‘Dama’ is a traditional Filipino game of strategy and wits

By Marjorie Gorospe

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA— Despite the availability of high-tech games and digital gadgets, playing dama continues to be a favorite Filipino pastime.

Dama or checkers is a famous board game in the Philippines and in other countries. The game is said to have originated from ancient Egypt and according to archeologists, checkers had existed as early as 1400 B.C.

Today, the Philippines and Armenia are the only countries that refer to checkers as dama while British colonies refer to it as draughts. Many countries have their versions of dama.

It is a game of wits and strategy as two opposing players try to move their dama pieces (or pitsa)  across a wooden board that is similar to a chessboard.

Filipino enthusiasts often make their own board and pitsa. Bamboo, bottle caps, and stones can be used as pitsa.

A player can only move the pitsa diagonally and the goal is to reach the endpoints on the opposing of the board. Once the piece reaches the endpoint, it can move freely move diagonally from one endpoint to another.

The pitsa can also “capture” the opposing player’s pitsa. The game ends when one player is able to capture all of his opponent’s pieces.

Filipinos also play a variant of the game where the rules are reversed. Instead of aiming to capture all the opponent’s pieces, the goal in this game is to be the first to lose all your pieces.

Schools in the Philippines have also combined the game of dama with basic mathematics to create “DaMath”. Some schools even organize Damath competitions among themselves.

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