The Chinese, as any visit to Las Vegas on Xmas will confirm, are inveterate gamblers. (Apologies in advance to the stastically significant number of Chinese Americans who spent Christmas at home with the kids watching It's a Wonderful Life. The number of card games, chess variants, dice games and other sports of chance I have seen Chinese people gambling on is amazing. However, I was once in a small town in Guatemala where for some reason a significant number of Chinese immigrants had gathered. Being from wildly different parts of China, speaking totally different dialects and essentially being unable to communicate, it seemed that no gambling would occur. Now, as most people know Chinese is logographic - that is, one sign stands for one word, and even people who don't speak each other's dialects can read each other's writing. This means that Fujianese immigrants who don't know Mandarin, high born Beijing denizens and busy Cantonese can all commmunicate through the written word. The group I was in being literate, a rapid exchange of characters took place on a cheap local napkin.

The result ended up making me lose $300 USD, (although I think I've made up for it dining out on the story). It also created a game that needs to be shared with the world. Essentially, among the packs of my traveling companions, only a simple, wooden chess set and a pair of old, yellow dice could be found. From this, the following rules were given: (with the understanding that the player to move would roll a pair of dice before each move)

1. Upon rolling an even number, the player playing would have to move a piece on a white square.

2. Upon rolling an odd number, the player would have to move a piece on a black square.

3. Any roll of 7 would force the player rolling would have to move a pawn on a square of either color.

If a player was unable to move based on the even/odd roll (for instance, he rolled a 3 and had no pieces on white squares) he would forfeit the pawn of his choice to the opposing player. If he had no more pawns, and rolled a 7, or rolled a 7 and could move no pawns, he would have to move his king.

Now, in order to make this REALLY interesting, after about a couple of hours, the players added a doubling cube like in backgammon. Believe me, if you think that you can guage who is going to win under these circumstances, you shouldn't bet...


As far as I know, once the group split up, the game was never played again. It was stored only in my memory, and is now offered here, on E2 in exclusivity (and if there is a Chinese version of E2 somewhere, then, who knows? Perhaps my doppleganger from Chengdu has posted it there...)

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