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Cards And Dominoes
Cam & Camelot

--- Board Games --- also see our Teeko and Ringo pages

Camelot and Cam are a bit like a cross between checkers and chess. They fit nicely between the two -- more interesting and strategic than checkers, yet simpler and less complex than chess.

Camelot was quite popular from 1930 to the 1960s, and was accepted by many as equal in importance to checkers or chess during that period. Famous chess players like Jose Casablanca and Frank Marshall played it, as did bridge greats Sidney Lenz and Milton Work. John F. Kennedy grew up with it and enjoyed it as a boy.

Cam is a simpler variant of Camelot that was introduced in 1949. It’s less widely known than the parent game.

We’ll describe Cam first, then Camelot. 

The Cam Board --

This graphic shows how the Cam playing board appears --


Make your own Cam board!

Image Courtesy of the
World Camelot Federation

Each side initially has 5 pawns and 2 knights, placed as shown.

Rules --

The game is won by the side that either eliminates all the opponent’s pieces, or first occupies the opponent’s Castle (indicated by the dots at opposite ends of the board). 

As in chess, white moves first to start the game. In his turn, a player moves one piece as follows --

Plain move -- a pawn or knight may move to any adjacent unoccupied square (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally).

The Canter -- a pawn or knight may move by jumping over any friendly piece to an unoccupied square on the other side of the jump. The move can be vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The piece may make a series of continuing canter-jumps in one turn, and each may be in any direction. You do not remove the piece(s) cantered over, and you are never compelled to canter. You can not end a canter on the same board square on which you started.

The Jump --  a pawn or knight can move by jumping over an enemy piece to an unoccupied square on the other side of the jump. The jump can be made vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The piece may make a series of continuing jumps in one turn, and jumps may be in different directions. You are compelled to jump if possible, and to continue a jump series as long as it is possible. When confronted by alternative jumps you may choose which to take. Remove enemy pieces that have been jumped from the board.

If confronted with a situation where more than a single piece can jump, you have the choice as to which jump to make. You can also elect to perform a Knight’s Charge instead of a jump, if it is possible.

The Knight’s Charge -- Knights (only) may combine cantering then jumping into a movement called the Knight’s Charge. The cantering must occur first, then the jumping. All the rules of canters and jumps apply -- they may occur in any direction (vertically, horizontally, and diagonally), and the directions may change during the move.  Jumps are compulsory, although if you have alternate routes that each supply one or more jumps, you may choose which jumping route to take.

A player can never plain-move or canter into or through his own Castle. However he is allowed to end up on his own Castle as a result of a jump. Should this occur the player is required to move his piece out of his own Castle on the very next turn (no exceptions).

That’s it! Now onto Camelot...  

The Camelot Board --

This graphic shows how the Camelot playing board appears --


Make your own Camelot board!

Image Courtesy of the
World Camelot Federation

The Camelot board is basically the same as Cam, except that it is larger and each side has more pieces. Each side gets 10 Pawns instead of 5, and 4 Knights instead of 2.

Rules --

Camelot rules are the same as Cam except --

1. You must occupy both squares of the opponent’s Castle to win.
2. To win in Camelot by eliminating all the opponent’s pieces, two of your own pieces must remain (not just one).
3. Stalemate is possible in Camelot but not in Cam. Stalemate can occur, for example, if each side has 1
     remaining piece.

Variants --

There are many Camelot variants that Parker Brothers introduced over the years. Chivalry was the parent game. It is larger still than Camelot and was released in 1887. There are also 3- and 4- player variants, and a form called Camette played on a still smaller board than Cam.

Computer-based Version --

You can play Cam, Camelot and other variations on your Windows personal computer. Purchase the “game engine” from Zillions of Games, then you can these and many other games for free (including Teeko and Ringo listed on this web site).

The World Camelot Federation --

To explore Cam, Camelot, and their variations further, we highly recommend the World Camelot Federation. It has everything about the game including: history, rules, strategy, variations, pictures of old boards and pieces, and more. Thank you to the WCF for permission to use their board graphics in our explanations.

President Kennedy and Camelot --

President John F. Kennedy grew up playing Camelot. Ironically, his administration (1960-63) ended up being referred to as “Camelot” by many in the press. The term originated with his widow Jackie, who used it to describe his presidency as a period of hope and optimism shortly after his assassination.. 

The photo below shows President Kennedy’s Camelot set along with its certificate of authenticity --


President Kennedy’s Camelot set, dated 1930.

Image Courtesy of the
World Camelot Federation


Image Courtesy of A Question of Character, by Thomas C. Reeves

President Kennedy about thirty years later, playing with his own children in the Oval Office.


Camelot ad from the 1930’s.

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