How to Play Chopsticks

Chopsticks is a strategic and basic math game. It is a Japanese game that is also known as Finger Chess, Swords, Split, Magic Fingers, Chinese Fingers, Cherries, Sticks, and Twiddly Dinks. Though there are many alternative rules and names for the game, the underlying philosophy and spirit of the game stay the same. Despite the name, this game is not a well-known beginner’s piano song.


Learning the Basic Rules

Begin with two players. Chopsticks require a minimum of two players, with the option of adding more later on.
Face your opponent while putting your hands in front of you. Every time a round of the game begins, you both hold your hands out with one finger extended. Keep both of your hands flat and straight out so that you can both see how many fingers each of you have extended throughout the duration of the game.

Choose someone to go first. You will then alternate back and forth. Every turn, one player will use one of their hands to tap one of their opponents’ hands. Assume you are the first to go.
Tap your opponent’s hand with one of your own. If you tap with one finger, your opponent will add your one finger to their stretched fingers and extend the total.
You could, for example, tap your opponent’s hand. You only have one finger, whereas others have two. They then add the fingers and place three fingers on their tapped hand.

On the next turn, your opponent taps your one-finger hand with their three-finger hand. You must now extend four fingers because your one plus their three equals four fingers.
Only the tapping hand can affect your opponent’s hand.

Players should take turns tapping one other’s hands. The idea is to continue tapping and adding fingers to your opponent’s hand. When a person’s hand reaches five extended fingers, that hand is deemed “dead” and is no longer in play.
There are various variations on this rule, but the basic Chopsticks rules state that once a hand reaches five fingers, it is useless. This makes sense because one of the legends around chopsticks is that you can hold a chopstick with up to one finger, but an open hand means you’ll drop your utensil and food.

Put your dead hands behind your back. Play until one of the players has lost both of their hands. The objective is to be the last person remaining with at least one hand still alive.
Master the fundamentals before introducing additional regulations. There are a limited number of alternative plays before the game becomes predictable, like in many arithmetics and strategy games such as chess. Add the other rules to make the gameplay fair and prevent the same player from winning every round and the other player from losing.


Adding New Rules

Add new rules to the game to make it more engaging. Create additional challenges once you’ve mastered the fundamental guidelines and can add speed. The rules have numerous name variants, but they stay the same despite the fact that this game is played abroad.
Include splits in the game. When it’s your turn, you can redistribute the number of fingers you’ve stretched by tapping your own two hands together. For example, if you have one hand with three fingers and one hand with only one finger, you can place two fingers on each hand if you split them.
This strategy’s purpose is to keep one of your hands from reaching five fingers and dying.

Even splits are preferred, but not required. Some odd number combinations just involve shifting fingers between hands and provide little strategic benefit. However, if you have a combination of four fingers and one finger on each hand, you can divide that into three hands and two hands.
By splitting, a player can “resurrect” a dead hand. If you have one dead hand and one alive hand with four fingers, split and put two fingers on each hand to bring your dead hand back into the game.
The “house rule” is a variation of the divided rule. This rule either means that splits are not permitted or that splits are permitted but cannot be brought back from the split.

Include the “game of five.” A hand must be tapped five times to equal five fingers. If your opponent has three fingers, you can only tap them with one or two fingers. You would be unable to tap their hand if yours had three or four fingers, as this would result in a sum of more than five fingers on the tapped hand.
This rule is frequently referred to as “precise play.”

If both players have two hands of four points, this rule allows for a stalemate.


Making it Challenging

Play with multiple people. You can have three players or an entire circle of players. Everyone should form a circle and face the centre so that everyone’s hands are visible. Take turns travelling clockwise or counterclockwise, and remember that you are not confined to tapping only the persons directly next to you.
Adding players will make the game last much longer.
To win with this strategy, you must concentrate significantly harder. With so many individuals playing, it’s possible that someone with a hand about to reach five fingers separates their fingers and the group doesn’t notice.
Before you begin, be sure that everyone is following the same set of rules. There is no incorrect way to do things.

Add nubs to increase the mathematical challenge. Curled fingers or “nubs” can be used instead of fully extended fingers throughout the duration of the game. On one of your turns, divide an odd number of fingers to make a nub.
It takes longer to construct a combination of nubs and complete fingers equivalent to a dead hand since two nubs equal one finger.

Determine whether or not nubs are permitted at the start of the game. When a player is about to lose, they will frequently add the nubs variety.

Consider the following scenario for separating fingers into nubs: you have two fingers on your left hand and three on your right. You can place 2.5 fingers or two fingers and a nub on either hand if you split them. Nubs are especially useful when you have an odd number of fingers.
To construct a full finger, you must finish someone’s nub. A dead hand requires five entire fingers, not four full fingers and one nub.

To make the game last longer, use leftovers. When a tapped hand exceeds five fingers in a turn, the hand does not die but instead remains in the game or comes “back to life.” When working with leftovers, combine three and four fingers to obtain seven fingers, which equals a dead hand plus two extra.
This variant is sometimes referred to as “zombies.”
Because you recycle fingers, this rule has the potential to make the game last indefinitely. When tapped, the only possibility for a dead hand is that it equals exactly five fingers.


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