Wednesday, April 9, 2008

SUNGKA: An Ancient Filipino Game

Our Impong Huli (Huliana Arcega Garcia) who was born in the mid 1870's taught us how to play this game. She was the only expert I have ever known in playing Sungka.

SUNGKA: A board game of 7 equal sized holes called "bahay" and 2 bigger holes on either end of the board. Needs 98 small tamarind seeds or sea shells.

A "manu-mano" may be a choice but not necessary. "Sungka" gets to be more exciting when a player continues to play until the game is over without dying. It's like monopolizing the game. Only experts can do this kind of monopoly, like our great, great, grandparents and only if it happens in the "manu-mano" when the expert player gets to play first.

Two players sit on either side of the board across from each other. Each player fills their small houses with 7 seeds/counters each, leaving the big houses empty. The big house to the left of the player is his designated house. The goal is to store as many seeds as possible in their designated big houses. This is called "subi" literally meaning "to store." Players start playing simultaneously, going clockwise, by picking up all the seeds from one small house and dropping one seed in each house he/she passes by including his big house, but NEVER dropping a seed in the other player's big house. Wherever the last seed is dropped, the player picks up all the seeds from that house and continues to distribute them in each of the small houses. If the player drops the final seed in his big house, he may again, pick up seeds from one of his own houses and continue to drop them in all the small houses. If a player drops the last seed in an empty house of the other player, he loses his turn, and is declared "patay." If he drops the last seed in his own empty small house, he is also declared "patay." However, if there are seeds in the small house across from his empty house where he dies out, he can knock on the seeds, take them and store them in his big house. It's called "katok." That leaves 2 small houses empty, one of his houses and the one across from that empty house.

The other player continues to play until he dies out. "Sungka" player expert usually starts from the small house containing enough seeds to end up dropping the last seed in his big house. The game is over when one player runs out of seeds on his side of the board.

Both players then start filling in their small houses again, as it was in the beginning (7 seeds or counters in each small house). Begin filling the small houses from the players big house (left to right) counterclockwise. The winner of the game stores the seeds in his big "bahay" leaving the other player with less number of small houses filled. The number of empty small house(s) a player has is called "sunog.” Any remaining counters that did not total 7 are stored in that player's big "bahay."
The game starts again, and the winner of the previous game starts. This player must not drop any seeds in the opponent's burnt house(s).
The game continues until the players decide to quit and declare a winner or they wait till the loser gets more burnt houses.
How to Win the Game

1. The goal of Sungka is to acquire as much seeds/counters and store them in the players’ big houses.

2. Remember to always drop a seed into the player’s big house during each round.

3. Think of dropping the last seed into the player’s big house (subi) whenever there’s a chance.

4. The only seed closest to the player’s big house goes automatically to the big house. Pick up this only seed and store it in the big house (subi). Player may pick up some seeds from his side of the board and start distributing them again.

5. Think of dropping the last seed opposite the other player’s small house that has a lot of seeds. The player can knock at this small house full of seeds, take them and store them in his big house. That’s a lot of seeds taken at once. It’s a jackpot!

6. Opponent targets the small house that has a lot of seeds, so make sure to distribute them to avoid the small house getting knocked (katok) by the opponent.

7. When the other player loses the first round of Sungka he’ll have at least one burned house (sunog). Players will not drop any seed into this small burned house(s), therefore the small
house(s) on the player’s side will not be in danger of getting knocked by the opponent.

8. As a round is about to end, keep seeds away from the big house. A lot of knockings will take place now until the opponent runs out of seeds to move or store into his big house. Once a player runs out of seeds the game is over. So if the player has more seeds to move from the farthest right, the more chances the player has to get to the big house that keeps him on the game.

Note: If the winner of the first round runs out of seeds to distribute, the loser of the first round with burned house(s) has a chance to start the next round of game even if he does not have enough seeds to fill the small houses.

Have fun!

bahay - house
katok - knock, rap, tap
manu-mano - hand-to-hand, (determine who plays first)
patay - dead
subi - keep, store
sunog - burn
Note: This game was used as a reference during the First Sungka Tournament in Vienna, Austria November 30, 2008.


Piezy said...

This is an excellent resource for the filipino students

HAGONOY said...

The first Austrian Sungka tournament was held on Nov. 30, 2008 in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy and the Austria-Philippine Society.