Our compatriots from the IT company PRAS have come up with a new game, Belarusian Chess. It is based on the classical one. The aim of the game is not to defeat an opponent, but to take all the power.
According to Mikalaj Tamaszevicz, who developed the rules of the game, its idea dates back to the 1990s.
- The idea belongs to Ales Astrowski, a professor at Grodno Medical University. In the late 1990s, he invented chess based on classical chess, and introduced the concept of the throne, a symbol of supreme power. In 2010, I finalized the rules of the game by adding political and cultural traits from the history of Belarus and Eastern Europe and, together with Astrowski, revived the ancient names of the pieces. Aliaksei Kulbitski was responsible for the design.
As Mikalaj explains, the main feature of the game is a very different objective from classical chess. According to the rules, the player has to occupy the central square of the field - the throne - with one of the two pieces and hold on to it until the kniaź is proclaimed rokash. This can be done without blood - i.e. without knocking down opponents.
Rokash is the military opposition of the nobility. If translated into modern language, it can even be called a peculiar form of impeachment. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a federative state, part of which was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) the nobility had the right to refuse to obey the king. There were such examples in Belarusian history (e.g. Sandomierz Rokash of 1606-1609).
According to the rules of the game the kniaź (the king in classical chess) or the kniažyč (a new piece, there is no equivalent in classical chess) can occupy the throne. It is assisted by pieces such as the hietman (queen in the classical version), the harmata (bishop), the ratnik (knight) and others.
Where do these names come from?
These are the names of the chess pieces that have been common on our continent since the 8th and 9th centuries in Belarus.
- The game was so popular with medieval Europeans, that in the 11th century chess was considered one of the most widespread entertainments of the nobility, and was even included in the knight's education programme. In Belarus it was found at archeological excavations in all our ancient towns. Barbara Radziwill and Lew Sapieha played chess, - says Mikalaj.
There are other features of the game as well. The size of the board has been changed - 9×9 squares, an asymmetrical arrangement of pieces has been installed.
Why did the Belarusians invent new chess?
- Ales Astrowski claims he dreamt them, - smiles Mikalaj Tamaszevicz. - That is, it happened by accident. But if you think about it, we have classical chess, which is played all over the world, as well as many other variants (for example, round and three-player chess).
As Belarus has a rich chess history, we are entitled to our own vision of the game.
And if you tie it to our history, you get a game with a lot of possibilities. So it's an attempt to establish ourselves as a chess (intellectual) country and pay extra attention to history.