Morra: the hand game which stood the test of time
Past-time traditionally associated with pirates and sailors kept alive by association in south Catalonia
Morra is a game dating back thousands of years, all the way to ancient Greece and Rome. It became traditionally associated with sailors and pirates along the way, but over the years it has grown popular beyond port bars and taverns. As is the case in the southern coastal town of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, where the Morràpita association keeps the past-time alive. As well as taking part in Morra competitions at home and away, the group is often invited to schools and colleges in order to spread the virtues of this age-old game.
Simplicity is the key
The rules are simple enough. A minimum of two players go head to head in a battle of wits. Each player must reveal their hands, holding out a certain amount of fingers, from zero to five. At the same time, they call out their guess of what the total number of fingers is. Whoever guesses correctly wins a point. For one member of Morràpita, the game’s simplicity is the key to its survival over millennia.
“As it is a counting game, and only 2 people and their hands are needed, the game has survived so long in the Mediterranean and elsewhere,” explained Rafa Balagué, spokesman for Morràpita.