Damas

Damas, Checkers, photo by David Mejia

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Primero quiero saber, ¿por qué le llaman a este juego “damas” en español? Tiene que existir una historia interesante sobre eso. ¿Tal vez sólo las mujeres jugaban? ¿Tal vez es porque lo que llamamos “reyes” en el juego de damas en inglés son “reinas” en español? Ni modo, hoy estoy hablando del juego damas porque me di cuenta que Carlos tiene reglas por el juego muy diferentes que las reglas que tenemos en los Estados Unidos y quiero saber si es cosa de Carlos y sus amigos de la niñez, algo de El Salvador, o algo de América Latina. (O tal vez yo he estado jugando mal!)

El otro día Carlos y nuestro hijo menor estaban jugando damas y mi hijo se quejó de que su padre estaba tratando de engañar. Llegué a la mesa donde estaban jugando y le pregunté qué estaba pasando. Carlos dijo que sólo estaba tratando de mover su pieza, pero nuestro hijo dijo que no la estaba moviendo bien. Le dije a Carlos que me mostrara lo que quería hacer, ¡y él procedió a recoger a su pieza y volar al otro lado del tablero!

Cuando le dije que no podía hacer eso, dijo que él y sus amigos hacían eso cuando jugaban a las damas. (También me dijo que su tablero era dibujado a mano sobre cartón. Sus piezas eran tapas de botellas, casi igual que el juego de damas en la foto.)

Otra regla extraña que Carlos trató de aplicar al juego: Si nuestro hijo no aprovechó la oportunidad para saltar una de las piezas de Carlos cuando era posible, Carlos quería llevar la pieza de nuestro hijo como castigo.

Entonces, ¿estas son reglas que Carlos inventó o simplemente otra variación del juego?

Image source: David Mejia

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

First of all, I want to know why checkers is called “damas” in Spanish. There must be an interesting story about how that came about. Maybe only women played? Maybe it’s because what we call “kings” in the game of checkers in English are “reinas” (queens) in Spanish? Anyway, today I’m talking about the game of checkers because I noticed Carlos has rules for the game that are different from the rules we have in the United States and I want to know if it’s a Carlos thing he made up with his childhood friends, an El Salvador thing, or a Latin American thing. (Or maybe I’m the one whose been playing wrong!)

The other day Carlos and our youngest son were playing checkers and my son complained that his father was trying to cheat. I came to the table where they were playing and asked Carlos what was going on. Carlos said he was just trying to move his piece, but our son said he wasn’t moving it right. I asked Carlos to show me what he wanted to do and he proceeded to pick up his piece and fly all the way to the other side of the board!

When I said you can’t do that, he said that he and his friends used to do that when they played checkers. (He also told me that his checkerboard was hand drawn on cardboard. The pieces were bottle caps, almost the same as in the photo at the top of the post.)

Another strange rule Carlos tried to apply to the game: If our son didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to jump one of Carlos’s pieces when it was possible, Carlos wanted to take our son’s piece as punishment.

So, are these rules Carlos invented or simply a variation of the game?

7 thoughts on “Damas

  1. Hi there, love reading your blog about being married to a man from El Salvador. I’m Mexican-American married to a Salvadoreño. I love learning about his upbringing and life before he came to the states at the age of 11. Anyway, that being said, the way your husband plays is the only way I know to play checkers! I found it funny when you were describing how you didn’t understand his rules because I was like…there’s another way to play checkers??!! I guess it must be a latino thing…I’m interested to know what the correct rules are! :)

  2. Actually… Donde yo crecí, deciamos “vamos a jugar Tablero”, aunque también me di cuenta que en otros lugares le dicen “Damas” pero supongo que es porque cuando llegas una ficha al otro lado del tablero, se corona como “Dama” o “Reina”. Sin embargo, las reglas que mencionas que Carlos usa, son las mismas que he conocido toda mi vida. Respecto a que si un jugador tiene la oportunidad de “comer” la ficha del otro y no lo hace, le llamamos “boba” y se toma la ficha infractora… por “boba” Esto no aplica si el jugador tiene dos diferentes oportunidades de “comer” y obviamente no puede hacer dos movimientos, asi que si con una “come” la otra ficha, no hay infracción, pero si mueve otra ficha diferente, el contrincante puede elegir cual le quita por “boba”.

  3. My husband is also from El Salvador and he played by the same rules and with the same types of pieces and boards as Carlos. Love your blog.

  4. My husband is from Guatemala and plays checkers by the same rules you describe! When my 8 year old is going to play he talks about whether we’re playing by the U.S. rules or by the Guatemalan rules. :-)

  5. The Netherlands here. In Dutch we call it “dammen”, which also means “dams”. It is a commonly accepted optional rule that you lose a piece if you forget to jump when it’s possible. Also, when a piece of yours reaches the other end of the board, you can put another piece on top of it, and then it can “fly” various fields in a straight line.

  6. Hola Tracy,
    Mi papá (que en paz descanse) me eneseñó a jugar “damas” y debe ser una cosa latina porque los cubanos juegan de la misma manera. Cuando nos llevamos una ficha desimos (con mucha alegria ) ” soplo” o “te soplé”

  7. Thanks for your comments. You all made my night. My 80 yr old father is playing with my 8yr old who is learning Spanish. The “boba” rule came up as dad is explaining, we were laughing at grandpa and asked if that was a Mexican rule or was he cheating. Lol. Now we know. Never new this rule.

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