Rimau-rimau is a two-player abstract strategy board game that belongs to the hunt game family. This family includes games like Bagh-Chal, Main Tapal Empat, Aadu puli attam, Catch the Hare, Sua Ghin Gnua, the Fox games, Buga-shadara, and many more. Rimau-rimau is the plural of rimau which means "tiger" in the Malay language. Therefore, rimau-rimau means "tigers". The several hunters attempting to surround and immobilize the tigers are called orang-orang which is the plural of orang which means "man". Therefore, orang-orang means "men" and there are twenty-two or twenty-four of them depending on which version of the game is played. The game originates from Malaysia.
Rimau-rimau is specifically part of the tiger hunt game family (or tiger game family) since its board consist partly of an Alquerque board. In contrast, Leopard games are also hunt games, but use a more triangular pattern board and not an Alquerque-based board. Fox games are also hunt games, but use a patterned board that resembles a cross.
Two versions of this game are described below: Version A and Version B. Both use two rimau-rimau (two tigers). The main difference is that Version A uses 24 orang-orang while Version B uses only 22 orang-orang.
There is also a single rimau version to this game aptly called Rimau with very similar rules.
Stewart Culin in his book Chess and Playing Cards: Catalogue of Games and Implements for Divination Exhibited by the United States National Museum in Connection with the Department of Archaeology and Paleontology of the University of Pennsylvania at the Cotton States and International Exposition (1898) briefly describes the game with an illustration and refers to it as "Dam Hariman or Tiger Game, the Malayan Game of Fox and Geese". Culin does not actually describe the rules, but since he compares it to Fox and Geese, then it can be assumed to be a hunt game; morever it's in the section of the book that deals with hunt games.
There are many names and variants of the game (see Variants section).
From here on, the rimau or rimau-rimau will be simply referred to as tiger and tigers respectively. The same also applies to the orang and orang-orang, and they will be referred to as man and men respectively.
The game consists of a standard Alquerque board, but flanked on two of its opposite sides are triangular boards called "gunung" which means mountain. There are two black pieces called tigers, and 22 or 24 white pieces called men. Version A has 24 men, and version B has 22 men.
Two versions of this game are described.
- In the beginning the two tigers are placed at the vertex of the two mountains that connects to the Alquerque board.
- Nine men are initially placed on the nine intersection points of the central square of the Alquerque board.
- Throughout the game, pieces are always situated on the intersection points, and move along the marked lines between them.
- The tiger player moves first and removes any 3 men from the board. Then, the tiger player may also pick up one of his tigers, and reallocate it on any empty point on the board, or the tigers can simply remain where they are already.
- The man player moves next, and must drop his or her remaining 15 pieces on any vacant intersection point on the board one piece per turn before he or she can begin to move any of them. This will take 15 turns.
- Players alternate their turns.
- The tigers can move or capture from the beginning.
- After the 15 men have been dropped, the men can begin to move. Only one man may be moved in a turn. A man moves (in any available direction) along a marked line onto a vacant adjacent intersection point. Men cannot perform a capture.
- Similarly, only one tiger may be moved in a turn. A tiger moves (in any available direction) along a marked line onto a vacant adjacent intersection point. Alternatively, a tiger can perform a capturing move instead. Tigers can capture an odd number of men (e.g. 1, 3, 5, or 7). The tiger must be adjacent to the man or line of men, and leap over them onto a vacant intersection point adjacently beyond. Leaped piece(s) are removed from the board. If more than one man is captured in the leap, the men must be lined up right next to each other with no vacant points in between them. Once a man or a line of men are leaped over and captured, the tiger can no longer capture further or move. Captures are not compulsory.
- If the men are reduced to 10 or 11 pieces, the men will usually resign as there is not enough of them to effectively immobilize the two tigers.
- The men win if they block the movement of the two tigers (i.e. the tigers are not able to perform a legal move or capture in their turn).
- The tigers win if they capture all the men, or capture as many men as possible so that the men cannot block their movements.
Similar to Version A except that there are only 22 men, and 8 of which are placed on the eight intersection points surrounding the central point of the board at the beginning of the game with the central intersection point left empty. The tiger player also only removes one man in the beginning (as oppose to 3 men in Version A). The man player must drop his or her remaining 14 pieces before he or she can begin to move any of them. Play is exactly the same from here on.
A similar game to Rimau-rimau is played by the Iban tribe in Borneo called Main Machan. There are a few differences however one of which is that there are 28 anak (children) in Main Machan as compared to 24 or 22 orang-orang (men) in Rimau-rimau. Children are playing the role of the men in this case. Furthermore, instead of rimau-rimau (tigers), the two pieces are called endo (women) in Main Machan. Lastly, the anak can jump over an endo using the short leap method as in draughts, but the endo piece is not captured. There may be more variations of the game with differences in rules, board design, and number of pieces.
Another account from the book "The Achehnese" (1906) states that these type of games were referred to as Machanan or the "tiger-game" in Java, but referred to as meurimueng-rimueng (tiger-game) among the Acehnese. Meurimueng-rimueng is described slightly differently from both versions of Rimau-rimau. It consists of the usual two tigers, but with 23 sheep (as oppose to 22 or 24 men). It is most similar to Version B as the game begins with 8 sheep on the eight intersection points surrounding the central point of the board. But instead of the central intersection point being left empty, the two tiger pieces are placed on it. It does not specifically mention if the two tigers are stacked on top of one another on the central point, or if the second tiger is entered separately and after the first tiger has moved away from the central point. Moreover, the remaining 15 sheep are only entered if a sheep on the board is captured. This means that only at most 8 sheep are allowed on the board at any time, but can 8 sheep effectively block the two tigers? Whether this is an accurate description of the game is questionable.
Asymmetry of the game
Rimau-rimau is an asymmetric game in that the pieces controlled by one player is different from the pieces controlled by the other player. Tiger pieces can capture whereas men can only block the tigers. Furthermore, the number of pieces is different for each player. The tiger player controls the 2 tiger pieces, and the man player controls the 22 or 24 man pieces. Lastly, the goals of each player are different. The goal of the tigers is to eliminate as much men as possible which would prevent the men from blocking their movements. However, the goal of the men is to block the movements of the tigers.
- Main Tapal Empat
- Aadu puli attam
- Fox games
- Winther, Mats. "Asian Tiger games, hunt games from Asia". Asian Tiger games. August 2006. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
- Culin, Stewart (1898). Chess and Playing-Cards: Catalogue of Games and Implements for Divination Exhibited by the United States National Museum in Connection with the Department of Archaeology and Paleontology of the University of Pennsylvania at the Cotton States and International Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia, 1895. Washington: Government Printing Office. p. 875. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- Selin, Helaine. "Mathematics Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Mathematics". Google Books. Kluwer Academic Publishers Dordrecht/Boston/London (2000) pgs. 278, 280-281. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
- Hurgronje, Christiaan Snouck; O'Sullivan, Arthur Warren Swete; Wilkinson, Richard James (1906). The Achehnese. Leyden: E.J. Brill. pp. 203–204. Retrieved 16 July 2016.