Historical insights about board games
Born in China over 4000 years ago, the GO game currently boasts 46 million people who know the rules, and 20 million active players, most of them live in the Far East.
It is a simple game as far as its rules are concerned, but extremely complex as far as possible developments, to the point that a Korean proverb says that no game of Go has ever been played twice, which is likely if you think that there are 2,08 x 10 ^ 170 possible positions.
The game set consists of a chess board (goban) with a grid of 19 squares by 19, players place in the intersections of this grid of the checkers called stones, in an attempt to occupy the majority of the goban without these are surrounded and "eaten".
Legend has it that the Chinese Emperor Jao (2337-2258 BC) ordered his advisor Shun to invent for his son Danzhu a game that stimulated him concentration, balance and discipline. The use of stone pieces similar to those of the Go was widespread in China since tribal times: for example, generals used it to plan attacks and were also used to predict the future. A favourite game of the Chinese aristocracy, it is one of the four arts that a gentleman (junzi) had to master to be considered such: calligraphy, painting, playing Guqin and playing Go.
Players of the Go, illustration dating back to the Song dynasty, X sec. d.c.
Following the Buddhist monks, Chan landed in the 5th century A.D. in Korea and then in Japan in the 7th century.
In Japan it retains its elitist connotations, an edict of 701 by Empress Jito reserves the game to the aristocratic class.
Even the monks could play it because it was not considered one of the gambling, forbidden to them. The Samurai used it to train their minds in military strategy. In Kyoto the Nichirens Buddhist monks founded the Hon'inbō school, the first major school in Go, active until 1940.
Beginning in 1603, with the unification of Japan, the game entered its golden age in a continuous crescendo over the course of two and a half centuries. Great honors were reserved for professional champions who with their victories acquired prestige and power, and all this raised the level of the game.
In 800 Japan enters the industrial era and the Go, game of feudal origin, loses its attractiveness.
It will be recovered and made more democratic and popular in the course of the '900.
Chinese of the Ming dynasty era playing go (16th century).
In the meantime, the Go began to spread to the West at the end of the 19th century, when the German scientist Oskar Korschelt wrote a treatise on the game. At the beginning of the '900 the game was already widespread in the German and Austrian empires, and in 1905 landed in the United States where in 1935 the American Go Association was founded.
The Japanese influence is still very strong and is reflected in the terminology of the game: the Japanese words used worldwide to designate particular moves or moments of the game, are a kind of language that helps the players of the GO to understand each other.
Geishe playing Go - Japanese press of 1811.
Two players of the Go in Shangai, with the traditional finger position.
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Mayong is a board game usually for 4 people, based on 144 tiles with Chinese characters and symbols; it is a game of skill, strategy and calculation. It’s impossible to win by counting on luck.
It is a game of combinations (tris, pairs and scales), which presents some analogies with Western card games, such as rummy or forty scale. The aim of the game is, for each player, to create combinations with all their tiles: the first to succeed wins.
THE LEGEND AND THE HISTORY
Mahjong was born in China in the middle of the 19th century and in Chinese it was originally called 麻 雀 (máquè), that is "sparrow", from the tinkling of the tiles when they are mixed, which resembles the chatter of the sparrows. The tiles have been adapted from an existing card game since the 15th century, called Mah Tiae (hanging horse).
An ancient legend tells that the game was invented in the sixth century by Confucius. True or not this legend, the symbology of the game is inspired by to the Confucian doctrine. For example, in the case of the Three Dragons the red Zhong, the green Fa and the white Bai, in fact, represent respectively Benevolence, Sincerity and Filial Love. The ancient name also recalls Confucius' love for birds.
The legend also says that the game was born to the exclusive prerogative of the Royals, and that being surprised to play it involved the loss of life.
These are the legends of the origins, but the first piece of which we have traces dates back to 1880, made of ivory.
It is believed to have been a pastime devised by Chinese army officers during the Tai Ping Rebellion (1851-1864). Some say that between 1870 and 1875 he was a nobleman of Shanghai. For others they were two brothers of the city of Ningbo (1850).
In 1885, the first Mahjong article was published in the United States by Stewart Culin, an American ethnographer and author. Subsequently, Abercrombie & Fitch began to import them to the United States from China and the success was immediately striking: tournaments and parties were born based on this game, also spoke several songs. It was played mainly by women and was the favorite game of American Jews.
Two table of Mah Jong.
Success in the USA was the beginning of widespread in the world.
In Italy the game arrived brought by Chinese street vendors who took it with them and played it especially in the port cities where they arrived. In 1923 the Ravenna seller Michele Valvassori began to market them. It spread mainly in Romagna where it was played assiduously in bars and in city circles, from there it spread in Emilia, mainly in the city of Correggio.
With the birth of the People’s Republic of China, Mahjong was banned as a gambling game, then after the Cultural Revolution it was rehabilitated and became one of the main pastimes of Chinese of all ages.
THE MAHJONG TODAY
Mahjong is currently played all over the world and includes dozens of variations, 30 only in mainland China. Among the many classic Western Mahjong, Japanese Mahjong, American Mahjong (Mah Jongg), the Pusser Bones, developed by the Australian Navy, Hong Kong Mahjong or Cantonese, the most popular today. In the United States it is played mainly by women, in Japan it is much loved and practiced by men and women especially as gambling (also online).
Currently the internet is the place where you play most in Mahjong, all over the world, there are countless sites dedicated to him, both in the free version and as gambling.
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We also point out this site from where you can play directly online: Mahjong - the site for lovers of Mahjong! >>>
A legend tells that a Hindu king, named Ladava, won a great battle to defend his kingdom, and that, to be right of the enemy, he had to perform a strategic action in which his son lost his life. From that day on, the king had no longer given himself peace, because he felt guilty for the death of his son, and he continually reasoned on how he could win without sacrificing the life of his son: every day he revised the pattern of battle, but without finding a solution. They all sought to make the king glad, but none could. One day a Brahman came to the palace, Lahur Sessa, who, to cheer the king, proposed him a game he had invented: the game of chess. The king became fond of this game and, by force of play, understood that there was no way to win that battle without sacrificing a piece, that is, his son. The king was finally happy, and asked Lahur Sessa what reward he wanted: riches, a palace, a province or whatever. The monk refused, but the king insisted for days, until finally Lahur Sessa, looking at the chessboard, said to him: «You will give me a grain of wheat for the first house, two for the second, four for the third, eight for the fourth and so on». The king laughed at this request, amazed that the Brahman could ask for anything and instead content himself with a few grains of wheat. The next day, the court mathematicians went to the king and informed him that to fulfill the monk’s request, harvests from the whole kingdom would not be enough for eight hundred years. In this way, Lahur Sessa taught the king that an apparently modest request can conceal an enormous cost. In fact, by making calculations, the Brahman asked for 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 (18 trillion 446 billiards of 744 trillion 73 billion 709 million 551 thousand 615) grains of wheat. In any case, the king understood, the Brahman withdrew the request and became the governor of one of the provinces of the kingdom. An accredited source in The Lüneburg variant by Paolo Maurensig reports that the monk was killed.
In 1831 in the Scottish Hebrides, 93 artifacts were found on the Isle of Lewis, including 78 pieces from the game Hnefatafl, an ancient version of modern chess. The pieces date back to the 12th century.
They are 8 kings, 8 queens, 16 bishops [bishops], 15 knights [horses], 12 guards (very powerful soldiers, the equivalent of today’s towers), 19 pedestrians. All the pieces were probably made in Norway, carved by walrus tusks.
It is a game that was very much practiced within the Norse culture and spread throughout Europe traveling in the wake of Viking ships.
Its origins go back to a game of Ancient Rome.
This ancient passatempoo in vogue among the Roman legionaries with the name of Ludus Latrunculorum. It derived from a similar Greek game known as Pente Grammai, itself an evolution of a sort of chess played in ancient Egypt.
The Hnefatalf (game of the King) was played in Europe long before, brought by the Arabs, the game of chess arrived towards the year 1000 in the version we know, dating back to the sixth century, which gradually took its place with the end of the Viking domination.
Modern chess precursors were born in India during the Gupta Empire. There, its first form in the sixth century was known as chaturanga , which translates into "four divisions (of the army)": infantry, cavalry, elephants and tanks . These forms are represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop and tower respectively.
Chess was introduced to Persia from India and became part of the education of the Persian nobility. In Sassanid Persia around 600 the name became Chatrang, which later the Arabs changed to Shatranj, due to the lack in Arabic of the originals, and the rules were developed further. Players started calling "Shāh!" ("King!" in Persian - our chess) when attacking the opposing king and "Shah Māt!" ("the king is helpless" - our checkmate) when the king is attacked without escape. These exclamations followed chess as it spread throughout the known world by Arab merchants.
Initially the game presented some differences with our version.
For example, the pawn corresponding to our bishop was an elephant then became a human figure, which, by assonance with the Arabic term al-fil was called bishop.
The tower was originally a camel and the queen was introduced in 1500 in place of the Vizier (fers in Arabic), who had much smaller mobility possibilities.
In Europe, not being, unlike other games, opposed by the Church, chess was adopted immediately by the noble classes, who made it a distinctive sign, considering it a refined art unlike dice and cards, played in taverns.
In fact, it was a Dominican friar, Jacobus de Cessolis, who wrote around 1300 the Ludus scacchorum or Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium ac popularium super Udo scachorum, a small moralizing book that uses the pawns and the allegory of the game of chess to spread its idea that everyone, from the king to the pawn have their own role and the possibility of making changes.
The medieval rules of chess differ from the current ones: the pawns on the first move could not be moved by two boxes, the bishop moved only by two boxes and as the horse could jump the pieces, the woman moved only diagonally and one position at a time. Besides Checkmate and stalemate, a particular situation called Naked was contemplated: when the King remained alone on the chessboard.
The rules arrived to us were established in the seventeenth century.
The Chess Today
A survey of the current number of chess players, estimated at 60,000,000, was released by the FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) in 2012.
In modern times, chess retains the function it has always had in history: to be a test for the best qualities of each person.
Patience, cunning, concentration, courage, decision, reflexiveness, ability to make projects and ability to change their plans when necessary.
Not surprisingly, when a Russian and an American were the contenders for the crown of world champion in 1972 at the time of the Cold War, the contest had a planetary resonance. Two worlds openly challenged each other through their champions.
World Chess Championship 1972
|Robert James Fischer
|30 january 1937
|9 march 1943
|Vincitore del World Chess Championship 1969||Winner of the 1971 Candidates Tournament|
|Rating Elo: 2660||Rating Elo: 2785|
|Date: 11 July - 1º september|
Soviet champion Boris Spassky won his title against American Robert James Fisher in a match in Reykjavík that ended with the challenger winning 12.5 to 8.5 after a disastrous start by the American. The world remained breathless until the end, and the results of the matches constantly occupied the front pages of the newspapers and the headlines of the news.
The vast interest aroused by this game has stimulated the manufacturers of computers: the story will remain the double challenge between the then world champion, Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue, the computer created for chess by IBM.
The date of the first challenge is February 10, 1996, the place Philadelphia. Kasparov beats Deep Blue 4 to 2.
The year after the rematch: Kasparov falls into trivial errors, then tries to surprise the computer with unusual games and eventually must surrender, accusing IBM of having used a great chess master to pilot the computer (later retract doing self-criticism).
Result: 3½ to 2½ for Deep Blue, with IBM quotes up 10%!
Snakes and Ladders is a traditional board game, born in England and widespread especially in English-speaking countries. It is a very simple path game, rather similar to the Game of the Goose. As in the Game of the Goose, the outcome of a game is completely determined by the roll of the dice.
Snakes and Ladders's origin is found in India, in a game based on morality which in Indian language is called Paramapada Sopanam (the Ladder for Salvation).
Widely played since ancient times and known as Moksha Patamu, this hobby shows us how Indians conceived morals. Hindu spiritual masters used it to educate children about the effects of good and evil. The ladders are the virtues and the snakes the vices.
Moksha, or the Salvation of the Soul, may be achieved through good deeds, while behaving badly one obtains reincarnation in lower life forms (Patamu).
Ladders are few in this game, while snakes are many: the good is difficult to achieve, while the ways of evil are easy to follow. It is difficult to climb because the many snakes make you slide down.
Even the numbered boxes reached are significant: number 100 is called Moksha, that is Salvation.
Then we have Faith (51), Generosity (57), Knowledge (76), Ascetism (78).
The boxes of evil are: Disobedience (41), Vanity (44), Vulgarity (49), Theft (52), Lie (58), Drunkenness (62), Debt (69), Anger (84), Greed (92), Arrogance (95), Murder (73) and Lust (99).
In this game Indian religion and morals are important. The last opponent to defeat is Lust. It is not just the sexual one, in India means the greed to take possession of things that are not ours, it is also the worst form of envy that blinds and hides the path to Salvation.
Using this tool, Indian educators discussed with their pupils all the moral doubts and dilemmas that children faced during their growth.
Imported into England in 1892 with the current name of Snakes and Ladders, the game was in line with Victorian puritanism of the time. The names of some boxes were changed and thus Penance, Parsimonity and Industriousness raise the player with a ladder up to the Divine Grace, Satisfaction and Success box, while Indolence, Indulgence and Disobedience cause him to slip into the Poverty, Illness and Misfortune boxes. In this version the number of ladders and that of the snakes are the same.
Board and rules
The traditional board of "snakes and ladders" represents a path of bustrophedical form, usually consisting of 10 rows of 10 boxes. The path is made by a certain number of "ladders" and "snakes" that cross the board vertically, joining two boxes in different lines. The position of the ladders and snakes may vary. Similar to what happens in the Game of yhe Goose, the players proceed with the number of squares indicated by the throwing of a dice.
A marker that arrives in a box "at the foot" of a ladder is moved to the box at the top of the ladder; vice versa, a marker that arrives in a box with the mouth of a snake "recedes" to the tail. In most versions, a player who throw 6 has the right to play again.
The winner is who arrives first in the last box of the path. In some variants (not always), the last box must be reached with the exact throwing of a dice; any points in excess would lead the marker to reach the goal and then recede the remaining points.
Ludo (from the Latin ludus, "game") is a popular board game; is a modern and simplified variant of the Indian Pachisi. It was published for the first time in 1896 by the John Jaques & Son publishing house in London, to which many other "classics" are due, including Tiddlywinks game and Ladders and Snakes. In Italy there is a variant, called "Non t'arrabbiare", which allows the game up to six players.
Pachisi or twenty-five is a game born in ancient India, described as the "national game of India". It is played on a board in a symmetrical cross shape. The player's pieces move around the board according to the throwing of six or seven shells, the number of shells that remain with an opening indicates the number of boxes corresponding to the movement.
The name of the game comes from Hindi: pachis means 25, the largest score that can be achieved by the throwing of the shells. Usually palyed by 4 players, 2 per team, one team with yellow and black pieces, the other with red and green ones.
Pachisi may be very old, but so far we do not know its history before the XVI century. There is a representation, dating back to the VI or VII century, of God Shiva and Goddess Parvati playing Chaupar (a strictly connected game). In fact, this depicts only the dices and not the frame that distinguishes Pachisi.
There is a large XVI century garden version in Fatehpur Sikri Palace, in northern India at the time of the Great Mogul Akbar the Great (15 October 1542 - 27 October 1605).
The English philologist Irving Finkel writes about it:
"Pachisi was played by Akbar in a truly regal way. The playing field was divided into red and white squares and a huge stone on four supports represented the central point. It was here that Akbar and his courtiers played this game; sixteen young harem slaves, who wore the colors of the game, represented the pieces and moved into the boxes according to the throwing of the dice. It is said that the Emperor was so fond of this large-scale game that he set up a courtyard for Pachisi in each of his palaces, and traces of it are still visible in Agra and Allahabad.
So far, these great game fields are still the first solid evidence of the existence of this game in India. The importance of the game in Indian history remains to be studied. It is often said that Pachisi is a game of chanc,e that played such a significant role in Mahabharata, one of the greatest epic poems in India, but the descriptions, as they are, do not exactly coincide with the game in question and this conclusion is perhaps wrong”.
The board is made by four boxes at the corners, called "base boxes", and by a central path that follows the frame of a cross and ends in the middle of another large box. In each arm of the cross there is also a path of 6 boxes, which starts from a special box, the starting box, located on the frame of the cross, and continues up to a central box (the arrival box). Each player is assigned a column and a set of pawns (usually four).
The pawns and the columns of the different players are distinguished by different colors: generally red, green, yellow and blue.
The players' pawns make their entry into the board from the starting box and must travel the whole board; once they are back to the starting box, they will take the path to the arrival box.
Initially each player puts his pawns in his base box. The aim of the game is to get all your pieces into the path and, after a whole lap, get them to the center before the opponents.
To enter a pawn in the game, a throwing of dice must roll 6. A player throws a dice and moves his pawns according to the number that came out. For each die roll, only one piece could be moved, corresponding to the number of boxes.
If the player in turn gets 6 with the dice, he has the right to play again. Furthermore, he can choose whether to move a pawn already in play by 6 squares, or enter a new pawn on the board. If a pawn ends its movement on a box occupied by an opposing pawn, the latter returns to its base box, from which it can exit again only with a 6 of the die roll. Instead, when a pawn reaches a box occupied by a pawn of the same color, it "ride on its back" and the two pawns continue the race together: from this moment on, the two (or more) pawns cannot be overtaken by opposing pawns and cannot not even be sent back to the base.
If a player cannot make a valid move, he passes the turn.
When a pawn completed the lap of the board, from the initial box it proceeds to the final column which leads to the arrival box. From this moment on, the pawn could only be moved by the exact steps that would take it to the arrival box.
The winner is the first player to complete the path with all his pawns.
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