hist-games: Halatafl

Mats Winther mwi9 at swipnet.se
Thu Nov 10 09:34:20 PST 2005

Den 2005-11-10 12:40:48 skrev <u.schaedler at museedujeu.com>:

> As far as I know we know very little about Viking board games. It seems
> that Hnefatafl is practically the only game about which some plausible
> assumptions have been made, notably the equation with tablut (after
> Linnaeus' description in the 18th century). The Ballinderry board (and
> other similar boards) is usually taken to be a Hnefatafl board. Normally
> also the gaming stones in the Birka graves are interpreted as Hnefatafl
> pieces.
> Peg-shaped pieces on the other hand are known from 1st century Britain
> (Verulamium, King Harry Lane site), but the number of pieces on bothe
> sides seems to have been identical, although one piece on one side is
> marked as a special piece.
> Roman games seem to have been known since they appear already in Germanic
> graves dating to the 3rd century, and finally among the Vimose boards (XX
> scripta/alea-board).
> See recently Karsten Michaelsen's article Games and gaming pieces in Iron
> age Denmark, in "Step by Step", ed. by J. Retschitzki and R. Haddad-Zubel,
> Fribourg, 2002, p. 65-76.
> Does anybody know anything reliable about Halatafl?
> Ulrich Schädler

In several places on the Internet they describe the rules for "Halatafl." But I
tested these rules in a program and they don't work at all. I don't know where
this information derives from. My conclusion as to the rules of Halatafl is a
guesswork. However, the rules work, and that's a big plus. It's a little archaic;
essentially an orthogonal Alquerque, spiced up with Hnefataflian escape-
squares. I think it's a good guess.


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