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Either boys or girls, usually age's seven to ten, play the two-person game of O an quan (literally "Mandarin's Box"). They draw a rectangle on the ground and divide it into ten small squares called "rice fields" or "fish ponds.


"They also draw two additional semi-circular boxes at the two ends of the rectangle, which are called"mandarin's boxes," hence the game's name. Each person has 25 small pebbles và a bigger stone.Each player places the stone in one of the mandarin's boxes & five small pebbles in each of the other squares (see diagram above). Then the trò chơi begins. The first player takes up the contents of one square on his or her side of the board (but not a mandarin's box) và distributes the pebbles one by one, starting with the next square in either direction. (Since each square contains five pebbles at the beginning, the first move will distribute five pebbles khổng lồ the left or right).After the last pebble is distributed, the player takes the contents of the following square and repeats the distribution process. But if the following square is one of the mandarin's boxes, the turn ends and passes lớn the other player.If the last pebble falls into a square that precedes one empty square, the player wins all the contents of the square following the empty square & removes these pebbles from the board. If this square is followed by another empty square, the player wins the contents of the square after that, và so on. However, if there are two or more empty squares in a row, the player loses his or her turn.

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Once a player has taken pebbles from the board, the turn is handed to the other player. If all five squares on one player's side of the board are emptied at any time, that player must place one pebble he or she has aside back in each of the five squares so that the game can resume.The game continues until the two mandarins' boxes have both been taken. At the end of the game, the player with more pebbles wins, with each of the large stones counting as ten points. If each player retrieves an equal number of points, then the trò chơi is a tie. O an quan remains deservedly popular among older children since it requires good counting skills and forethought in order khổng lồ win.

One of my part-time job is lớn teach English for Vietnamese children. I have only two students who are brothers, và right now they are 7 và 8 years old. I have been teaching them since they were 4 và 5 years old, and one of the difficulties is that I must constantly think of activities that can be played with only two of them.

I have applied and adapted quite a lot of educational games và activities which I learnt from the Internet. Besides, I also recreated some of the activities based on folk games or team building activities.

For this series , I would like to giới thiệu activities that I have been applied for my class. I hope this would be helpful for you somehow.


Activity Name: Ô Ăn quan lại (Mandarin Square Capturing)

Students: 2


The board & the pieces:

You can choose either of these:

Buying a O An Quan game box which will include the board và the pieces
Printing out the frame on A2 paper and reinforce it by a plastic laminated sheet + selecting 50 small pebble stones (same size) và 2 big pebble stones
Using a màu sắc tape lớn mark the frameWhite board, marker


How to play:

Let’s assume all of you know how to lớn play O An Quan. If you don’t, there is a section at the end of this article explaining how to lớn play O An Quan
Every time a student makes the move và end up collect the pieces, they will have the chance to lớn select the amount of numbers according to lớn the pieces they get
Instructor’s job is to lớn write down the words on the board. Make sure that you divide the board into 2 parts for 2 students, and write the words that students choose correctly
At the end, winner of the O An Quan game will get 1 point/star.After that, based on the amount of words that each student can collect, each student has to make sentences from their collected words. The more sentences they can make, the more points they get
It depends on instructor if instructor wants the students to lớn reuse the available words or not.

Some varieties:

For the material, if you don’t want lớn make a Powerpoint file, you can write down the words on pieces of paper, và let the students pick the pieces of paper according lớn the amount of chess pieces they can collect each time
You can create a board for 3 or 4 players. But maximum is 4 players, because kids don’t have patience to wait for others, and if it takes long lớn get their turn, kids will get bored easily and start to thua trận attention.

How lớn play O An quan (Mandarin Square Capturing)

Source: Wikipedia

Ô ăn uống quan (literally: Mandarin Square Capturing) is a traditional Vietnamese children’s board game. This trò chơi is valuable for enhancing calculating ability.

Board, pieces, and players

A rectangle which is divided into ten squares (5×2) with two semicircles at each over is drawn on the floor or the yard. The ten squares are called “rice field square”, “fish pond square” or “citizen square” and the two semicircles are called “Mandarin squares”.

Pieces may be stones, fruit seeds or any other small things.

Two players or two teams sit in two sides of the board. Each controls one side of the board.


The game’s origin is still a mystery to lớn the Vietnamese people, as it has been played for many years. Many people say Vietnamese ancestors were inspired by green rice fields lớn invent a trò chơi that could be played in those huge fields. At first, the game had become quite popular throughout the country. However, as time passed Vietnamese children no longer had the same passion for the game lượt thích those in the past. For this reason, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is exhibiting the trò chơi with fully explained instructions with the aim of keeping the trò chơi alive among children nowadays.



Each player places one big stone or ten small stones (called the “Mandarin piece”) in the Mandarin square as well as five small stones (called “citizen pieces”) in each of the rice field squares.


The game ends when all the pieces are captured.

If both Mandarin pieces are captured, the remaining citizen pieces belong to the player controlling the side that these pieces are on. There is a Vietnamese saying to lớn express this situation: “hết quan, tàn dân, thu quân, bán ruộng” (literally: “Mandarin is gone, citizen dismisses, take back the army, selling the rice field”) or “hết quan, tàn dân, thu quân, kéo về” (literally: “Mandarin is gone, citizen dismisses, take back the army, retreat”)

Whichever player has more pieces is the winner (a Mandarin piece is equal to lớn ten or five citizen pieces).


Players play rock paper scissors lớn determine the first player.

The first player takes up all the pieces of any rice field square on his/her side of the board & distributes (Vietnamese: rải: literally: scatter) one piece per square, starting at the next square in either direction. When all pieces are distributed, the player repeats by taking up the pieces of the following square & distributing them.

If his/her side of the board is empty, he/she must use five previously-won pieces to lớn place one piece in each square on his/her side before repeating the distribution. (If he/she do not possess any pieces, he/she must borrow a piece from the other player & return it when counting the points at the end of the game.)


When the next square to lớn be distributed is empty, the player wins all the pieces in the square after that. A square that contains a lot of pieces is the nhà giàu square (literally: rich square).

When the next square is an empty Mandarin square, or the next two squares are empty, it becomes the other player’s turn.

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In some trò chơi variations, the Mandarin square can contain little citizen pieces called quan lại non (literally: quan: Madarin, non: young/unripen) which may not be captured.

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