Catch the Hare
Catch the Hare is a two-player abstract strategy board game from Europe, and perhaps specifically from Spain. It is a hunt game, and since it uses an Alquerque board, it is specifically a tiger hunt game (or tiger game). In some variants, some or all of the diagonal lines are missing which makes it difficult to classify as a tiger game in general. In all variants, one hare is going up against twelve hunters or hounds. The hare is the "tiger" in this hunt game. The hare is taking the ironic role as the predator and not the prey in this game. The hare can capture the hunters or hounds by leaping over them (short leap method). The hunters or hounds attempt to surround and trap the hare.
The game is the earliest recorded hunt game in Europe, and perhaps even the first hunt game from Europe (other than Bear games and Hare games). The earliest record of the game is in Alfonso X's book of games in 1283. The record shows a game called cercar la liebre, a game played in Spain from the 13th. century until today. Cercar la liebre means "Catch the Hare". The Moors may have brought the game to Spain since it uses an Alquerque board, however, there is no record of the game or any similar game in Arabic literature. The game has spread to Central and North America thanks to the Spanish who brought it with them during their conquest. The game was transformed in name and structure by the American natives. The new names given were coyote and chickens, and Indian and jackrabbits which are things found in the Americas. Some of the diagonal lines of the Alquerque board were omitted, and in some cases completely removed which technically makes the game a non-tiger game. In one very interesting case, there was no piece to represent the hare on the board, and the hare was merely pointed at with a stick to indicate its position. Today, the game is still popular in Spain under the name juego de la liebre.
The hunters or hounds win if they surround and immobilize the hare.
The hare wins if it captures enough of the hunters or hounds such that they can not immobilize the hare.
An Alquerque board is used. In one variant, the small diagonals are removed, but the long diagonals that cross the span of the Alquerque board remain. In yet another variant, all the diagonals are removed. In all cases, there is one hare which can be represented as a black piece, and twelve hunters or hounds represented as white pieces. Pieces are played on the intersection points of the board.
Here-in-forth, the white pieces will simply be called the hunters.
Game Play and Rules
1. Players decide what colors to play. Players alternate their turns.
2. The hare is placed at the center of the board. The twelve hunters are place on the first two ranks of one side of the board, and two pieces are placed on the third rank specifically at the edge of the board.
3. The hunters move first.
4. Hare and hunters move alike. They move one space onto a vacant point following the pattern on the board. Only one piece may be moved by each player per turn.
5. The hare can also capture by leaping over an adjacent hunter, and landing on a vacant point on the other side. The leap must be in a straight line and follow the pattern on the board. The hare can continue to leap over more hunters provided there exist exactly one vacant point in between the hunters, and a vacant point beyond the last hunter. The hare can stop leaping even when there are more hunters to capture. Captured pieces are removed from the board. Captures are not compulsory. Unlike the hare, the hunters can not capture.
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