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Miscellaneous Physical Play Chopsticks

Counting Game, Elimination Game and Hand and Finger Play

There are a couple of varieties of Chopsticks, a hand and finger game that is sometimes used as an elimination game.


At School 16

Chopsticks was played as a selection game at School 16 Pimary school. It appears in video and on photo but there is no textual description of it. Video located at Museum Victoria. Photos at National Library of Australia Video located at Museum Victoria. Photos at National Library of Australia

At School 09

Players: 2
Age: 8-9

This was a complicated counting and calculating game played at great speed.

At School 04

Players: 2
Age: 10

This is a game of quick mental calculation. It is based on adding together the number of fingers held out by each person when one player taps the other player's hand with his own. Each player uses one hand to tap with, and they don't change hands during the game. Either hand can be tapped. Players: take turns to do the tapping, and only the player whose hand is tapped changes the number of fingers he holds out.

The two players hold out index fingers on both hands to start. Player 1 taps Player 2's index finger and Player 2 puts out another finger (1 finger + 1 finger = 2 fingers). If Player 2 then taps Player 1's index finger with his 2 fingers, Player 1 must put out two more fingers to make 3 (1 finger + 2 fingers = 3 fingers). If Player 1 then uses his 3 fingers to tap Player 2's 2 fingers, the total for Player 2 is 5, which means that hand is 'out' and has to be put behind the back.

The aim of the game is to get the other player out by making him put both hands behind his back. This requires quick calculation to work out which hand to tap each time, in order to make the other player reach 5 fingers.

At School 12

Players: 6
Age: 9

Girls are sitting in a circle on pavement near door of their classroom waiting in line for class to begin. They are playing a finger game called 'Chopsticks'. AREA S.

Players: 2
Age: 8-9

The game starts with one finger on each hand being extended towards the other person (usually the index finger, like pointing). Both girls do this.

One girl taps one of the other girl's extended fingers with her own. The number of fingers that do the tapping is added to the number of fingers that are tapped, and the girl whose fingers are tapped has to put more fingers out to make that total. i.e. One finger (the tapper) and one finger (the tapped) makes two fingers, so the girl who was tapped now extends another finger to make two.

Then it's the second girl's turn to tap the fingers of the first girl. If she uses the hand that has two fingers extended, the first girl will have to show three fingers on the hand that is tapped, i.e. two fingers (tapper) plus one finger (tapped) makes three fingers.

The game goes on in this way until someone taps a hand and the total of fingers makes five, then that hand is 'out', so it is put behind the back and the player continues to play with one hand. The loser is the person who has to put both hands behind her back first.

If the total of fingers is more than five, the hand can remain in the game, but only the number of fingers over and above five are shown, e.g. four fingers tap two fingers and the total is six, so the hand can remain in the game but must show only one finger (5 + 1 = 6). This lets the game last longer.

When a player has only one hand left in the game, if she is tapped and the total of fingers is two, she can 'split' the two fingers between her two hands by showing one finger on each hand, thereby bringing the 'out' hand back into play.

Played at