Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to play Sungka?

Board games are ideally suited to study cultural diffusion since they consist of sets of playing rules, boards, playing pieces, and a context of play. Together they form a complex phenomenon that is not likely to be found in two different places without any previous contact (ROWE 1966, DE VOOGT 1999).
In the case of mancala board games, the geographical diffusion patterns are particularly extensive and have been looked at through the study of boards, rules, and playing practices (CULIN I896, MURRAY 1951, DELEDICQ and POPOVA 1977, DE VOOGT 1997). The diffusion patterns are difficult to interpret since the dating of mancala games is complicated by the few historical examples of extant boards and the limited information on rules from carly written sources.
The Philippine game of sungka is part of a particularly extensive dispersal pattern. The written sources, in combination with the identification of early game boards in the collections of theAmerican Museum of Natural History (AMNH), allow a better undcrstanding of the dispersal of this game. A comparison with similar games in the region shows that sungka has been part of two separate waves of distribution in Southeast Asia. The Sungka Board is also still occasionally used for popular divination, especially by elders enquiring on whether travel by youths is auspicious on a certain day, or by girls interested in finding out whether and when they will get married."

It is known that Sungka improves mathematical thinking and teaches patience and observation skills. The John W. Garvy Elementary School in Chicago (Illinois, USA) uses Sungka to help children with dyscalculia.

Sungka is a Philippine mancala game, which is now also played wherever Philippine migrants are living; e.g. in Macau, Taiwan, Germany, and the USA. Like the closely related Congkak it is traditionally a women's game.
Sungka was first described by the Jesuit priest Father José Sanchez in his dictionary of the Bisaya language (=Cebuano) in 1692 [manuscript] as Kunggit. Father José Sanchez who had arrived on the Philippines in 1643 wrote that at the game was played with seashells on a wooden, boat-like board. The Aklanon people still call the game Kunggit. José Sanchez (born Josef Zanzini [*1616-1692) in Trieste, Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) is known for founding the town of Jagna on Bohol, which is today famous for its rich historical heritage.
There are Sungka tournaments in the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, Austria, England and the USA. The biggest competition is held each year at the Kadayawan Sports Festival in Davao. In May 2006, the Philippine Empassy compound in Pretoria, South Africa, hosted a Sungka tournament during the ASEAN Games and Sports, which was held under the auspices of ASEAN Embassies based in South Africa. The six winners for the first Sungka game competition were participants from the following embassies: Vietnam, 1st; Malaysia, 2nd; Malaysia, 3rd; Indonesia, 4th; Philippines, 5th and Indonesia, 6th. In 2008, the Philippine Language and Cultural Association of Australia, Inc. (PLCAA) organized a Sungka competition at the Sydney Regatta Centre, Penrith. The Department of Computer Studies at the Imperial College of Science in London (England) held a computer tournament in 2004.
It is known that Sungka improves mathematical thinking and teaches patience and observation skills. The John W. Garvy Elementary School in Chicago (Illinois, USA) uses Sungka to help children with dyscalculia.
Traditional Sungka Board (Culin 1894)
Sungka is similar to many other Southern Asian mancala games such as Naranj (Maldives), Dakon (Java), Congkak (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) and Chongka' (Marianas). The game differs from Kalah which is known in North America and Europe in being a multi-lap game. Another important difference is that the first move is executed simultaneously in Sungka which is meant to balance the game. Sungka is distinguished from Congkak by being played counterclockwise and also by some other minor rule differences.
Comparison with other plays
Sungka resembles strong different southasiatic Mancala variants, like Naranj (Maldives), Dakon (Java), Congkak (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) and Tchonka (Marianen). The play differs from in the USA and Europe admitted Kalaha above all by the fact that the course is continued, if the last stone falls into a filled play hollow. If that happens, contents of this hollow are taken up and further-distributed. A course ends only if the last stone is put into an empty play hollow. A further difference consists of the fact that in Sungka the first course is simultaneously implemented. This is to adjust the suit advantage. The play differs from Congkak by the fact that against the clockwise direction one plays.
Cultural Significance
Sungka is an important means for creating identity, particularly for Philippine migrants. This can be seen in Sungka competitions, which are organized in the Philippines, and in the representation of Philippine culture at cultural festivals through Sungka demonstrations. The identity forming function of the game is also a central theme in Sungka and Smiling Irish Eyes, A Boy discovers what it means to be Half-Irish and Half-Filipino by Natalie Gonzales-Sullaway. The feminist poet and communication scientist Alison M. De La Cruz wrote in 1999 a one-woman performance called Sungka, which analyses the societal and family-related expectations in regard to gender-specific behavior and sexuality, race and ethnic affiliation, by comparing it to a game of Sungka. De La Cruz also reflects in her performance how she has come to terms with her lesbian coming-out. Her poem That Age, which was part of the performance, has become well-known in the America.
Moreover, Sungka is still used by fortunetellers and prophets, which are called on the Philippines bailan ormaghuhula, for divinatory purposes. Older people hope to find out with their help whether the journey of a youth is favorable at a certain day, and girls, whether they will marry one day, and, in case they will, when this will be. The game is usually played outdoors because there is a Filipino superstition about a house will burn down if it's played indoors. In the Anay district in Panay, the loser is said to be patay ("dead"). The belief is that he will have a death in his family or that his house will burn down.
In past times Sungka boards were also used for mathematical calculations, which were researched by Indian ethnomathematicians.
Although the Sungka rules don't differ much from those of Congkak, Sungka is perceived as a genuinely Philippine game by native players.
The game begins with 49 game pieces (shells, marbles, pebbles or seeds) equally distributed to alternate holes - seven pieces in every other hole - except "heads" which remain empty. Sungka requires two players. Each player controls the seven holes on his side of the board and owns the "head" to his right. The goal is to accumulate as many pieces in your own "head".

The first player removes all pieces from the hole on the extreme left of on his side. He then distributes them anti-clockwise --- one in each hole to the right of that hole --- omitting an opponent's "head" but not a player's own "head".

If the last piece falls into an occupied hole then all the pieces are removed from that hole, and are distributed in the same way (to the right of that hole) in another round. This player's (current) turn ends when the last piece falls into an empty hole on the opponent's side.
If the last piece distributed falls into a player's own "head" then ...

... the player earns another turn, which can begin at any of the seven holes on his side.
If the last piece distributed falls into an empty hole on his side then ...

... the player captures all the pieces in the hole directly across from this one, on the opponent's side and put them (plus the last piece distributed) in his own "head". If the opposing hole is empty, no pieces are captured.
The other player chooses which hole he wishes to start from, removes the pieces and distributes them - one in each hole to the right of that chosen hole. If a player has no pieces on his side of the board when it is his turn, then he must pass.

The game ends when no pieces are left in any hole on both sides of the board. The players now count the number of pieces in their own "head" and see who has won.
This game (with variations) is also played in other southeast asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia where it is known as "Congkak".

The oblong game board (sungka(h)an), which is usually carved in wood (e.g. mahagany), consists of two rows of seven small pits called "houses" (bahay). In addition, there is a large store known as "head" (ulo) or "mother" (inay) for the captured stones at either end of the board. A player owns the store to his left.
Modern Sungka Board
Each small initially contains seven counters (sigay), usually cowrie shells.
Initial Position
On her turn a player empties one of his small pits and then distributes its contents in a clockwise direction, one by one, into the following pits including his own store, but passing the opponents store.
According to the National Historical Institute of the Philippines the game is also played counterclockwise with each player owning the store to his right.
If the last stone falls into a non-empty small pit, its contents are lifted and distributed in another lap.
If the last stone is dropped into the player's own store, the player gets a bonus move.
If the last stone is dropped into an empty pit, the move ends, i.e. it is "dead" (patay).
If the move ends by dropping the last stone into one of your own small pits you capture (katak or taktak; literally "exhausting") the stones in the opponent's pit directly across the board and your own stone. The captured stones are deposited (subi) in your store. However, if the opponent's pit is empty, nothing is captured.
The first move is played simultaneously. After that players take turns alternately. The first player to finish the first move may start the second move. However, in face-to-face play one player might start shortly after his opponent so that he could choose a response which would give him an advantage. There is no rule that actually could prevent such a tactic. So, in fact, the decision-making may be non-simultaneous.
You must move if you can. If you can't a player must pass until he can move again.
The game ends when no stones are left in the small pits.
The player who captures most stones wins the game.
Often the game is played in rounds. Pits, which couldn't be filled with captures, are closed (sunog; literally "burnt"), while the leftover seeds are put in his store. This continues until a player is unable to fill even one hole.

BY: Laura Larazo 3IND1