Other Games

Chinaaq | Barfee | Chess

by Abdullah Qazi / January 20, 2016

Pronounced: chin-aaq

Chinaaq (meaning “wishbone”) is a game that starts with the breaking of a chicken’s wishbone. Typically, it starts during a meal with family and friends. It doesn’t matter who gets the larger piece, it’s just a ceremonial beginning of the game. A wager is typically made before or directly after the breaking of the wishbone. The wager can be for money, or even chores, such as washing the other person’s clothes or cleaning the other person’s house. To win the game, you must get your opponent to accept any object in his or her hand with out that person saying “Mara Yaad Ast”, which translates to “I remember”. The game can be over in a mere minutes or can take days, or even weeks if both players have excellent memories. If one player forgets and accepts an object, the winner announces “Mara Yaad, Tura Faramoosh” (“I remember, you forgot”). At this point, the game ends. It’s a simple fun game, but it can get very intense.

Pronounced: barf-ee

This game is played by adults when the first snow (barf) of the season occurs. A person sneaks to a friend’s house and leaves a snow ball or a note on the front door, and tries to quickly sneak away. If the person intiating the game makes it home without being physically caught, the friend is then obligated to invite the person to a big lavish meal. If however, the person is physically caught by the homeowner, then that person is required to do the hosting of the big meal.

Chess (Shatranj)
Pronounced: shat-ranj

Chess is very popular in Afghanistan. Actually, it was always popular, except during the brief rule of the Taliban, since they saw it as a waste of time, and forbade it. In fact, prior to the Taliban take over, pictures of the game can even be found on official postage stamps. Today, there is an active Afghanistan Chess Federation and tournaments occur regularly. Afghans even participate in international tournaments such as the Chess Olympiad. There are some differences from the chess played by Afghans and western style chess played in such places as the United States. First, in the beginning of the game, the pawn can only move one space. In western chess, the pawn can move two spaces when being moved for the first time. No castling is allowed. Other than that, the rules are the same. In terms of the pieces, there is no Queen, instead that piece is referred to as a Wazeer, which means a high ranking official or minister. The knight is called asp, meaning horse, the bishop is called feel, meaning elepant, and the pawn is referred to as piyadeh, meaning foot soldier. The name for the rook is the same, but it is a chariot and not a tower. Finally, the word for check is kisht and checkmate is maat.