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Checkers Around the World

African Checkers Game Kharbaga

African Checkers FlagsAfrican Checkers Map

Kharbaga is a version of African checkers game that is played on a game board with a special pattern somewhat different from Alquerque checkers. In the Kharbaga pattern, the number of orthogonal moves are reduced, while the Alquerque pattern reduces the number of diagonals. As a result, a unique game dynamic is presented to gamers of Kharbaga. This checkers variant is a very attractive game that does not lend itself too easily to the outcome of a draw. Furthermore, although the board only has 42 squares, there are many moves possible, allowing for a lot of freedom in choices, and this aspect makes the African game quite complex and truly interesting.

Rules of African Checkers Game:

~ The Game Board ~

  • Two players use a square board with 5 x 5 points that create a grid of diagonal, horizontal and vertical lines that intersect and connect 42 squares, which offer the opponents endless movement possibilities.

  • Each player has twelve counters or ‘checkers’ with one using white pieces and the other using black pieces.

  • Counters must follow the pattern on the board to move.
African Checkers Board

~ Object of Africa Checkers Game ~

  • The goal is to capture all the opposing counters on the board.

~ Game Starting Position ~

  • The counters are placed on the rows nearest to each player as per the diagram below.
  • The opponents toss a coin to decide who begins the game with the first move and then they alternate turns afterward.

~ Game Moves & Captures ~

  • Players can move their pieces in three forward directions ~ forward, forward diagonally left and forward diagonally right.

  • Counters capture opposing pieces by making a short jump in all directions.

  • Pieces move from one point to an adjacent unoccupied point.

  • If an adjacent point is occupied by an opposing counter and the point directly behind it is empty, then the piece must jump over and capture it, just as in a checkers game.

  • Several opposing pieces may be captured in a single turn by one counter.

~ Counter Promotion & Captures ~

  • When counters reach the opponents last row or rank, they are promoted to Mullahs.
  • During a capturing sequence, a counter is not promoted to Mullah if it makes an intermediate landing on a promotion square.

  • A Mullah moves and captures in all directions.

  • Just like the King in International Checkers, the Mullah can move any number of squares and land anywhere behind an opponent’s captured piece.

  • Capture is compulsory; however, there are two variants that have been implemented within this rule ~ (a) captured pieces remain on the board until the capturing sequence is complete and (b) the captured pieces are removed from the board immediately.

  • Opponents must always choose the line wherein there are the most captures.

~ Game Notes and Strategy ~

  • A backwards variation has also been created for this African checkers game, though it is uncertain whether this variant is authentic for the original game; however, this addition to the Kharbaga rules works well within the play.
  • It is important to attain material advantage through various combinations by exchanging one piece for two or two for three and so forth, because in the endgame, material advantage often leads to a win.

  • Mullahs are powerful and sometimes it becomes necessary to sacrifice a piece in order to promote another.

  • Playing pieces that are situated on the orthogonal matrix have greater scope to move because there are more directions in which these counters can travel.

An Ancient African Game ~ ZAMMA

Zamma (also called Damma, Srand, or Dhamet) is the family from which Kharbaga derived its rules. This game is based on a quadruple Alquerque board pattern. The Zamma board has ancient African roots and is believed to be a precursor to the Alquerque game pattern. A Zamma board can be found among the roof slab scribing's at the temple of Qurna, Egypt. Some believe that the current rules for this game have been adapted from numerous draughts/checkers developments since the 17th century. Zamma survives today and is still played in several North African countries. The white counters are referred to as ‘women’ and the black counters are called ‘men’. When this game is played in the Sahara, the ‘women’ are pieces of camel dung, while the ‘men’ are short sticks. Black makes the first move of the game. Zamma is the national game played in Mauritania and is called Srand, or Dhamet. Here the captured counters are removed immediately from the play, whereas in other variants, the captured pieces are not removed until the jumping sequence is complete.

Rules of African Checkers Game:

~ The Game Board ~

  • The game is played by two opponents on a square board with a quadruple Alquerque pattern of 9 x 9 points that create a grid of numerous vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines that intersect and connect resulting in many squares offering countless opportunities for movement.

  • Players use 40 counters each of contrasting light and dark colors, often black and white.

  • Each opponent must move the pieces according to the patterns on the board.

Object of the Game

  • The goal of each player is to capture all the opponent’s counters.

~ Starting Position ~

  • Each opponent places his/her pieces on the first four rows closest to his/her side and also on the four points from the right on the fifth row.

ZAMMA checkers board


ZAMMA checkers board 2

~ Game Moves & Captures ~

  • Each player must move the game pieces according to the pattern on the board.

  • Counters can only move forward or diagonally forward in a left and right direction.

  • A counter moves to an unoccupied adjacent point.

  • If an adjacent point is occupied with an opposing piece and the point directly behind it is empty, then the piece must jump over the opposition and capture it as in checkers; capture is compulsory.

  • Several pieces can be captured in one jumping sequence.

  • The opponents can move their pieces in multiple captures by making a short jump in any direction.

  • Players must choose the line that has the most captures.

~ Counter Promotion & Captures ~

  • When a counter reaches the opponent’s last rank or row, the piece is promoted to become a Mullah (Sultan).

  • If, however, during a capturing sequence, the piece makes an intermediate landing on a promotion square, it is not promoted to Mullah.

  • Mullahs move and capture in all directions across the board and they can move any number of squares just like the King in checkers and land anywhere behind a captured piece.

  • In one variant, the Mullah cannot jump repeatedly over an opposing piece, whereas in another, it can because the captured piece has already been removed from the board.

  • Maximum capture is compulsory.

  • Sometimes in order to gain material advantage, a player can sacrifice pieces to achieve promotion to Mullah because they are very powerful.

  • When a ‘man’ is situated on the diagonal matrix, it has greater scope due to many more opportunities to move and move successfully.
Zamma is an intriguing checkers variant. Each player is offered different scope, depending upon which squares the playing pieces are situated upon. An opponent can capture opposing pieces in eight directions on half of the squares and capture in four directions but move in only one in the other half of the board. The board pattern allows greater freedom of capture directions when half of the diagonals are removed in the one half in comparison to the checkerboard. This game can perhaps be more challenging than International Checkers/Draughts, which tends to have more draws as the end game result. It is indeed apparent that Zamma may be a precursor to both Alquerque and Checkers games, as many similarities exist.









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DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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