|Skill(s) required||Strategy, tactics|
Ringo is a two-player abstract strategy board game possibly from Germany. It may have been invented sometime in the late 19th century or early 20th century, but it's actually unknown. There are many versions of the game with different rules circulating, but the rules described here are from R.C. Bell's book entitled "Discovering Old Board Games" (1st. edition 1973, 2nd. edition 1980) which is a translation from a German text by M. C. Oswald. The game simulates a siege of a citadel. Attackers are attempting to enter the citadel while defenders are trying to protect it and reduce the number of attackers.
A feature in Ringo is an area on the board called the Neutral Zone where pieces cannot be captured which makes for some interesting attack tactics on the castle.
There are two forms of capture that can be performed by either the attackers or the defenders: Leap and Substitution. Capture by leap is similar to that of draughts or Alquerque which makes Ringo their distant relative although some consider it to be a descendant of Tafl games due to the asymmetry in the number of pieces and each side's objective. Capture by substitution is exactly as in chess but apart from this capturing method there is very little resemblance between Ringo and chess.
The etymology of the name Ringo may be unknown, and R.C. Bell does not discuss it. But the word Ringo is composed of the syllable "ring" as in the 5 concentric rings of the board, and the syllable "o" as in the shape of the citadel which is a circle in the center of the board.
The board is circular consisting of a central circle (called the citadel) and five concentric rings surrounding the citadel. Eight lines radiate from the citadel. This creates 40 spaces outside the citadel. With the citadel, there are 41 spaces on the board. The 40 spaces outside the citadel follow a checkered color scheme of light and dark colors specifically white and gray within the Neutral Zone, and white and black outside the Neutral Zone. The citadel is colored white.
There are seven attacker pieces colored black, and four defender pieces colored white.
The seven attackers are initially placed at the farthest ring from the citadel each occupying its own space; only the space in the Neutral Zone is left empty. There are 4 defenders in the first ring (the ring closest to the citadel) leaving exactly one vacant space between them in such a way that the space in the Neutral Zone is also left empty.
Players decide who will be the attackers and who will be the defenders.
- Players alternate their turns using one piece to either move or capture exclusively per turn.
- Only one piece may occupy a space with the exception of the citadel which can be occupied by two attackers.
- It is unknown which player moves first as R.C. Bell doesn't specify, but perhaps players can decide as to whom should start first.
- Attackers may move one space forward (from their perspective) toward the citadel, or one space left or right on the same ring exclusively. The space being moved into must be vacant with the exception of the citadel which can already be occupied by a fellow attacker. Attackers may not move backwards (from their perspective) or away from the citadel.
- Defenders can move one space forward (from their perspective) which is away from the board, or backward (from their perspective) which is towards the citadel, but they may not move into the citadel (this rule may also imply that a defender on the second ring cannot perform a capturing leap over an attacker on the first ring, and land on the citadel). They may also move left or right any number of unoccupied spaces on the same ring, but if moving into a space in the Neutral Zone, the defender must stop and end its turn. This prevents the defender from indefinitely moving around the ring.
- Captures are not compulsory.
- Only one piece may be captured in a turn.
- The captured piece is removed from the board.
- Both attackers and defenders can capture by leap or substitution, but there are restrictions.
- Multiple captures are not allowed within a turn. This includes multiple captures by leap, multiple captures by substitution, and multiple captures by leap and substitution.
- A piece in the Neutral Zone may not be captured.
- A player's piece in the Neutral Zone cannot leap over and capture an enemy piece that's also in the Neutral Zone, nor can it capture the enemy piece by substitution.
- A player's piece outside the Neutral Zone cannot leap over and capture an enemy piece in the Neutral Zone, nor can it capture the enemy piece by substitution.
- A capture may not begin from the Neutral Zone and end outside the Neutral Zone. Therefore, a player's piece inside the Neutral Zone cannot capture by leap or substitution an enemy piece on the same ring outside the Neutral Zone. Nor can a defender in the first ring and in the Neutral Zone leap over an attacker in the citadel and capture it.
- But a capture beginning outside the Neutral Zone may end in the Neutral Zone, and this usually happens along a ring with a capture by leap method. The only other instance this happens, is when a defender leaps over an attacker inside the citadel, and lands in the first ring of the Neutral Zone.
- Rule #14 from R.C. Bell's book states that "Neither player can attack an opposing piece with a piece in the neutral zone."
- Both attackers and defenders can capture one another by the short leap as in draughts or Alquerque. The piece leaps over the enemy piece that is adjacent to it either one space toward or away from the citadel, or one space left or right on the same ring, and lands on a vacant space adjacently behind in the direction of the leap.
- The defender can however move any number of unoccupied spaces (that are outside the Neutral Zone) along a ring towards a (non-adjacent) attacker, and leap over it, landing on an vacant adjacent space behind in the direction of the leap. The defender can land inside the Neutral Zone.
- An attacker from the second ring (but outside the Neutral Zone) can leap over an adjacent defender in the first ring, and land inside the citadel. The defender is captured and removed as well.
- Restrictions regarding the Neutral Zone as mentioned above apply.
- Both attackers and defenders can capture one another by substitution as in chess.
- An attacker can only capture by substitution an adjacent defender. An attacker can even capture an adjacent defender "behind" it. The attacker replaces the captured defender on the space it occupied.
- The defender may capture an adjacent attacker by substitution. The defender may also move any number of unoccupied spaces (that are outside the Neutral Zone) along a ring towards a (non-adjacent) attacker, and capture it by substitution. The defender replaces the attacker on the space it occupied.
- Attackers and defenders cannot capture an enemy piece in the Neutral Zone by substitution, because pieces in the Neutral Zone cannot be captured.
- The number of attackers in the Neutral Zone cannot be more than the number of defenders left on the board. For example, if there are two defenders left in the game, then there can only be up to two attackers in the whole Neutral Zone.
- A defender can leap over the citadel, and capture an attacker in it, provided the leap does not begin from the Neutral Zone. But as mentioned earlier, the defender can end its leap inside the Neutral Zone.
- The attackers win if two of its pieces enter the citadel.
- The defenders win if they reduce the number of attackers to one, or block their movements.