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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).

Pictorial instructions from the text. 🅮

The instructional text forms part of the 說郛 Shuōfú collectionSee 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 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 4 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:

Group Roll Name Translation Outcome
Quads 4444 滿園春 Win 6×
6666 混江龍 Win 5×
5555 碧牡丹
3333 雁行兒
2222 拍板兒
1111 滿盆星
Triple 4 4441 花心動 Win 5×
4442 蝶戀花 Win 4×
4443 紅衫兒
4445 錦上花
4446 銷金帳
44+Pair 44== 紅葉兒 Red Leaves Win 3×
Special 4456 節節髙 Successively Higher Win 3×
Two Pairs ==,== 素葉兒 Plain Leaves Win 2×

If only one 4 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:

Sum Roll Name Translation Outcome
18 4666 得勝令 Chant of Victory Win 5×
17 4566 皂羅袍 Silky Robe Win 3×
16 4556 雪兒梅 Snow Plum Win 1×
15 4555 永團圓 Eternal Reunion
15 4366 皂[雕/鵰]旗
14 4356 穿花鳯 Wearing-Flowers Phoenix
14 4266 鐵道冠
13 4166 點絳唇 Win 2×
13 4355 鳯歸雲
13 4256 埜雞頸 Pheasant Neck Win 3×
12 4255 十二時 12 o’clock Win 4×
12 4336 鷓鴣天 賽色
12 4156 巫山一段雲
11 4335 鵲踏枝
11 4155 梅梢月
11 4236 画眉不盡?
10 4226 夾十兒 Squeezed 10
10 4136 撮十兒 Pinched 10
10 4235 落梅花
9 4126 女冠子
9 4135 一剪梅
9 4225 鎖南枝
9 4333 柳葉兒 Willow Leaves Lose 4×
8 4125 鎖頂八 Lock Top 8 Lose 3×
8 4116 睜眼八 Open Eyes 8 Lose 2×
8 4233 [雁/鴈]兒八 Wild Goose 8
7 4133 川七兒 River 7 Lose 1×
7 4115 白七兒 Staring 7
7 4223 夾七兒 Squeezed 7
6 4123 要孩兒 Wanting a Child Lose 3×
6 4222 粉蝶兒 White Butterfly Lose 1×
5 4122 五供養 5 Offerings
5 4113 葫蘆兒 Gourd
4 4112 咬牙四 Gnashing Teeth 4 Lose 3×
3 4111 快活三 Cheerful 3 Lose 5×


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