hist-games: Halatafl

Huette von Ahrens huette_aliza at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 10 18:02:08 PST 2005

> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 09 Nov 2005 20:57:25 -0500
> From: Jane & Mark Waks <waks at comcast.net>
> Subject: Re: hist-games: Halatafl
> To: hist-games at www.pbm.com
> Message-ID: <4372A905.2070901 at comcast.net>
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> Huette, I have to ask -- why are you so confident in
> these assertions?
> I'm not convinced by Mats' page; I don't think he
> provides enough 
> evidence for some of his assertions. But at the same
> time, it isn't 
> clear to me that the evidence linking Halatafl so
> strongly to Fox and 
> Geese is all that much stronger. I've just taken a
> quick dig through my 
> books, and while all the major sources (Murray,
> Bell, Parlett) parrot 
> that link, none seem to substantiate it. Indeed, I
> don't come across any 
>   obvious evidence beyond having "Fox" in the name.
> That evidence might 
> exist, but it's not well-documented in at least the
> common books.
> And looking around on the Net, I find almost as many
> sites talking about 
> reconstructions similar to Mats' as I do to the Fox
> and Geese ones. 
> Indeed, the only archaeological evidence that
> *anybody* seems to adduce 
> is the common assumption that the Ballinderry Board
> is a Halatafl board. 
> (Of course, just as many people assume that it's a
> Hnefetafl board, 
> complicating the question.)
> As for the unequal strength of the opponents, that's
> also a matter of 
> common wisdom more than certainty. Most
> interpretations of Hnefetafl are 
> pretty deeply unequal, but again the evidence for
> those rules is weak at 
> best -- the earliest concrete rules date to the 17th
> century, and it's 
> unclear how close they are to the Viking version of
> the game. I commend 
> Ragnarr's analysis for some examples of rules tweaks
> that make the game 
> significantly more even:
> 	http://www.treheima.ca/viking/tafl.htm
> I'm not saying that Mats' right, nor that you're
> wrong. And it's 
> possible that the more knowledgeable experts
> (Thierry?) have more 
> concrete evidence supporting one interpretation over
> the other. But I 
> find myself leery of being too confident here, given
> how little evidence 
> seems to be adduced by the sources I'm finding...
> 				-- Justin

Thank you for your reply.  I am going from all the
about games I have gleened over the years.  I will
admit that
I haven't purchased that new book on games yet, but it
is on
my "to purchase" list.  

I have never seen the Ballinderry Board called
until you have pointed this out and I have searched
for more 
information about it online.  All of my books [Murray,
etc.] when you look up "Fox and Geese", you will find
notation that it is the decendent of Halatafl.  If I
am using 
old editions then I have to apologize.  

In all my research, I have not, until now, found any
games that
originated in the Viking lands, that were games of
equal opponents.  That is not to say they didn't play
such games. 
If my information is old, then I will adjust it,
re-research it,
and I apologize for making assertions based on old

"While I dance I cannot judge,
I cannot hate,
I cannot seperate myself from life.
I can only be joyful and whole.
That is why I dance."
--Hans Bos

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