April 12, 2022

Thai Games: From Playgrounds to Cards to Beetle Fighting [S5.E.56]

Thai Games: From Playgrounds to Cards to Beetle Fighting [S5.E.56]

Thanks to a suggestion from a listener Greg and Ed discuss the fascinating topic of games that are common - if not unique - to Thailand. Both guys have some familiarity with some games played in public such as ‘takraw,’ but many of the others are...


Thanks to a suggestion from a listener Greg and Ed discuss the fascinating topic of games that are common - if not unique - to Thailand. Both guys have some familiarity with some games played in public such as ‘takraw,’ but many of the others are part of this strange world called ‘Thai culture’ that the guys apparently don’t actually know that well.

Greg begins with a children’s game in which one child sings a song while counting by syllable on another child’s hand.  When the singer stops on a finger, that finger is taken out of the game.  The child with the last finger in is the winner.  Greg even plays a cute clip of a video of the game.  

Next, Greg explains a Thai game very similar to the Western game of ‘jacks,’ which although relatively unplayed by children back home, still lives on in a Thai derivative. 

The boys then go deep into the Thai version of chess, called makruk (หมากรุก), which utilizes the same board and pieces but with modifying moving rules for each piece. This game is a quite famous pastime of Thai motorcycle riders, who can often be seen playing the game on the side of the road while awaiting customers. It should be noted that Ed’s friend - a noted chess lover - was broken by makruk, giving up in frustration after trying to tame the wild beast.

Greg continues with several more Thai games, from the crazy sport of takraw, which is kind of like soccer and volleyball mixed together with a wicker ball, to bizarre practices such as beetle fighting, popular in the Northeast, and a game where you throw seeds with your knees. We also check in with a friend of Greg’s who owns Golden Goblin Games to hear about the role-playing side of things.

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