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|Sungca, sunka, chuncajon|
| Played in: |
|Stores are sown into|
|Holes captured between games|
|7 holes per row|
Sungka is a Philippine mancala game which is today also played wherever Philippine migrants are living; e.g. in Taiwan, Germany, and the USA. Like the closely related congkak it is traditionally a women's game. Sungka was first described outside of Asia in 1894 by the American ethnologist Stewart Culin.
Sungka is similar to many other Southern Asian mancala games such as naranj (Maldives), dakon (Java), congkak (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) and tchonka (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.
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 or maghuhula, 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 past times sungka boards were also used for mathematical calculations, which were researched by Indian ethnomathematicians.
Although the sungka rules are not much different from those of congkak, sungka is perceived as a genuinely Philippine game by native players.
The oblong game board (sungka(h)an), which is usually carved in wood (e.g. mahagany), consists of two rows of seven small pits each. In addition, there are at either end a large store (bahay) for the captured stones. Each player owns the store to his right.
In each small pit are initially seven counters (sigay), usually cowrie shells.
At each turn a player empties one of his small pits and then distributes its contents in a counterclockwise direction, one by one, into the following pits including his own store, but passing the opponents store.
- 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.
- If the move ends by dropping the last stone into one of your own small pits you capture the stones in the opponent's pit directly across the board and your own stone. The captured stones are deposited in your store. However, if the opponent's pit is empty, nothing is captured.
The first move is played simultaneously. After that play is 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.
There are tournaments in the Philippines, Taiwan, and the USA. The biggest tournament is 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. The Department of Computer Studies at the Imperial College of Science in London (England) organized a computer tournament in 2004. The John W. Garvy Elementary School in Chicago (Illinois, USA) uses Sungka to help children with dyscalculia.
- Aso ko sa pantalan lumukso ng pitong balon, umulit ng pitong gubat, bago nagtanaw dagat. (Tag.) Sungkahan.
- My dog jumped from the quay over seven wells, jumped again over seven forests, before it saw the sea. (Solution) Sungka board.
- Culin, S.
- (1984) 'Mancala: The National Game of Africa', in Report of the National Museum, Philadelphia (USA): 597-611.
- Culin, S.
- (1900) 'Philippine Games', in American Anthropologist (New Series); 2: 643-656.
- De La Cruz, R. E., Cage, C. E. & Lian, M.-G. J.
- (2000) 'Let's play Mancala and Sungka: Learning Math and Social Skills Through Ancient Multicultural Games', in Teaching Exceptional Children; 32 (3): 38-42.
- Department of Foreign Affairs (Ed.).
- (2006) Philippine Embassy Pretoria Introduces Sungka Diplomacy at ASEAN Games and Sports 2006 in South Africa (Photo Release). Pasay City (Philippines), May.
- Flores, P. V.
- (1998) 'Sungka: A Game Full of Holes', in Filipinas; (3): 58-59 & 66.
- Gonzales-Sullaway, N.
- (2003) Sungka and Smiling Irish Eyes, A Boy discovers what it means to be Half-Irish and Half-Filipino, Imprint Books.
- Henson, M. A.
- (1958) How to play Sungca or Chong-Ka.
- Liu, R.
- (2003) 'Foreign Laborers hold Sungka Challenge', in Taipei Times; 25.08.2003, Page 3.
- Manansala, P.
- (1995) 'Sungka Mathematics of the Philippines', in Indian Journal of History of Science; 30(1): 14-29.
- Scott, L. E.
- (1975) 'Mancala in the Philippines (Letter), in Games & Puzzles; 34 (3): 21.
- Starr, F.
- (1909) A Little Book of Filipino Riddles, New York: World Book Co. Yonkers, 145.