Congkak

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Malaysiana

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I grew up during a time when as kids, we entertained ourselves by playing games like congkak (chong-kuck). What the heck is congkak? Well, it’s a two-person logic game played using  a papan congkak or congkak board.

congkak_2
congkak board filled with marbles. 

I used to play congkak during free periods in primary school. The congkak boards were usually kept in the library and we’d sign it out and bring it back to our classrooms.

This is not unique to Malaysia though as Indonesia, Singapore and even the Philippines have their version of it.

In a congkak board, the smaller holes in the middle are called the “houses” while the two larger ones on each end are the “storehouses”. Each player sits on one side of the board and the houses facing them as well as the storehouse to their left belong to that player and vice versa. The game starts by filling each house with marbles or pebbles, the number of which corresponds to how many houses there are on the board. In this case, since there are 7 houses, you’ll need 7 marbles per house so you’ll start with a total of 49 marbles per player. The ultimate objective is to collect the most marbles (or all of them) in your storehouse! This website explains the rules far better than I do 🙂 I also came across this extremely simplified instruction manual –

instructioncongkak
Source: Happy City Penang Project

Instead of using marbles or pebbles in congkak, you could also use cowrie shells or saga seeds to fill the houses. My preference was always for saga seeds, though they weren’t easy to obtain.

It’s been years since I’ve seen anyone, especially kids play congkak. Though I’m sure if someone’s created a congkak app, they’ll probably play it. Oh, I just googled it, apparently there’s already a congkak app.

Tell me about the childhood games you played!

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6 thoughts on “Congkak

  1. Never heard of this game by this name, but I recall something like it sold by another name in the U.S. I might have even played it, but I’ve played so many games as a child that I can’t remember them all.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

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