Games Of Mongolia

The Mongolians collect and use knuckle bones to play games. This comes from having a nomadic lifestyle and not been able to lug possessions around the country side. Despite many nomads moving into Ulaanbaatar there are still some nomad families left and they move up to five or six times a year.

The knuckle bone has four sides and each of these sides have a name.

Horse - When it's taller than it is wide and there is no depression or hole. Camel - When it's taller than it is wide and there is a depression or hole. Sheep - When it's wider than it is tall and there is no depression or hole. Goat - When it's wider than it is tall and there is a depression on hole.

All games are played on a felt rug about a metre squared. The one we used was cut into a octagon.

Knuckle Bones from Mongolia

Horse Racing

Each person should select a horse from the bag of bones. Make sure you put this the correct way up. Set aside four knuckle bones, these will be the dice. The remainder of the bones should be aligned, horse side up in a big track. The more bones you have, the longer the track is.

Each person takes it in turns to roll the four bones. You get to move one bone along the track for each horse you roll. So a maximum of four bones in a single roll. If you only role one horse, check the other bones. If you get the set: one of each animal, then you can move four bones instead of the one.

The person to get their horse to the end of the track wins.

Flicking Bones

Grab about dozen bones and toss them on the table. Now using your finger flick one bone into another. The catch is that you can only hit another bone that is of the same animal. If you do, then you can take one of those animals off the board.

If you miss, hit another animal, or drop your bone as you're picking it up. You get zero bones and the next player collects all the bones on the table and re-tosses them to start their turn.

When there is only two bones on the table, and it's your turn. You roll and hope they come up the same. If they don't then your turn is over. If they do, then you can flick one into the other. If you succeed the other player has to take two of their bones that they one previously in the game and put them back into the middle. These two go with the two just won to make four on the table.

If you roll four or more bones and they all come up with the same animal, the first person to grab all of animals with their hands collects them all. This also means that the other player has to add four bones to the middle. This combined with the four just grabbed make eight bones up for grabs.

You win when you have all the bones.

Tossing Bones

Empty all your bones into the middle of the board. One person should select a unique bone from the set. In our case, one had been painted blue. The person who selected goes first. After this, the turns alternate.

The player tosses the bone up into the air with one hand. With the same hand, you can move the bones in the pile in order to separate some. You don't pick up the separated ones, you just move them into a spot that's easier to grab. You then need to pick up the bone that's on it's way down. When playing in ger remember that the roof is much lower at the edges.

If you drop the tossed bone, your turn is over.

If it's still your turn, then you can toss it again. On this toss you can grab as many bones as you can fit into your hand. The caveat being that you have to use the same hand to hold the bones and catch the one descending. If you hold onto all of them, then you can put the picked up bones off to the side. If you drop any of them. Your turn is over and the next person resets the board by pushing all the bones into a single pile.

When there are no more bones left in the middle. Each person counts up their bones. The person with the lowest puts these in the middle and everyone else matches this. You keep going until one person has all the bones.

when: Wednesday, April 02, 2014