The word “congkak” is believed to originate from old Malay "congak", meaning "mental calculation" which is mainly practiced in this game. It is regarded that an efficient player who mentally calculates a few steps in advance will have an advantage in collecting points to win the game. The word congkak or congklak also means cowrie shells, used in the game.
HOW TO PLAY?
- The Congkak board has fourteen holes in two sets of seven (some have ten holes in two sets of five, some have eighteen holes in two sets of nine), plus an additional bigger store-hole for each player.
- Each player controls the seven holes on their side of the board, and their score is the number of seeds in their left-hand store.
- Players take turns moving the seeds except in the first move which is performed simultaneously, beginning with the hole closest to his/her own store.
- After this first simultaneous movement, once the last seed falls into an empty hole, the players' first turn is over and the opponent of the player who reached an empty hole first commences his/her turn after the other player has finished his opening move too.
- On a turn, a player chooses one of the seven holes under their control. The player removes all seeds from this hole, and distributes them in each hole clockwise from this hole, in a process called sowing. Sowing skips an opponent's store, but does not skip a player's own store.
- If a player is unable to fill a hole with seven seeds that hole is considered sunog ("burnt"); all excess seeds are returned to the store.
- The round begins with the player with no sunog holes taking his/her turn sowing first.
- If the last seed falls into an occupied hole, all the seeds are removed from that hole, and are sown starting from that hole. The process continues until the last seed falls into a player's store, or an empty hole.
- If the last seed sown falls into a player's own store, they immediately earn another turn, which can begin at any of the seven holes under their control.
- The game ends, when a player has no seeds in his holes at the start of his turn. The remaining seeds are awarded to his opponent.