hist-games: German board with Playing-card squares

Michael and Susan McKay seaan at concentric.net
Tue Jun 29 00:16:54 PDT 2004

Did anyone save the "Offenes Kartenspiel" picture referenced in the attached
emails?  The site is dead now, and a variety of google searches have been
unsuccessful. I'm trying to locate the original books, but appreciate a copy
of the picture if any of our list members has it handy.

Michael McKay
seaan at concentric.net

----- Original Messages ----

Christian Joachim Hartmann  lukian at Null.net
Tue, 19 May 1998 16:03:38 +0200

I'd like to thank everybody for contributing to my question regarding the
"chess-board" with playing cards.

I've received now a (private) email from an authority that was able to
identify the board. He even remembered when it has been sold for the last

I was given two references to books containing material on this board.
Luckily, these book were present at the Uni-lib. Therefore, I'm now in the
possession of two more illustrations AND of original rules for this game!

The solution:

The board is called an "Offenes Kartenspiel" [Open card deck]. This is a
of Roulette with the playing cards replacing the numbers of a

Better known examples of "Offene Kartenspiele" look somewhat different:
The 48 cards are arranged radially - like spokes on a wheel, in 12 sectors,
every sector consisting of 4 cards. [I hope I can add a scan to make this

The four single large suit signs in the corners are also present.

One of the boards pointed out to me had the rules of the game written on it!
[that should've been made compulsory I say]

First example, taken from:
Himmelheber, Georg (Ed.): "Spiele. Gesellschaftspiele aus einem
 Munich, 1972 (=3D Kataloge des Bayrischen Nationalmuseums, 14),
 ISBN 3-422-00653-2. Cat.-Nr. 352, p. 146-8.
This is a board from the Bayrisches Nationalmuseum in Munich. It is dated
1583, of size 38.5 x 39 cm. On on side of the board, the "Offenes
Kartenspiel" is shown, the other side is for the game of Poch.
Actually, this is the board which is illustrated in full glowing colours
in Grunfeld's "Games of the World" in the section on "Gl=FCckshaus".
I scanned both sides.

The example illustration is from:
"Sammler, F=FCrst, Gelehrter. Herzog August zu Braunschweig und L=FCneburg,=
  Wolfenb=FCttel, 1979, ISBN 3-88373-007-0 [Exhibition Wolfenb=FCttel,=
 1979]. Cat-Nr. 361, p. 178/79
This is a board serving as an insert, to be inserted into a solid
 to use it for other
games. It was made in Augsburg, in the workshop of Ulrich Baumgartner in=
 1616. The whole set
measures 46.5 x 38 cm.
It was made for and owned by the duke Augustus himself and is now in the=
in his capital Braunschweig.
And the rules enlarged:

Since I don't want to post the rules to the group, may those of you who like
to receive them (and an English paraphrase) drop me a mail please?

With Greetings,

**       Christian Joachim Hartmann=20
**       lukian at Null.net
**       christian.hartmann at uni-duesseldorf.de

Christian Joachim Hartmann  lukian at Null.net
Wed, 13 May 1998 10:38:32 +0200

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/B=FChrer, 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=20
**       lukian at Null.net
**       christian.hartmann at uni-duesseldorf.de

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