Ô ăn quan (literally: Mandarin Square Capturing) is a traditional Vietnamese children's board game, primarily played by girls. This game is valuable for enhancing calculating ability.
A rectangle which is divided into ten squares (5x2) with two semicircles at each end is drawn on the floor or the yard. The ten squares are called "rice field square", "fish pond square" or "citizen square" and the two semicircles are called "Mandarin squares".Pieces may be stones, fruit seeds or any other small things.Two players or two teams sit in two sides of the board. Each controls one side of the board.
The game's origin is still a mystery to the Vietnamese people, as it has been played for many years. Many people say that Vietnamese ancestors were inspired by green rice fields to invent a game that could be played in those huge fields. At first, the game had become quite popular throughout the country. However, as time passed Vietnamese children no longer had the same passion for the game like those in the past. For this reason, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is exhibiting the game with fully explained instructions with the aim of keeping the game alive among children nowadays.According to many researchers, Ô Ăn Quan belongs to Mancala.
Setup: Each player places one big stone or ten small stones (called the "Mandarin piece") in the Mandarin square as well as five small stones (called "citizen pieces") in each of the rice field squares.ObjectThe game ends when all the pieces are captured.If both Mandarin pieces are captured, the remaining citizen pieces belong to the player controlling the side that these pieces are on. There is a Vietnamese saying to express this situation: "hết quan, tàn dân, thu quân, bán ruộng" (literally: "Mandarin is gone, citizen dismisses, take back the army, selling the rice field") or "hết quan, tàn dân, thu quân, kéo về" (literally: "Mandarin is gone, citizen dismisses, take back the...
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