THE GAME OF THE GENERALS STORY
by Ronnie Pasola
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
(No other board game has caught the fancy of Filipinos the same way the Game of the Generals did. In a short span since its public introduction in 1973, millions have played this award-winning Philippine invention. No less than 2,500 GG clubs have now been formed and the game has been introduced in 33 other countries. We recall the humble beginnings of the game. )
Conceived and born out of two devastating floods, mistaken as subversive material, frowned upon by the country's chess lords and snubbed by the All-Filipino Sports Awards, the Game of the Generals has quixotically survived.
I invented it August of 1967 in Barrio Palanan, Makati, while Greater Manila was choking through a big flood. Stranded with unprogrammed leisure in my hands, I was deep in the study of chess having just won a tournament the week passed when I thought about the game.
The idea first floated by and then lingered, longing for action. Why not something different from chess? Why not a new game patterned after modern-day combat? Something everybody could identify with? After all, chess is of ancient origin - hardly relevant to battle tactics of today.
My father chanced into my room as I was cutting out cartolina soldiers, marking them with ranks of generals, middle officers and privates and pushing them around on a chessboard.
"I am inventing a game," I said with the proud intonation of one at the verge of discovery. Quizzically, quietly he left.
As I worked onto the third day, I had sadly succeeded in putting together a mere variation of chess.
The fourth day was still one of frustration. With the movements and starting formation I had developed, the pieces may well have been pawns, rooks and bishops.
Two days later was D-day.
Calling on the systems used in mahjong and card games, I tried setting up the pieces so that they were unseen by the enemy. It was a drastic departure from chess, followed still by another - this time taking off from the way generals prefer to fight. This meant allowing a player the free hand at deploying his forces, in contrast to the chess method of forcing a player to start from one single formation.
Then came the tedious process of finalization.
Experimentation . . . tryout games with my father . . . flanking movements . . . guerilla tactics . . . territorial coverage's . . . All these brought in the balance and hierarchy of soldiers, the number of playing squares on the board and the various ways of winning games.
Iwo Jima with its victorious marines provided the heroic angle for ending a game - the symbolic raising of the flag signaling the capture of enemy territory.
James Bond and Mata Hari reminded me to put in a pair of spies, with the introduction of the arbiter between two players securing their cloak-and-dagger maneuvers.
Finally, the movie "Night of the Generals" wrapped it up inspiring the dramatic touch needed for a name.
Thus, the Game of the Generals was born, conceived from a smorgasbord of events, principles and people.
Except for a few games with friends at Philippine Advertising Counselors where I was then employed, the game generally hibernated for five years until another devastating flood, circa 1972, flushed it out.
Actually it was pushed into the public eye by enterprising journalist Iking Gonzales. He insisted on writing the GG story as his contribution to the Times Journal's maiden issue. It was with reluctance that I allowed details of the game to be released for fear of impressions, martial law having just been declared the month before.
Nevertheless, with the birth of the Times Journal on October 21, 1972, the country woke up to the Game of the Generals.
Gonzales wrote: "although the pieces stand for military personages, the game - which is a cross between chess and cards - is as thrilling as it is educational for both young and old.
"In chess you use cold logic. Here in the new game your move sometimes defies logic. Putting in all the details of a battle plan on the board sharpens your memory and psychological insight. The rules of the game can be understood in less time than it takes to learn chess."
"It is safe to say that the Kings and his court will have their hands full against the Generals and his men in the near future."
PREPARING FOR A SERIES OF GAMES
When preparing for a tournament or a series of games, it is best that you have in handy at least six formations each with a different philosophy. The idea is to constantly keep your opponent off-balance by launching against him a variety of styles.
Note that a right-handed opponent usually has his best flank on his right side and is very fluid when maneuvering with the right flank, Your selection of formation must therefore take this into consideration.
Aside from this you must have an anti-blitz formation. Specially watch out for beginners since they are usually the players who prefer to blitz their way through a game. The other types of formation can include one geared for an aggressive offensive on all flanks or one that is designed for highly defensive days.
It is also advisable to continually play practice games daily even when not preparing for tournaments. By experience, even a one-week lay-off can remove the edge from your game. On the other hand, a daily regimen the edge from your game. On the other hand, a daily regimen upgrades your game immersely to a point where you can predict and "see through" the pieces with uncanny precision.
GGF RULES 1. All games shall be conducted under GGF
WHO CAN COMPETE 2. Only officially registered may compete.
SCHEDULE 3. a.) Games start per time schedule set
GRADE PERIOD 4. Players who are not in their respective
NO STEPPING OUT 5. Players present at the tournament site are required to enter the official tournament playing area as announced by the tournament director. Unreasonable delay will be penalized with a deduction of one point from the player's score. Once inside the tournament area, no player will be allowed to step out unless with the express permission of the tournament director and the player's opponent.
5-MINUTES FOR PIECES 6. A player shall be given 5 minutes to arrange
COMPLETE 7 a.) A player is said to have made a move upon
TIME LIMIT PER MOVE 8. A player is allowed a maximum of 2
EXPOSURE OF FLAG 9. A player may expose his own Flag at his
EXPOSURE OF PIECES 10. a) Exposing one's own piece(s) either
b) A player who causes the exposure of
REMOVAL OF PIECES 11. No player is allowed to remove his
30-MOVE RULE 12. If no challenge is made after 30 complete
5-MOVE PERPETUAL 13. A 5-move perpetual position results in a
16-MOVE PERPETUAL 14. A player position results in a drawn game.
DRAW FOR RESPECT 15. Games deliberately drawn "out of respect"
COLLUSION 16. Players found guilty of obvious or
APPEALS AND FINAL 18. Appeals and protests other than those
TOURNAMENT 19. The tournament director shall have absolute
ADJUDICATION 20. The time limit per game will be 2 ½ hours, 1