Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mahjong - Old Man with GlassesThe Chinese love to play games, which is one testament to their social nature. On almost any day you can find groups of people gathered together in their neighborhoods to play them. There are usually quite a few on-lookers crowded around the competitors intently observing the matches. A fairly avid gamer myself, I enjoy watching this kind of activity and usually stop to watch for a moment or two. Unfortunately, I don't know how to play most of the games well enough to get involved, aside from the obvious language barrier. As you might expect, gambling generally goes hand-in-hand with most of the games.

Chinese ChessThere are three popular games: Mahjong, Chinese Chess and Go. I mentioned Mahjong in a post last month, which is a tile game played by four players. A group of women often meet in the mailroom in my apartment building to play together in the afternoons. Chinese Chess is similar to the version we know in America, although the Chinese use large round wooden pieces like the ones shown here, and seems to be more popular with men. Go is a game played with small black and white pieces on a board that looks like a large grid.

Aside from these games, which are the most popular and most often seen, there are often groups of people playing cards almost everywhere. My game of choice is poker and I will attend a irregularly held game this evening with some of my coworkers and a few other acquaintances. It will be the last game with this group as some of them will be leaving after school ends next week. Hopefully, I can resurrect the game with another group in the Fall when the new school year begins again.

Jorge Playing Chinese HackeyThese are the more cerebral games, although there are many other popular games. Many people can be found swatting a birdie back and forth with their badminton rackets in the street or on the sidewalks in front of shops. It's not uncommon to see a group of people playing Chinese hackey, which is a game played by kicking around a weighted cluster of colored feathers. It's like a hackey sack with colored feathers tied to a weight, rather than a small bean bag. Here's a picture of our friend Jorge getting ready to start a round.

Click on any of the pictures to view additional images of Chinese people playing games or click here.

No comments: