Origins of the Game
Dameo owes much of its existence to the game Croda invented in 1995 by Ljuban Dedić of Croatia, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Split and the 1989 International Checkers champion of the former Yugoslavia. A variant of Turkish draughts,[a] Croda was the result of a search for a checkers variant with the smallest percentage of draws. While fundamentally similar to Croda, Dameo differs in its initial setup and number of men, its enhanced movement of kings, and its addition of linear movement to lines of men.
Christian Freeling described his idea for the invention of the game as follows:
You can't force an unwilling game anymore than an unwilling donkey, and Dameo remained a vague notion for fifteen years or so, before jumping into existence in two minutes.
This is what happened. After Bushka, which implicitly revolves around linear movement and capture, I started wondering about linear movement in a draughts game. The idea was to speed the game up compared to other draughts games rather than to make it the 'backbone', because linear capture is not a logical concept in draughts. I eventually labelled the idea as a 'loose end', because I could not see a satisfactory solution. The main problem was that I was rather specifically thinking in terms of International Draughts. In that game movement and capture follow the same lines: the diagonal subgrid. Introducing linear movement would bring on a strong suspicion of gridlock to the opening. It appeared so dull and dead that I abandoned the idea for the time being. And that was a long time.
Till the early spring of 2000 in fact. I had been composing Hexdame problems with one of the greatest authorities on Draughts endgames, Leo Springer, who lives a few miles away. Generally speaking Hexdame has been well received in the Draughts community, probably because the translation is so literal, and the combinatorial power so similar. Anyway, one afternoon he shows me a Draughts variant called Croda, and what did I think of it?
It didn't look all that appealing at first sight, but after reading the rules I realized it was brilliant in its simplicity. Ljuban Dedić, himself a deserving Draughts player known for openly criticizing the game's well known flaw[b] – the Draughts equivalent of 'coming out of the closet' – had basically replaced the sideways move in Turkish Draughts, with a diagonally forwards one, therewith retaining all advantages of the square plane, while defining movement simply as 'forwards'.
The inevitable didn't take long: a couple of weeks later, the lingering idea of linear movement superimposed itself on Croda, and with it came the realization that it would cause no gridlock because movement and capture didn't necessarily follow the same lines. The game assembled itself within a minute or two, including an initial position that not only provides an identifiable image, but counters the build up of too many forced along the sides, a well known characteristic of the square plane, and of Croda itself, for that matter.
Dameo is played on an 8×8 checkerboard with 18 pieces per player. Each player’s pieces are arranged so that the bottom three rows, from the perspective of the player, are filled from a1 to h1, b2 to g2, and c3 to f3, forming a distinctive trapezoid shape.
- The player with the lighter pieces moves first. Then turns alternate.
- The pieces, called men, can only move forward, either straight ahead or diagonally.
- In addition, men can jump over one or more other subsequent men of the same color, in a straight line, provided that the square ahead of the line is free.
- When a man reaches the last row of the opposite side of the board, it is crowned, or promoted, to a king. The king can move in 8 directions to any available number of cells, like a queen in chess. King promotion greatly increases a man's ability to break the opponent's position, and results in a larger percentage of games ending in victory. Dameo has very few draws.
- Capturing involves jumping over enemy pieces and removing them from the board. All captures in Dameo are orthogonal only. A man may capture forwards, backwards and sideways by a short leap two squares beyond to an unoccupied square opposite the captured piece. If a jump is possible it must be done, even if doing so incurs a disadvantage.
- A king may capture by a long leap to any unoccupied square opposite the captured piece, so long as there is no other piece obstructing the path of the king.
- Multiple successive captures in a single turn must be made if, after each jump, there is an unoccupied square immediately beyond the enemy piece. One must play with the piece that can make the maximum number of captures.
- A jumped piece is removed from the board at the end of the turn. For a multi-jump move, captured pieces are not removed during the move; they are removed only after the entire multi-jump move is complete.
- The same piece may not be jumped more than once.
- A player with no valid move remaining loses. This occurs if the player has no pieces left, or if all the player's pieces are obstructed from moving by opponent pieces.
- A game is a draw if neither player can win the game.
- A game is considered a draw when the same position repeats three times by the same player (not necessarily consecutively).
- Christian Freeling
- Hexdame—another draughts variant by Christian Freeling
- International draughts
- Turkish draughts
- Armenian draughts
- Croda differs from Turkish checkers by the initial setup and number of men (each side having 24 men on their back three rows), the elimination of sideways movement of a man, the addition of diagonally forward movement of a man, and the removal of captured men only at the completion of a turn.
- Meaning the high margin of draws between players in professional international draughts matches.
- Freeling, Christian (Summer 2002). "Dameo". Abstract Games. No. 10. Carpe Diem Publishing. pp. 10–12. ISSN 1492-0492.
- Kerry Handscomb, ed. (Spring 2002). "International Checkers Versus Croda". Abstract Games. No. 9. Carpe Diem Publishing. ISSN 1492-0492.
- Kerry Handscomb, ed. (Autumn 2002). "Dameo Problems". Abstract Games. No. 11. Carpe Diem Publishing. p. 9. ISSN 1492-0492.