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Playing Dama

Dama is a famous traditional board game in the Philippines. The game is played in a wooded board with 10 squares and 14 end points. Today, Dama has evolved from a mere Filipino pastime to an educational tool in the Philippines, with the introduction of Damath.



Countries around the world have their own versions of the game called "checkers", a name which gets its roots from North America. In the Philippines and in Armenia, the game is called dama. According to experts, the game actually originated from Ancient Egypt. Archaeologist found traces of the game in an excavation dig in Ur, Iraq and speculated that the game existed at around 1400 B.C. Ancient Egyptians called the game "alquerque", which had a 5x5 board with a grid and diagonal lines intersecting the grids. There were only 10 pieces per side, moving along the intersections. Historians claimed the invention of modern checkers evolved from the 12th century game they called "ferses" (or "fierges") which combined the rules of alquerque with the chess. Around the 16th century, the game's name evolved to "dames" and became popular in France. The game was then exported to England and America where the British called it "draughts". In a related research, historians found books written on the game in Spain and in England.

Playing Dama

The game is played by two people, each with 12 pieces of pitsas made from bamboo, stones, or bottle caps. Player position the 12 pieces of "pitsa" on the end points of the diagram. They move from point to point, and like chess, the game ends once the opponents pitsas are caputured. In some parts of the Philippines, the game is played using a chess board and its pieces. The pawns, knights, and rooks are usually used at the start, while the kings, queens, and bishop are used when a player reached the "dama". The "dama stage" is reached when a player gets his piece to the last row of the board.

There are also several other versions of dama within the Philippines. One of which is the popular "pildi-dama" (or perdigana) which comes from a Bisayan word "pildi" which means "to lose".

Important Notes

  • The pitsas can only move diagonally along the intersection of lines or squares in chessboards.
  • Pitsas cannot eat or capture backwards.
  • Pieces that have reached the "dama stage" can move from row to row diagonally.

Philippine Culture and Damath


In the Philippines, dama has evolve to be a popular educational activity, which is known as "Damath." The word comes from the game "dama" and Mathematics. The game is a combination of dama as a stategy game and mathematical operations. The game then boosted its popularity and since then the game has been played in schools in the Philippines with national tournaments held every year. Today, the game has also evolved to "Sci-Damath" which is a combination of Damath and scientific operations.

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