You are hungry for another traditional abstract strategy game, aren't you? Well, how about one with an amusing name? This week we learned how to play watermelon chess. Watermelon chess, or Xi Gua Qi, is originally from Hangzhou, China. Like most traditional games, it is easy to learn and can be played almost anywhere, making it a great game to keep with you on the go. Simply draw out a board on a spare piece of paper and dig out some coins from your purse for tokens.
How to Play Watermelon Chess
Watermelon chess is a battle game. It is completely unrelated to chess, which is great, because despite my love of board games, I can't stand regular chess.
Watch the video how to or scroll down for the written instructions!
Objective: To capture your opponent's tokens by surrounding and immobilizing them. When your opponent's tokens are reduced to two, you win.
What you need:
A game board, drawn as shown in the above photo, or get our printable version here: game board.
6 tokens per player. Pilfer tokens from other games you might have, or use coins, beads, beans or other similar objects.
2 enthusiastic players
Instructions and Rules:
Set up game pieces in the starting positions as shown in the photo below:
Alternating turns, players move tokens, one point at a time, along the designated lines in an attempt to surround their opponent.
Player can only move from one intersecting point to an adjacent point. They can move in any direction.
Players can't move across open spaces; they must move along the lines.
When one token is surrounded on all sides and cannot move, it is removed from play.
When one player has only two tokens left on the board, the game is over.
In the photo below you can see the top most red token is surrounded by yellow, and will now be removed from play.
More abstract strategy games from around the world:
Len Choa: Leopards and Tiger Game (Thailand)
Fox and Geese: A Traditional Abstract Strategy Game (Northern Europe)
Pong Hau K'i : DIY Board Game (China)
Five Field Kono: Abstract Strategy Game (Korea)
Nine Holes: a 3 in a Row Game for Kids (England)
Gemini Jen NZ says
Super cool! Thanks for sharing. I can wait to introduce these to my class.
If you are surrounded and unable to move, yet one of the pawns is your own color, does that still count as being surrounded? I'm guessing no, but it could be that you surround your opponent and he has two pawns trapped in there, correct? Great game, thank you!
That's right, it doesn't count as being surrounded unless all the pawns are the opposite color. We also came across the position of having two pawns totally surrounded. I couldn't find anything official that said what to do in this case. If it's an issue for you, I would just decide beforehand whether or not that was a legal move. We decided that it only counted if one pawn was totally surrounded, but you decide! Try both and see what you like better. That's part of the fun of these traditional games.
Yeah, according to the rules as stated the initial board has six pieces that need to be removed.
Just finished playing our second round of Watermelon Chess. Our 13 year old strategy genius has this game down!! I don't stand a chance!
Thanks for sharing!!