Keeping yourself occupied is especially relevant right now as we are confined to our homes and socially distancing. Netflix, video games and tablets are all well and good, but if you love Turkey and you’re after something different to do, why not try and master a few traditional Turkish board games?
Here’s a lowdown on a few of the most popular.
Traditional Turkish board games you can play at home
Take a stroll through almost any part of Fethiye and you are bound to hear dice rolling and the click-click of counters as you pass a local café or tea house. Backgammon, or “tavla” as it’s called in Turkey, is part of everyday life and culture. It’s the game enjoyed by the majority – the secrets and skill of the game passed down through generations with hardly a Turkish man or boy not knowing how to don a good game face and win over their opponent.
Turks love board games and backgammon has to be the No.1 national favourite. Just watching the seasoned players is a sight to behold: they cast the dice like experts and have mastered some serious shortcuts to be able to move the counters so effortlessly around the board.
True Turkish tavla players take their game seriously. They huff and tut as they slap down the disks to try and emphasise moves or intimidate their opponent. In contrast, the beginners simply fumble along counting across the board as they try and figure out a winning strategy.
Backgammon is a 2-player game and boards can easily be purchased in shops or over the internet, you can even download apps and play online should you wish to practice alone or at home. Here in Fethiye, most bars and hotels have a backgammon board available to use if you ask, and the barman or waiter is often happy to play along or give you pointers if they have time.
Backgammon is a fun game and fairly easy to learn. It’s also a game that will serve you well during electric cuts in or on stormy winter evenings when you don’t fancy braving the elements.
Backgammon sets are widely available and make a great gift or souvenir to take home. So, if you’re bored and looking to keep your mind active during these challenging times, give Turkish tavla a go – you never know, you may be able to win a few games against a local on your next visit!
Okey is another well-loved Turkish board game played in homes and tea houses all over Turkey. It’s very similar to the game of Rummikub or Rummy.
Okey is almost always played by 4 people, each given a rack to hold tiles in a similar way to Scrabble. The game consists of 106 wooden tiles with coloured numbers on them between 1 and 13. There are 8 tiles of each number: 2 yellow, 2 blue, 2 green and 2 black, plus 2 blank tiles that act as false jokers and can be played to make up a set.
Each player holds a hand of 14 tiles and on each turn, a tile is played and tile is taken. Like the card game of Rummy, the objective is to be the first player to create a run using their tiles.
Okey is another Turkish board game that’s fun and addictive to play. You can buy sets cheaply locally or online, there are also versions available to download onto your phone or tablet that allows you to play alone or against opponents all over the world.
Turkish Drafts “Dama”
Dama is also known as Turkish Drafts and is a form of checkers played widely in Turkey and the Middle East. Unlike traditional Drafts or Checkers, the tiles move forwards or sideways, not diagonally. The counters move forward and when a piece reaches the back row it becomes a “dama”, or flying king. It can then move more freely, the way a rook does in the game of Chess.
Dama is played by 2 people on an 8 x 8 board. There is a total of 32 counters in two colours, the discs initially lined up in two lines of 8 at either side of the grid. The aim is to capture all of your opponent’s counters or take away enough to stop them making any more moves.
Dama is a simple game and one to teach the kids. It’s normally played on the reverse side of a backgammon set, using the same counters. It’s a great pastime and an enjoyable way to beat boredom and pass a few hours at home.
Mangala is a version of Mancala, a mathematical strategy game dating back to the 16th century. It’s a game played widely in Africa and some parts of southeastern Turkey.
Mangala is normally played by 2 people. It consists of 48 stones on a board with 12 small wells or pits arranged in 2 rows. Each player is in charge of 6 pits.
The stones are shared out with 4 placed in each pit. Stones are then moved around the pits, the idea is to amass the most amount of stones in your pits thereby becoming the winner of the game.
The game of Mangala can be purchased online or you can easily make a DIY version by using beads, beans or a few stones from the garden as the counters, and small bowls as the wells. Google “Mangala” and watch a few videos online to get an understanding of the rules then spend a few hours mastering the game.
We hope this little rundown of Turkish board games has given you a few ideas on how to help beat the boredom. Please do stay in and stay safe until the current risks pass.
If you can think of any other Turkish board games we’ve missed of the list, please let us know. You can find and follow us on Facebook and view our Turkey property portfolio on the Angel Homes website.