Towers draughts: Bashni and Laska

In my previous posts on draughts variants I described diagonal draughts, orthogonal draughts, draughts on enlarged boards and “twisted” draughts. But still I’m far from describing all checkers variants. The next chapter of this story is a game of Towers (called Bashni) and modern game called Laska.

Bashni, Stowby or just Towers

Towers is a game from Russia and we can say it’s a Russian Draughts variant. It’s also known as Bashni (Башни) or Stowby (Cтолбы). This two words can be translated as “towers”.

The game uses an ordinary 64-square chessboard and 24 pieces (12 white and 12 black). The initial setting looks the same as in most of the checkers games on the 64 square board.

Warcaby klasyczne - ustawienie początkowe

The rules are similar to those in Russian Draughts so…

  • normal pieces (men) move one space diagonally forward,
  • capturing is made by “jumping” over enemy piece to the empty square behind it,
  • captures may be made diagonally forwards and backwards,
  • capturing is mandatory,
  • multiple opposing pieces may be captured in a single turn if this is done by successive jumps made by a single piece,
  • it’s not compulsory to capture the maximum amount of the opponent’s pieces. The player chooses any sequence.
  • Man is crowned just after reaching the last row. If a piece reached the last row during a capture move, it may continue this move as a King (it’s  immediately crowned and then jumps backwards).

It all looks like ordinary checkers, so where’s the difference?Well… result of capturigng is different. In most draughts games captured piece is removed from the board. In Towers captured piece is placed under the piece that jumped over it. Two pieces form a tower (collumn) consisting of capturing piece on the top and captured piece(s) at the bottom. Top piece is called commander while lower piece is called prisoner.

Let’s see an example of capturing. In the position shown below White is to move, so he is oblliged to capture a black man.

Warcaby-wiezowe-bicie

After the jump a tower is formed. The white man is the commander and the black man is the prisoner.

Warcaby-wiezowe-bicie-2

The tower is treated like any other piece. It does not aquire any new powers. It can still move one square diagonally forward and may hit the same way as a regular man BUT after each jump it takes new prisoner.

It is important that in Towers pieces are never removed from the board. Only higher towers are formed. Each tower belongs to the player, who’s man is at the top.

Towers capturing

If man (ordinary piece) captures the tower, then the only top piece of the tower is placed under the capturing piece. Let’s get back to the situation where we finished the last example. Black is on the move and he has to capture the tower commanded by White.

Warcaby-wiezowe-bicie-2

Result of the capture is shown below. The top piece (former towers commander) is placed under the capturing piece. Meanwhile, the previously imprisoned man was “freed” as a result of this move.

Warcaby-wiezowe-bicie-3

Game will often lead to situations when one tower captures another tower. Again, only top piece of captured tower is removed and placed under the capturing tower, and the remaining part stays on its place (and is now commanded by a man who was just under the commander).

Let’s look at the position below. We see a Black’s tower (made of two white men and a black one). This tower is obliged to capture another tower made of two white men.

Warcaby-wiezowe-bicie-4

As a result, white tower commander goes to the bottom of Black’s tower, but one white man will remain on its place. This is shown on the image below.

Warcaby-wiezowe-bicie-5

All examples shown above were just single jumps but remember – in Towers multiple jumps are also possible and each jump results with imprisoning one enemy man.

As you can see, the effects of capturing can be surprising. Sometimes capturing cause a sudden increase of your own forces, but sometimes it may increase a number of enemy pieces.

Crowning

A man reaching the last row becomes a King (we say it’scrowned). King gains a power to move any number of squares diagonally forwards or backwards (so we have a “flying king” here, just like in Russian Draughts).

bashni-damki

If a tower reaches the last row, then only its commander is crowned. Such tower (commanded by a King) has a rights of King.

Note: In many draughts games King is marked by placing a previously captured piece on a promoted piece. In Towers it would not make sense because two pieces create a tower. So in Towers Kings are marked by placing promoted man upside-down. In this article Kings are shown as men with a crown.

Kings capturing

If a King has been captured, it becomes a prisoner – it’s placed under the capturing piece. So if the King has been captured by an ordinary piece, it becomes a part of the tower commanded by ordinary piece.

The general rule is that Tower’s ownership and rank depends on its commander. If the commander is White, tower belongs to White. If the commander is a King, the tower has a rights of King. If there is ordinary man on the top of the tower, the tower has the right of ordinary man. Example is shown below.

wieze

The first tower from the left belongs to the Black ones and is a King. The second tower from the left belongs to White and has a rights of man (even if all pieces under the commander are Kings). Next there is a white King and a black non-King.

Aim of the game

The aim of the game is to leave your opponent with no valid moves. It can be achieved by “prisoning” all of its pieces or by blocking them.

Image below shows one possible winning position. Black wins. All white pieces are imprisoned.

bashni-konc

This game can be really surprising because one good shot can dramatically change the number of forces on both sides. No pieces are removed from the board, and some may be released at the end of the game.

Laska

Laska is a game developed by Emanuel Lasker, an outstanding chess player, mathematician, philosopher and of course games enthusiast. Apart from Chess Lasker loved Contract Bridge, he was interested in playing Go and invented Laska in 1911. It is believed that Emanuel Lasker intended to combine Towers with English Checkers and Laska is a really successful mix of these games.

Before we go to the description of the rules, I will mention that you should not confuse Emanuel Lasker with Edward Lasker. The latter E. Lasker was also a well-known chess player and he was also interested in Go and Checkers. Both gentlemen were distant relatives, although for a long time they did not knew about this (but they knew each other as two prominent chess players of their times).

Let’s describe Laska rules!

Board and pieces

Laska is a board game played on 49-square (7×7) checkered board

laska

To play you need also: 11 white pieces, 11 black pieces and few red and green pieces.

At the beginning of the game there are only white and black pieces on board. They are set in such a way that there is only one row of unoccupied fields between them. The initial setting is shown on the image below.

laska1

Rules are similar as in English Checkers.

  • White is first to move.
  • Ordinary pieces move only forwards (diagonaly).
  • Ordinary pieces capture only forwards. Capture is made by jumping over enemy piece to the next unoccupied square.
  • Capturing is mandatory

Capturing

In Laska, just as in the Towers, the capturing results in placing a captured piece under the piece that jumped them. This way a column is formed. Column consists of a commander (at the top) and improsined piece(s) placed underneath. If column captures more pieces, they are placed at the very bottom.

Warcaby-laska-bicie

If the column is jumped, only its commander is removed and placed under the capturing piece or column. The rest of a column stays on its place and is now commanded by previously imprisoned piece.

In Laska multiple jumps are also possible and each jump results with imprisoning one enemy piece.

Promotion

Ordinary pieces and towers are promoted if they reach the last row. Promoted piece is marked by turning it upside-down or by replacing it with a green one (for white’s pieces) or red one (for black’s pieces).

Promoted piece gains the ability to move and capture forwards and backwards. Still it can move only one square backwards or forwards (we say it’s a non-flying King, as in the English Checkers).

If a column reaches the last row, then only its commander is promoted. Such tower (commanded by a promoted piece) has a rights of promoted piece.

Warcaby-laska-promow

If promoted piece has been captured, it becomes a prisoner – it is placed under the tower. So if the promoted piece on top of a tower has been captured, the tower loses promoted piece’s rights. Of course during the game a promoted piece may be freed and it still has its additional powers.

Aim of the game

The aim of the game is to leave your opponent with no valid moves. It can be achieved by “prisoning” all of its pieces or by blocking them.

In Laska its hard to end game in a draw because of the board design (it has two main diagonals). In the majority of draughts games, the board has one main diagonal and it allows one player to move promoted piece between the two squares and prolong the game. In Laska it’s not possible.

Laska is fascinating because it’s possible to win a game even after losing many piece. One multiple jump in the ending can change the situation.

Laska – alternative boards

Laska fans often play on boards that don’t look like a chessboard. These boards have circular fields of one color.

laska-plansz2

In fact this board is totally compatible with the 7×7 chessboard. It’s like a chessboard with white squares “cut out”, and circles instead of dark squares. You can also meet another version of the board without the lines between circles.

laska-plansz1

No matter on which board you play. The rules are always the same.

More on draughts

Read my other articles on draughts games.

 

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3 thoughts on “Towers draughts: Bashni and Laska

  1. Taylor Kingston

    How do you create your Laska diagrams? I am hoping to write an article on Laska (for print publication, not online). I have fonts that create chess and checker positions, but nothing that will work for Laska.

    Like

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