Traditional Board Games


First page of the U.S. patent for salta.
First page of the U.S. patent for salta.

Salta is a game of position, played with 15 special pieces per side on a 10x10 European draughts board. Pieces move and jump as in draughts, but the aim of the game is very different.

The aim of the game is to get all of your pieces to the opposite side of the board. But the pieces are each marked by suit and number, and must arrive at their destinations in the same arrangement as they started the game.

History of Salta

Salta was invented in 1899 by the Düsseldorf-born musician Konrad Büttgenbach. It seems to be based on the popular game halma, another offshoot of which is Chinese checkers, but the rules are slightly more complex. Its affinity with halma is made more apparent by the fact that both words mean “leap”.

The game was exhibited at the Monte Carlo Chess Tourney in 1901, which gained it some popularity. It was also energetically promoted for a while, its marketing including a published picture of actress Sarah Bernhardt playing the game with its inventor. For a brief time salta became quite fashionable, but by the time of the Great War it had returned to comparative obscurity.

Rules for Salta

Rules for Salta
Salta is played on an enlarged chequerboard of 10 squares by 10, as is used for draughts in some European countries. The pieces are 15 counters, specially marked with a rank (1 to 5) and a suit (stars, moons and suns).

1. The game is set up with each player’s pieces occupying the black squares of the three rows of the board closest to him.

2. On the back row, the pieces of the star suit are placed, in ascending order from 1 at the left to 5 at the right.

3. On the second row are the moons, similarly numbered, and the third row contains the suns arranged in the same way. The whole arrangement is shown in the diagram.

4. The black player takes the first turn, play then alternating between white and black.

5. A player may in his turn move a single piece one square diagonally forwards or backwards to a vacant square. The markings on the pieces are not relevant to their powers of movement.

6. Alternatively, a player may leap diagonally forwards or backwards over another piece of either colour, landing on the empty space beyond.

7. After leaping once, a piece may leap again if further leaps are possible. Such a sequence of leaps may consist of as many or as few as the player pleases.

8. Pieces are not captured in salta, so a piece jumped over is left in play.

9. A player wins the game by moving all his pieces forward to the opposite end of the board. The pieces must be retain their order, with suns on the front row in order 1-5, moons on the second and stars on the third.

10. Optionally, a score may be calculated: the losing player continues to move until the pieces are all at their goal; the number of moves he makes are his opponent's winning score.

Early in the game’s history, a variation on the method of winning was proposed. This has been adopted in many rules, sometimes being passed off as the original rule in English-language versions.

9(i). A player wins the game by moving all his pieces across the board, so that they occupy the opponent's home rows. The pieces must be arranged in the same order of suit and rank as the opponent's pieces were when they started the game.


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