Tien Gow

Tien Gow History

Tien Gow is an ancient Chinese game which has origins reaching back to well before the Song dynasty. It was standardised in the year 1120. This was done by the then then rulers of China who stated that the implements used in the game, cards and pips, should be set at a certain number to reflect the constellations and stars in the sky. This number was 32 for the cards and 227 for the pips. The pips were divided into heaven, earth, man and harmony. There were then four players which had eight cards each. This information is derived from the book Chinese Origin of Playing Cards. This book was published in 1985 by Sir William Henry Wilkinson.

Modern Tien Gow

Modern Tien Gow is played with either 32 Chinese dominos or a pair of dice. There are two suits in these games. These suits are the military suit and the civilian suit. In the civilian suit, heaven is the top rank. Following the rank of heaven in order from strongest to weakest is earth, man, harmony, plum flower, long threes, bench, tiger’s head ten, long leg seven and red mallet six. In the military suit, nines is the top rank. Following the rank of nines in order from strongest to weakest is eights, sevens, six, fives, and final three. There was a time when the civilian suit was called the Chinese suit, but this was changed when the Manchus ruled over China as not to offend them. Play in this game is counter clockwise.

Tien Gow Dice Gameplay

In the dice game, Throwing Heaven and Nine, is played with two players that are trying to throw a higher combination than their rival. The dice have between 1 and 4 pips on them. There are a total of 21 possible combinations for any given throw. Within those 21 combinations are rolls that are ranked either as a civilian suit or as a military suit.

Both players will make a wager and then the banker in the game will throw the dice into a bowl. This is then used to set the suit. If the banker throws the highest rank available, then he will automatically win the roll.

The highest roll is either heaven or nine. He will automatically lose if he happens to throw the lowest rank. The lowest rank is either a final three or red mallet six. If the banker throws any other combination besides those four, the players will try and beat him with their own roll of the same suit but a higher rank. If it happens that the wrong suit is rolled, they will roll again until they get the right suit. If the player rolls lower than the banker, then they will lose that roll and have to pay him or her. If it happens that they roll a tie with the banker, then no money is paid by either party.

After someone wins, the player to the right of the current banker gets to become the next banker. The game then continues.