Camelot

Camelot

Post by Michael Nola » Thu, 04 Feb 1999 04:00:00



The World Camelot Federation is a small, international, non-profit
organization that is interested in the preservation, popularization, and
play of Camelot, an abstract strategy board game that is 69 years old but
has not been published commercially for 13 years. The WCF is also interested
in furthering the development of a companion computer game, commercially or
otherwise.  Camelot is one of the best abstract board games ever invented.
Membership in the WCF is free, at least for the time being.

Camelot was originally named Chivalry when published by George Parker in
1887. After significant rules and design changes, it was reintroduced in
substantially its present form by Parker Brothers in 1930. In 1931, three
new rules were added. Other than a few rules that have been added by the WCF
concerning game situations that were either not covered at all, or covered
ambiguously, by the Parker Brothers rules, the game remains unchanged to the
present time. Camelot was apparently very popular during the 1930s.
Grandmaster J. R. Capablanca, former world chess champion, and Grandmaster
Frank J. Marshall, U.S. Chess champion, were both avid players.  So were
world class bridge players Sidney S. Lenz and Milton C. Work. In the 1930s,
no fewer than 19 different editions of Camelot were being sold, including
gold-stamped leather boards and Mahogany Cabinets. Camelot was discontinued
in 1968, reissued as Inside Moves in 1985, and discontinued in 1986. Parker
Brothers, of course, was eventually sold to Hasbro in the 1990s, so it is
assumed that Hasbro owns the rights to the game.

The WCF is not interested in profit from, or ownership of, either the board
game or any computer version of Camelot -- the WCF is only interested in
popularizing the game. The game is very simple to learn (two types of
pieces, four types of moves, and one unique objective, to get two pieces
into the opponent's castle (two squares at the opposite end of the board)).
But because Camelot becomes extremely complex tactically almost immediately
(often after only one or two moves by each player), it is not only
exceptionally challenging to play, it could be made into an extraordinary
computer game.  It would probably be much simpler to program than Chess, and
somewhat more difficult than checkers.

Rules (additions and modifications by the WCF are so designated)
1. The two players are called White and Black. (WCF)
2. White moves first (with the players choosing for White or Black). (WCF)
3. Camelot is played on a board that contains 160 squares.  Ranks are rows
of squares going from the left to the right edge of the board.  Files are
rows of squares going from one player to the other.  The squares of the
board, with their actual Camelot designation (used for game notation) are:
1st rank (2 squares, centered): A, B; 2nd rank (8 squares, centered): 1-8;
3rd rank (10 squares, centered): 9-18; 4th rank through 13th rank (12
squares, each): 19-138; 14th rank (10 squares, centered): 139-148; 15th rank
(8 squares, centered): 149-156; 16th rank (2 squares, centered): Y, Z.
4. The pieces are called Knights and Men.
5. To start the game, White places his four knights on 45, 52, 58, and 63,
and his ten men on 46 through 51 and 59 through 62.  Black places his
knights on 94, 99, 105, and 112, and his men on 95 through 98 and 106
through 111.
6. The game is won by the player who first gets any two of his pieces onto
the two castle squares at the opponents end of the board (designated A
and B, Y and Z).
7. The moves are designated:
a. The Plain Move: A Knight or a Man may move one square in any direction to
any adjoining unoccupied square (designated by a -, e.g., 26-27).
b. The Canter: A Knight or a Man may leap in any direction over a friendly
Knight or Man which occupies an adjoining square, provided there is an
unoccupied square immediately beyond it in a direct line onto which the
canter may be made (designated by a C, e.g., 26C28). When cantering over
more than one piece in a move, the direction of the move may be varied after
each leap.  Pieces cantered over are not removed from the board.  A player
is never compelled to canter, nor when cantering is he compelled to canter
as far as possible.  It is not allowable to make a circular canter, i.e., to
end the canter on the same square from which the canter began.
c. The Jump: A Knight or a Man may jump in any direction over an opposing
Knight or Man which occupies an adjoining square, provided there is an
unoccupied square immediately beyond it in a direct line onto which the jump
may be made (designated by a J, e.g., 26J28).  Each enemy piece jumped
over is captured and immediately removed from the board.  A player is
obliged to jump if any one of his pieces is next to an exposed enemy piece.
If there is more than one way in which an opposing piece can be captured,
the player may take his choice.  Having jumped over one enemy piece, the
jump must continue as a part of one and the same move, as long as the piece
reaches a square next to an exposed enemy piece.  When jumping more than one
piece in a move, the direction of the move may be varied after each leap.
If the opponent is in position to jump a piece, but instead makes a move
that does not capture a piece, the player may force the opponent to make a
capture, or he may allow the move to stand, at his choice.  When compelled
to jump, a player may, if he can and wishes, capture by a Knights Charge
instead. (See below.)
d. A Knight may combine a Canter and a Jump in a move called a Knight's
Charge (designated by a KC, e.g., KC26C28J30).   A Knights Charge begins
with a Knight cantering one at a time over one or more friendly pieces to
reach a square next to an exposed enemy piece which he jumps, and removes
from the board as a part of the same move.  He continues, as a part of the
same move, jumping over other enemy pieces if he can.  A Knights Charge
must follow the order of first the canter and last the jump.  A Knight is
not obliged to make a Knights Charge, but when a Knights canter brings him
next to an enemy piece which he can jump, he must do so, unless by a
different route in that move he captures enemy pieces elsewhere.
8. A comment in parentheses indicating how many Knights and Men have been
captured by a move (if any) is made at the end of each move notation, e.g.,
KC19C21J23J25J27J29J53 (3M, 2K). (WCF)
9. A player cannot move his own pieces onto his own castle squares, but if
an enemy piece reaches a next adjacent square, a player may jump, or make
the jumping portion of a Knights Charge, over an opponents piece onto his
own castle squares.  His move ends there even if there is an opportunity to
continue the jumping.  The piece so jumping must be moved out on his next
move, with no exception.  If there exists an opportunity to jump out or make
a Knights Charge out, instead of plain-moving or cantering out, he must do
so.
10. When a piece has entered his opponent's castle, he cannot come out, but
is allowed to move from one starred square to the other (designated a
castle move) no more than twice per game.
11. The game is drawn if a player is unable to make a legal move. (WCF)
12. The game is drawn if both players have no more than one piece left.
(WCF)
13. The game is drawn upon claim by the player on the move when the same
position has just appeared, or is about to appear, for at least the third
time, the same player being on move each time. (WCF)
14. The game is drawn when the player on the move claims a draw and
demonstrates that the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each side
without any capture, without any movement of a piece onto an opponents
castle square, and without any castle move. (WCF)
15. A player on the move who deliberately touches one of his pieces must
move that piece, if legally able to do so.  A player on the move who
deliberately touches one of his opponent's pieces must capture that piece,
if legally able to do so. (WCF)