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This is for those who quite enjoy setting to with card, felt tip pens, pawns and draughts pieces either to make variants for games or to produce homemade versions of games that are no longer available.


The game that Alan submitted to Abacus had three courses and a movement rule different to that which emerged after the company's development team had finished tinkering. Usually game developers improve a game, but in this case it is not clear that they did. So, here are the original movement rule and the extra courses.

The horses are moved in order, starting with the horse in the top route and proceeding downwards.

If a horse is controlled, the controlling player selects one of his cards and then rolls the die.

Uncontrolled horses are moved by the bookmaker who simply turns over the top card and rolls the die. An uncontrolled horse will always strain if it is either in last place (including tied for last) or the card played is a 7 or higher. Otherwise, an uncontrolled horse will never strain.

Cards are discarded face up in separate piles as played. After all horses have moved six times, all the cards are brought back into play. The bookmaker reshuffles the cards of uncontrolled horses. Play continues until three horses have finished.

When a player plays one of the two ``Move Up'' cards, he may do one of two things: 1) Use the card normally, or 2) Automatically move the horse forward until it is equal with the next horse ahead (the die is not rolled).

Each player has a Reroll Card with which he may call for one reroll per race. A player may use his reroll for one of his own rolls or for an opponent's. A single roll may have to be rerolled several times if more than one player plays his Reroll Card on the same roll. A player who uses his reroll must turn his Reroll Card face down for the rest of the race.

In Course One all seven routes have the same pattern, which is

S  --  B  R  Y  --  Y  --  B  --  --  R  --  Y  B  --  Y  --  --  F

In this `S' is the start, `F' is the finish and `B', `R' and `Y' stand for `red', `blue' and `yellow', respectively. The `--' indicate a space which is not coloured.

Course Two is the one used by Abacus, although for some reason they reversed the order of the routes, putting the one with all the yellow spaces at the top rather than the bottom. This was another instance where the changes they made were for the worse.

S  --  --  R  --  --  R  --  --  R  --  --  B  R  Y  B  --  --  --  F

S  --  --  B  --  --  B  Y  R  --  B  Y  --  --  --  B  B  --  --  F

S  --  --  --  R  R  --  --  --  R  R  --  Y  --  R  R  --  --  --  F

S  --  --  R  --  R  --  R  --  B  --  B  --  B  --  --  --  --  --  F

S  --  --  R  B  Y  --  R  B  Y  --  Y  --  --  --  B  --  --  --  F

S  --  --  --  B  --  B  Y  --  --  B  B  Y  Y  --  Y  B  --  --  F

S  --  R  Y  --  B  Y  --  --  Y  Y  Y  --  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y  --  F

If you check this against your board, you will find it answers a question that the published rules don't, namely, ``Is the finish the town or the last row of spaces?''. It is the town.

Course Three introduces fences. The rule here is that a horse may never end a turn on an obstacle (a space marked with an `X'). They must strain or use cloured spaces to make a double move over an `X' space. If a horse assigned to the fourth route from the top is unable to negotiate the double `X' spaces (because it does not have any cards with yellow or blue dots, for instance), it is disqualified from the race.

S  --  X  Y  --  Y  --  Y  --  Y  --  Y  --  Y  --  Y  --  Y  --  F

S  --  --  --  R  --  --  R  R  --  --  --  X  --  --  R  --  --  --  F

S  --  --  --  B  B  --  --  B  --  X  B  --  --  B  --  B  --  --  F

S  --  --  Y  B  R  R  B  Y  X  X  Y  B  B  Y  --  R  --  --  F

S  --  --  --  B  --  --  --  R  --  --  --  Y  Y  Y  --  --  --  --  F

S  --  X  R  X  R  Y  B  --  Y  --  R  --  B  --  Y  X  R  --  F

S  --  R  --  B  --  R  --  B  --  R  --  B  --  X  Y  X  --  --  F


Derick is keen on abstract games and has recently been combing through the first run of Games and Puzzles (That is the run that has material on the sort of games that are of interest to Sumo readers.) looking for information on abstract games that he can make for himself. Djambi is not from that era but does look interesting and wouldn't be too difficult to recreate, even though a proper set would obviously be nicer. I'll let Derick introduce it.

DG: I first came across this intriguing game several years ago when a friend sent me a copy of the rules. About a year later, while spending a weekend gaming, I came across Djambi in a friend's collection. Both sets I have seen were well made by hand in wood with a very stylish finish. I later learned that both sets had been purchased from an art and craft shop in Paris that specialises in wooden toys and games. I don't know whether the shop is still there, but the address is Impense Radical, 1 Rue de Medicis, 75006 Paris. The game is for four players and takes about 40 minutes. There are rules for a 2-player variant, but, from experience, I can say that this does not work.

The game is played on a 9$\times$9 board and is a chess variant. Indeed, Derick tells me that it features in the David Pritchard book that I mentioned last time. As in most chess variants, each player has an assortment of pieces with a variety of movement capabilities and one of those pieces is a king/commander, loss of whom means defeat for the player. The pieces in this instance are Chief, Military, Reporter, Assassin, Diplomat and Necromobile. The set up for the player starting in the bottom lefthand corner is as shown.

M  M  N

R  D  M

C  A  M

For the other players reflect this position in the horizontal and vertical lines through the centre square.

All pieces move like a queen in chess except the military, which move two squares maximum.

The Chief takes by replacement, placing the dead piece anywhere on the board, where it acts as a block. The Military take pieces in the same way, again placing them as blocks on a square of the capturing player's choice.

The Reporter kills all pieces on adjacent squares with touching sides. This time the dead pieces are removed from the board.

The Assassin kills by replacement and the dead piece is placed on the square from which the assassin commended its move.

The Diplomat takes by replacement but does not kill. Instead he places the captured piece where he likes on the board.

The Necromobile acts like the Diplomat but moves dead pieces around.

No piece except the Chief may stop in the centre but any piece may move through it.

If the Chief occupies the centre, he gets an additional turn after each of the other players for all of the time he is in there. (In a 2-player game he gets two moves to his opponent's one.)

Any piece that enters the centre to dispose of the Chief must make an additional move and vacate the centre.

The Military cannot kill the Chief when he is in the centre.

Any player killing an opponent's chief can use all of that player's pieces. A player is also out of the game if his chief is totally surrounded by dead bodies and cannot move. In this case the eliminated player's pieces can be used by the first player to get his Chief in the centre. During this time other player's cannot liberate the imprisoned chief with their Necromobile.

The winner is the last player in the game.

Derick put a small ad in Sumo 19 for opponents to play abstract games by mail. He got several takers and so has the beginnings of a small network. If you want to join in, contact him at 5 Gladwin Road, Colchester, Essex, CO2 7HW. He'd also like to hear from you if you have a copy of the rules to Springling (Pentangle), a game reviewed in G&P Mark 1, issue 77.


I gave the rules for this excellent abstract from the seventies in Sumo 19, an act that prompted Mike to write to say ``Sounds interesting. Could you send me a copy of the rules?'' I don't forget these things, Siggins! Anyway, Paul Jefferies, who was paying attention, has acquired a box of plastic bits that make excellent barriers for this game. So, if you want to make your own copy of Cul De Sac and haven't solved this particular problem (which is the only tricky one), write to Paul. He is charging £5 for a set, for which he will throw in 4 pawns and a photocopied board, leaving you with nothing to add. The price includes p&p and is what it is because the bits he got were all the one colour and so he has had to spend a fair amount of time painting half of them.

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Stuart Dagger