If you ever have a chance to participate in a nomadic games tournament with Peace Corps - don’t think twice - enjoy the opportunity.
That is the take away from last month’s Toguz-Korgool tournament in Cholpon-Ata. There, Peace Corps sent a team of nine volunteers to participate and promote cultural exchange and PC visibility.
A little about Toguz Korgool: the name literally means “nine sheep turds” and is related to the Mancala category of board games. Players compete against one opponent on a board with sides for each player. Each side has 9 pits and the game starts with nine little balls or Korgools in each one. Turns are made when players pick one of their pits to take their Korgools from and drop them one-by-one into other pits counterclockwise around the board. If the player ends their turn by dropping a Korgool in an opponent’s pit- and this forms an even number- they get to take them all. The first player to control a majority of the Korgools wins the game.
This game of logic must have been a great way for nomads to practice algebra and strategy at their camps. While the rules are simple, the amount of possible moves in a game and the resulting room for strategy is huge. At the tournament were mostly adolescents, but there were also older men and young kids, and everybody was really enjoying the maneuvering.
The Peace Corps teams consisted of beginners, so our maneuvering often didn’t work in our favor. However, every volunteer won a game (Wooh!) and the organizers were genuinely pleased to have us participate. In the last year there have been three nomadic game tournaments (the World Nomad Games last September, Ordo in June, and Toguz Korgool in August). I think there will be more opportunities and highly suggest you all to sign up! Much thanks to Turat in the office for organizing everything!