the ‘zero-sum’ game …..

(the astaphada
The Vinayapitaka, a sacred Buddhist text from 4th or 3rd c. BC. introducing the Dialogues of the Buddha, enumerates a list of activities from which the converted man should keep remote. Among this list are games and among them are Ashtapada, which means 8×8 gaming board, and Dasapada, which means 10×10 gaming board. Few times later, a Jain text, the Suyagadamga, says:”He should not learn [to play] the ashtapada-[game]”.From this early times, Ashtapada was a dice game, and could then spoil the spirit of wise men and make them plunge into passion and violence. Perhaps, this is the reason why the rules have been lost.)

the game, in reality, was not invented all at once, in a fit of inspiration by a single king, general,philosopher, or court wizard.

rather, it was almost certainly the result of years of tinkering by a large, decentralized group, a slow achievement of collective intelligence.
after what might have been centuries of tinkering, chatrang, the first true version of what we now call chess, finally emerged in Persia sometime during the fifth or sixth century.
it was a two-player war game with thirty-two pieces on a sixty-four-square board
sixteen emerald men on one end and sixteen ruby-red men on the other.
each army was equipped with one king, one minister(where queen now sits), two elephants(where the bishops now sit), two horses, two Rukhs (persian for “chariots), and eight foot soldiers.
the object was to capture, trap, or isolate the opponent’s king.
Chatrang may have been an import from neighboring India, where a similar game was known as Chaturanga – and that game may have been a much older import from neighboring china.
the game probably evolved along the famous silk route …
no doubts many other games were invented and transported by the roving merchants along the silk route, the ‘information highway’ of those days ……
but there was something different about Chautranga and Chatrang
in a critical departure from previous board games from this region, these games contained no dice or other instruments of chance.
skill alone determined the outcome.
this was a war game
in other words, where ideas were more important and more powerful than luck or brute force
in a world that had been forever defined by chaos and violence, this seemed to be a significant turn ……
it is clearly no coincidence that Chaturanga’s emergence happened around the same time as India’s revolutionary new numeral system, rooted in the invention of the number zero.
zero as a concept had been used on and off for centuries, but it was the Indians who formally adopted zero both as a number(as in 5-5=0 or 5×0=0) and as a place holder(as in “an army of 10,500 men”), and who explored it deeply enough to allow for the development of negative numbers and other important abstractions.
India’s decimal arithmetic was the foundation of modern numeral system, which served as a critical building block for the advancement of civilization.

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Wonder, silence, gratitude

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