Five Field Kono
Five field Kono is a game from Korea, of unknown antiquity but first recorded in the west in 1895. Two players each try to get their pieces across the board to the opposite side. The first to occupy the starting positions of his opponent wins the game.
History of Five Field Kono
At the end of the nineteenth century, a number of board games then current in Korea were recorded by the American ethnographer Stewart Culin. Ko-no was the name given to small board games of many types, that were played on boards marked with lines. One of them was o-pat-ko-no, known in English as five field kono.
It was played on a board scored on the ground, though sometimes on boards drawn on paper. Some people had wooden boards made to play the game.
It is a game of traversal, a form of race without dice. Each player must move his pieces across the board to the opposite side, the first to do so winning the game. As well as moving one’s own pieces part of the strategy is to block the enemy’s pieces from moving towards their goal.
In its general object the game is like the western games of halma and Chinese checkers, and five field kono may have inspired them.
Rules for Five Field Kono
Five field kono is played by two people on a square board, marked with a grid of five lines in each direction. Players each have seven pieces, one player taking black and the other white.
1. The board is set out with each player having five pieces on the points of his back row, and the other two directly in front on the left and right edge of the board. This is shown in the diagram.
2. Pieces in this game occupy the points, not the squares.
3. Players decide at random who is to move first. Players then take turns to play.
4. In his turn a player may move a single piece.
5. Pieces move one step diagonally forwards or backwards.
6. A piece may not jump over another.
7. There are no captures in this game.
8. Only one piece may occupy a point at any one time. Thus it is possible to block the opponent’s pieces from moving.
9. The game is ended when one player has moved across the board, occupying all the points on which the opponent started. Some extra rules might be necessary to prevent games which would go on forever.
10. If a player leaves pieces in his initial starting position to permanently block the other player, his opponent may win by occupying just the squares he has vacated.
11. If neither player can get past the other, then they can both agree the game as drawn.