Traditional Board Games


Surakarta is a battle game from Java. Play takes place on a grid of six rows of six points, between contending forces which have twelve pieces each. Pieces move like chess kings to adjacent points, but capture in a unique fashion, moving in a bobsleigh-like path that take in circular extensions at the edge of the board. Some have doubted the authenticity of the game.

History of Surakarta

The island of Java has given the world the peculiar and interesting game of surakarta. This game is named after an ancient town on the island, and is remarkable by the unusual way in which the pieces capture one another.

Traditionally, the game was played on a grid drawn into the sand, using stones and cowrie shells as pieces. Its origin is uncertain, but it may have developed from the game of alquerque, a forerunner of draughts. Surakarta, however, plays very differently to draughts.

The game was relatively unknown in the English-speaking world until the latter half of the twentieth century. It was first described in English by R. C. Bell, from a French source.

Rules for Surakarta

Rules for Surakarta
The rules for this game are very simple, and luckily, as the game was traditionally played in only one area of the world, there are no variations to complicate matters.

1. The surakarta board consists of a grid of six lines by six, with two concentric circular tracks at each corner, as shown in the diagram.

2. Each player starts with twelve pieces, which are placed on the intersections nearest to him see the diagram.

3. Players decide at random who is to move first.

4. In a turn, a player may move one of his pieces from one intersection to an adjacent intersection, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

5. Pieces may not jump over one another, and only one piece may occupy an intersection at any particular time.

6. The circular tracks are used only for capture; pieces cannot use them for ordinary movement.

7. A piece captures an enemy by sliding along a line, around a circular track, and further along the straight line until it lands on the enemy piece. The enemy is then removed from the board..

8. A capturing move may take in more than one of the circular tracks. It must, however, take in at least one.

9. There is no jumping in a capturing move; if another piece blocks the way then that capture cannot be made.

10. A player has won the game when he captures all of his opponent's pieces.


There is a similar Korean game 자동차고누 (jadongchagonu). Origins of Surakarta are unclear and it's even not known whether it is a really traditional game, so I guess that the Korean origins can also be considered.

Dmytro Polovinkin - 09:34, 02/05/2015

New Comment

Yes No