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Chinese love games in general and have their particular versions of Cards, Chess, and similar games

Topics on this page include:

Drinking Games
Chinese Chess
Mah Jong

Drinking Games

The standard Chinese drinking game is quite simple, unless you end-up getting 'Hammered'!

This is based upon calling two dice, which are shaken inside an upturned beaker. Rotation is normally anti-clockwise, but you can change this whenever you want, or call a specific person. They then have the same options, but often call you back. It goes like this:

1. People can come and go at will, so first confirm the number of players for this round
2. Players can number two or more, but over six gets a bit messy usually
3 . Everyone has a beaker and five normal dice. Upturn and shake on the table at leisure
4 . The very first caller could be anyone, or always the loser in subsequent rounds
5. Betting is done by 'blagging'. number 1 can be any number, and has other special rules. Numbers 2 to 6 are face value. Normally you start by opening with a bid one higher than the number of people playing. This can be fixed higher if a lot of people are playing - watch for this. Therefore 4 people playing means the first call is 5 of any number from 1 to 6, or higher call. Look at your dice and choose wisely
5. Calling. Let's say you have 3 x 4's and 2 x 1's = a good hand. You know that you alone have 5 x 4's, and the chances are most of the others present will have another 4 or 1, and often both. Hide your hand and risk it, or be stupidly safe and bet 5 x 4's. You will learn quickly as you play
6. People lie!
7. Perhaps 5 x 6's is a better opening call?
8. The basic game progresses until someone (Anyone) calls the person making the last bid. We then see who has what
9. The loser is either the person called if they do not have the numbered dice, or the caller if (s)he is wrong
10. The penalty for the loser is to drink a finger of beer = normally half a small glass (Square whiskey type)

Of course, this game is for fun and drinking beer, so other rules come into play, and things can get complicated - especially if you are losing heavily!

For instance:
A. You can call more than one person - but if you are wrong, so the penalty drink quantity increases
B. You can call "Only 1's" or "1 excluded". Depending on the rules in use, this can last for a whole round, or be over-ridden by the next player. It is more fun the second way
C. You can lie and call whatever you want - this is very common. Watch and learn who is doing what
D. Beware girls who can play this game. In '1 on 1' situations they can be lethal = mind-readers! They are usually only ok players with more than 3 people in a round
E. Some boys are lethal in larger groups

Remember you can quit at any time!

These games usually take place in noisy environments, so you need to know how to count and bet using the fingers of one hand only! It goes like this:
1. Index finger pointing outwards, hand parallel to your body, palm inwards
2. Index and middle fingers pointing outwards, hand parallel to your body, palm inwards
3. Index, middle and third fingers pointing outwards, hand parallel to your body, palm inwards
4. Index, middle, third and fourth fingers pointing outwards, hand parallel to your body, palm inwards
5. High Five with palm outwards. Can be made into a mouth closing (with your thumb)
6. Make a fist showing palm inwards - extend the pinky and thumb horizontally
7. Make a fist showing palm inwards - extend the index finger downwards, and thumb at 90 degrees
8. Make a fist showing palm inwards - extend the index finger towards 7 o'clock, and thumb at 90 degrees
Thumb and index finger to either side of your nose, palm inwards - draw hand away away and downwards
9. Make a fist and raise the index finger second joint
10. Make a fist

That's easy then! Bet by making two separate hand gestures. The first is your call, and the second the number you are waging on.

Bet 'No number 1 allowed' by making the bet above, then make a 'Thumbs-up' sign, and whisk it past your head in a backwards direction (Passed your ear)

For numbers higher than 10, you simply combine a fist (Number 10) with another number, as one motion - before making the second number deliberately as a separate motion

This is one of many Dice games, and the most popular. Other versions can have small draughts of rice wine as the penalty, and some are very lethal!

Chinese Chess or 象 (xiáng) 棋 (qí )

Originated in India a long time ago - as did English Chess. It is very complicated in a vaguely similar sort of way. However, some researchers believe chess was originally invented in China.

象 (xiáng) 棋 (qí ) translates to Elephant Game. In Mandarin it is written as either Xiangqi, Xiang Qi or Hsiang-Ch`i and pronounced "Shiang-Chi". In Cantonese it is written as Jeuhng Keih and pronounced "Junk Kay". The name is written as two Chinese characters. The first is used in the game for the Elephant piece. The second means strategy game, and it also signifies one of the four arts -- qin (music), hua (brush painting), shu (calligraphy) and qí (strategy games) -- that a Chinese gentleman scholar was supposed to be proficient in.

There is an excellent description of this game originally written by Hans Bodlaender and subsequently edited by Fergus Duniho. This is well supported with pictures and graphical descriptions of the pieces. Information on this link below:

Mah Jong

A very common game in China, that should be played for money ... except Gambling is illegal in China

To the uninitiated, this game will appear to be quite baffling, as will the different ways of spelling it's name in English.

Below are some useful links to help you understand this game:

• Simplified version -
• Scoring system -
• Full Rules version -

Chinese Poker or Sap Sam Cheung (十三張)

There are many card games, a most of which follow normal Poker rules as according to Hoyle. Other card games can be quite curious!

The standard poker game played in Southeast China, Vietnam and East Asia is called simply '13 Cards'. Do not confuse this with another common game called 'Big Two'.

You can find a good description of this game on the link bellow:
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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