What was the Egyptian version of chess?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Ah, the Egyptian version of chess! Well, it’s actually not chess, but rather a game called Senet. It was a hugely popular board game in ancient Egypt, played by people of all social classes. Now, let me tell you all about it.

Senet was a game that involved strategy and luck, much like chess. However, the gameplay and rules were quite different. The objective of Senet was to move your pieces across the board, avoiding obstacles and trying to reach the final space first. The board itself was made up of 30 squares, arranged in a grid-like pattern.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The game could be played in different ways, depending on one’s social status and resources. Wealthier individuals, like Queen Nefertari, may have played Senet using a game box. These boxes were often intricately decorated and made of luxurious materials like ivory or ebony. The game pieces themselves were usually small, carved tokens that players would move along the board.

On the other hand, those who were less wealthy would play Senet on a grid scratched into the floor. This was a simpler version of the game, but it still provided hours of entertainment. Players would use small stones or other objects as their game pieces, and they would move them by hand along the grid.

The gameplay itself involved throwing sticks or casting lots to determine how many spaces a player could move their piece. The outcome was a combination of skill and chance, making each game unique and exciting. The rules of Senet have been deciphered from ancient texts and reliefs, although there may have been variations depending on the time period or region.

In addition to being a form of entertainment, Senet also had a spiritual significance for the ancient Egyptians. They believed that the game represented the journey of the soul through the afterlife. The squares on the board were often associated with different gods or concepts, and reaching the final space was seen as a metaphorical victory in the afterlife.

To sum it all up, the Egyptian version of chess, if we can call it that, was the game of Senet. It was played by people from all walks of life, from queens to commoners. Whether it was played on a lavish game box or a simple scratched grid, Senet provided both entertainment and a glimpse into the ancient Egyptian beliefs about life and death.