Peg Pastimes

Classic games from cultures around the world.

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In the ancient Middle East, a game called “Qirkat” was first mentioned in the 10th century by Abu al-Faraj in his 24-volume work, “The Book of Songs.” When the Moors invaded Spain, they brought this game with them, and by the 13th century, “El-quirkat” had become very popular. It was played in the court of King Alfonso the tenth of Castile, and still popular in various forms throughout the Mediterranean region, and beyond. It is the ancestor of the game of checkers and other jump-and-capture games.

This little puzzle game first appeaed in eastern France in the late 19th century. In the midst of the Franco-Prussian War the French soldiers found a challenging little game to play in the quieter moments of the conflict. Early on, the game was known simply as the “Military Game,” but later came to England where it became known as “Hare and Hounds.” It’s the smallest of the “hunt games” but an interesting challenge nonetheless.

In South Africa and Botswana we find the traditional game of Morabaraba. The roots of this game go back at least eight centuries, and the pieces represent each player’s herd of cows. It has striking similarities to the game of Nine-Men’s-Morris, but what other game includes “flying cows?” Though it’s a popular pastime with youth, adult players also take it quite seriously. In South Africa and several other countries, annual tournaments are staged to determine a world champion..

There is a family of games called “Hyena” played for generations by the Baggara Arabs of Sudan. There are variants of this race game from the “Hyena Chase” played by school children, to a sophisticated “Hyena” game played by adults which introduces luck tokens and can have a spiral of up to 80 or more spaces. We offer the simpler version, one of the few multi-player games with a winner who then becomes a turncoat and tries to keep anyone else from coming in second place.

Kono, also alled Five-Field Kono, is known in its native Korea as "O-Pat-Kono. The game is at least 1,000 years old, and in the 20th century was released in commercial versions by several major toy and game manufacturers. It is a predecessor to the larger games "halma" and "chinese checkers." Each of two players places one piece on each of 7 points on the outer edges of their own side of a 25-point grid. Movement is made one piece per turn from one point to the next diagonally only. The object is to reassemble one’s pieces on the opponent’s edges.

Shisima is a two-player game from Kenya - one of many three-in-a-row games from around the world such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Tapatan, Three Men's Morris, Nine Holes, Achi, Tant Fant, and Dara. The octagonal board is what makes Shisima unique. Each player's three pieces face off on opposite edges of the octagon, and by means of clever movement, a row of three is accomplished. Obviously, this must use the center space, which makes it a precious possession. The trick is to make moves to force the opponent off that space at just the right time.