Saturday, February 12, 2005

Review: Chicken Cha Cha Cha

As the father of six children, I'm always on the lookout for a good children's game. So I was delighted when I discovered Chicken Cha Cha Cha by Klaus Zoch.

Chicken Cha Cha Cha is a delightfully simple game that can be played by youngsters four years old or older (and you could probably go even younger). The most impressive thing about this game is that it's one of those rare games that your kids will probably be able to beat you at! Let me explain.

First of all, what comes in the box? You get a set of four delightful wooden chickens. Each is about three inches tall and brightly colored. You also get a set of four colored wooden "tail feathers" that easily slip into holes in the chickens' back sides. And finally, you get a set of sturdy cardboard tiles that make up the board and the playing area.

The board is constructed by shuffling twenty four egg shaped cardboard tiles and arranging them in a circle. Each tile has one of twelve colorful chicken-related illustrations such as eggs, worms, and flowers. In the center of the circle, you place, face down, twelve octagonal tiles, each one with an illustration that matches two of the egg tiles. Then each chicken is given a tail feather and placed on one of the egg tiles.

On a player's turn, he first turns over an octagonal tile. If the illustration on the tile matches the next vacant egg space, he moves his chicken, turns the tile back over, and goes again. If the illustration doesn't match, then he turns the tile back over and it's the next player's turn.

Whenever a player's chicken passes another chicken, he takes all that chicken's tail feathers. Get all four tail feathers and you win the game. It's that simple.

The beauty of this game is that it rewards players who have a good short-term memory. And that's exactly what makes it so great for young children. If my anecdotal evidence is any indication, a four or five year old's short term memory is almost always superior to an adult's. My six year old routinely beats me at this game.

This is an ideal children's game. It's extremely simple. It's very colorful. The chickens and tail feathers add a very nice tactile element. It's sturdy. And it's a game that your youngster has just as much chance of winning as you do (if not more so). If you have small kids, you really need to give it a look.


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