It fits in your pocket, it costs a few dollars (pounds), you can buy it everywhere and immediately play hundreds of games with it. It does not require any power source. This is of course a deck of cards. Most versatile and comfortable gaming platform in the world! If you want to fully appreciate its charms, if you want to really understand it, you have to learn something about its history and all possible uses in games!
I described many different types of draughts (checkers) stressing that draughts is not one game. It’s a family of games with common features! In compare to draughts Chess seem to be a single, complete and polished game. But… it only seems to be. In fact there are many chess games which grown in parallel with the so-called classical chess. Understanding the common characteristics of chess games will be easy if you look at the ancestor of these games – the Indian game of Chaturanga.
If you like old American movies you could see people playing Gin Rummy. Why exactly this game? There are few reasons! First, this is a game for smart people. Secondly, this is a game with dramatic ending. Thirdly… Gin Rummy has unique taste of the risk mixed with a cool strategy.
When I wrote about Halatafl I mentioned that there are many similar games in different countries and on different continents, though played on different boards. It’s amazing how the same game concepts pop out in different cultures. Today I describe few games known in India that are clearly relatives of Halatafl, but also Alquerque (ancestor of draughts). Interestingly all of these games use the same board.
In my country (Poland) Chess is called a “royal game” while the Checkers are known as “Chess of proletariat”. Such terms clearly classify the first game as noble and worthwhile and the second as silly or worse. Many people think they sound like experts when they speak about the superiority of the Chess over the Checkers (Draughts). In fact, such people show only their ignorance. Chess is not harder than Checkers … and vice versa. In the case of non-trivial games, you should generally avoid speaking about a superiority of one game over another.
Teeko is a wonderful game, although today is almost forgotten. Too bad. Not only the game is interesting, but also its creator – John Scarne. He was a prominent expert on gaming, gambling, and card manipulations. He knew both the techniques of cheating on mathematical issues related to games. He was earning money as a magician, but because of his extensive knowledge we can call him “The Wizard of Games”.
I think everyone knows what domino is. Often we treat dominoes as blocks for children, a simple toy used to learning to count. Sometimes we play with kids because this game seems simple. In my country (Poland) it’s rather unusual to see adults playing dominoes. What a pity! This game is more addictive than you think, and besides, it has a fascinating history. You can play many games with one set of domino tiles, just like you can play many games with one deck of cards.
There are many games with an element of luck – games with dice, cards, dominoes or letters. Some people believe these games are “worse”, unworthy of study and you can’t by a true master in such games because everything depends on luck. I would like to refute this image. Games with the random element can be very interesting and they can build your brain, but in a different way than purely strategic games. Besides in practice, even in games with no random elements, there is some element of luck.