Party Games: We’re Gonna Have A Tibetan “Sho-Down”

My weekend went too fast!

I had so many places to go this weekened and now I am so tired on Monday..again.

Oh well, Friday was really nice and chilled at least. We had pasta and wine at Audrey’s relative’ place where we learnt to play Sho. I cant believe how simple, addictive and strategic this game is.

It’s all about sabotage, building your empire and bring your whole empire back “home”. First one to do so wins but it’s hard cos everyone else will try to sabotage you and you end up starting your whole empire at the begining. 

Traditionally played on the Tibetan plateau, Sho is a Tibetan game in which players throw dice to determine moves marked by a path of shells. 

Tibetans gamble with astounding enthusiasm, and they love to play sho at parties and picnics, on the streets and in the marketplace.

It is particularly popular at Losar, when it is often played by many people for days on end! Apparently, women have been banned from playing this game in Tibet (obviously invented by a man) because the husbands do not want the wives to be addicted to the game and stop preparing their meals etc  -_-

Here’s some fun facts about Sho

Sho Set

  • Round yak leather pad (filled with yak wool), called SHOTEN, 21 coins called LAGKHEY, (in 3 sets of 9 coins), small wooden bowl called SHOPO, shells (64) called DSHUMBU and 2 dice called SHO.

To begin playing

  • If you are playing in the morning the oldest person begins, if you are playing in the afternoon or evening then the youngest person begins.

How to Play

Sho is a three-player Tibetan counter-racing game rather like backgammon (but more complicated). The object is to get your stack of coins to the end of the course which is set by small cowrie shells (that can be shifted as required in order to expand or contract sections of the course). Just like backgammon, if a stack lands on an opponent’s stack of equal or less height, it’s kicked off the course. You can see a version of the rules here.

Style counts when playing Sho. Shouting, slamming the dice cup down from a great height onto the leather of the pad, scooping the dice off the yak-leather pad using inertia and the cup rather than your hand, and brushing your opponents dead counters aside are all considered good form. What’s more, fiddling the dice is not only allowed, it’s encouraged! 

Players would carefully place their dice in the cup, and attempt to use inertia to keep the dice in the same orientation. Some of them were rather good at it, and would achieve multiple turns by either rolling 3s or by killing opponents’ stacks.

Click Here to learn to play or if you want to buy a set, click here to get it!

3 Responses to “Party Games: We’re Gonna Have A Tibetan “Sho-Down””
  1. how to play it? seems like you are asia?

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  1. […] but falls into the Ameritrash category from above, just like poker. Antoinette Patterson presents Party Games: Were Gonna Have A Tibetan Sho-Down posted at […]

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