hist-games: Zamma

Mats Winther mwi9 at swipnet.se
Sat Apr 22 04:09:48 PDT 2006

Den 2006-04-20 01:03:08 skrev Peter Michaelsen <PMI at KM.DK>:

> The rules of Zamma are described in English in R.C. Bell: The Board Game Book from 1979.
> I do not know which sources R.C. Bell based his description upon.
> An almost identical game, Srand, or Dhamet, is described in the article "Les Dames du Desert", Jeux et Stratégie no.27, June-July 1984. In this game the "mullah" is called a "sultan". The author, Abdallahi Ol Bah, claims that this game is the national game of Mauritania. He seems to be a good player himself and includes examples and problems composed by the master player Yahya O'Hamidoun.
> Srand/Zamma is also included in Jean-Bernard Alemanni: Les Jeux de Dames dans le Monde. Techniques, Chiron , Paris 2005, a book which I highly recommend.
> I may send a copy of the article by Abdallahi Ol Bah to anyone who might be interested.
> I have now tried Mats Winther's new Zillions implementation of Zamma, and likes very much to play with it.
> It appears, however, that not all rules followed by the program are quite correct.
> Kind regards,
> Peter Michaelsen.

I have now updated the Zamma game, and some of the historical information.
The program has been implemented with two variants. In the one variant I retain
the rule that removal of captured counters is deferred, as this is what Pennick
and Alemanni relates. In the main variant counters are removed instantly from
the board, as this is how Srand, according to Bah is played. Actually, while
playing with the counters, this makes no difference(?). Only for the Mullahs it
makes a difference whether counter removal is deferred or not.

I also added the rule that if the counter, during a capturing sequence,
makes an intermediate landing on a promotion square, it does not promote
to Mullah. Moreover, one is now obliged to choose the continuation with the
most possible captures. This rule, although very good, seems rather advanced.
Is this really how the Tuaregs play the game?

It is an intriguing checkers variant. The counters have different scope depending
on which squares they are positioned. On half of the squares they can capture in
eight directions, in the other half they can capture in four directions and move in
only one. The board pattern allows this freedom of capture directions while half
of the diagonals are removed, compared with a checkers board. Possibly this
game carries some advantages compared with international draughts, which has
become very drawish in grandmaster quarters.

The program can be downloaded here:

Bug reports and comments are welcome.

Mats Winther

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