hist-games: Bear games

M Winther mwi9 at swipnet.se
Tue Jun 10 11:14:26 PDT 2008

Den 2008-06-04 09:09:40 skrev <u.schaedler at museedujeu.com>:


I have now played against my Bear game implementations and they are
really clever games. I was worried about rectangular 1 (the less elaborate
 from Augst) because Zillions took so long time to win, so I began to think
that perhaps a win cannot be forced. However, when playing manually I,
making use of my strategical human brain, try to occupy the centre and drive
the bear to the periphery. Then Zillions signals win in 7 moves or so. Of
course, the last moves aren't trivial to execute. The fact that Zillions has
problems in such a relatively simple game is a phenomenon that sometimes
occurs. It has to do with the fact that Zillions doesn't understand the strategy
in this particular. He wins by trial and error instead.

These games are so attractive and function so finely so it cannot be a
chance occurence. They are authentic.


> Hi Mats,
> the circular roman "wheel pattern" boards are very problematic. We do not
> know what kind of game was played on/with them. The assumption (raised by
> Murray 1913 and Carl Blümlein 1918) that it's a round version of merels
> should be descarded, 1) since the game doesn't work, 2) because nowhere on
> the planet is such a version attested. Moreover, during my studies I am
> actually carrying out at ancient Ephesus one finds so many of these patterns
> and often in strange positions (for example in the middle of the street, in
> the middle of an entrance or a threshold, or even on vertical (!) surfaces)
> that we should be careful to draw conclusions on the basis of these
> patterns. See also Charlotte Rouché's interpetation of these patterns as
> "topos markers", based on the findings at Aphrodisias, i.e. markings for
> certain people's positions during official ceremonies (recent article in I.
> Finkel, Ancient Board Games in Perspective, London 2007).  This explanation
> seems to work also for a certain number of these patterns in Ephesus. Others
> simply seem to be symbols of luck or apotropaeic symbols. Not to forget:
> they could have served also as betting tables for dice games, which were
> very popular in Roman times.
> I do not know whether the unique board from Augst was definitely a game
> board, but the parallel to the modern Italian bear game and your
> reconstruction of a rule that works may corroborate such a hypothesis. Nota
> bene: Roman arenas weren't rectangular but oval.
> Best
> Ulrich Schädler
> -----Message d'origine-----
> De : hist-games-bounces at www.pbm.com [mailto:hist-games-bounces at www.pbm.com]
> De la part de M Winther
> Envoyé : mardi, 3. juin 2008 19:11
> À : hist-games at www.pbm.com
> Objet : hist-games: Bear games
> Roman bear games(?) as described by U. Schädler, implemented in Zillions.
> And they function finely, but one seems very difficult. Notice that the
> rectangular boards are roman arenas where three 'bestiarii' gladiators fight
> a bear. As in reality, on the short sides are the stands for the nobility,
> who got the best view. I wonder about roman merels games, whether some of
> them weren't really bear games.
> http://hem.passagen.se/melki9/beargames.htm
> (the images don't show correctly now, I don't know why)
> Mats
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