Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Paco Sako


Felix Christian Albers

Self Published

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

It's been a long time since I had been regularly playing chess. I think it was in my last school years when I bought a chess computer which was pretty cool. But - to be honest - I was not really successful, and I lost nearly every game even in the easiest level. So the expensive toy disappeared in some cupboard, and I forgot about it for the next couple of years. This didn't change until I moved to Dublin for one year during my studying years. And there, in the loneliness (well, at least at the very beginning of my year in the unknown country), I trained hard and improved my skills considerably (I even read through a chess learning book in this year). And finally I was able to defeat the computer in the first four beginner levels. Much more fun of course, it was to play against my housemate, a student from France. And I had some very hard struggles with Vincent with the one or other Whiskey, and for the first time I really enjoyed the game.

But soon after my first successes I came back to Germany and concentrated once again on my studies. The chess computer has nearly not been touched since this time. This only changed in the last half year, because my youngest son chose a chess course in his primary school. And he is an ambitious boy, so I must be careful not to fall behind him too soon.

Having said all that, you may understand why I was very interested when I saw a new chess variant at SpielDoch 2019 in Duisburg. Paco Sako is the name of this variant. At the first glance, this game seems to be more or less like the original chess. I mean, you have the same 8x8 chess game board, you can find pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, a queen and a king for both players and even the number of pieces is the same. Moreover, the chess pieces also move the same way as in traditional chess.

The only visual difference you can find are the strange arching of the game pieces. If you have a closer look you can find out that any two figures fit together, so that they can form a union. And that's exactly what's happening in the game. Instead of taking each other's pieces, a union is formed and from that moment the union is moved as a unit. A union can only be formed with one game piece of each player, it is not allowed to join two of your own pieces. As a result, by moving your game piece in a union, you also move the piece of your opponent. And the union always follows the moving rules of the current player. For example a union with a bishop and a pawn, either moves diagonally in the turn of the bishop player or it moves one step forward, when it is the pawn player's turn.

So there is no beating, a much more peaceful way of playing the game, compared to the original chess. And indeed, this is one of the defined goals of Felix Christian Albers, the inventor of the game. The name Paco Sako is Esperanto and means peaceful chess. Achieving peace through forming unions instead of beating someone, that's what the author wants us to experience.

But there must be an aim, you will say. And of course, you are right; it's the players' aim to create a union with the King of the other player, that's called putting him in Paco Sako. Again the King is not beaten, it just forms a peaceful union with the opponent player like every other game piece.

Of course, you can also leave a union again, but you must first take over the union by another game piece. After that the freed game piece can immediately move according to its normal movement rules, e.g. to take over another union. By this, you can even start a chain reaction. And that – next to the movement of the unions – really changes the gameplay. You must not only look where all game pieces can move in the next two or three rounds, you must also keep an eye on all those unions, because of these mighty chain reactions.

As said, Paco Sako was created by the author to be an expression of peace, friendship and collaboration. And I think, he was quite successful in that. But he also created a wonderful new variant of chess that let's you find new ways to learn an play the chess game. Especially the chain reactions make the defensive lines permeably. As a result you must always “fear” that your king is put in Paco Sako. Although this is not bad, as we are told (remember that it is a peaceful game), it still leaves you as the looser of the game...

I was told, that in Netherlands Paco Sako has already "entered" many school classes instead of the traditional chess. Maybe I should give my son the game to take it with him to his chess course... In case of need, you can always use the game to play it in the traditional way...

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Copyright © 2019 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany