Games for your mind

Posts Tagged ‘chaturanga

Aristotle-PlatoIn ancient Greece, board games where very popular, especially among the philosophers and their pupils. Plato once said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”.
Hellenistic culture gave a lot of importance to games, ancient Greeks invented the Olympics and athletes were considered like heroes.
Philosopher used to teach their scholars using linguistic game and games simulations; philosophy itself was a form of game: to quote Plato once again Philosophy is “like playing an hard game”.
Like Dutch philosopher  J. Huizinga suggests In his book ”Homo ludens” all the stages and the development of philosophy manifest a recreational linguistic activity  in its deep essence: Philosophic rhetoric play  on words during the debates and the clash between the debaters assumed in public speeches the form of a win or lose game. Even in the written form, many ancient Greeks script are a sophistic game of question an answer.
Word games and speech competitions where a sort of recreational activity, used by Hellenic people to shape and rule their ancient society.The winners of those linguistic games where often famous philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, great politicians like Themistocles and genial playwrights like Aristophanes.

This fundamental role of playing activities in the Hellenistic culture is manifested also in the Mythology, like in the Myth of  Theseus and the Minotaur.
The Labyrinth and the Theseus myth seems like a perfect representation of a gaming scenario that today could be easily used to develop a videogame:labirint-game Theseus (the player) must overcome different stages in a labyrinth scenario to fight and defeat the final Minotaur monster.
The connection between this myth and gaming was so strong that ancient Greeks invented a board game version of this myth called “labyrinth”, a  game for two, three or four players.
Like in the original Myth, the gameboard represents the labyrinth of King Minos where the monster half men and half animal is trapped. The player acting as Theseus must save the youths Athenians  sent as tribute to King Minos who used them to feed the Minotaur.
Each player has 4 pawns, one for each youth Athenian, the first player to bear off all the pieces at the centre of the board is the winner because, like Theseus, he has saved all the youths Athenians from certain death.

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radha-krishna_chessAll modern studies on chess genealogy agree that we can find the origins of chess in ancient India, when, in an indeterminate period around the 6th century during the Gupta Empire, the game called Chaturanga, was invented.
Chaturanga, literally means “the game of the four armies” and after its rapid diffusion in India and Persia during the 7th century, the game reached late medieval Europe and was transformed in the modern game of chess in the 15 century.
The “four armies” of Chaturanga are made of pieces similar to chess displayed on an 8×8 uncheckered board. The original and older version of this board game was called Chaturaji (“four kings”) , it’s for four players and each player has a Raja (King), a Yaanei (Elephant = Bishop), Iratham (Chariot = Rook), and ‘Kutharei (Horse= Knight ) And four Padàti (Foot-soldiers = Pawns); probably that’s why in modern chess have eight Pawns and two of each rook, knight and bishop.
The word rook of chess, for example, comes from Persian rokh which means chariot, and that’s how the Chaturanga’s piece was called in ancient Persia, this explains also why the rook in chess can move only on its horizontal axis or on his vertical axis because the chariot has the wheels and can’t jump or move in diagonal. The bishop of chess comes from the Elephant that in Chaturanga moves only two squares per time and the queen wasn’t a special piece like in modern chess, it only could move one square per time in order to protect the king.
Despite its old age Chaturanga is still played around the world especially in India and in the Middle East.

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