Chapter 8

8.The common Spanish citizen
 If we play chess on a board of another shape or if we replace the pieces by other ones with another range, does the game radically change then? No. Can we remove other elements without changing the game essentially? Can we play the game with uniform pieces? No. Can we change the way of taking? No. Can we remove the pawns and play without promotion? No. The diversity of the pieces, the capturing and the promotion are three essential characteristics of chess.
Which are the elements that are essential for draughts? The board? No, the game does not need a checkered board. Draughts has two kinds of pieces: singleton and doubleton. Can we add a third piece, for instance the horse from chess? No, impossible. Can we replace the leap capture? No, it is of vital importance for draughts, distinguishes for example draughts from chess. Can we abolish the promotion rule? No. Without promotion, the character of the game will change: the pieces move forwards and backwards, and there is no longer a second piece, the doubleton. These changes have consequences for the way the game is played too, so for the strategy.
Valls Lorenço
Keeping these observations at the back of our mind, we return to Spain in the period 1550-1650. “In our country draughts has two names”, said writers of draughts books. Pedro Ruiz Montero for example entitled his book in 1591 “Libro del juego de las damas vulgarmente nombrado el marro”, and Lorenço Valls in 1597 “Libro del juego de las damas, por otro nombre el marro de punta”. In their text, they always called the game damas. In this respect, they run in front on the common people. “Vulgarmente”, Ruiz Montero said; vulgar means everyday, commonplace.
The rise of the French game dammes betrays a change in the real world. The Spaniards borrowed this French game name together with a changed game ‒ supposing it was the French who were responsible for this change.
The Spanish language proves that the Spanish people did not experience the change as essential, as a change that affected the nature of the game, because a great number of players kept on calling the game marro, its familiar name.
Valls’ marro de punta could makes manifest what was new. Marro de punta means diagonal marro; obviously the elder game was not diagonal.
This elder game, however, had the three essential characteristics of draughts: the uniform pieces, the leap capture and the promotion.