Alquerque

Alquerque originated in the Middle East as the game Quirkat. Alquerque boards are carved into the stone slabs which form the roof of the great temple at Kurna, Egypt. The Arabic author Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani mentioned Quirkat in his 24 volume work Kitab al-Aghani ("Book of Songs") c. 950 AD. Alquergue migrated to Europe when the Moors invaded Spain. It was named Alquerque (the Spanish form of El-Quirkat) in the Alfonso X Manuscript which was written between 1251 - 1282 at the command of Alfonso X, King of Leon and Castile. This game is the ancestor of modern day checkers (draughts in the UK) when it evolved to being played on a chess board instead of the standard Alqerque board. The Madagascan game Fanorama may have evolved from Quirkat.

Figure 1: Alquerque board

Rules

The game of Alqerque is played by two players using a board shown in Figure 1. The board consists of a grid of 25 points with connecting lines. One player has twelve black pieces and the other twelve white pieces. The game starts with each player placing their pieces on the points in the two rows closest to them and in the two rightmost points in the center row. The goal of the game is to remove all the opponent’s pieces.

The starting player may be decided with the flip of a coin. The players take turns moving pieces as follows. A piece may be moved from one point to any adjacent unoccupied point along a line in any direction. A piece can jump over an opposing adjacent piece and remove it from the board if the point beyond it is empty. The player may continue to do as many repeated jumps as are possible in the same turn.

If after a jump a piece can make another jump it must do so otherwise the piece is considered ’huffed’ and may be removed by the opponent. If two or more pieces can make a jump in the same turn, the pieces that did not make a jump are not removed from the board provided a jump was made by one of the pieces that was able to make a jump. If no jump was made by any of the pieces that are able to do so, then all pieces that could have jumped are considered "huffed" and can be removed from the board.

A player wins the game when all the pieces of the opposing player have been removed from the board.