Dameo is the most important candidate to prevent draughts from becoming a marginalized affair, away from the international sports arena and deprived of the public attention that used to befall its heroes in the past.
Modifying the current game in all likelihood won't happen because some suggestions fail to solve the problem while others fail to even address the problem. Tinkering with points awarded for drawn positions based on their material and positional qualities, the petit bourgeois mentality of it is nauseating and unworthy of Draughts.
The one decent suggestion, introducing the Thai king, or a modified version thereof as in Killer Draughts, probably will fall short because it suggests it's still the same game. But it would send half the accumulated theory down the drain. It's hard to advocate that as being the same game.
Dameo isn't all that different from International Draughts, for those who care to look beyond appearances, and it adresses the problems fundamentally. It does so first and foremost because Croda did so.
The springboard: Croda
Croda was invented by the Croatian mathematics professor and Draughts master, the late Ljuban Dedić (1956-2010). He was a nine times national champion of Yugoslavia so we're not exaggerating by saying he was familiar with Draughts. In order to create a draughts game with a smaller margin of draws he replaced the sideways move of a man in Turkish Draughts by a diagonally forward move, filled the vacant back rank of the latter, and put the resulting mechanics in the framework of rules of International Draughts. That's all. It's all still Draughts.
To point out the differences:
Ljuban Dediç was reluctant to go beyond the necessary. Turning square, but having men move diagonally forwards instead of sideways, was a necessary condition, but he did't extend the diagonal move to kings. Kings move and capture long and straight, and apart from not capturing like a vacuum cleaner, they are identical to Turkisk kings. In Turkish, two kings can capture a lone one, but finding out how is not entirely trivial. Less trivial indeed than winning the same endgame in Dameo, where kings may move diagonally because men may move diagonally. It depends on how you look at it, and keeping it minimal with the added bonus of an more interesting 2x1 must have appealed to Ljuban. His mission to make a square game as close to International Draughts as possible, but without the inherent flaw, did fully succeed, and though it got less appreciation than it deserves, yet it was more than was to be expected. Some players have secretly started listening.
- Combinations align with the board, providing more room.
- The game becomes a doublegrid game where a man simply moves forwards.
Croda was Dameo's springboard. Christian Freeling, co-author of this essay, learned about the game from Leo Springer in 2000. It didn't take him long to realize that it fitted an idea that had been gathering dust for about fifteen years, in fact even since the invention of Bushka. That idea was linear movement in a Draughts game. The idea had never materialized, because Bushka also features linear capture, a concept not applicable to draughts, which effectively prevents gridlock. Introducing linear movement in International Draughts would lead to gridlock, there wasn't any point in even trying, that's how far the idea had gotten. There's a reason for that: to prevent gridlock, linear movement requires a doublegrid game. But in 2000 the singlegrid versus doublegrid distinction wasn't all that explicitly considered yet, let alone in '85.
To make a short story shorter: Dameo was invented in the two minutes that followed Croda's encounter with linear movement. Just apply and truncate the rectangular forces to a trapezium. It not just looks better, it forces players to make some strategic decisions early on, because progress along the sides, still tempting and much sought after, must do with less abundant resources than in Croda.
|Here is the board with the pieces in the initial position. The rules mention men and kings. A king is a promoted man. If the difference doesn't matter, they may also mention pieces, for instance 'the number of pieces on the board'.|
Linear movement is defined as the move of a straight unbroken line of men of the same color, one square forwards, straight or diagonally, along the line of squares they occupy, provided the square in front is vacant.
It includes the move of a single man, which may be considered as a line-of-one. Linear movement does not apply to kings.
The object is to leave your opponent without a valid move, either by capturing all his pieces, or by blocking them completely. Draws may occur by mutual agreement or three-fold repetition of moves.
Men, whether single or linear, move one square forward to a vacant square in front. A king moves like the Queen in Chess.
In Dameo one can open with any man. On the left are 26 unique opening moves white has at his disposal. For each of these there's a symmetric one.
Black, on his first move, doesn't face a symmetric situation, so he actually has a choice of 52 answers. Thus after two moves, 1352 different positions are possible.
Capture takes precedence over a non-capturing move. Only if the player to move has no capture to make,
may he move a single man, or a line of men, or a king.
- Although pieces may move diagonally, all captures are straight only. Men may capture forwards, backwards and sideways by the short leap.
Kings may move queenwise, but they capture only rookwise, by the long leap.
- Capturing, whether by men or kings, is compulsory.
If a piece makes a capture and is now in a position to make another one, it must do so. Thus multiple captures may be made in the same turn. When a multiple capture is being made, the captured pieces are only removed at the end of the turn, and it is not allowed to jump over the same piece twice in that turn, although vacant squares may be passed over more than once.
- Majority capture takes precedence: if a player has a choice of captures, he must choose the one that results in the largest number of pieces being captured (kings and men counting equally). When a king has more than one option in terms of captures and destination squares, it must choose its route so that it maximizes the capturing sequence. If there is more than one way to do this, it is free to choose.
- If a man ends its move on the opponent's back row, it is promoted to king. A man passing the back row in a capture, but not ending on it, does not promote.
Since a capturing sequence must be completed before the pieces are taken off the board, and since a man may not be jumped twice, Dameo allows for the 'Coup Turc'. Here's a bare bones example:
White moves 1.c1e3 (ac5x), 2.e1c3 and the black king must capture four men, ending on d3 where he is stopped by the already captured man on c3, while d2 is still covered by the already captured man on d1.
Strategy - terra incognita
Because of the absence of one-on-one opposition, Dameo strategy is more about pace/breakthrough than about tempo/opposition. In Dameo differences in pace derive from two sources: linear movement and captures.
Tactics are easy to illustrate, but strategy is far more elusive. In Draughts one can afford a substantial arrears in pace on grounds of tempoconditions. In Hexdame one cannot. In Dameo flexibility in pace is considerable, but how best to use the possibilities to speed up or slow down is still an open question that only can be approached after many documented games. Here are a few useful tips for beginners:
- As all draughts variants with straight forward movement, Dameo encourages a build-up of forces along the sides, but the means to do so are limited by its initial position. This requires that they be used efficiently.
- From a white point of view, the 'kingtraps' a1-c1 and h1-f1 should not be given up unnecessarily, though keeping both intact for defensive reasons throughout the middle game may imply you will eventually actually need them both.
- Advance where you have more checkers locally. Keep back where not.
the middle game, a roller on the edge should consist of at least three men.
- Keep advancing men connected as much as possible. Defensive men may be very effective even if isolated.
- Beware of funny tactics.
This all goes a long way in stating the obvious. Playing this game is like exploring a new continent where all but the very first steps are uncharted. Strategy, in consequence, for the time being requires an intuitive approach.
Tactics - what's different?
In terms of tactics, the majority of patterns that can be found in Draughts, can also be found in Croda and Dameo, although endgame tactics differ because of the absence of one-on-one opposition. There are patterns in Dameo however, that cannot occur in the other two, or in any previous draughtsgame for that matter.
Elementary my dear Watson.
|The Ladder - an application|
Elementary my dear Wiersma.
|The Double Square formation|
Here's the bare bones version of a principle that can (and often does) pop up in the opening and middle game.
Its significance lies in realm of combinations and not so much in the fact that white has a winning endgame here.
|Two kings against one|
A trivial affair
Straightforward tactics for the casual observer
Dameo has deep and subtle problems, but those with no or a bare a minimum of alternative lines best serve our purpose of providing easy to follow examples. In the endgames section however, the less than casual observer may require a board.
Straight and simple.
Characteristic of this pattern is a white capture which opens the 'trap', a hole that black must immediately fill with a capture of his own.
A very common tactic in International Draughts based on the precedence of majority capture and working very much the same way in Dameo.
If in a trapdoor the trap square is opened by a backward capture that goes around to cover the man that makes the next capture, it is called a 'heel kick'.
A not very common pattern named after a french Draughts champion who introduced it in the so called 'classic game', reflecting early strategic formations in Draughts, at the end of the 19th century.
|Juggling the king|
|Juggling the king|
A 'coup des contraires' or fork.
On 1.a46-h42x 2.a68x-g5h4! black wins
The structure of Dameo and the genius of Leo Springer made this combination possible.
|1||h1g2||1.h12?-f5g4, 2.h23-g4f3, 3.h3g4 (or h34)-f3g2 and now 4.a12 doesn't work because black promotes on g1 (or h1 if white is on h4) and captures the white man.|
|2||g3f3||2.g2h3?-g4f3 3.h3g4 (or h34)-f3g2 with the same result as on 1.h12.|
|3||f3e4||Now the white man is out of reach.|
|4||a12||Generally speaking the white man must have cleared the f-g-h-files by the time the black man reaches g2. One exception is covered in the next example.|
|1||h1g2||Of course 1.h12 works just as well - this is not a stand alone problem but a footnote to the previous one.|
|4||ah2x||Generally speaking the white man must have cleared the f-g-h-files by the time the black man reaches g2. Here's an exeption.|