Sungka-an is a popular traditional game of wits and strategy. Though it may not be distinctly Filipino in origin, our elders and even this generation are still enjoying the game as their regular past time.
The sungká board is a carved long wood called "sungkahan". The game is played by 2 players, each redistribute the shells (can also be beans or marbles or pebbles) and moving it around the holes carved into the board. The objective is to get and collect as many shells in players hole, called the tail or head.
How to Play:
1. A player must drop only one shell at a time into every small hole and into his own big hole.
2. He must not drop any shell into his opponent's big hole or in any "burnt house" (sunog or holes left empty due to lack of enough tokens accumulated by a player in his big hole).
3. The opponent is entitled to any shell which his rival drops carelessly in any "burnt house."
4. A "burnt house" can only be refilled in the next game after a complete set of seven (or whatever number fills a hole) tokens are accumulated in the owner's big hole.
As a game of strategy, the sungka requires a player to carefully choose which hole to distribute contents to. It is ideal to pick a hole that allows the player to end on his or her own row. The more game pieces acquired on his or her own row or head, the more chances to win the game.
Experts say that malancala, an early version of sungká, may be the oldest game in the world, with almost every culture having some variation of it.
Stones used in mancala boards have been found carved into the roofs of temples in Memphis, Thebes, and Luxor -- evidence that the game was played in Egypt before 1400 BC. Studies say that the boardgame may have evolved in Egypt from counters used for accounting and stock-taking. Evidence of these boards has also been found in Ancient Sumeria. In Africa, the game is considered a national pastime and is played by tribes numbering in the hundreds. Malancala, being Arabic in origin, makes some scholars suspect that the game progressed from west to east, meaning from Asia to the coast of Atlantic.
As for the origin of the term "sungka", researchers found traces of a similar game at a stream in Indonesia. The stream, widely known to travelers as the Red River, is called sonka by early Asians. The theory maintains that the sungka game Filipinos know today may have been brought by Indonesians when they migrated to the Philippines.
photo: www.dbgg1979.com | source/reference: en.wikipilipinas.org