hist-games: Tablero de jesus

Thierry Depaulis thierry.depaulis at freesbee.fr
Sat Jan 29 10:55:22 PST 2000

Maybe I am asking a question that has already been discussed in this list,
but I have come across several mentions of a reputedly Spanish dice game
called 'Tablero de jesus'.

In his 'Tablero de Jesus' webpage "Dagonell the Juggler" wrote:

>Tablero is a 15th century Spanish gambling game. Players use their own
>money as playing pieces and play until they can no longer afford it.
>Friendlier games use thirty wooden markers and distribute them equally
>between the two players.
>The board is seven rows by seven columns, similar to a chess board, but
>with one fewer row and column. The board is completely undifferentiated,
>but may be decorated as lavishly as the owner wishes. Two standard dice
>are used.
>(...) The object of the game is to form rows of coins in the center of the
>board in order to remove them.

and, on Sun, 13 Jul 1997 14:32:15 exactly Ken Tidwell, answering Daniel U.
Thibault, wrote something similar:
>This game is played with two dice, a seven by seven checkerboard and a
>fifteen coin stake supplied by each player. It was very popular in Spain
>and in the Spanish possessions in the Low Countries during the first half
>of the XVth century. It was banned by the Pope in 1458, the ban enduring
>until the early XXth century!

adding that the game was turned into a Scottish drinking game called 'Toblaro'.

I am curious to read any authority for these assertions. Neither Sebastian
de Covarrubias's Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española (1611) nor the
Diccionario medieval español have any mention of 'Tablero de jesus'. I have
been unable to find any trace of the Pope's 'bando' of 1458.

Moreover neither Arie van der Stoep nor Govert Westerveld -- two Dutch
scholars who have published impressive works on the history of draughts and
who have investigated the Spanish literature from the late Middle Ages to
modern times in search of any trace of all board games -- have encountered
this game.

Of course, we all know that 'Tablero' means "game board", but is there any
serious source for 'Tablero de jesus'?

Thierry Depaulis

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