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The Five lines game (pente grammai)

This game was already known in ancient Greece from the end of the 7th century BC. The board consisted of 5 parallel lines. The central line was called the sacred line, as described by Julius Pollux (2nd century AD) in his dictionary:

Each player places five coins on five lines. With five lines on each side, the middle one is called the sacred line. The fact of having to move a piece that has reached this line has given us the expression to move the coin from the sacred line.

The board can also be made of two parallel rows of five squares: the two central squares represent the sacred line.

The game is for two players. They sit on either side of the short edges of the board. Each player has as many counters as there are rows on the board, that is to say five. Players take turns to roll a die and move their counters from line to line viz. square to square accordingly. The goal is to gather one’s five counters on the sacred line.

Le jeu des 5 lignes