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mahk khum (หมากขุม)

Thai. ‘Cavity board game’. A traditional board game from southern Thailand played with marbles, dry beans, nuts or fruit stones (mahk), often look sawahd (ลูกสวาด), greenish gray nuts from a kind of climber. The board consists of a elongated wooden boat-like panel with either rounded or tapering ends and sixteen round cavities. Fourteen of those are arranged two by two, in a double row of seven indentions each and flanked by two larger cavities, one on either side. These two larger holes are to collect the winning playing pieces and are known as hua meuang (หัวเมือง) or reuan (เรือน), the ‘village heads’ or ‘home [base]’ respectively. The game is played with two contestants, who sit on opposite sides and need to drop and collect the playing pieces, gradually moving up to the hua meuang. A countdown is given after which both players need to quickly distributed their playing pieces by dropping them in any of the cavities at will, but only on ones own side. This is called deun mahk khum (เดินหมากขุม) and each time a marble, stone or nut is dropped or collected is called kwak (ควัก). When all the playing pieces of one player are dropped, that is called taai (ตาย). He now has to wait for the other side to finish and when both sides ran out of nuts, the pieces need to be collected again, starting with the player who ran out of nuts first. Players now have to move their marbles up to their own village head on the left side, one at a time. If a cavity holds the same number of nuts as the cavity on the opposite side, those nuts may now be collected by either player whose turn it is. The one who collects the most playing pieces in his hua meuang wins the game. Although sometimes the game is played until one side has no more playing pieces or less than seven which is called ko khaad (คอขาด).