This text is talking about pearls.


更胜一筹, 略胜一筹:slightly better, a cut above.

Maybe, this comes from an ancient drinking game:


You got more arrows in the pot than your opponent, he had to drink more 白酒 as punishment.

The Chinese like drinking games! (Me too!)

baidu: 笴: 箭杆 gě, gǎn

Maybe 筹 was the classifier for 笴?? What is 筹 in 更胜一筹?

  • ?Simple Google will give you 筹 means 筹码 – Toosky Hierot Dec 8 '19 at 2:27

筹 (chip) was a counting tool in ancient time. It was used by mathematicians for calculating.

運筹 was then used as a metaphor for the calculations strategists and military experts did

Idiom: "運筹帷幄" (moving chips inside the tent) means "strategizing in headquarters" ( before go the field or not even need to be in the field)

胜一筹 literally means "one step ahead" and it evolved to mean "one up"; "bested (v)" and "a level above"

略胜一筹 (slightly better by one calculating step) means "slightly a step ahead" or "at a slightly higher level"

筹 is not a classifier but a noun for "level" in modern Chinese, e.g. "技高数" (a few levels higher in skill); "力胜一" (one level higher in strength)

更胜一筹, 略胜一筹:'slightly better', 'a cut above' are correct translations


Grand Ricci defines 胜一筹 as:

(loc.) L’emporter de justesse, de peu.

Google translate renders this into English as:

To prevail narrowly, little.

一筹 is defined,

in ABC as:

bit; notch; cut

and in Pleco as:

chip (used as a counter)-move

and in Oxford as:

brilliant move

and in KEY as:

chip (used as a counter)/a move

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