Ordo Trainning for 2nd World Nomad Games

By Benjamin Gowdy-Chase
Sept. 1, 2016

Ordo is a traditional Kyrgyz game which will be competed at the World Nomad Games by our country’s finest: Christos, Eric, Ethan, Jeremy, Nick, Riordan, Ryan, myself, coach Tom Leary, and team leader Bob Glover.

Early in August we had the pleasure of being trained by the Kyrgyz National Trainer, Janybek Baeke, as well as the chairman of the National Ordo League, Iskender Baeke. Practicing in a dirt field behind Bishkek’s School Number Five, our team learned over two sunny afternoons how challenging knocking bones out of a twelve meter round circle can be.

The word Ordo can be translated as “Khan’s palace” and the playing circle represents a military map. There are three main pieces.

1: The Tompoy – a bone from a cow’s fore-arm. This is about the size of a tennis ball and each player has a personal one for throwing.

2. Sixty-eight smaller Alchiks – bones from a sheep’s fore-arm. These are about the size of large marbles and represent soldiers.

3: The Khan – an old coin representing the general. The Khan is placed in the middle of the circle and surrounded by the Alchiks.

Eric shoots
Eric shoots

Teams’ rosters alternate hurling their Tompoys at these from the outside line. Each player gets three tries, but if they knock one out, they continue until they miss. The game continues for two hours or until one team knocks out all of the alchiks, the Khan, and the other team in rebuttal does not. As both teams are trying to take out the Khan General; Ordo has been seen as a symbol for the precariousness of power. Just a simple game of marbles we see little children playing between classes, right? Not so fast, rules defining how you can use the tompoy in given situations and how you can stand and move around (and sometimes inside) the circle make Ordo more complicated. Improper standing or sequence will lose a player his turn. Names like “Kadamyk kadoo” describe each different technique, forbidden action, and situation. Going to the detailed Nomad Games website will lead you to rule books and videos for all of the games, plus pictures of many of the various nations’ players (for Team U.S.A. these are our mug-shots from the first day in country).

After being introduced to the rules, our training was mostly comprised of getting the hang of tossing the Tompoy. Instead of flinging it like a skipping rock, you must push it out with a straight arm and turn your wrist to give it a horizontal spin. At least for beginners like us, hitting small objects at a distance like this requires patience. Each player took his turn seriously, but was also bemused by the novelty of throwing bones at each other for four hours. That Janybek Baeke and Iskender Baeke, two men with credentials in the game, spent this much time guiding us was immensely kind. Also, we are very thankful to Bob for coming out and cheering us on and Turat Kasenov and Sultan Mamytov for arranging everything! We will be competing at Kyrchyn Jailoo outside of Cholpon-Ata on September 4th, 5th, and 6th and if we place in the top four – September 7th. Good luck to us all!

Also be sure to check out Jacob, Colleen, and Andy playing Mangala and Bobby, Toby, Mark, and Heidi playing Toguz Korgool September 3rd – 8th at Aurora!