Seega is a game from Egypt, at least in the form known today. It was popular in the 19th century for sure, but it could be known as early as in 18th century. Of course, it did not came out of nowhere. It shows similarity to much older games like Greek Petteia or Roman Latrunculorum. Egypt was part of the Roman Empire so this origin would be natural. On the other hand, I once read that Greek petteia could originate from Seega or from one of Seega’s older ancestors.
Certainly Seega resembles Latrunculorum. I even met with comparing Seega and Go, probably because in both games you place pawns on board and you’re trying to surround your enemy. Of course I would not go as far as to say that Seega and Go have a common origin.
Some people believe Seega was game for poor. Today, we can meet beautiful boards and pieces for this game, but in the past in Egypt, people played with pebbles and on the board drawn on the ground. There is something charming in this simplicity. Seega boards were also scratched onto the temple stones, but it seems these boards are not very old.
Seega – general rules
Seega is a strategy board game for two players, in type of a “war game”.
Players make moves alternately, except situations when player has to pass or o captures enemy piece.
There is now element of luck.
Board and pieces
In this post I describe a basic variant of the game. It is played on a square board with 25 fields (5×5). Central field is usually specially marked.
There are also variants of the game played on 7×7 and 9×9 boards.
To play Seega you also need 24 pieces – 12 black (dark) and 12 white.
If the game is played on 7×7 board, you must use 48 pieces (24 for each player), and if the game is played on 9×9 board, you need 80 pieces (40 for each player).
Rules of the game
Phase I: Setting pieces
The game consists of two phases. At the beginning, in the 1st phase, the board is empty and players place their pieces on freely chosen fields.
In one turn player places 2 pieces on board.
In this phase of a game it’s not allowed to place pieces on the central field.
Phase II: Moving rules
After setting all pieces, second phase of the game starts. Players make moves alternately (except when it comes to capturing).
In one turn piece can be moved to the adjacent field vertically or horizontally. You can’t move diagonally.
In this phase of the game you can enter the central field.
Capturing is done by catching (sandwiching) – making a move to trap enemy piece between two own pieces. The diagram below shows an example of the capturing. White piece entering the field (shown by arrow) captures the “A” piece.
Captured piece is removed from the board.
In Seega captures can be made vertically or horizontally. Diagonal entrapment does not count as a capture.
You can safely enter between two enemy pieces. Capturing is possible only in attacking move.
If it’s possible to capture two or three enemies simultaneously in one move, then all these trapped enemies are captured. You can see this on image below. White piece captures “B” and “A” pieces in one move.
Important: After capturing player has the right to another turn. He may even make few moves in a row, if he can hit enemy pieces in each move.
Piece standing on the central field can not be captured. However, it may be used to capture enemy pieces.
Aim of the game
The aim of the game is to capture all opponent’s pieces.
The game can lead to some unusual situations.
- If a player has no ability to move, his opponent makes a move. Some sources say that this additional move should open the opportunity to play for opponent.
- Game ends if no piece was captured within 20 consecutive moves. Then players count remaining pieces. The winner is the one who has more pieces on board.
- Some authors of publications about Seega say, that the game can lead to a situation where a player creates a barrier of pieces without enemy pieces on one side. In such situation it is not possible to capture. In this case winner should be established by counting remaining pieces.
I try play Seega always when I have such opportunity. Despite the apparent simplicity, this game can be very surprising and proves to be intellectual challenge. Especially funny are situations when you play against someone with a knack for this game :-).
Do you need a set to play?