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Surakarta Game

Also Called “permainan” or “dam-daman”

Surakarta is a little-known Indonesian strategy board game for two players, named after the ancient city of Surakarta in central Java. The game features an unusual method of capture which is “possibly unique” and “not known to exist in any other recorded board game”.

The real name of the game is permainan (“the game” in Bahasa Indonesia). In Java, the game is also called dam-daman


Players decide who moves first, then turns alternate. The object of the game is to capture all 12 of the opponent’s pieces; or, if no further captures are possible, to have more pieces remaining than the opponent.

Pieces always rest on the points of intersection of the board’s grid lines. On a turn, a player either moves one of their pieces a single step in any direction (forwards, backwards, sideways, or diagonally) to an unoccupied point or makes a capturing move special to Surakarta.

Capturing move

A capturing move consists of traversing along an inner or outer circuit around at least one of the eight corner loops of the board, followed by landing on an enemy piece, capturing it. Captured pieces are removed from the game.

Corner loops are used only when making a capture. The capturing piece enters and leaves the circular loop via a grid line tangent to the circle. Any number of unoccupied points may be travelled over, before or after traversing a loop. An unoccupied point may be travelled over more than once during the capturing piece’s journey. Only unoccupied points may be travelled over; jumping over pieces is not permitted.

Capturing is always optional (never mandatory).

End of game

A game is won when a player captures all 12 of the opponent’s pieces. If neither side can make headway, the game is ended by agreement and the winner is the player with the greater number of pieces in play.


A match consists of more than one game. Players agree beforehand how the winner will be determined. A couple of methods are typically used:

  • Playing a fixed number of games: Each game is scored by the number of pieces in play at the end of the game. The winner is the player with higher total points after all the games have finished.
  • Playing to a fixed number of points: New games are played until one player reaches or exceeds the winning point total.

Read the full story of the Surakarta game on Wikipedia

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