hist-games: chess-board w/ playing-cards

Christian Joachim Hartmann lukian at Null.net
Wed May 13 01:38:32 PDT 1998

Dear Subscribers,

I've come across a most unusual 'chess-board' with a number
of puzzling features. I'd like to ask the subscribers of this
group whether they got any ideas as to what this board was for
and what games were played with it:

In a book on the history of chess (see under) I found
the following illustration:

This is said to show a "German early 17th c. chess-board, made of
wood with ceramic squares". The board belongs to a private collection.

I even doubt whether this is a chess-board at all, since it lacks the
familiar feature of checkered squares, but even if it is a chess-board
it must be more than just that.

I'd like to draw the attention to four features of this board which
do not conform to a simple chessboard.

1. A complete pack of playing cards with German suit-signs is illustrated
on the board.

2. Each of the 'cards' carries a number ranging from one to twelve which
doesn't seem to correspond at all to the value of the cards.

3. Inscribed on the board is a circle divided into four quardrants each
of which is divided into twelve segments numbered 1 to 12, too.

4. I think that I can recognize a hole in the centre of the board. This
should be for the axis of some device corresponding to the circle, for
some hand or the like.

Has anyone any idea what purpose these features served?
Any suggestions on what game was played with this board?




Finkenzeller, Roswin/Ziehr, Wilhelm/Bührer, Emil M.:
Schach - 2000 Jahre Spielgeschichte.
Aarau/Stuttgart: AT Verlag, 1989,
ISBN 3-85502-368-9

The board is illustrated on page 107, on the back cover
and on page 112 (detail).

N.B. If anyone knows a translation of this book, I'd
like to know of it.


**       Christian Joachim Hartmann 
**       lukian at Null.net
**       christian.hartmann at uni-duesseldorf.de

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