## Senet

Senet is an ancient Egyptian board game, which has been called "draughts" (checkers) by some authors. It was actually a race game, like backgammon or parchesi. The rules are not known with certainty. The following rules come from a couple of sources, especially Passing Through The Netherworld by Timothy Kendall.

See the diagram. The board is 10x3, usually (It doesn't have my red arrows on it, by the way). The two players have differently shaped pieces. One player has 7 cones, the other has 7 spools. The players move their pieces in the path shown by the red arrows in my diagram. The pieces start the game on the first 14 squares: spool, cone, spool, cone...

The two players alternate moves. Four "throw sticks" are used as a kind of dice, to determine how far the pieces can move. Each throw stick has a flat (unmarked) and a rounded (marked) side (See the diagram). Throw the sticks, and count the number of sticks that land flat side up. This is your roll, unless none of them landed with flat side up, in which case your roll is 5.

If you roll a 2 or a 3, that is the end of your roll, and you move a piece or pieces. If you rolled a 1, 4, or 5, then you keep rolling (over and over) until you roll a 2 or 3. You keep track of all of your rolls, and then use all of them after you roll a 2 or 3. You can use all of your rolls in any order, or all at once (similar to dice rolls in backgammon).

At the beginning of the game, you roll as normal, but you are trying to roll a 1. If you roll a 2 or 3, without having rolled a 1, you cannot move, and your opponent gets to try for a 1 in the same manner. The player who rolls a 1, and then a later 2 or 3, gets to be cones, and moves first. He uses his rolls normally, in any order or all at once.

No two pieces can occupy the same square. You cannot move onto a square occupied by one of your own pieces. If you land on an opponent's piece, you send it back, apparently to the square that your piece just came from, maybe to the beginning. Pieces can be protected by having them on adjacent squares. They protect each other, this way, and cannot be landed on.

The object of the game is to move each piece onto the "good" square marked by the "nefer" sign (the 5th to the last square in my diagram) with an exact roll. From there, you must move the piece over the water square (next square), onto one of the numbered squares, with an exact roll. From one of these squares, the piece can "bear off," as it is called in backgammon, with an exact roll. Once a player's pieces are all born off, he/she wins the game.

If you move onto the water square, you are sent back to the beginning. You are very seldom forced to move onto the water square.

The game is somewhat frustrating, because it invites the use of subtle strategy, and yet luck plays a huge roll in the game. You maneuver to get ahead, assuming that being ahead is advantageous. And then you repeatedly get sent back by your opponent. The winner is largely determined by luck.

Instead of throw sticks, "knuckle bones" (S-shaped bones from the leg of a lamb) were often thrown. These bones could land on top, bottom, or side. I am not sure just how they were used.