The position of chess and draughts in some European countries after 1500

The common reconstruction of alquerque

 The common reconstruction of alquerque is based on Murray [1952:65], with application of the compulsory capture. Alquerque with Murray’s rules can be played on the American site

 Mats Winther from Stockholm (Sweden) was so kind to test to what extent this reconstruction gives a nice game. His experience was at least remarkable: it is no game at all, because the player who opens the game always wins. Click here for some games. There is a second argument why this reconstruction must be wrong: the Spanish 13th c. manuscript which described the game tells us that the player who has the first move is the one with the disadvantage:  And the one who plays first has a disadvantage because he is forced to play in that empty space. (...) And the other player guards himself well from attack because of and by understanding the move that he wants to make so that he guards that piece of his best. And the other does the same thing that his opponent plans to do to him and therefore he is at a disadvantage, the one who plays first. Click here for the full text.

 Winther wondered if the supposition that medieval alquerque was played with the compulsory capture could be wrong, and therefore he replaced the compulsory capture for the free capture. The computer produced four games, click here for the notation. Again we must conclude we have to do with an unplayable game: four draws, it is only possible to win thanks to some blunders of the opponent.

 Conclusion: we may doubt whether alquerque without promotion has ever existed.


My reconstruction of alquerque

 In some way, this conclusion confirms the reconstruction of alquerque I made on the basis of an analysis of names for draughts and alquerque in my book The origin of draughts: I contend that alquerque was played with promotion. In other words: alquerque was draughts, see for instance Chapter06 and Chapter09.

 I am grateful to Mr. Winther he wrote some alquerque versions with the rules I suggested.

 The first version is one with obliged capture. Computer games lead to the conclusion that alquerque played with this rule always ends in a victory for White. Click here for proofs. Conclusion: as alquerque with promotion and obliged capture is no playable game, this reconstruction is wrong.

 The second version is one with free capture. The computer played it, click here for some lively and exciting games. Go to convince yourself to Winther's site htpp:// or to the Zillions site and try the real medieval alquerque!


The age of draughts and the computer

 The player with the first move has a disadvantage, we learn from the computer games. This guarantees a certain tension, as the game demands full attention from the opening move on. The Spaniard who in the 13th c. formulated the rules of alquerque noted: “The first player has a disadvantage”. An inhabitant of Rome in the 2nd c. B.C. played a game where the first player had a disadvantage.

 My investigations to the beginnings of draughts led to the conclusion that the medieval Spanish game and the game played in Ancient Rome was draughts. The computer supports this conclusion.