Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/247

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235
THE HISTORY OF GAMES.

was not there before, it would have come with Alexander to Alexandria, and has seemingly gone on unchanged since. There is an account of it in Lane's "Modern Egyptians," and any one interested in games will find it worth trying with draughts on a cardboard square. One kind of the Roman game of latrunculi was closely related to this, as appears from such passages as Ovid's "cum medius gemino calculus hoste perit," referring to the stone being taken between two enemies. The poet mentions, a few lines further on, the little table with its three stones, where the game is "continuasse suos," to get your men in a line, which is, of course, our own childish game of tit-tat-to. This case of the permanence of an ancient game was long ago recognized by Hyde in his treatise, "De Ludis Orientalibus." It is the simplest form of the group known to us as mill, merelles, morris, played by children all the way across from Shetland to Singapore. Among the varieties of draught-games played in the world, one of the most elaborate is the Chinese wei-chi, or game of circumvention, the honored pastime of the learned classes. Here one object is to take your enemy by surrounding him with four of your own men, so as to make what is called an "eye," which looks as though the game belonged historically to the same group as the simpler classic draughts, where the man is taken between two adversaries. In modern Europe the older games of this class have been superseded by one on a different principle. The history of what we now call draughts is disclosed by the French dictionary, which shows how the men used to be called pions, or pawns, till they reached the other side of the board, then becoming dames, or queens. Thus the modern game of draughts is recognized as being, in fact, a low variety of chess, in which the pieces are all pawns, turned into queens in chess-fashion when they gain the adversary's line. The earliest plain accounts of the game are in Spanish books of the middle ages, and the theory of its development through the mediæval chess problems will be found worked out by the best authority on chess, Dr. A. van der Linde, in his "Geschichte des Schachspiels."

The group of games represented by the Hindoo tiger-and-cows, our fox-and-geese, shows in a simple way the new situations that arise in board-games when the men are no longer all alike, but have different powers, or moves. Isidore of Seville (about a. d. 600) mentions, under the name of latrunculi, a game played with pieces of which some were common soldiers (ordinarii), marching step by step, while others were wanderers (vagi). It seems clear that the notions of a kriegspiel, or war-game, and of pieces with different powers moving on the checker-board, were familiar in the civilized world at the time when, in the eighth century or earlier, some inventive Hindoo may have given them a more perfect organization by setting on the board two whole opposing armies, each complete in the four forces, foot, horse, elephants, and chariots, from which an Indian army is called in Sanskrit chaturanga,