The game of backgammon, played upon a board of 24 stations similar to the boards in common use in Spain at the present day, exists along the entire eastern coast of Asia from Korea to the Malay Peninsula.

In Korea the game of backgammon is known as ssang-ryouk (Chinese shung luk), double sixes. It is placed with wooden pins or men (Figure 5), called mal (Chinese m), "horses," upon a hollowed board, ssang-ryouk-hpan1 according to the throws with two dice.

Figure 5

The throws receive the following names:

  • 1-1, syo-syo (Chinese si si) "smallest."
  • 1-2, tjoui-hko (Chinese shu pi), "rat nose."
  • 1-3, syo sam (Chinese si sm), "small and three."
  • 1-1, pik sa (Chinese pak sz'), " white and four."
  • 1-5, pik i (Chinese pk 'ng), "white and five."
  • 1-6, pik ryouk (Chinese pk luk), "white and six."
  • 2-2, tjoun -a (Chinese tsun ), "superior two." [Page 500]
  • 2-3, a sam (Chinese sm), " two and three."
  • 2-4, a s (Chinese sz'), " two and four."
  • 2--5, koan-a (Chinese kn ), "sovereign two."
  • 2-6, a ryouk (Chinese luk), "two and six."
  • 3-3, tjyang-sam (Chinese ch'ung sm), "long three."
  • 3-4, sam s (Chinese sm sz'), "three and four."
  • 3-5, sam o (Chinese sm 'ng), "three and five."
  • 3-6, sam ryouk (Chinese sm luk), "three and six."
  • 4-4, tjoun-hong (Chinese tsun hung), "superior red."
  • 4-5, s o (Chinese sz' 'ng), "four and five."
  • 4-6, s ryouk (Chinese sz' luk), "four and six."
  • 5-5, tjoun-o (Chinese tsun 'ng), "superior five."
  • 5-6, o ryouk (Chinese 'ng luk), "five and six."
  • 6-6, tjoun-ryouk (Chinese tsun luk) "superior six."

A diagram of the board, set as at the commencement of the game, is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6

The board has mortised sides, which extend about 2 inches above the surface. The divisions on either side, called pat (Chinese t' n, "fields"), are simply outlined in black. The larger ones in the middle are not counted in moving, and are used to throw the dice in. The first player is determined by the highest throw with 1 die. The pieces are moved around according to the throws, as in the English game of backgammon; but it is customary to move 2 pieces when doublets are thrown, and doublets do not entitle the player to another throw, nor to any additional count than if the dice were dissimilar.

A player may take an opponent's piece, which must be again entered, as in the English game. This is called tjap-ta, "to catch." When a player gets all his men around into his home place he bears them off according to his subsequent throws. [Page 501]


1. Hpan, the word used for "board" in ssang-ryouk as well as Korean chess and other Korean games, is written with the Chinese character meaning "an order," "rank," which the Cantonese call kuk. The men are about 3 inches in height. Fifteen are employed on each side, one set being painted red and the other left the natural color of the wood. They are usually made of boxwood, but some softer wood is employed for the cheaper sets.

Dice are called in Korean tjyou-s- (Chinese ch sh, "vermilion," ?), and are identical in every respect with those of China. The only other Korean games with dice than ssang-ryouk with which I am acquainted are as follows: One which my informant tells me has no particular name, but which might be called tjyou-sa--nol-ki. Three or four boys sit around, and one puts a peanut or pine nut on the floor and the die is thrown, the nut going to the one throwing the highest. The other, consists in the substitution of a cubical die for the four staves used in the prevailing Korean game of nyout-nol-ki.

Last update January 31, 2010