T'shu-p'u is a race game played on a small cross-shaped board. It is a Chinese version of the various cross-shaped race games played in India, and is very old. It is a partnership game, where four players compete in two teams of two. Each player must race their pieces around the board and up to the centre; the first partnership to achieve this wins the game.
History of T'shu-p'u
Some Chinese sources claim that the game was introduced in about 2300 B.C., but the game is not really this old. A more recent Chinese source, dated to the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960 to 1279) says the game was introduced to China from India between A.D. 220 and 265. It was popular until about A.D. 1000.
Rules for T'shu-p'u
There is some disagreement among various books about exactly how t’shu-p’u is played. As the game is a member of the Indian chaupar family, some rules of chaupar have been adopted when it is unclear how the rule should stand in t’shup’u.
1. T’shu-p’u is played by four players in two teams. Red and green players oppose yellow and black. The members of each team sit opposite one another.
2. The board is a cross with one large square in the centre, and the arms formed of nine squares, arrayed three by three. Squares in the edges of each arm are given crosscut markings: see the diagram.
3. Each player has four pieces of his own colour, starting on the central square of his end of the cross, as shown in the diagram. There are two four-sided dice, numbered 1, 3, 4 and 6.
4. Players decide by agreement or at random who starts the game. Play then proceeds clockwise around the board.
5. A player begins his turn by throwing the two dice. He then moves one or two of his pieces around the edge of the board in an anti-clockwise direction, according to the throw of the dice:
(i). one piece can be moved around the course the total number of squares shown on the two dice;
(ii). alternatively, the value shown on each die can be used to move a separate piece by the indicated number of spaces.
6. The central square may only be entered by an exact throw.
7. If a player lands his piece on a square occupied by one or more enemy pieces, those pieces are hit and taken into their owners’ hands.
8. A player cannot land on a cross-cut square if there are any enemy pieces upon it.
9. All players may land on the central square without hitting or being hit by enemy pieces.
10. A player with a piece in hand may re-enter it onto the board via the starting square, according to the throw of the dice on his own turn:
(i). for instance, with a throw of 1 the piece is placed on the starting square;
(ii). with a throw of 3 the piece is advanced to the first cross-cut square in its course, and so on.
11. During his move a player may use a throw of 1 to bear a piece off from the central square. It has then completed its course and is removed from the game.
12. A team wins all of its pieces have been borne off the board.