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"The Game" - Kaissa®
Mazah Napa

Kaissa® "The Game" is talked about in a lot of the books, to some it is a way of life, to others it is an obsession and to some it is the game. Up until now there has been little new information on the game, on the web and what this is there is pretty much the same, copied from site to site. I have attempted to document the game and come up with a complete set of rules as well as create an online playable version of the game ... I hope that I have done that, but it is up to you the reader to decide if I have succeeded or have failed. The following are the moves that I have come up with from my research in the books, no doubt some will disagree with some of the moves for a given piece and I will gladly discuss the issue, I have setup a message board for the discussion of kaissa, I'm looking forward to any and all comments, as I'm trying to create the rules for Merchants Kaissa and I need more than just my input to do so. This page is a work in progress so you will notice from time to time the information changes, I will begin to make notations on the message board when changes are made.

On the surface kaissa is a simple game, the object is to capture the other "Player's" Home Stone ... much akin to Chess of Earth where you must capture your opponents King. ***Updated Information***

The Ubar can move up to nine (9) squares in any direction as long as no piece is blocking his path. **Note** - These movements are not directly supported by the books, other than a statement that the Ubar is the most powerful piece on the board, so I have made it's move 9 squares in any direction akin to earthen chess and the movement of the Queen.
The Ubara can move up to six (6) squares in any direction as long as no piece is blocking her path. **Note** - These movements are directly supported by the books.
The Initiate can move up to nine (9) squares on the same colored diagonal as long as no piece is blocking his path. **Note** - These movements are not directly supported by the books, 7 squares diagonally is supported but that is the same move for the Scribe so I have made the move 9 squares akin to earthen chess and the movement of the Bishop.
The Builder can move up to nine (9) squares in a straight line as long as no piece is blocking his path. **Note** - These movements are not directly supported by the books, a move of 8 square is shown I have increased that to 9 squares akin to earthen chess and the movement of the Rook.
The Scribe can move up to seven (7) squares on the same colored diagonal as long as no piece is blocking his path. **Note** - These movements are directly supported by the books.
The Tarnsman can move either forward three (3) and then either to the left or right two (2) squares or up two (2) squares and then either to the left or right three (3) squares. The Tarnsman is the only piece the can jump over another piece, the Tarnsman can also make a positioning move, it can move one square in any direction as it's move, it can not take a piece during a positioning move. **Note** - These movements are directly supported by the books. ***Updated Move***
The Physician can move up to four (4) squares in a straight line as long as no piece is blocking his path. **Note** - This movement are directly supported by the books.
  Rider of the High TharlarionRider of the High Tharlarion
Rider of the High Tharlarion
The Rider of the High Tharlarion can move one (1) squares in any direction. **Note** - These movements are directly supported by the books.
  Home StoneHome Stone
Home Stone
The Home Stone can move one (1) squares in any direction but can not capture another piece. You must place you Home Stone on the First Row not before the second move and no later than the tenth move or you forfeit the game. **Note** - These movements are directly supported by the books.
The Spearman can move forward one (1), two (2) or three (3) squares, or one (1) square sideways or one (1) square diagonally if capturing a piece on it's first move, after it initial move, it may move only one space at a time. This move may be directly diagonally, forward, or sideways. It can only capture diagonally. Upon reaching the tenth row a Spearman can then be traded for either a Tarnsman or Rider of the High Tharlarion. **Note** - These movements are directly supported by the books. ***Updated Move***

Graphic 1 The Setup of the Kaissa Pieces If you look at Graphic 1 you will see the placement of all forty-four pieces that I have documented in my research. Now I know I'm going to hear, where are the assassins, they are documented in Tarnsman of Gor, what is this adding two more pieces per side, it is documented that there are twenty pieces per side in Assassin of Gor. Lets look at a few quotes and see if I can explain to your satisfaction the changes I have made and why these changes where made.

"Look here," said Marlenus, reconstructing the board, "I have used the Assassin to take the City then the Assassin is felled by a Tarnsman ...an unorthodox, but interesting variation ..." "And the Tarnsman is felled by a Spear Slave," I observed. (Tarnsman of Gor page 170)

It is plain to see that there where pieces that where called Assassins and Spear Slaves .... what happened to them, it is my guess that after the defeat of Pa-Kur and the Assassin's Horde in Ar in 10110 C.A., the piece fell in disfavor, just as the Caste of Assassins did and that the piece was replaced by the Physician, as you will not find mention of them in any of the other books, but will read of the piece called the physician.

We look at the next quote: "Indeed, Kaissa was play variously on the planet. For example, several years ago Kaissa was played somewhat differently in Ar than it was now. Most Gorean cities now, at least in the south, accepted a standard tournament Kaissa, agreed upon by the high council of the caste of players. Sometimes the changes were little more than semantic. For example, a piece which once in Ar had been called the "City" was now identified officially as the "Home Stone" even in Ar. Indeed, some players in Ar had always called it the Home Stone. More seriously there were now no "Spear Slaves" in common Kaissa as there once had been, though there were distinctions among "Spearmen." It had been argued that slaves had no right upon the Kaissa Board." (Beasts of Gor pages 43-44)

It would seem that a little later another change was made to the Spearmen as in this quote: "some favoring Ubar's Initiate to Scribes three, and others the withdrawal of Ubara's Spearman to cover the vulnerable Ubar's two." (Assassin of Gor page 32) we see that the Spearman can retreat but in this quote "The Spearman is not permitted retreat." (Players of Gor page 238) We now find that the Spearman can not longer is allowed retreat which is fitting for a front line warrior.

Now we look at the number of pieces on the board, "The man who called out wore a robe of checkered red and yellow squares, and the game board, of similar squares with ten ranks and ten files, giving a hundred squares hung over his back; slung over his left shoulder, as a warrior wears a sword, was a leather bag containing pieces, twenty to a side, red and yellow representing Spearmen, Tarnsmen, The Rider of the High Tharlarion, and so on." (Assassins of Gor page 26)

So at this point we have twenty pieces but if we read on we come across a quote supporting another piece "the Scribe threatened the Ubara's Flanking Spearman at Ubara's Initiate three." (Beast of Gor Page 95) this little quote added the two Spearman to each side of the board, as if you make the moves of game between Centius of Cos and Scormus of Ar you will see that there must be a piece on Initiates three to start with as there was never a piece moved to Initiates three during the first ten moves ...

Here is the notation of first ten moves of that game, the notation is setup to make the moves on the Kaissa Boards I have configured for the playing of online Kaissa, they can be found at Kaissa Boards or you can take a look at Graphic 2 as it show the location of all pieces after making these ten moves by each side.

Graphic 2 En'Kara Game Board after 10 moves
 Yellow| Red
1f02f05| e09e06
2f05e06| d09d07
3e06d07| c09c08
4d07c08| f10c07
5c08b09| a10b09
6e02e04| e10e07
7d02d05| i09i08
8i02i03| i10i09
9i01i02| HS i10
10HS i01| i08h07
  • Lets back up and look at the final positions and see what we can learn from it: "Red's Ubar's Initiate controlled the Ubar's Initiate Diagonal; the red Ubara controlled the Ubar's Physician's Diagonal; the red Ubar controlled the Ubar's Builder's Diagonal; the red Ubar's Scribe controlled the Ubar's Scribe's Diagonal. Red controlled not one but four adjacent diagonals, unobstructed diagonals, each bearing on the citadel of yellow's Home Stone; the red Ubara threatened the Ubara's Scribe Spearman at Ubara's Scribe two; the Initiate threatened the Ubara's Builder at Builder two, positioned directly before the yellow's Home Stone; the Ubar threatened the Rider of the High Tharlarion at Builders three; the Scribe threatened the Ubara's Flanking Spearman at Ubara's Initiate three." (Beasts of Gor Page 95)
  • We learn that the Ubara must be able to move at least 5 space diagonally (we will learn more about the Ubara movement in Players of Gor), the Initiate 7 spaces diagonally, the Ubar 4 spaces diagonally (we have all ready seen that it can move forward 3 spaces), and the Scribe 7 spaces diagonally. We have also seen from the moves of Centius playing red that the Spearman can move either one, two or three spaces on their initial move, as his first three move of the game show this fact clearly.
  • "On his tenth move Centius of Cos moved his Rider of the High Tharlarion, which had been at Builder three, obliquely to Builder four. This opened the file of the Builder." (Beasts of Gor Page 95) I have a problem with this move as if we move to Builder four we have not opened the Builder file nor is it an oblique move, we have a choice of placing the piece at Initiate four which would stack up the pieces on the Initiate file or to Scribe four which makes more sense to me so that is the placement I have used. From the moves shown for this piece, we know it can move at least one space forward or one space diagonally.
Graphic 3 End game from Players of Gor Lets look at the end game between Tarl Cabot and Scormus of Ar shown in Players of Gor pages 230-240, I have setup the pieces as described and they can be seen in Graphic 3, the first move we are told about was Rider of the High Tharlarion to Ubar's Initiate eight (based on the move we can guess that the Rider of the High Tharlarion can only move a single square or we should have seen capture of Home Stone.) Now the game proceeds as follows: Ubara to Ubara's Tarnsman two, Tarl responds with Scribe to Ubara's Tarnsman three, next Scormus of Ar moves Ubara to Ubar's Initiate three taking Spearman - threat to Home Stone, (we have learn a few things from these moves, first that the Ubara can move forward and that it can move at least six squares on the diagonal), we continue with the game Spearman takes Ubara, Spearman to Ubar's Builder nine - threat to Home Stone, Home Stone to Initiate two, Spearman to Ubar's Initiate ten - promoted to Rider of the High Tharlarion - threat to Home Stone, Builder takes Rider of the High Tharlarion, Builder to Builder nine - Kaissa (we have now seen the Builder move in a straight line for at least eight squares, and the Home Stone moving one square and that it can not capture a piece.) One final piece of information on the Home Stone is found in this quote: "The Home Stone must be placed by the tenth move." (Players of Gor Page 8). By the placement of a Spearman on Builder 2 we see the Spearman must be allowed to move sideways on it's opening move.

That leaves us with two pieces that we have yet to see move yet, the Physician and the Tarnsman. I found the following quote concerning the Physician: "Physician to Physician six, generally regarded as a flawed response to Ossius' Ubar to Ubara's Scribe five." (Beasts of Gor page 62) this move shows the Physician being able to move in a straight line for at least four squares. The final piece the Tarnsman is even more baffling as the piece is moved in many game fragments in the books but only twice are we given any real information the first quote: "Ubar's Tarnsman to Physician Seven," (Assassin of Gor Page 32) I have a major problem with this movement as this makes it so the Tarnsman moves up six and over three, if you make this move on the board you will see that you opponent would just respond by moving his Ubara's Tarnsman and take your piece. If we look at the notation of Physician Seven that is also the same as Physician four depending on which side of the board you are looking from, I see that this might have been an error and the move should have been "Ubar's Tarnsman to Physician Four" as this is a much more logical move for the piece up three and over three. Since I wrote this it was pointed out by Socrates "Rereading the game Scormus vs Centius in "Beasts", I note that when Centius moved Spearman to Ubar's Tarnsman Four on his second move "It was undefended". But it would have been defended by the Ubara's Tarnsman if a tarnsman was a 3,3 leaper.", so I have made the Tarnsman a 3,2/2,3 leaper as this is supported just as easy by the final quote concerning the movement of the Tarnsman: "I moved my Ubar's Tarnsman to Ubara's Tarnsman five. It was a positioning move. The Tarnsman can move only one square on the positioning move. It attacks only on a flight move." We learn about the positioning move for the Tarnsman, but if we look closer at this quote, it came from the beginning of a game, now if the Tarnsman had been move just once it would have be sitting at Ubara's Four, so this move would seem to support the up three and over two or up two and over three movement I have proposed for the Tarnsman.

You can see that most of my information comes from either Beasts of Gor or Players of Gor, there is a very important thing to remember that Scormus of Ar played in both of these games and one would not expect him to play anything but Merchants Kaissa or what is also know as Players Kaissa or Kaissa of En'Kara which "was officially promulgated for the first time at one of the fairs of En'Kara, that occurred in 10124 C.A." (Players of Gor page 8) so the next question is when did these games take place: "He lost in the great tournament, in 10125 Contasta Ar," he said, "to Centius, of Cos." "Centius is a fine player," I said. The tournament he referred to was doubtless the one held at the Sardar Fair, in En'Kara of that year. It had occurred five years ago. It was now 10,130 C.A. (Players of Gor page 249). In my mind, I feel that I have proved that the placement of the pieces, as well as the movement of the pieces come as close as any will every come to Merchants Kaissa without having access to John Norman's notes. But as I stated in the beginning I leave it to you the viewer to decide.

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Adapted from the copyrighted Gor Series by John Norman, in no way is this work meant to infringe on his copyright.
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