May God continue the unity of our country as this railroad unites the two great oceans of the world

(engraved on the 'golden spike')

(Note: The background image for this page is a portion of a labor contract between hopeful Chinese laborers and an American shipping company in 1850. The company agrees to give them passage from Shanghai to America (otherwise known as Gum Shan -- 'Gold Mountain') and in return the workers are to pay a part of their wages in America each month until the costs are paid back.)

The game's splash screen

Note: The images and concepts on this homepage and subsequent pages are copyrighted: copyright 1998 P.S. Neeley, all rights reserved.

Part of the Winning screenShap Luk Kon Tseung Kwan (Sixteen Pursue the General) -- an ancient Chinese game of strategy

April, 1869. The western desert of Utah, near the north edge of the Great Salt Lake. Thousands of 'Celestials' (Chinese Laborers) struggle to build the track-bed of the 'iron road' -- the great transcontinental railroad -- and you're going to meet one, and learn his game, under very strange circumstances.

''Shap Luk Kon Tseung Kwan' is Cantonese for, roughly, 'Sixteen Pursue the General'. It was a game very popular among Chinese laborers and children -- the German scholar Himly noted its popularity on his travels in southern China of the 1870s and that he often found 'Shap Luk Kon Tseung Kwan' boards scratched out in the dust of quiet rural roads. It would have undoubtedly made its way to American with Chinese miners and railroad workers and there can be little doubt that it was played by them beneath a certain arch, on a certain ridge in the western desert of Utah.

BUT, it is very probably much older than the 1800s. Its methods of capture -- 'Intervention' and 'Custodian' are very ancient methods found in games that originate before, often much before, 1000 AD. -- It is most likely this old or even older. These ancient capture methods and its 'strange' triangular 'privy' area give it a uniqueness that includes it in most modern books about games, but, frankly, there is very little known of its true history. The name 'Sixteen pursue the General' is a probably a veiled reference to an historical event -- which often happens in the history of the naming of games -- and it probably went by many names as its opposing pieces were attached to and held representative of real historical opponents down through the centuries.

It is an unbalanced game with the strength on the 'Soldiers' side, but the game can be 'exactly' balanced by using the concept of simultaneous games (see Schmittberger, p. 34). By playing two games at once, with each player taking the General position in one game and the Soldiers position in the other, the task becomes to win as quickly as possible with the Soldiers while holding out as long as possible with the General -- a challenging and complex task.

'Shap Luk Kon Tseung Kwan' was played in ancient China since probably before 1000 AD. and in the American West as late as the 1870s. Now it is here again in the present, recreated through the magic of electrons and phosphorus, for you to play. Welcome to a game of the ancient Chinese -- countless common laborers, peasants, merchants, children, miners, railroad workers, and now you!

Download it right from here ( -- 1.45 Mb)

Interested in just the rules and history of the game?  Then download just the Windows Help file if you'd like.

Note: This program requires VBRUN300.DLL to exist on your system.

Shap Luk Board

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