Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Gentlemen's games

Chinese chess (象棋, jeung kei) is ubiquitous in most parks and sitting-out areas. It looks like draughts because it is played with flat, round counters, but it's chess all right, if not more: it has knights, rooks and pawns, but also cannons, elephants and a river. 

Less common, but also played outdoors, are card games. These gents are playing the card version of Chinese dominoes (牌九, pai gau) I think. There are also other games, such as four-colour-cards (四色牌, sei sik pai), which is a bit like rummy in that you have to collect sets. I suspect that, where Chinese chess is universally popular, playing cards is more of a working man's pastime. That's because I have only ever spotted it being played in public housing estates (and in one instance, under a bridge!)

And what are the ladies doing, while the men are out preserving brain cells but losing money? Why, indoors, playing mah jong, of course!

All content © Emilie Pavey


  1. Sai Kung is a great place for observing these outdoor games. Some people are quite content to be photographed but the old ladies playing "sap m wu" are decidedly lens-shy. I'm not sure why.

  2. Wow, what a fast comment! I have seen your Chinese chess pics on flikr but don't know what sap m wu is - perhaps you should endeavour to take a picture to show it! Maybe a long lens would do the trick to avoid disturbing them.