Pick-up sticks and Mikado are classic games of physical skill that have been enjoyed by people around the world for centuries. Both games involve a bundle of sticks that are held in a vertical position and then released so that they fall in a random pile. Players take turns removing individual sticks from the pile without disturbing the other sticks. In this blog post, we will explore the history of these games, how to play them, and tips for the best strategy.
History of Pick-up Sticks and Mikado
The history of pick-up sticks and Mikado can be traced back to ancient times. Similar games were played in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and the modern version of the game is believed to have originated in Europe in the 18th century. The game was originally played with a bundle of straw or reeds, and it was known as Spillikins.
The game became popular in Europe and was brought to North America by European immigrants in the 19th century. Over time, different versions of the game emerged, with variations in the number of sticks used and the rules of play.
In Japan and other parts of Asia, a specific version of pick-up sticks known as Mikado became popular. The game is named after the Mikado, the traditional title for the Emperor of Japan. Mikado has different rules and a different scoring system than other versions of the game, and it is played with thinner sticks than traditional pick-up sticks.
How to Play Pick-up Sticks
To play pick-up sticks, you will need a bundle of thin sticks, traditionally made of wood. The sticks should be held in a vertical position and then released so that they fall in a random pile.
Players take turns removing individual sticks from the pile without disturbing the other sticks. The goal is to remove as many sticks as possible without causing the other sticks to move.
In some versions of the game, different colored sticks are worth different amounts of points, and players score points based on the sticks they successfully remove. The game is won by the player who has the most points at the end of the game.
Here are the basic rules of how to play Mikado:
Set up the pile: To set up the game, first create a pile of sticks. There are different ways to do this, but one common method is to hold all the sticks together in your hand, then release them so that they fall into a random pile on the playing surface.
Determine the order of play: Before starting the game, determine the order of play. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as by drawing straws, flipping a coin, or simply choosing a player to go first.
Pick up one stick at a time: On their turn, each player must pick up one stick from the pile without moving any other sticks. Players can use their hands or a designated tool, such as a pair of chopsticks or a special Mikado stick, to pick up the sticks.
Keep the sticks you pick up: If a player successfully picks up a stick without disturbing any other sticks in the pile, they get to keep that stick and add its point value to their score. If they accidentally move another stick while trying to pick up a stick, their turn ends and they do not score any points.
Continue play until all sticks are picked up: Play continues in turns, with each player picking up one stick at a time until all the sticks have been picked up. At the end of the game, each player adds up their score based on the point values of the sticks they picked up.
Determine the winner: The player with the highest score at the end of the game is the winner. In some versions of the game, players may play multiple rounds to determine an overall winner.
Mikado is a game that requires a steady hand and careful strategy. With practice and patience, anyone can master the art of picking up sticks and coming out on top in this classic game of skill.
Here are some tips to help you improve your strategy and increase your chances of winning at Mikado:
Know the point values of each stick: In Mikado, each stick has a different point value, ranging from 10 to 50 points. It's important to know the point values of each stick so that you can make strategic decisions about which sticks to go for and which ones to avoid.
Start with the low-point sticks: Just like in traditional pick-up sticks, it's a good idea to start with the sticks that are easiest to remove. In Mikado, this usually means going for the sticks with lower point values. This will give you a chance to build your confidence and score some points before going for the more challenging sticks.
Use the "helping sticks" to your advantage: In Mikado, there are certain sticks that are designated as "helping sticks". These sticks can be used to remove other sticks from the pile without penalty. If you can remove a high-point stick using a helping stick, it can be a great way to score some points without risking penalty points.
Look for opportunities to create chains: One strategy in Mikado is to look for opportunities to create chains of sticks. If you can remove one stick in a way that causes another stick to move, you can sometimes create a chain reaction that allows you to remove multiple sticks in a single turn.
Be careful not to disturb the other sticks: In Mikado, as in traditional pick-up sticks, it's important to be careful not to disturb the other sticks while you're trying to remove one. If you accidentally move other sticks, you may be penalized with negative points or lose your turn. Take your time and plan your moves carefully to minimize the risk of disturbing the pile.
By following these tips, you can improve your strategy and increase your chances of winning at Mikado. Whether you're playing for fun or competing with friends, Mikado is a challenging and rewarding game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels.
Pick-up sticks and Mikado are timeless games that have been enjoyed by generations of players all over the world. Whether you're looking for a fun way to pass the time with friends and family, or want to test your skill and strategy in a competitive setting, these games offer something for everyone. By understanding the history, rules, and strategies of these games, you can improve your gameplay and increase your chances of winning. So next time you're in the mood for a challenging and rewarding game, pick up a set of sticks and give Mikado or pick-up sticks a try!