From the main gate of Heritage Square in the heart of Sharjah, overlooking the Port of Sharjah, the visitor passes the activities of the 18th session of Sharjah Heritage Days with several wings and stations. As soon as he goes beyond the corner dedicated to heritage books titled “The Reading Oasis” he finds himself in front of a crowd of men and young men gathered Around wooden boards they watch men move stones on one of the well-known chess squares, but as soon as he approaches and looks closely, he realizes that these people do not play chess, as the stones and their movement are completely different.
The sign hanging on the platform of this corner bears the name “Damah”, and this explains the journey of a game dating back to many years, passing through the countries of Western Europe and Turkey, to reach the coastal cities of the UAE, as this game recalls the stories of sailors and pearl divers and the cultures they carried on their journeys.
For his part, Director of the External Sectors Department at the Sharjah Heritage Institute and General Coordinator of the Fourth Checkers Championship in Sharjah Heritage Days, Saqr Muhammad, said, “This game depends on intelligence, and it is similar in terms of competition between two opponents to the game of chess, but its laws and stones are different.” Pointing out that it was famous in the UAE from the fifties until the early eighties of the last century, but its presence began to decline until it almost disappeared, so the Sharjah Heritage Institute turned to it as one of the features of the popular games for the Gulf region, and launched a permanent council for it in the heart of Sharjah, and created A tournament for its idiosyncrasies in order to unite them and enhance its spread again, and pass it on to new generations.
Muhammad added, “The history of the game goes back nearly 1,000 years, and some studies and documents indicate that it appeared in Europe, then spread to Italy, Turkey and the Arab Gulf countries, and its spread in the country is linked to the voyages of sailors in the past who used to practice it at the ports.”
He pointed out that the Sharjah Heritage Institute paid great attention to this game, so it attracted professional trainers for it to educate new generations and those interested in learning it, and created teams for them that could represent the state in tournaments held in the Gulf and the world, pointing out that work is underway to establish councils for the checkers game in cities The different emirate, and attracting new generations to it, especially as it is now available to play via smartphones and can be downloaded from electronic stores.
• It depends on intelligence and is similar to chess, except that its laws are different.
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