The game of squares (O an quan)
Either boys or girls, usually age’s seven to ten, play the two-person game of O an quan
(literally "Mandarin's Box"). They draw a rectangle on the ground and
divide it into ten small squares called "rice fields" or "fish ponds.
also draw two additional semi-circular boxes at the two ends of the
rectangle, which are called"mandarin's boxes," hence the game's name.
Each person has 25 small pebbles and a bigger stone.|
places the stone in one of the mandarin's boxes and five small pebbles
in each of the other squares (see diagram above). Then the game begins.
The first player takes up the contents of one square on his or her side
of the board (but not a mandarin's box) and distributes the pebbles one
by one, starting with the next square in either direction. (Since each
square contains five pebbles at the beginning, the first move will
distribute five pebbles to the left or right).
After the last
pebble is distributed, the player takes the contents of the following
square and repeats the distribution process. But if the following square
is one of the mandarin's boxes, the turn ends and passes to the other
If the last pebble falls into a square that precedes one
empty square, the player wins all the contents of the square following
the empty square and removes these pebbles from the board. If this
square is followed by another empty square, the player wins the contents
of the square after that, and so on. However, if there are two or more
empty squares in a row, the player loses his or her turn.
player has taken pebbles from the board, the turn is handed to the other
player. If all five squares on one player's side of the board are
emptied at any time, that player must place one pebble he or she has
aside back in each of the five squares so that the game can resume.
game continues until the two mandarins' boxes have both been taken. At
the end of the game, the player with more pebbles wins, with each of the
large stones counting as ten points. If each player retrieves an equal
number of points, then the game is a tie. O an quan remains deservedly popular among older children since it requires good counting skills and forethought in order to win.