A Fun Southern Chinese Game: 猜码 Cāimǎ

What is 猜码 (cāimǎ)?

The joyous shouts of 猜码 (cāimǎ, literally meaning "guess number") can be heard rumbling through barbecue joints, restaurants, and bars across Guangxi province. 猜码 is a drinking game from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region that uses hand and finger gestures in a fashion similar to the game Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS).

猜码 is traditionally played using the Cantonese language despite the fact that Mandarin is widely used throughout the Guangxi Province. In many cities in Guangxi, the words used in 猜码 are often the only Cantonese phrases players speak on a day-to-day basis. There is also a Mandarin variation of cāimǎ for those who prefer to use China's common language.

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Playing cāimǎ is a great opportunity for foreign students to interact with local Guilin culture, practice their Chinese, and have a lot of fun!

A key difference separating 猜码 from RPS is that in cāimǎ a player can throw between zero and five fingers. Furthermore, as both players throw their selection they each shout a number attempting to guess their collective sum of revealed fingers. The sum will always be between zero and ten.

The rhythm to playing 猜码 is similar to RPS's "one, two, three, shoot" cadence. There is an introductory phrase used before each round to help the game maintain its rhythm; the Mandarin phrase is often 来酒来啊 (lái jiǔ lái ā) while in Cantonese it is 兄弟好啊 (hei’ung dai hou ah - as spoken in our video). Additionally, every number has its own special phrase to accompany it and help maintain the rhythm.

For beginners, follow the rhythm and start by saying a number followed by 个好啊 gè hǎo ā (literally meaning: a good). For example: 七个好啊,八个好啊,一个好啊,三个好啊 (qī gè hǎo ā, bā gè hǎo ā,yì gè hǎo ā, sān gè hǎo ā). It is also okay to just say the Chinese number followed by silence as long as the four-beat rhythm is maintained. For more advanced players, each number can also be accompanied by special Mandarin or Cantonese expressions.

猜码 vocabulary

Special Mandarin ExpressionSpecial Cantonese Expressions
不出 : bù chū / 对手 : duìshǒu不出 : mmm chut / 对手 : dui sou
一点点 : yì diǎndiǎn一点钟 : yaht dimdim / 一点钟 : yaht dimzhong
兄弟好 : xiōng dì hǎo二兄弟 : ni heng dei / 两兄弟 : li’ung hei’ung dai
三星照 : sān xīng zhào三块钱 : sah’m men gei
四季发财 : sì jì fā cái四红 : say hong
The number five is not spoken in 猜码--
六六顺 : liùliù shùn六位 : loch wei
七座桥 : qīzuò qiáo七桥 : chut q
八匹马 : bā pǐ mǎ八匹马 : bot pai ma
酒你喝 : jiǔ nǐ hē九九操 : gougou chou
全来 : quánlái / 放手 : fàng shǒu放手 :fuong sou

Now you are ready to play!! Cāimǎ can be played with any beverage including water. If alcohol is consumed one should always drink responsibly and should never feel pressured to drink. Happy playing! 玩得开心!

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