🌴 Traditional games of the Canary Islands: la chascona 🎲

Canarian game of la Chascona
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Today we will talk about a little curiosity that is part of the tradition of the Canary Islands: the Canarian game of chascona. This game, deeply rooted in Canarian culture, is not only a fun pastime, but also a window into the rich history and traditions of this archipelago. Join us on this journey through the counters and boards of the traditional games of the Canary Islands!

📚 Origins of chascona

The origin of the chascona is a subject of debate and fascination. There are several theories, but the most likely one asserts that its roots lie in the ancient Berber culture of the African continent; this hypothesis has been strengthened by recent research and the discovery of numerous archaeological sites, which provide evidence of the presence of games of strategy and intelligence in the Canary Islands that were played before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Archaeological remains of these games have been discovered in Tenerife, the first near Izaña in 1985. But it is in Fuerteventura where the greatest number of these boards have been found: more than a hundred sites with cave engravings have been identified on this island, and in more than 40% of them there are boards corresponding to different variants of these strategy games.

In fact, chascona is especially popular on Fuerteventura, but it is also known by other names on different islands, such as “chisqui-chasque” on La Palma. This game, which has survived and adapted over the centuries, is a testimony to the rich cultural heritage of the aboriginal peoples of the Canaries that still survives today on the islands.

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🎲 How do you play chascona?

La chascona is a strategy game for two players. Each player starts with nine pieces, and the objective is to line them up on the board while blocking the opponent. The basic steps to play are as follows:

Initial placement: 

Players alternately place their pieces on the board, trying to align them in a line while preventing the opponent from doing the same.

Moving pieces: 

Once all the pieces have been placed, players move them alternately, trying to keep forming lines and blocking the opponent.

Making chascona

When a player lines up three pieces, he makes a “chascona”, which allows him to remove one of his opponent’s pieces.

Winning the game: 

You can win by capturing seven of your opponent’s nine pieces, blocking all of your opponent’s possible moves, or a combination of both.

🀄 Other traditional Canarian board games

In addition to chascona, the Canary Islands have other traditional board games that offer a unique insight into the culture and history of the region. Two of the best known are:

El Perro y las Cabras: 

This game, played on a board, reflects a strategic struggle between two unequal forces, where one player controls the ‘perro’ (dog) and the other manages several ‘cabras’ (goats). The essence of the game lies in the dog’s ability to capture the goats, while the goats seek to block and limit the dog’s movements. This dynamic symbolises cunning and strategy, elements that have been long valued in Canarian culture.

Sedrés: 

Sedrés (or cedrés), also called dama guanche because of its aboriginal origin and the similarities to chess or draughts, is played on a board, and strategy and forward thinking are essential in it. Although the specific rules may vary from island to island, the essence of the game centres on capturing or blocking the opponent’s pieces, thus promoting an intellectual and strategic challenge.

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“El Perro y las Cabras” (The Dog and the Goats), a traditional game of the Canary Islands played by shepherds

These games, like the chascona, are more than mere pastimes. They are bearers of the history, culture and identity of the Canary Islands. By playing them, we not just enjoy their strategic and playful richness, but we also connect with a cultural legacy that has been passed down through generations. 🌟🎲🌴

🧳 Discovering the traditions of the Canary Islands

For cultural tourism enthusiasts, the Canary Islands offer much more than beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes. Immersing yourself in these games is a unique way to connect with local culture and the islands’ past. Visitors to these islands can take part in traditional games workshops, visit cultural festivals, or even join local games in squares and parks.

The Canarian game of chascona is not just a pastime: it is a cultural legacy, a window into the history and traditions of the Canary Islands. Whether you are planning a trip to these enchanting islands, or simply looking to broaden your cultural horizons, getting to know their traditional games can be a fascinating adventure. Remember: travel is not just about seeing new places, but also about experiencing and living the cultures that make them unique 🌊🌞🌴

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Discovering Canarias

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