How To Play Five Stones

This is one of the most well known games during the early days of Independent Singapore. Almost every school girl would have a set of five stones in her pocket or bag, ready to play with friends.

Five Stones watermarked - Etched

You’ll need: At least 2 players, a flat surface to play on, and a set of five stones. (They are five triangular cloth ‘bags’ filled the rice, sand or saga seeds. Each should be about the size of a walnut.)

How to play: Complete the 8 steps below. The person who does so with the least number of attempts wins. If a player drops a stone, he forfeits his turn. When his opponent drops a stone, the player can pick up at the step he didn’t complete, starting from the beginning of that step.

#1: Throw down all five stones. Pick up one and throw it in the air, quickly pick a second stone, while the first is still mid air, and catch it while it falls. You should then have 2 stones in your hands. Put one of them aside, and repeat with each of the remaining 3 stones.
#2: Do like step 1 but pick up two stones at a time. Put two stones aside and repeat.
#3: Repeat step 1 but pick up 3 stones before catching the stone in mid air. Put the 3 stones aside and repeat with remaining stone.

#4: Throw down all five stones. Toss 1 stone in the air, and pick up the remaining four stones at the same time while the first stone is in mid air. Catch it before it lands.

#5: Throw up one stone, and place the other four on the ground. When the stone lands, throw another stone up, grab the four stones and catch the stone before it lands.
#6: Throw all five stones on the ground. Pick two stones. Throw one in the air and swap the other with one on the ground, then catch the other stone before it lands. Repeat with the rest of the stones. You’ll be left with 2 stones in your hands.

#7: Throw up the 2 stones from the end of Step 6. Pick up one stone from the ground, and catch the two falling stones separately in each hand. Repeat until you are left with three stones in one hand and two in the other. Throw the two stones and catch it separately in both hands. Throw the remaining stone and catch it with the hand that has all the stones.

#8: Throw down all the stones. Your opponent selects a stone to be thrown in the air. You have to pick this stone without moving any others, then toss it into the air. Pick up the four stones at the same time, then catch the falling stone.