will stand in the centre of the circle. The player standing in the centre calls out one of the fruit names. When this happens, all players in that group must stand up from their seats and move to another seat in the circle. The player in the centre must attempt to take one of the free seats while the other players are moving.
A new Fruit Basket player will then be left in the centre, enabling the game to be repeated. If any player failed to move even though their group's fruit name was called, they are required to move into the centre and the player previously in the centre sits in their seat. Instead of stating a fruit name, the player in the centre may call "Fruit Basket Turnover!" or "Fruits Basket!", in which case everybody must move to a different seat.
There is often a restriction that the player must move to a seat not adjacent to their own. In some variants of the game, a player can be eliminated from the game, usually if they either fail to move when their fruit name is called, or are due to appear in the centre for two rounds in a row. Whenever a player is eliminated, a chair is also removed from the circle.
The Fruit Basket Turnover game bears some semblance to the game Musical Chairs.
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