The game is mainly played in Spain, Portugal, some countries in South America, the Caribbean islands, and in Northern Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia). The position of the main diagonal may differ in Portugal but the rules are the same.
The diagram shows the board and the pieces in initial position. Note that the main diagonal runs bottom-right to top-left.
There are two players, red and white. White begins. Players move - and must move - in turn.
Capture has precedence over a non-capturing move. If the player to move has no capture to make, he has the following options:
A king is a promoted man.
A man moves one square diagonally forwards, provided the target square is vacant. If a man thus reaches the back rank, it promotes to king. A king moves any distance of free squares along an open diagonal.
Capture is compulsory. Men may capture forwards only, kings may capture both forwards and backwards.
- If a man is on a particular line, and next to it on that line is a square occupied by an opponent's piece, then the man captures the piece by jumping over it to the square immediately beyond, which must be vacant for the capture to take place. If the man can proceed in a similar way in the same or the perpendicular direction, it must do so, taking care beforehand to establish the route that brings the maximum value of captured pieces. If there's more than one way to meet this criterion, the player is free to choose.
A captured king is valued higher a man, but less than two men.
- If a man in a capture reaches the back rank, the move ends there and the man is promoted to king.
- A king looks along open lines. If it sees, at any distance, an opponent's piece and immediately beyond one or more subsequent vacant squares, it captures by jumping the piece and landing on one of these squares.
A king is subject to the same rules regarding majority capture: if it can proceed in the same or a perpendicular direction it must do so, and it must likewise take the route that brings maximum value of captured pieces.
Note: the expression "... it captures by jumping the piece and landing on one of these squares", does not necessarily imply choice. In fact, during the capture the king will usually have no choice because it is subject to majority capture. After jumping the last piece it may choose to land on any of the subsequent vacant squares.
- A multiple capture must be completed before the captured pieces are removed from the board.
- A king making a multiple capture may visit a square more than once, but a piece may not be jumped more than once.
If a player has no legal move he loses the game. This may come about either by being eliminated or being blocked completely. Draws may occur by mutual agreement or 3-fold.
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