Some games always work from the same rules, no matter where in the world you might be. With an activity like chess or a sport like golf, there aren’t many ways to tinker with their conventions without losing the unique challenges that underpin the games themselves. There are other games where there is more scope to alter the rules without undermining their central objectives, which has seen national variations of the same core games pop up all over the world.
Variety is the spice of life, so this process of countries putting their own spin on a game has given today’s players more choice than ever when it comes to choosing their rules. There’s no “right” way to play any of these games, which is a refreshing concept. This means that players here in Haiti, and all over the world, can adopt any country’s rules that best appeals to their preferred style of play.
Here’s a look at an eclectic collection of three gaming activities that have developed in distinctive ways in different parts of the world.
If your only experience of checkers (known as draughts in some areas) is the American version, then you may be wondering just how international variants of this fairly simplistic game could have developed. American checkers takes place on an 8×8 board of alternating black and white squares. As with chess, one player controls all the white pieces and one player controls all the black pieces. Players look to jump over their opponent’s pieces to capture them and remove them from the game.
However, there are multiple interpretations of checkers that tinker with the style of the board and the range of moves players can make, as detailed in Draughts for Android’s guide to the game. Polish checkers use a 10×10 board and each player controls 20 pieces. Spanish checkers and Thai checkers allow ‘flying kings’, which can move several squares diagonally in one move. Russian column checkers (known as Bashni) doesn’t remove captured pieces from the game, as they remain underneath the conquering piece to form a tower. If you’re bored of playing the same variation of checkers, then you won’t be short of international ways to mix up the action.
The name roulette is derived from the French term for ‘little wheel’, although there’s nothing little about roulette wheels today. The game itself has French origins to match its name; Crescent Schools’ explanation of its historysuggests that the famous mathematician Blaise Pascal invented roulette by accident, as he was trying to invent the perpetual motion machine. While he failed on that front, roulette wheels are still in motion today. There are two dominant geographical variations of the game, as shown by the online roulette options from Betway Casino. European roulette, known as the traditional version, and American roulette have become the most common spins on the game. With the advancements in technology, both variations can be found online now.
Roulette action takes place on a wheel spun by a croupier or, in the case of online roulette, by the click of a button. The numbers 1-36 are represented on the wheel, with the colors of the numbers’ pockets split evenly between red and black. Players can wager on a color, a grouping, or an exact number for the roulette ball to land in. In the European version, also known as French roulette, there is a zero pocket which results in the player losing their stake. In American roulette, there are two zero pockets. The single-zero wheel was popularized in Monte Carlo in the 19th century, whereas the casino hub of Las Vegas opted to make the double zero wheel the American style of play.
Major League Baseball is most people’s definitive perception of this sport, which is no surprise given that MLB produces sports teams among the most valuable in the world. However, baseball itself is actually a variation of another sport: rounders. This bat-and-ball game emerged in 18th-century England and remains popular in the United Kingdom today, although the modern version of baseball is very much a North American creation. Rounders uses shorter bats, one-handed swings, and requires players to run on the first good ball they face; it’s fair to say that those features wouldn’t be well-received by MLB fans today.
Baseball fans in North America may wonder why the sport has not reached the same level of popularity in other parts of the world. One reason could be that many nations have their own version of this bat-and-ball game. Oină is played in Romania, where its 30-minute games make for a hugely different viewing spectacle to MLB. Pesäpallo is often called the national sport of Finland, with its vertical pitching giving batters plenty more hitting options to produce a high-scoring affair. Brännboll is popular in Scandinavia and Western Europe, with this baseball variation removing pitchers altogether – the batter tosses the ball up for themselves!
This is not like the disparity between the action that we see in the NFL, and the gameplay of sports like soccer and rugby. You wouldn’t confuse a match from the Premier League with an NFL fixture, as their rules, required skillsets, and methods of scoring differ greatly. These variations on games are more reminiscent of the ways that countries have their own versions of Monopoly, the most famous of all Hasbro board games. Different nations can feature their own landmarks on the squares and incorporate region-specific Chance cards, but the central aim of making lots of money remains the same no matter where you play Monopoly.
The national variations of baseball, roulette, and checkers still share the same key objectives at their core: hit the ball with a thin bat to score runs, bet where you think the roulette ball will land, and capture the pieces of your opponent. It is fascinating to observe how creative minds in different parts of the world have interpreted the rules of these games in distinctive ways.
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