Chú Hóng (除紅, ‘exclude reds’) was a dice game played over 600 years ago in China. It apparently originated during the Liao dynasty (916-1125) of northern China and was popular during the Song (960–1279); Elvin (2010) describes it as “perfected in Yuan times” (1279–1368).B[p. 21] It has also been called 豬窩 ‘pigsty’ (Mandarin: zhū wō),B[p. 23] 朱窩 ‘vermillion nest’ (same pronunciation; ‘vermillion’ and ‘pig’ are homophones), or 豬婆龍 ‘dragon sow’, a name of the Chinese alligator.C
A Song-era book entitled 除紅譜 Manual for Excluding Reds which is attributed to one Zhū Hé (朱河)According to the Preface, a descendent of Zhū Guāngtíng, a famous politician of the Song dynasty. contains the standard rules for the game. There was a later minor expansion to this text called the 除紅譜序 Preface to the Manual for Excluding Reds which was authored in 1368 by 杨维桢 Yáng Wéizhēn (1296–1370).
The instructional text forms part of the 說郛 ShuōfúSee 除紅譜 [Chú Hóng Pǔ] for a 1646 edition. and can subsequently be found included as part of it in the Qing-era 四庫全書 Sìkù Quánshū imperial book collection. It also appears in 茅一相 Máo Yīxiāng’s Ming-era continuation of the 欣賞編/欣赏续 Compilation of Enjoyable Texts, in some editions with Yáng’s preface and in others without.
For reference purposes, an example reproduction of this book can be found in 叢書集成續編 [Complete Collection of Books, Continued] (p. 609–20) and the transcribed text of the Sìkù Quánshū version can be seen on WikiSource.
The game is related to another Chinese dice game about horse racing called Dǎ Mǎ; many of the dice rolls have the same names. The difference is that Chú Hóng is played only for money or points, not to move a piece around the board.
Any number can play this game, which requires four normal dice. Each player in turn rolls the dice. There are three possible outcomes: an instant win, an instant penalty, or 賽色 sài sè ‘dice competition’ where the player wins or loses according to the previous player’s roll.
The rewards are given in terms of 帖 tiē which here has a meaning of a stake (determined before playing the game) which is won or lost to a central pot. Alcoholic drinks or sexual favours could also be used as stakes, and this is mentioned in the original instructions.
My version of the rules is as follows:My only source for the method of play is [C], so this description might be somewhat inaccurate; I read neither modern nor middle Chinese! I know for certain that the introductory section of the book is not properly included here. on a player’s turn they roll all four dice, and repeat this until they roll at least one or another of the special scoring combinations. If it is an instant win or loss they take or pay that many stakes to the central pool. If the result is a ‘dice competition’ then they compare the number (sum of the three other dice) to the previous ‘dice competition’ result. If their roll is higher they win 2 stakes, if equal then they win 1 stake, and if lesser, they pay 1 stake.
Firstly, there are special outcomes for rolling quadruples, ‘red’ triples, or two pairs:
|+Pair||紅葉兒||Red Leaves||Win 3×|
|Special||節節髙||Successively Higher||Win 3×|
|Two Pairs||,||素葉兒||Plain Leaves||Win 2×|
If only one was rolled, the outcome is based upon the sum of the other three dice; this is how the name of the game is derived, as the ‘red’ is excluded from the calculation. If the sum is above 12 it is a winning roll; if below 9 it is a losing roll:
|18||得勝令||Chant of Victory||Win 5×|
|17||皂羅袍||Silky Robe||Win 3×|
|16||雪兒梅||Snow Plum||Win 1×|
|13||埜雞頸||Pheasant Neck||Win 3×|
|12||十二時||12 o’clock||Win 4×|
|9||柳葉兒||Willow Leaves||Lose 4×|
|8||鎖頂八||Lock Top 8||Lose 3×|
|8||睜眼八||Open Eyes 8||Lose 2×|
|8||[雁/鴈]兒八||Wild Goose 8|
|7||川七兒||River 7||Lose 1×|
|6||要孩兒||Wanting a Child||Lose 3×|
|6||粉蝶兒||White Butterfly||Lose 1×|
|4||咬牙四||Gnashing Teeth 4||Lose 3×|
|3||快活三||Cheerful 3||Lose 5×|
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