Around 500 card players across Bali will take part in the first official ceki (traditional Balinese card game) tournament at Kompyang Sujana Sports Center in Denpasar from Dec. 8 through Dec. 9.
Originally played by the peranakan (people of Chinese descent) community in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, like Malaysia and Singapore, ceki is currently associated with illegal gambling in Bali.
This first ever ceki tournament in Bali is being organized by the Federation of Indonesian Community Recreational Sports’ (FORMI) Bali chapter.
“Many people in Bali are very enthusiastic about taking part in the tournament, but we have had to limit the number of participants,” Gede Joni, a member of the organizing committee, said.
Ceki has long been one of the most popular card games among Balinese – young and old, men and women.
During the tournament, unlike during play commonly, there will be no betting. The tournament is to apply a points system similar to that applied for bridge games.
Bridge, however, has an international organization, namely the World Bridge Federation, which has been acknowledged as part of the Olympic movement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1995.
“We have created a set of rules and regulations published in the ceki tournament guidebook. The guidebook emphasizes that there will be no betting on the games. This is just for recreation,” Joni stated.
The tournament will involve 30 referees. Every referee will have to handle one table consisting of four to five players.
“The game system will be similar to the original ceki game, with some modifications here and there,” he added.
Every contestant will have to compete against the other four players for a period of 1.5 hours.
“The player with the highest points is entitled to continue to the next level of the game, and to the final stage if he/she can maintain the highest points,” Joni explained enthusiastically.
FORMI Chairman, AA Ngurah Oka Ratmadi, said that it was hoped the tournament would be a creative way of removing the gambling element from the traditional game, while at the same time preserving it as a Balinese tradition.
“So, we have two goals, recreation and culture preservation,” Ratmadi said.
FORMI Bali, which was established a few months ago, regards ceki as a form of recreational sport. Prior to its decision to host the tournament, last September FORMI Bali conducted research into the public perception of the game through a set of focus group discussions (FGD).
The FGD involved several community organizations in Bali, including the Indonesia Hindu Parisadha Council (PHDI), the Grand Council of Customary Villages (MDP), some academics and even police personnel.