|© 1930s, Mr. Punga|
|Variant of sungka|
|Stores are sown into|
|6 holes per row|
Ruma (from Malay rumah = "house") was created by Mr. Punga in the 1930s. The game was described in 1942 in a book on recreational mathematics written by the Belgian Maurice Kraitchik (*1882-1957) who was at this time assistant professor at the New School of Social Research in New York City (USA). His book was based on articles published during the 1930s in the Belgian journal Sphinx of which he was the editor-in-chief, but the exact date of the first publication of Ruma has not yet been researched. The game is a predecessor of Pass it on, which was marketed in 1978 by Selchow & Righters in the USA.
The game can be played by 2-4 players. If four players participate, each controls one row. In the two-person game, a player controls two rows opposite each other. In the three-person game one player owns the two rows opposite each other while his opponents have just one row. The latter disadvantaged players should form a coalition against the player who controls two rows.
Towards the board center and parallel to each row, there is a furrow that serves as a store for penalty balls. At the board edges, between the rows are stores for captures named ruma. Each player owns the ruma to his right.
Every row has six holes called pockets.
At the beginning of the game, there are two, three or four red counters called balls. Two are for beginners, four are recommended for experts.
On his turn a player picks up the contents of one of his pockets and distributes the balls, one at a time, anticlockwise into the ensuing pockets and rumas, both his own ones and those of his opponent(s).
The last ball may not be dropped into an empty pocket. A move which would end in an empty pocket is not permitted.
A player must move if he can, but passes if he has nothing to play with. For each pass he receives a penalty ball that is put into the row's corresponding furrow.
A player loses if he receives 12 penalty balls. He wins when he completely empties his row, but has less than 12 penalty points. Draws cannot occur.
In two-person Ruma the game would end after one of the two winning conditions is achieved. The rules are not clear about what happens in three- or four persons games when one player loses, because he has collected 12 penalty points. Perhaps he must continue to play until a winner is found.
- Kraitchik, M.
- (1942) Mathematical Recreations, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Pages 282-283.
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