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WITH the whole country on a 14-day Movement Control Order from today as a measure to curb the spread of the Covid-19 infection, Malaysians are urged to stay at home and limit social gatherings. Social distancing is key.

But hey, staying at home doesn’t have to be boring. This is the time to catch up on lost sleep, binge-watch TV shows and movies, finish that novel or even re-decorate your home.

Not only that, this is also the time to bond with your children. Spend quality time with them. Get off those gadgets and play these traditional games instead.


Picture courtesy of Time Out
Picture courtesy of Time Out

Usually played by girls in a group of two to five, this traditional game involves tossing seeds (usually rubber seeds or small pebbles) in the air and catching them before they land on the floor. However, it is more than that. Also known as Serembat or Selambut, this game enhances your motor skills such as eye and hand coordination.

Over time, mothers would sew little pouches filled with rice or red beans to replace the sharp pebbles or the rubber seeds.

Usually played indoors and on the floor, there are several versions and stages to the game. In some versions, there are seven stages while others have up to 10 stages.


Picture courtesy of Remaja MY
Picture courtesy of Remaja MY

If batu Seremban is for girls, then main guli is a boys’ game.

Just like the former, main guli (marbles) also trains your hand and eye coordination.

The marbles are usually made from glass, the centre of which are wavy colourful patterns, not unlike that of a cat’s eyes.

Played in a group of not more than five boys — there are usually more spectators than players — the leader will first draw a circle on the ground. A straight line is then drawn from the circle, the latter becoming the distance marker from which players will try to flick their marbles as close to the circle as possible.

The rules of the game vary from place to place. In some versions, players try to hit their opponents’ marbles by flicking their own marbles at the target. Another version sees the players hit each other’s marbles out of the circle.


Picture courtesy of Sirap Limau
Picture courtesy of Sirap Limau

Sometimes the simplest game can be the trickiest to master. Colek lidi, for example, may look easy — just pick the thin sticks (usually discarded satay sticks) out of a pile without moving the rest of the sticks.

This game requires a lot of attention and a steady hand.

To play, take a handful of the satay sticks and let them drop naturally on the floor.

Then by using a “master” stick, try to pick your way through the pile of sticks without moving the others. The players with the most number of sticks win.

Once a popular game with children in the olden days, the game has definitely evolved. These days, there are companies that manufacture the plastic version of the sticks and they come in multi colours.

To make it more fun, each of these multi colour sticks carry different points. The rarest colour usually carries the most points.


Picture courtesy of IG @mr.saya.suka
Picture courtesy of IG @mr.saya.suka

Depending on where you go, capteh carries different names. For example, here in Malaysia, capteh is known as sepak bulu ayam. In India, it is known as poona. And in South Korea, it’s called jeigi.

Locally, the name chapteh can be traced to its Malay and Hokkien origin.

The earliest reference to the game dates back to 5th Century BC in China. Known as Ti Jian Zu (literally, kick the shuttlecock), it was used to train military men on focus and coordination. In Henan province, Shaolin monks practised the game as a way to strengthen their leg muscles.

Once a game played by young and old during leisure moments, it has evolved to become a competitive sport.

In the 2003 SEA Games in Vietnam, capteh was introduced as a competitive sport for the first time.

When played in a small group, each player is judged by the number of kicks they can make. Players can only use their feet during the game. The player with the highest tally of kicks wins the game.


Picture courtesy of
Picture courtesy of

Shopping is your thing? Then this is definitely for you. It needs little introduction. Suffice it to say you can be a billionaire property magnate in the comfort of your home. Imagine how much property you can amass in 14 days! Okay, jokes aside, it is a fun game to play with the family for hours.

In today’s modern setting, Hasbro’s Monopoly has many upgraded versions. There’s the electronic banking version where you can pay using credit cards, and movie-inspired Monopoly such as Game of Thrones, Disney Pixar: Cars, Toy Story, Star Wars and even Stranger Things.


Picture courtesy of
Picture courtesy of

The game was invented by an architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, in 1933 to lift the spirits of millions during America’s Great Depression.

He combined the thrill of chance and skill, entwining the elements of anagrams and classic crossword puzzle into a scoring word game.

Together with James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, they designed and refined the rules. They also came up with the name Scrabble, which means to grasp, collect or hold on to something.

Well, now, let’s lift our spirit up in these trying times. Play this challenging word game and build up your vocabulary at the same time. Mum and Dad, this is an ideal learning session for the kids too.


at Picture courtesy of
at Picture courtesy of

The next time you open a new bottle of soy sauce (or any bottle with steel bottle caps for that matter, do not throw away the caps.

You can recycle them or use them to play ceper instead!

Ceper is a traditional Malaysian game that originated from the late 1970s for two players (or more if you want to make it more interesting). Yes, it requires five bottle caps (let’s called them ceper).

How to play? Simple. First, determine who starts first. Put all five cepers on your palm. Throw them up into the air and try to catch as many as you can using the back of your palm and then lob again to catch). One ceper represents two marks. Those who get the most number of caps have the advantage to start.

Now for the second part. Spin the cepers and make sure they do not overlap. Take a ceper. Another player will choose which ceper to shoot at – yes this needs concentration, focus and skills. If successful, the player will lob the ceper to get points.


Picture courtesy of
Picture courtesy of

Congkak is another popular Malay traditional game. It was played by mainly girls in the past. But now anyone can play it!

Traditionally, congkak boards are made of wood, beautifully carved on the sides. They have seven holes on each side known as ‘kampung’ and big holes on each end known as the ‘home’.

Congkak was likely introduced to Southeast Asia by Indian or Arab traders in the 15th century.

In fact, the oldest evidence found was in a ruined fort of Roman and Egypt origin dating back to 4th century AD.

The name congkak originated from the word ‘congak’, which means mental calculation – which is also how the game works.

Basically, seeds (traditionally rubber seeds or rounded marbles) are placed in the small holes. Players have to move the seeds from one ‘kampong’ to another and fill in the ‘home’ hole.

The game ends when one player has no seeds in his or her kampong holes and he or she needs to capture more seeds from the opponent. The trick is to mentally calculate your next move!

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