The fairytale of prince Madurai

Once upon a time in December 1981 King Chess and Queen Backy Backgammon were travelling in Southern India. King Chess was already a very old man, born 1500 years ago in Northern India. Queen Backy was even older, she was born in Rome around 2000 years ago.

He is still the undisputed king of the classical board games, she is the queen of the dice games. Both of them have millions of fans nowadays and both are played many thousand times every day all over the world.

They met by coincidence in Southern India and they fell in love with each other spontaneously. Despite their age they have remained young in their mind. Probably it was because of the big number of beautiful temples and Maharadscha palaces, but especially because of the deeply religious atmosphere in Southern India, that they could develop romantic sentiments despite their age.

Backy loved in king Chess the clear masculine strategy of the game and the martial approach of the chess pieces until the bitter end, but also the clear and simple game board.
King Chess loved in Queen Backy Backgammon the unpredictable luck of dice and the somewhat more peaceful proceeding of the game pieces, because the adverse pieces are also thrown out, but they can come back into the game, although from the beginning. He loved also the race for winning and the strategy to block the adversary. Opposites attract …

Their love for each other even went further. They wanted to create their own son! With so many good genes something special should result from their relationship!
The act of procreation took place in secrecy, but the mutual fertilization was so intense, that the time of gestation until the birth of their son took only some days.

It happened on a bus ride on December 8th, 1981 from Kodaikanal to Madura, their common son was born! At arrival in Madurai they didn't think twice, their newborn son should be named Madurai! Prince Madurai has come to see the light of day!


King Chess and Queen Backy with their little prince Madurai

But how the story should go on? The son was quite underdeveloped and needed time to grow. The parents didn't have much time to take care of their son. They had millions of fans all over the world, who wanted to play with them constantly! So they decided, to keep their son in the temple of Madurai, where he was well protected by the gods. They came along regularely to watch after their son. Brahma, Shiva and Ganesh took the chance to play with them.

At the end of the year 1985 prince Madurai had grown so much, that he was ready for serious playing. He was just 4 years old and you shouldn't forget, that the Madurai-game is not a game for children, but for adults!
Prince Madurai has inherited several properties from both parents. From his father he got the board and the way to moves the pieces on the board, from his mother he got the dice, the double move and the race for winning.
But, as it happens with every child, it develops own properties not inherited. The prince became a perfectionist and wanted to place his pieces on the board in the most perfect pattern. And the gods accomodated themselves to this inclination to perfectionism, which was not very difficult for them. As gods they were also prefectionists, each one in their special domain.

In contrast to his parents the prince had the advantage, that also three or four players could play with him at a time. Depending on their leisure time, mostly at lunch, the three gods Brahma, Shiva and Ganesha played with him. During the game with three players they often were quarreling, because one of them thought, that the other two played together against him.
Shiva came forward with a proposal, that he could ask his wife, Minakshi, to take part in the game. After some hesitation she was ready to take part in the game, also normally she had other things to do during lunch time. After all, she was the first lady and the eponym of the temple. With her the balance was regained. In the game 2 versus 2 no one felt discriminated, quite the contrary, they could support each other in the game, which was good for their matrimonial relationship.

And now began the year long phase of development of prince Madurai to become an adult, so to say his puberty. The three gods had always played with King Chess and Queen Backy, but with Prince Madurai they now had a game, which united the charm of both games. On the one hand, they had to strain their brain a bit, like with Chess, on the other hand it had the charm of the unpredictable.
After year long playing with the parents it became a bit boring, because in the beginning they had always more or less the same positions of the pieces on the board. With Prince Madurai they had always completely different game positions, because already at the first move they had 36 different dice combinations and each dice combinaton had many different possibilties of moving in four directions.









In the three following years each god contributed something to develop the game.
Shiva, famous for his destructiveness, invented the four kinds of shot and Brahma, the most creative of them, invented the starting position and the scoring.
Ganesha, the one with the largest brain, was in clear advantage of the others. As an intellectual he gave the game a mathematical touch. With his probability calculation he could hold the balance between evolution and distruction much better than the others. By this, each one learned from the others and so they experienced some very interesting games.
Also Minakshi was very fast in learning the game, because her husband Shiva could give her good advices during the game. She loved the aesthetics of the game that lead to the invention of sequences by her and therefore to the ideal row.

Writing down the scores on a paper was too dull for the gods, the scores where payed in a special temple currency: 1 Paisa for a row of three, 1 Nandi (3 Paisa) for a row of four, 1 Gopuram (3 Nandis) for a row of five and 1 Madurai (3 Gopurams) for a row of six.
Later they simplified the scoring, when Brahma invented the 36 cases around the board to set a counting stone. With this the end of the game was clearly defined: one round. The lunch break was not of eternal length...


Prince Madurai with his parents and the temple towers

Out of gratitude for his years in the temple the prince decorated his board with the four hindu gods, who had taken care of him and with the small and large Gopurams, the richly adorned towers on the four sides of the temple.
With 6 years, it was 1987, he appeared for the first time in public. Right from the beginning he found some friends and he could even organize a tournament. This made him very proud and it was time to go into a broader public.

In Göttingen in Germany every year took place a meeting of game childs, where they present themselves to the public. Then the city hall is full of new game childs. It's a colourful mixture of many different games.
Prince Madurai felt a bit forlorn, because he was a classical game on a classical game board. Other games had beautiful castles or landscapes with elaborate pieces, he only had simple pieces with numbers on them. Also the nice Gopurams and Hindu gods could not denie the fact, that Madurai was an abstract game, which not really was in the trend of game inventions. A bit disappointed the prince went home, but he didn't give up and developed himself assiduously.

With 11 years he had the feeling that he had to leave the temple. The somewhat military approach with shooting and formations did not fit exactly into a temple. But where should he go? As a son of royalties he needed a special environment. And then he was enlighted!


Prince Solaris

It should be space, more exactly the solar system!
The transition form the temple to the solar system was not that difficult. He simply replaced his nurturing parents by the sun and the small and large Gopurams were replaced by the small and large planets. But prince Madurai didn't fit into the new environment, he needed a new name! So he called himself "Solaris", that fit into the solar system and to his status as a prince.
Once again he went to Göttingen to present himself, now with a new environment and a new name. He found some friends, but the big enthusiasm failed to appear. The game producers said, that the rules of the game were too abstract and too complex for potential buyers. He asked himself, if his parents would have found a game producer, if they were born in our times.
Quite disappointed he went home. He wasn't anymore in the temple, where the gods would take care of him and so he fell into a deep depression, followed by a very long sleep that endured almost 24 years.

But suddenly the prince awoke and with his 34 years he was full of zest for action! The situation had changed, now existed the internet! And there he saw his chance to become at last known as the son of the royal board games. But the competition has become even bigger, because now many new computer games were on the market with outstanding graphics. A classical board game will have problems to get famous.
Despite of this fact he went into the internet and with his 36 years he opened a website. Moreover he had to change his name again, because there was already a game "SOLARIS", what a shame! He removed simply the last letter of his name and called himself "SOLARI".

Furthermore he improved the rules and contacted his colleague "Domino", who provided his pieces for the Domino-variants. Father Chess was very content with his son, because the Domino variant are a strategy game like he himself. But, what would mother Backy say? In these variants one of her most important properties, the luck of dice, was missing. But later he found out, that his mother even had a short affair with Mr.Domino....

He took much trouble with the website and created a beautiful new environment with almost all of the members of the solar system. On top of that he created a program, where a new player can try the game on his own. That was not easy, but he made it! During programming new pieces came to the family, the doublers and the chasers. The blocker existed already. Now the SOLARI-family was complete!

Solari-Brett mit Spielsteinen

Prince Solari with all pieces in starting positions

Now his prefectionism was almost satisfied and he was a striking appearance. Even his mother, Backy Backgammon, had to admit, that her son had outgrown her. But he couldn't reach his father, who was too big for him!

- end for the time being -

This was the fairytale of Prince Madurai, today Prince Solari. It is the nature of a fairytale, that it is imaginary. But here it is not the case. It describes fairly exact how the story went on from 1981 to now.
Maybe you put yourself the question, where and how the parents Chess and Backgammon have met exactly? It was not a beach or a temple in Southern India, they met in a human brain, which appered to be mine. I remember very well the "birth", it hit me like a lightning and I knew immediately, that something special was born. Sure, there are many human brains where Chess and Backgammon have met, but obviously it never came to the birth of a common son. At least, until now, no brother of prince Solari has crossed my way...