In our travels around Sardinia, we were in Aritzo for the event Autunno in Barbagia and while walking on the street we heard some people screaming, at first looked like a fight but then the noticed that the sound was following a pattern. We went closed to see what was going on.
They were actually playing a game!
The game is called Sa Murra, and it is a kind of math game and rules can change depending on the region.
Participants can challenge each other either individually or in pairs.
The participant throw as number from one to five, indicating it with their hand stretched forward, clearly visible and say a number
The opponent also do the same.
If the number said for the first participant matches the sum on the numbers “on the table”, he scores 1 point.
The goal of the game is to guess the sum that the numbers thrown by the challengers. For each guessed sum, a point is awarded to the player, until reaching a predetermined score: usually, it goes up to 16.
They will say the numbers in the dialect:
Unu / One ; Dus / Two ; Tresi / Three ; Battero / Four ; Chimbe / Five ; Sesi / Six ; Seti / Seven ; Ottu / Eight ; Noghe / Nine ; Murra/ Morra, Ten
The story of the game
It is possible that the origins of Sa murra back to Ancient Egypt. Indeed, archaeologists found paintings inside the tomb of a high-ranking official, depicting two people crossing their fingers in the classic gesture that is still familiar to us today. Even in Roman times, this game was practiced, called Micatio (from Micare digitis, to mark with the fingers). Sa Murra has been practiced for centuries in Sardinia as well, and in bars and at the end of snacks, especially in the more inland areas, it is not uncommon to witness heated matches.