Apart from xiangqi (Chinese chess) and weiqi (the game of go), liubo was another board game popular in ancient China. It's a game between two players, each of whom has six chess pieces, hence the name "liubo" or "six sticks".
The paraphernalia of the game include a dice, chess pieces, a chess board, chips, a cutting knife, a scraping knife and a case. A chess piece, or "chess" for short, is also known as "ma" or "horse". There are a total of 12 chess pieces - 6 black ones and 6 white (or red) ones, with each color representing one side. The chess board, otherwise known as "wooden board" or "qudao", is usually a near square wooden board with grooves of different rectangular shapes and round dots carved in intaglio on the white or black surface. The grooves are either painted with red lacquer or embedded with ivory. The chips are made of thin bamboo slips. There are two types of chips - long ones and short ones. The chips, varied in number from game to game, are used to keep track of the winning and losing condition of the players. The cutting knife and scraping knife are used to make the numbering chips. The case is for holding the chess tools inside.
The invention of liubo is a lot earlier than that of Chinese chess. It came into existence way back in the Spring and Autumn Period and caught on during the Warring States Period. The game was widely spread during the Qin and Han Dynasties, becoming one of the most popular board games in the imperial court and among the people. Along with the opening up of "the Silk Road" in the Han Dynasty, liubo was introduced abroad. During the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the Sixteen States Period, it was brought to India. The liubo game may have been widely spread, but it gradually fell into oblivion after the Sui and Tang Dynasties.