Camelot

Overview

Camelot (initially, the name of the game was Chivalry) is a two-player board game played on a special board that was invented by George S. Parker in 1882.  His goal was to invent a game not as difficult as Chess, but considerably more varied than Checkers.  Parker created a game that was a tactically complex, but easily learned and quickly played mixture of American Checkers (British Draughts) and Halma (Chinese Checkers).  When finally published by Geo. S. Parker & Co. in 1887 (and then by Parker Brothers in 1888), Chivalry won the raves of Chess and Checkers experts, but the game that Parker called "the best game in 2,000 years" did not catch on quickly with the general public.

Parker never lost his enthusiasm for the game though.  In 1930 he made a few changes to the game, and Parker Brothers published the game under the name of Camelot.  A few rule changes followed in 1931.  Camelot enjoyed its greatest popularity in the 1930s.  There were over 50 different editions of Camelot issued, including a gold-stamped leather edition and a mahogany cabinet edition.  There were tournament editions, regular editions, and low-cost editions.  There were different game variants, too.  Point Camelot, a tournament variant that counted and scored points, was released in 1931.  Three-handed Camelot, Four-handed Camelot, and Grand Camelot, a variant for four players on a special large board, were released in 1932.  Cam, a variant played on a miniature board, was released in 1949.  There was even a variant called Camelotta, of which no known information survives.  Camelot players included such famous individuals as Jose Raul Capablanca, World Chess Champion from 1921 to 1927, and Frank Marshall, U.S. Chess Champion from 1907 to 1936.  Sidney Lenz and Milton Work, two world famous bridge players, also played the game.  Camelot was eventually discontinued in 1968, then reissued as Inside Moves in 1985, and finally discontinued again in 1986.

Board

The game is played on a special board containing 160 cells.  There are two pairs of cells called Castles.  The White Castle is composed of the cells F1 and G1, and the Black Castle is composed of cells F16 and G16.

There are two players: White and Black.

At the beginning of the game each player has 14 pieces: four Knights and ten Men.

The board shape, the Castles and the initial position of the pieces are shown in the following picture:

Objective

There are several ways to win the game:

  • the game is won if a player moves any two of his pieces (Knights and/or Men) into his opponent’s Castle;
  • the game is won if a player captures all of his opponent’s pieces and has two or more of his own pieces left; 
  • the game is won if a player has two or more pieces, and his opponent is unable to make a legal move.

The game is drawn if both players have no more than one piece left.

Play

 Players move alternately, starting with the player controlling the white pieces.

There are three kinds of moves that can be made both by Knights and Men: a plain move, a canter and a jump (capture). There is an additional kind of move that can be made by Knights only - the Knight's Charge.

  • The Plain Move - a piece (either a Knight or a Man) may move to a horizontally, vertically or diagonally adjacent cell that is not occupied by any other piece.
An example of valid plain moves
  • The Canter - a piece (either a Knight or a Man) may jump over another piece of the same player (either a Knight or a Man) standing on a horizontally, vertically or diagonally adjacent cell if there is an empty cell in the same direction right after it.  Pieces cantered over are not removed from the board.  If the same piece can continue cantering over other player pieces it can do so (but doesn't have to).  When cantering over more than one piece in a move, the direction of the move may be varied after each canter, but the cantering may not begin and end on the same cell ("circular canter"). The Canter is not mandatory (i.e. a player can make a plain move instead of cantering).
An example of valid canters
  • The Jump (Capture) - a piece (either a Knight or a Man) may jump over an opponent's piece (either a Knight or a Man) standing on a horizontally, vertically or diagonally adjacent cell if there is an empty cell in the same direction right after it.  The opponent's pieces jumped over are captured and immediately removed from the board.  If the same piece can continue jumping over other opponent's pieces it must do so.  When jumping over more than one opponent's piece in a move, the direction of the move may be varied after each jump and it is allowed to begin and end the jumping on the same cell ("circular jump").  Jumping is mandatory, i.e. if a player has an option to jump over an opponent's piece on his turn then he must do it.  If there are several ways to jump over opponent's pieces, a player can choose any way he wants.  When required to capture an opponent piece, a player can perform the capture by the Knight's Charge (see below) if possible.  The only situation in which a player may ignore his obligation to jump is when, on his previous move, he has jumped one of his pieces over an opponent's piece into his own castle, ending his turn there, and must, on his next turn, immediately move that piece out from his castle.
An example of valid jump After the jump
  • The Knight's Charge - A Knight (only) may combine a canter and a jump in a single move.  When making such a move a Knight must do the Canter(s) first and the Jump(s) afterwards.  The Knight's Charge is not mandatory.  The only situation in which a Knight must do the Knight's Charge (i.e. to jump after cantering) is when a Knight canters next to an opponent's piece that can be jumped over.  In this situation the Knight must capture the opponent's piece unless the Knight can continue cantering and capture one or more opponent's pieces elsewhere during the same move.
An example of a valid
Knight's Charge
After the Knight's Charge

It is forbidden to move a piece to one's own Castle by a Plain Move or a Canter but a player may move one of his pieces to his own Castle by jumping over an opponent's piece standing next to the Castle.  It is also forbidden to move a Knight into a player's own Castle during the cantering portion of a Knight's Charge.  A player who ended his turn by jumping into his own Castle must immediately move that piece out from his own Castle on his next turn (either by jump, if required, or by plain move or canter).

A piece that has entered his opponent’s castle cannot come out, but is allowed to move from one castle cell to the other (castle move).  A player is limited to two castle moves during a game.

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