The General

Epaminondas (c. 418 BC-362 BC) was a general and leader of Thebes. He was raised a Pythagorean by his mentor Lysis of Tantreum and this taught him several rare virtues for which he was famed, including poverty, chastity, humility, and steadfastness. He was seen (like Pericles) as a paragon of virtue, intellect, and character, leadinging to great respect from his countrymen.

And now for his accomplishments: In 385 BC he fought with the Spartans against Mantineia, saving the life of his friend Pelopidas. Six years later, the two of them helped to overthrow the Sparta-friendly government of Thebes, leading Thebes to greater respect from other states. In 371 BC, he was elected into office and refused to surrender Boeotia to Sparta, creating a situation of war. The Boeotian army, under his command, met the Spartans at Leuctra and Epaminondas won a decisive victory through deep phalanx tactics. He then liberated the Messenian helots and returned to Thebes.

On his return, his enemies charged that he had exceeded his terms of command, but his charges were dropped because of his accomplishments. He ventured out again and captured Sicyon. The same charges were pressed and he was placed in the regular army, whence he went to Thessaly and saved Pelopidas again by diplomacy with the local tyrant. In 366 BC, he returned to command and to the Peloponnesus and allied with the Achaeans. He returned to Thebes, built up a naval fleet, and won several vassals of Athens. He went to the Peloponnesus again and crushed the Spartan League through shock tactics. He was fatally wounded and died in 362 BC. What a great guy!

The Gullah

The name Epaminondas appears in a Southern black folk tale, "Epaminondas and his Auntie," now in the public domain. The tale concerns a toddler, Epaminondas, who carries gifts for his mother back from his aunt's house but manages to destroy them in the process. It was first published by Sara Cone Bryant in 1911 and has since been criticised for racism. Constance Egan wrote several sequels in the early 1960's.

(thing) by allispaul

The Game

Epaminondas was invented by Robert Abbot and first printed as Crossings in A Gamut of Games by Sid Sackson. Abbot then modified the game into its current form as Epaminondas. The game is so called because of its extensive use of the phalanx, and in this is similar to Abalone.


The game is played on a 12 by 14 subset of the goban or go board. Each side begins with 28 go stones placed on the final two rows of the board. (The stones are placed in the squares of the board, not on the crossings as is normally played.) White moves first.


Movement is accomplished through the usage of phalanxes, which consist of any number of pieces (including one) of one's own color in a rank, file, or diagonal. A phalanx can move any number of squares less than or equal to its own length, but this move must be made in the line of the phalanx, and all pieces of the phalanx must be moved. (Of course, phalanxes can be split, but the pieces moved must not move farther than their own length.) Capture is accomplished by the head of one's phalanx landing on the head of an opponent's phalanx — the entire phalanx is captured. However, a phalanx may not capture an opponent's phalanx of length greater than or equal to its own. No phalanx may move through pieces of its own color.


Winning is accomplished by landing a piece on the opponent's home row (that is, the row furthest from you). However, winning only happens at the beginning of your turn: thus, if Black lands a stone on White's home row, White has a chance to capture it or to land one on Black's home row. Black will only win if, at the start of eir turn, ey have strictly more stones on White's home row than White has on Black's home row; if the number is the same, play continues. To prevent draws, no move onto an opponent's home row is allowed if that move would create a pattern of left-right symmetry on the board.

So it's a little like Go, a little like chess, a little more like Gess, and somewhat like abalone. Epaminondas would have liked it.


"Epaminondas." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Jun 2006, 08:34 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Jun 2006 .
"Epaminondas." NNDB database. 2006 Soylent Communications. 15 Jun 2006
Rick Walton. "Epaminondas and his Auntie." Public Domain. 17 Jun 2006
"Epaminondas and His Auntie." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 21 Feb 2006, 15:34 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Jun 2006 .
"Epaminondas (game)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 11 Apr 2006, 08:54 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Jun 2006 .

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