hist-games: Games from Eastern Europe--??

Christian Joachim Hartmann lukian at Null.net
Wed Jul 28 08:04:36 PDT 1999

At 07:36 26.07.99 EDT, Phefner at aol.com wrote:
>Does anyone know of any games that originated in Russia or what is now 
>Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic--or in neighboring cultures? As far as 
>sports are concerned, these countries have cold climates. What did they do in 
>all of that snow and ice?

I don't know if the bit about the ice and snow is meant as a joke, but
in case it's not, I'd like to add this:
Poland, Hungary and Bohemia haven't got a cold climate, the
average of their climate is like the one in Western Europe, with
the one difference that they got the "continental climate", with
cold winters and hot summers, as opposed to the "Atlantic
climate" in the West, with moderate climate all year.

Let's put it this way: While they got snow in the winter, and
hot sun in the summer, we in the West enjoy rain all year!

And as to Russia, their climate is different, but that doesn't
mean that they haven't got a summer. In fact, my school atlas
indicates to me that their climate falls into the same category
as those of places like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Since you're talking out-door climate, I assume you're
asking for sports. This isn't my field of expertise, I don't
know of any special sports in those countries.
Only once, when I was looking into the ancestry of baseball,
I came upon a description of a ball-game played in old
Poland, which bore quite some similarities to baseball,
i.e. the bat, the ball, the catchers (no runners if I'm 
remembering this correctly).

> What sort of board games did they have? 

Basically the same as the rest of Europe, with their
own regional varieties, just like any other European
region got their own varieties of bord-game rules.

E.g. in draughts, you're not forced to hit, and a men
that has become king can make an additional move
right away. <http://www.fmjd.nl/Variants/>
"Backgammon" may also be known in Russia, but
the original verion of the game "within the Tables"
is more like the German "Puff", with the all men being
outside the board at the start, and the player "playing
them in" (the reverse of "playing out"). As well, as soon
as you got two men in the board, you can chose whether
to advance your men, or to play in additional men.
This last rule allows for some nifty tactical play.

I once got a description of backgammon games by
a Bulgarian. Is anyone interested?

Chess and draughts were always popular in Russia.
The Russians were avid chess players of old. It's even
said that card games are *less* popular in Russia,
but that instead board games are more in favor.

On the alt.games.draughts and rec.games.board 
newsgroups, there was a discussion some weeks ago
on the draughts variant "Laska" and its Russian
ancestor "Bashni". Some rules were posted there.
You can read about it here (view the thread by
pressing on "Thread"):

Bohemia and Hungaria, in fact the whole old
Austro-Hungarian countries share most of the
same culture, the same games --- and the same
climate. For example, the playing cards they
use are almost identical, and the games they play
with them are also variations on a similar theme.

Russia got some interesting and unusual card
games. Check them out at:

**       Christian Joachim Hartmann 
**       lukian at Null.net

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