Togyzkumalak Enlisted in Fifth World Nomad Games

ASTANA – The traditional Kazakh board game Togyzkumalak (nine pellets) is included in the program of the fifth World Nomad Games to be held in Astana in 2024, reported Vice Minister of Culture and Sports Sarsen Kuranbek at the Central Communications Service briefing.

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The board game also known as the “chess of the steppes” or the “algebra of the shepherds,” fosters math and strategic thinking skills as players try to collect pellets in the game holes in such a way that collects as many pellets as possible into one’s kazan (cauldron). 

According to Kuranbek, the development of the togyzkumalak national game has been one of the priorities of the ministry.

“Championships and tournaments are held regularly at all levels – regional, city, republican. As a result, to date, we have formed national teams among juniors, youth and adults. The national team includes 136 people,” said Kuranbek.

There are 6,800 togyzkumalak clubs in Kazakhstan. Schools of physical culture and sports in all regions and in Almaty and Astana have departments of togyzkumalak, along with 10 private clubs on national sports.

In 2020, togyzkumalak was included in the UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on a joint proposal by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Türkiye.

The fifth World Nomad Games is scheduled for Sept. 8-15 next year in Astana.

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