hist-games: Halatafl

Mats Winther mwi9 at swipnet.se
Wed Nov 9 23:48:49 PST 2005

Den 2005-11-10 07:19:13 skrev Damian Walker <damian at snigfarp.karoo.co.uk>:

> Quoting Huette von Ahrens's message of Yesterday:
>> Halatafl is what we now call "Fox and geese".
> Sten Helmfrid's excellent site on hnefatafl, (recently moved to
> http://hem.bredband.net/b512479/) presents a convincing argument that
> halatafl wasn't in fact fox & geese, but was a name for a type of gaming
> board, like "tann-tafl".  The main fact that the argument rests on an
> extract from the Grettis Saga, where Þorbjörn "was playing hnefatafl, it
> was a large halatafl."  This phrase would make no sense if halatafl is
> taken to mean fox & geese.  We also know that fox & geese was known as
> "ref-skak", meaning "fox-chess".

In Grettis's Saga it is said that "he was playing Hnefatafl, it was a
big Halatafl(-board)." So it doesn't seem likely that Halatafl refers
to the medieval game Fox and Geese. As Sten Helmfrid points out,
the name probably refers to the very board which the Vikings used
for Hnefatafl. Obviously, this board was also used for the game which
uses a similar initial setup as Alquerque, although with many more
pieces. So it seems more logical to use the term 'Halatafl' for this
game.  After all, the game needs a name. This notion is supported
by this site about Viking games:

If it's true that 'Halatafl' refers to the pegged pieces, I have implemented
pegged pieces in the graphics. By the way, I fixed two bugs in my
Halatafl program so those of you who downloaded it before Nov 30
can download it again:


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