Chopsticks: The Game

Main Piece:

How do you play?

“Ok, so each player put out their pointer finger on each hand, ok, wait I know this. So… hmmm wait… the goal of the game is to get your partner to have five fingers out on both hands. And then they lose. And the way you play is you stick out your pointer finger on each hand, and you tap one of your partner’s hands, and they have to add a-as many fingers as you currently have out to that hand.”

Do you have any special rules?

“Yes, so let’s say you have three fingers out on one hand and one on the other, and then you want to switch, you can hit your hands and make them two and two. You can transfer as many fingers as you want to your other hand. And even if your hand is out, you can, like, still redistribute fingers to it and bring it back in.”


The informant is my twin sister. She is Jewish and attended public school her entire life. This information was collected during a family zoom call where we were checking in with each other.


My informant’s account of Chopsticks’ rules was quite difficult to understand, which emphasizes that this game is best taught visually and learned through practice. Chopsticks is an engaging and competitive game that lets children exercise their mental math and strategy skills. It’s complicated enough to warrant fierce competition, but simple enough to master after only playing a few rounds. I even established social groups in elementary school through playing chopsticks and similar games.