Surakarta is a little-known Indonesian strategy board game for two players, named after the ancient city of Surakarta in central Java. The game features an unusual method of capture which is "possibly unique" and "not known to exist in any other recorded board game".
The real name of the game is "Permainan" (meaning the game in Bahasa Indonesia). It was first published in France in 1970 as "Surakarta". The game is called "Roundabouts" in Sid Sackson's The Book of Classic Board Games.
Traditionial Indonesian game pieces are shells versus pebbles or stones, with the board grid inscribed in sand or volcanic ash. But any easily distinguished sets of pieces may be used (e.g. red versus black counters or checkers, as illustrated). Players begin the game with 12 pieces each.
Players decide who moves first, then play alternates between the players. The object of the game is to capture all 12 of the opponent's pieces (or alternatively, have more pieces remaining on the board than the opponent when no further captures are possible). Pieces always sit on the points of intersection of the board's grid lines.
On a turn, a player either moves one of his pieces a single step to an unoccupied point in any direction (forwards, backwards, sideways, or diagonally), or makes a capturing move special to Surakarta.
A capturing move consists of traversing along an inner or outer circuit (colored blue or green in the illustration) around at least one of the eight corner loops of the board, followed by landing on an enemy piece, capturing it. Captured pieces are permanently removed from play.
So, corner loop(s) are only used when making a capture. The capturing piece enters (and leaves) the circular loop via a grid line tangent to the circle. Any number of unoccupied points may be traveled over, before or after traversing a corner loop. An unoccupied point may be traveled over more than once during the capturing piece's journey. Only unoccupied points may be traveled over; jumping over pieces is not permitted.
Capturing is always optional (not mandatory).
End of game
An individual game is won, when a player captures all 12 of his opponent's pieces. Or if neither side can make headway, the game is ended by agreement and the winner is the player with the greater number of pieces remaining on the board.
A match usually consists of more than one game. Players agree ahead of time how the winner will be determined. A couple methods are typically used:
- Players agree to play a fixed number of games.
- Each game is scored by the number of pieces remaining after each game. The winner is the player with higher total points after all games are complete.
- Players agree to play to a fixed number of points.
- New games are played until one player reaches or exceeds the winning point total.
In general, pieces are more powerful toward the center of the board, where they are in one or two sets of loops. Pieces on the corner, on the other hand, are easy to trap, as the spaces next to the corner can be attacked in a number of directions.
Surakarta is one of the games played regularly at the annual Computer Olympiad.
In rules of China and Korea variants, pieces could not step diagonally and could slide along outer circuit without capturing piece.
- Bell, R. C. (1983). "Surakarta". The Boardgame Book. Exeter Books. ISBN 0-671-06030-9.
- Gering, Ralf (Summer 2003). Kerry Handscomb, ed. "Surakarta Problem". Abstract Games (Carpe Diem Publishing) (14). ISSN 1492-0492.
- Pritchard, David (1994). "Surakarta". The Family Book of Games. Brockhampton Press. ISBN 1-86019-021-9.
- Sackson, Sid (1991). The Book of Classic Board Games. Klutz Press. ISBN 978-0-932592-94-1.
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