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How To Play Jiuling

Here we outline how to play the Jiuling; the ancient Chinese drinking game that’s still played around barstools today. The game is also sometimes known as Fingers. Unlike most other drinking games this one doesn’t require any equipment. No cards, dice or anything like that so it’s perfect for any social setting.

History Of Jiuling

Said to have originated over 3000 years ago, that means this is probably the oldest drinking game that’s still played today. Dated back to the 11th century’s Western Zhou Dynasty it was originally made to regulate people’s drinking by having them only take a sip when losing the game.

The game is played in two distinct styles. The common version was for anyone and everyone, and was as simple as the rules below. However there was also a literary version that was only to be played and enjoyed by those of higher social stature. The key difference in the literary version being the introduction of riddles or trivia between rounds to appease the more educated crowd.

Juiling Rules

Beyond all the history and intricacies lies a very simple drinking game. Try to guess how many fingers will be showing between all the players.


To play this game first everyone must sit or stand in a circle with both hands behind their backs. At the count of 3 everyone must do two things at the same time; Show one of their hands with 0-5 outstretched fingers and also say a number.

Players can hold out any number of fingers they want on one hand including none at all. Now whoever shouted a number closest to the total number of fingers showing between all players wins the game and all the others must take a drink.

Be careful not to let anyone shout their numbers late because it’s very easy for someone to cheat in Jiuling and count the fingers before shouting.