hist-games: tablero replacement?

Jane & Mark Waks waks at ne.mediaone.net
Mon Feb 12 19:42:18 PST 2001

Alexx S Kay wrote:
> I also had trouble parsing the grammar here, but I think I've got
> it.  "Greedy people would rather 'lose themselves' (i.e., get
> roaring drunk) than put up with losing the chance at winning
> 'a penny' (i.e., the small amount of money involved in the drinks)".

Reasonable guess -- it makes some sense, and doesn't contradict anything

> >  And of
> > course, it's pretty unclear how any of this translates to being a game
> > within the tables -- if it's not using the points, the table seems
> > entirely irrelevant, which is odd.
> Maybe it's just played on tables because, well, they're there.  Didn't
> many (most?) pubs have gameboards carved or painted into the table tops?

Yes, but Cotton has separate sections for "games within the tables" and
"games without the tables", and the distinction *generally* seems to be
whether or not you're actually using the points of the tables. Sice-Ace
seems to be an exception. It might simply be an oversight, and it might
be that this game just happens to traditionally be played on the tables
even though it doesn't use them. But it does make me wonder if we're
missing something here...

Chas wrote:
> Bell says the version is listed in Alphonso X's MS as "Sies dos e as" so I
> double-checked the "Book of Games" site and Parlett's "Oxf. Hist. of Board
> Games" but both list "el Seys, Dos e As" as being "Six-Deuce-Ace" -the name
> describing the starting points of that Tables variant.

Ah. (Dig, dig -- okay, here's the description from Bell.)

Okay, yes, the given description *sort* of makes sense if you conflate
the rules to the Alfonso game with those of the Cotton game. But
personally, that doesn't seem a useful tack -- I mean, the games are
separated by several hundred years and a thousand miles. Even if they
are related, it's probably only distantly. And I really don't think
they're related: Bell's description really bears little resemblance with
what little I know of "seys, dos e as". For example, compare these rules
with the illustration from the Alfonso MS, at:


I don't know Fiske, but Chas' theory about where Bell got the faulty
idea from seems to make sense. Bell's book contains a multi-page
biography of Fiske, so it's clear that he had read Fiske's book. So my
guess would be that Fiske simply decided (based on the similarity of the
names) that the two games were actually close variations of the same
game, and wound up with something not quite like either of them. (That's
sort of typical of Victorian sources.) And Bell, not realizing that
Fiske had been superceded, took his word for it.

> Bell provided what he called a paraphrased version of Cotton's drinking version:
> "Up to five may play at Sixe-Ace, each having six pieces. On the throw of a 1,
> a player passes a piece to his neighbour; on a throw of 6 he bears a pieces
> off; and a player throwing a 2 much drink and throw again. The last two
> players on the board, or sometime the last one pay(s) for the drinks"
> Based on the correct quote from Cotton provided Justin, it looks like Bell
> also got it wrong in that "doublets" let you drink, not rolling a "2"

Yeah. That's a weird mistake, since Bell clearly knows what "doublets"
means (he uses it himself earlier on the page). I can only guess that
this is also taken from Fiske, and that Bell wasn't working from Cotton
itself. This is anecdotally supported by the fact that The Compleat
Gamester is not listed as such in Bell's bibliography -- he cites a
"reprint" that I don't know. So he may have been relying on much
earlier, unreliable sources...

				-- Justin
				   Who clearly needs to get a copy of Fiske...

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