Nature of Man
… nothing that happens to Man is ever natural

6 March 2006, Monday

Oldest Game in the Universe

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mordred @ 20:50

Many (strategy/board) games are fighting for the title of being the “oldest in the world”, and while Go does appear in the list, the claims that this or that emperor devised the game to educate his son in ~2300 BC (plus or minus a couple of centuries) are not quite based on actual evidence per se (there, more latin!) There are even doubts that the 600 BC mention of “Yi” by Confucius is not exactly about Go (though judging from the contextual evidence, there is high probability that it is indeed Go).

Some forms of tick-tack-toe, backgammon and nine-men-morris existed in Egypt and Mesopotamia (they probably called it nine-slave-bellydance), and in Africa they had Awale and the other games of the Mancala family (they have quite a few names btw).

It is interesting to note what the Almighty google thinks the oldest game in the world is. Hmm, yeah, nine-men-morris, mancala, backgammon, strip poker, chess, dice … true, true.

Wikipedia is totally off-track, with the honorable exception of mentioning Cat’s cradle (which ain’t exactly strategic, and is certainly no board game)

My vote is for the Mancala games, and for a leisure way to meet the game, try this shareware (blah:( ) version, which knows the rules of many variants and can be played on the internet (you have to arrange a meeting with a friend, as there is usually nobody online to play with)

1 Comment »

  1. […] (Btw a variant of Mancala has been solved as well). Note that chess is not actually solved in the sense that a winning strategy is known for all situations, it’s just that computers are better than human players. The skill of the current computer Go opponents, on the other hand, places them in the middle of the amateur kyu range, which is way too far from even the amateur dans, let alone the pros (the rating scale is not linear in nature; moving from 6th dan to 7th dan is much harder than moving from 1st dan to 2nd dan). […]

    Pingback by Nature of Man » A Rhapsody in Deep Blue — 11 May 2007, Friday @ 12:50

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