What do children do in their school breaks? In Cambodia, there is a popular game Cambodian students love to play in their ten-minute breaks between each lesson. Sokhan Khut, our country manager for Cambodia, describes the game.
‘Si Khuong’ or ‘Ou Chen’ is the name of the most popular Cambodian school game. Especially students of primary and lower secondary schools love to play it. To play this quite energetic game, you need a plain area in the school yard and at least eight people. The game is played as followed:
- The playing field consists of a table with 2 columns and 2 (or 3 or more) rows. It is drawn on the ground. If the ground is dirt, students use a stick or their feet to draw the lines. If the game is played on a concrete ground existing lines or sand can be used to draw the table. The width of each column is about 2.5 meters; the length of each row is about the same as the width of the column.
- The students form two groups, the crews. One crew normally of four students depending on the actual number of students participating. The crews are compound by pairing up the players or by the two crew chiefs picking their players alternating.
- The crews on one side of the field are called ‘guards’, those of the other side ‘forward’. The guards stand on the lines inside the table: One crew each on the horizontal line and on the vertical line in the middle of the table. The ‘guard’ crews can only move back and forth on their lines trying to touch the crew of the other side. The ‘forward’ stand on the front and the back lines of the table. They guards are not allowed to touch the forwards when they run in the table but they can touch them when they try to leave the table.
- When the game starts, the ‘forward’ crews are positioned in front of the front line of the table. They have to run back and forth along their lines and try to avoid not to be touched by the guards.
- Special rules: If four ‘forward’ crews stand in the same ‘block’ in the table they will lose the game automatically. If three of them stand in the same ‘block’ the ‘guard’ crews who stand on the lines of that block can crawl to touch them.
- When one of the ‘forward’ crew runs across the table and returns to the front without being touched he/she has to shout ‘Si Khuon’ and wins. If a crew can do this three times it wins the game. In the case that one of the crews is touched by a member of the ‘guard’ crew, all ‘forwards’ will have to take turn to be the ‘guard’ crews and follow their roles.
The winner is rewarded by being allowed to gently clap the palms of the loser. The game has no official end except when classes start again or when the students are tired of playing.