Archive for July 15th, 2012

This game requires hand and eye coordination as well as forward planning mentally to win.

Back in the old days (1950s), the roads were constructed using manual labor. Hot tar was poured on the road surface and small stones would be spread manually on top of the tar. Prior to the construction, the lorry would deliver these stones in small piles 20 yards apart. This was the source of good rounded stones for a pebble game. (chup sak chai – literally pick up stones).

There are many variations in the game but the essential skill of picking the pebbles from the floor is required. First you select a pebble from the 7 pebbles on the floor. Than you throw this pebble in up the air. Whilst the pebble is the air-borne, you use the same hand to pick up one or more pebbles from the floor. When that is done, you turn your hand around, open the palm of your hand without losing any picked pebble, catch the returning air-borne pebble and close your fist to complete the move.  If all the pebbles are still in your hand, you have succeeded in the move (you win).  Should any pebble falls off your hand, you lose.  Hence, the action in securing the ground pebbles and catching the air-borne pebble is now called the “move.”

The Game of 7 Pebbles:  In one variation of the game, you start with 7 pebbles in one hand. You then throw and spread the pebbles on the floor (preferable cement floor). Your task is to pick up the pebbles in three moves, picking one, two and three pebbles in each move.  After spreading the pebbles on the floor you make a visual inspection of the position of the pebbles and mentally decide how to win this game according to the rules.  After some thought, you strategically picked the lead pebble from the floor (the first air-borne pebble).  This pick should facilitate a grand plan in your mind to pick up one pebble in the first move, two pebbles in the second move and three pebbles in the third move. Whilst picking the pebbles from the floor, you are not allowed to touch any other pebbles.

For example,  in the first move,  you only pick up one pebble without touching any remaining pebbles on the floor.  In the second move,  you pick up two pebbles in one move without touching others. This move can be a scooping motion collecting 2 pebbles in one move or a multiple hand movement in collecting one pebble from one side and hoping over the pack of pebbles to collect the other one.  This move requires a lot of skill.  The third move then collects all 3 pebbles in once move.  To win any moves, you have to follow the rules.  For example, a clean pick-up of the pebbles,  safe catch of the returning air-borne pebbles and final closing of your fingers to secure all pebbles, is a successful move. Otherwise, you lose the move.

There are many pitfalls in this game particularly the desired pebbles to be picked up are too far from each other and you have not got sufficient time to pick them all up because your airborne  pebble has already returned to the ground.  Sometimes you pay too much attention in trying to avoid touching non-targeted pebbles and missed your air-borne pebble.  At times, it is impossible to do the move because it takes too long on the ground picking up the targeted pebbles.

When the all three moves are successful, you go to the scoring part of the game.  With all seven pebbles on the palm of your hand, you throw them up in the air gently, turn your hand quickly and allow them to land on the back of your hand. You then throw the pebbles up in the air again, turn your hand so as to use your palm to catch as many pebbles as you can.  The number of pebbles remaining in your palm is your score.  A total score of 100 wins the game.  You need to be skilful to catch 7 pebbles after throwing them up in the air twice.  The name for this part of the game is “ching kan” literally meaning weighing.

The person, who successfully weighed his score, continues to repeat the game. When a player loses a move in picking up the pebbles or scoring zero in weighing, the player loses a turn, and the next player takes up game.  The player who scored 100 points first, is the winner of the game.

Another variation of the pebble game is to have a more than 50-80 pebbles spread on the floor.  When the order of players is determined, the first player then picks up the pebble (s), using the “move” previously described.  The player has a choice of picking one or more, depending on his or her skills and the opportunity presented on the floor.  When you failed in a move,  the next player takes up the turn. When all pebbles are picked clean from the floor, the player with the highest score wins the game.


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