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Gala. Medieval game of German farmers. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
George Duke wrote on 2014-01-19 UTC
Gala. Daniil Frolov's incisive:

 "What's the reason of this bishop's restriction on capturing? Is it to make bishop unable to capture adjecent pawn (since rook is often reattaked when attacks adjecent pawn from central zone to castle, while bishop could attack pawn from unconvenient point)? Or it's artifact of some imitating of real-life warriors? Or what?"

There may be historical subvariants of Gala, and there are other German sources to resolve ambiguities. But I think other commenter Mayer, Frolov and myself have agreed-on standard Rules in mind by now.  Solvable pint-size Shatranj on 64 squares and her step-daughter Simpleminded Chess on pint-size 64 -- become our f.i.d.e. OrthoChess -- did survive or emerge out of the Middle Ages.  More substantial and challenging Gala on 10x10 as well as heterodox 12th-century Courier-Spiel on 8x12 are less known.  

Gala's King is our same King except chiefly for taking only over Wall -- that qualifies Him for variantists' "divergent."  Korna (Rook) moves Bishop-like within interior 32 squares exclusive of the 4 holy centre squares.  Horsa (Bishop) moves Rook-like those 32 squares.  Therefore, each Korna and Horsa switches mode upon having crossed any Wall, otherwise called deflection line.  (Gala's only 4 piece-types do without Knight/Horse, perhaps unknown to "barbarians."  As custom, instead of "Check," one says "Gala" same context.)

Thus Korna and Horsa readily admit serial Rook and Bishop direction, and vice versa, in one single move.  That occasioned change of direction is like 13th-century Grande Acedrej Gryphon,, and also like modern fixed-length multi-path Falcon,

Now Frolov's "why the Horsa/Bishop capture prohibition across Wall" has two remarkable explanations: (1) Nod to full Bishop's inability, as in Courier-Spiel,  to reach half the squares when board is unpartitioned, and so appropriate restriction; (2) Opposition to King method of capturing only across Wall, a perfect counterbalance!  It's as if futuristic, ancient Gala wants to collapse into just one piece-type from its four, once the utility Kampas(Pawns) are factored in; for they do have both orthogonal and diagonal mobility according to position too.  

Though the World went another way and Gala is doomed to stay exotic, isn't even this regionaliziing of the board also more basic than Simpleminded f.i.d.e. OrthoChess on little homogeneous 64 squares?

Daniil Frolov wrote on 2014-01-08 UTC
A while ago i played my makeshift cut version of this game on 8x8 board, with 3x3 (rather than 4x4) castles, two bishops, two rooks and six pawns per player, and probably with some omited rules. It was lovely. Now i've reread the rules. One has interested me.
What's the reason of this bishop's restriction on capturing? Is it to make bishop unable to capture adjecent pawn (since rook is often reattaked when attacks adjecent pawn from central zone to castle, while bishop could attack pawn from unconvenient point)? Or it's artifact of some imitating of real-life warriors? Or what?

M Winther wrote on 2010-04-07 UTC
I have implemented Mayer's reconstruction of Gala here:

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2010-04-06 UTC
I wish to get in contact with Arnold Mayer about Gala game. If by chance you read this, please contact me at jlg.cazaux(.at.), replacing (.at.) by @ of course.
This is important. I will explain to M.Mayer why, please contact me. 
Thank you very much

Jeremy Good wrote on 2006-06-19 UTC
It is possible that the answer to this puzzle has been addressed already somewhere on this page. In the photo, I notice that friendly pieces begin across from one another (kitty - corner), as opposed to diagrams, where they begin on the same rank. Perhaps it is played both ways?

George Duke wrote on 2005-02-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
'GHI,LargeCV': 4 Armies only superficially copies this array, because that one has the six FIDE piece-types; in Gala, also a decimal form, there are only four piece-moves to learn. The informed previous comment calls the deflection lines 'mounds'. Getting both Kings to a central-four square wins; the alternate win condition is to capture the opponent's two Kings. King is its now 1400-year-old counterpart and may also teleport from those holy-site squares. Sometimes Rook turns forty-five degrees to Bishop-direction in move after crossing a mound; the same comment clarifies that in fact two changes of direction are possible in one single move. Correspondingly, Bishop can start as Bishop, switch to R-direction, and back, all in the same move. Pawns are Berolina-like within corner fields and omni-directional in 'central board' area. The T-shaped, or plus-shaped, region is notionally derived from ancient Viking board game Hnefatafl. This CV has more striking originality than Courier Chess. Today Big Outer Chess changes piece ranges based on position. What other variant than Gala, or Pagan Chess, even 500 years later provides for combined Bishop and Rook movement in transition by square pattern?(Differently Gryphon has not been used with such board partitions.)

Arnold Mayer wrote on 2003-08-10 UTCGood ★★★★

The Gala-Game is (in my opinion) an development out of  Hnefatafl. The
board of Hnefatalf and the Gala-board are very similar (crosslike division
of the gameboard). In my opinion the name 'farmer's chess' is an
translation from the latin words 'pagan chess'. Pagan meens both
'farmer' and 'pagan' (non-christian). The old vikings believed in
there old godesses and gods and played their old games (Hnefatalf,
Halatafl and Gala). The christian monks called their chesslike Gala-game
'pagan chess'.
The following rules are testeted several times with different
gamepartners, they works.

The four great corner fields which are seperated by coloured lines,
symbolizes the Vikings castles. The lines are the walls / mounds of the
castles. Therefor this mounds (lines) are an hindrance for the movement of
the gamepieces.

Game goals:
- to capture both of the enemy Galas (kings) and
- to move both own Galas to the four central squares (these squares are an
'holy site', only the Galas are able to entre this four holy squares in
the centre of the board).
This goal of the game creates a similarity of Gala to Hnefatafl and it
seems to be very familiar to the way of thinking and gaming of the old
There are different stages of winning the game:
- Great victory
  a player placed both Galas in the holy centre
- Minor victory
  a player placed one of his Galas in the holy centre and eliminated both
enemy Galas
A game is finished when all Galas are placed in the holy centre or
captured. As long as one Gala is moving on the board outside of the four
centre squares, the game isn't finished.
- Draw
  both players have one Gala in the holy centre

Any piece capture by entering a square which is occupied by an enemy
piece. There are some restrictions in capturing while crossing a
mound-line (for the Kampas and the Horsas).

Diagonal moves between castleedges and the edges of the holy site (D 6 - E
7, F 7 - G 6, E 4 - D 5, F 4 - G 5)
If a piece moves diagonaly between an castle and the holy site there is no
crossing of an mound, the piece moves between the mounds.

Kampa (means 'warrior')
Moves from his one square in diagonal direction forward, after this first
move the Kampa moves 1 square in any direction (orthogonaly, diagonaly,
forward, backward), until he comes back to the line from where he started.
From this line he can only move 1 square diagonaly forward again.
The Kampa can cross the mounds, but he can't capture while crossing a

Korna (means 'bersekerlike warrior', a korna is an type of scandinavian
Moves inside the castles orthogonaly (like the Rook in chess).  He can
move (rookwise) over the mound-line to the first square behind the mound.
Then he may move 1 square diagonaly in the same move. If the Korna crosses
the mound with the first square he moves, he can move any number of free
squares in diagonaly direction (like the Bishop in chess). The Korna moves
outside the castles like the Bishop in chess. When he crosses a mound
again he moves like the Rook in chess again. From outside of the castles
he cross the mound in diagonal (bishoplike) direction. When he crossed the
mound from outside of the castle with the first square he moved, he may
move any number of free squares in rookwise directions in the same move.
If he crosses the mound from any higher distance, the additional move is
restricted to 1 square orthogonaly (rookwise). Its not allowed to cross
more than one mound in one move. The Korna can capture while he is
crossing a mound (it is possible to capture a piece on an square adjectant
to an mound-line).

Horsa (means 'horseman', mounted warrior)
He moves inside the castles in diagonaly direction any number of free
squares (bishoplike). Outside the castles he moves in orthogonaly
direction (rooklike). From inside the castles he crosses a mound in
diagonaly direction, from outside the castles he crosses the mounds in
orthogonaly direction. If the Horsa crosses a mound from inside a castle
with the first moved square, he may add an orthogonaly (rooklike) move
over any number of free squares. If the Horsa crosses a mound from outside
a castle with the first square he moves, he is may add an diagonally
(bishoplike) move over any number of free squares. If there were more
squares moved before crossing a mound, the additional move is restricted
to one square (orthogonaly when crossed from inside a castle, diagonaly
when crossed from outside a castle). The Horsa is allowed to capture while
crossing a mound. With one exception: he can't capture a piece which is
placed in orthogonaly direction on an adjectant square on the other side
of a mound-line.

Gala (means 'king')
He moves 1 square in any direction (orthogonaly, diagonaly), inside and
outside the castles. The Gala can capture while crossing a mound. Only the
Gala is allowed to enter the 4 squares in the center of the gameboard. The
Gala can capture an enemy Gala inside of the 'holy site' while he is
jumping over the mound-line of the holy site. Inside the holy side there
is no capture possible (capture is only possible while entering the holy
site). A Gala inside the holy site can jump to any free square on the
board (an holy site is a magical place), except to one of the 40 squares
from where the pieces started. A Gala is not able to capture while he is
leaving the holy site.

B.T.W.: I beg Your Pardon for my B.S.E. (bad simple english).
You can buy an very nice Gala-set at the web-site of VARIOPLAY

Anonymous wrote on 2002-10-29 UTC
Finally I dug out another source on Gala: Erwin Glonnegger, Das Spiele Buch, Hugendubel/Ravensburger, Ravensburg 1988. <p> Glonnegger says, that a Horsa moves inside the <em>Bruchlinien</em> only one square like a rook, and a Korna moves inside the <em>Bruchlinien</em> only one square like a bishop. Thus, coming from the corners it is impossible that a Korna or a Horsa moves twice across the </em>Bruchlinien</em>. <p> Unfortunately nothing is said about the movement from inside to outside. <p> --J'org Knappen

Anonymous wrote on 2002-08-20 UTCGood ★★★★
From the german Book by Theodor Müller-Alfeld I can add some
more information: The pieces of Gala have special names:

Gala (King), Korna (Rook), Horsa (Bishop) and Kampa (Pawn).
Historical games have bigger pieces for the Galas, Kornas 
have green heads and Horsas have red heads, while Kampas are 
left unmarked.

The pieces are represented in Theodor Müller-Alfeld by simple
geometric shapes: Gala by octothorpe (#), Korna bei square,
Horsa by cross (x) and Kampa by circle (o).

Unfortunately, I cannot answer the open questions about the movement
of the pieces from my source either.

--Jörg Knappen

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