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Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:36 pm
by Hagbard
Various sources have proposed initial orderings for tawlbwrdd 11x11 (no throne) which have been combinations of

Defenders' ordering:
Diamond or

Attackers' ordering:


Code: Select all

. . b . .
b b b b b

Code: Select all

. b .
b . b
b b b

Code: Select all

b b b
b b b
These formations can be combined in 5 ways, and the measured game balances were:
Tawlbwrdd T diamond, game balance -1.73
Tawlbwrdd T cross, game balance -1.61
Tawlbwrdd Bell diamond, game balance -1.83
Tawlbwrdd Lewis diamond, game balance +1.51
Tawlbwrdd Lewis cross, game balance -1.06

Only one setup clearly differs from the rest by being well balanced: Tawlbwrdd Lewis cross!

Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:28 am
by Hagbard
Never the less, this Damain Walker illustration from a historical source does indeed indicate a throne square also for Tawlbwrdd:

Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:58 am
by cyningstan
Hagbard wrote:Never the less, this Damain Walker illustration from a historical source does indeed indicate a throne square also for Tawlbwrdd:
That was taken from Lewis's 1940 article. In the original article it appears to be a version tidied up for print, rather than a facsimile of the original drawing. Until the National Library of Wales decides to digitise the Peniarth manuscript and put it on line, or one of us can make the trip to Aberystwyth, the exact drawing will have to remain a mystery. Bell shows the board without a central square marking, and the original source doesn't mention any special properties of the square.

Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:45 pm
by Hagbard
Summary on the Welsh Tawlbwrdd:

Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Sun May 15, 2016 11:48 am
by Hagbard
Ten starting setups for tawlbwrdd 11x11 was tournament tested, and the Tawlbwrdd Lewis cross 11x11 was found to be the distinctly only well balanced setup with no throne, balance -1.06 ( ).

However, the tests showed that there exist also two balanced setups with a throne:
Tablut Lewis cross 11x11, balance -1.14
Tablut Bell 11x11, balance +1.04

Damian Walker wrote an article about Tawlbwrdd here: ... y-of-wales

and directs the reader further on to the F.R.Lewis article from 1941, which can be read on the internet here:
[link virker ikke]

On page 193, F.R.Lewis writes about the Peniarth manuscript from 1587:
The first part, occupying 92 pages, was written by Robert ip Ifan during the month of May, 1587. On page 4, the author fortunately decided to insert a very rough sketch of the board used in tawlbwrdd, from which the diagram below has been copied
- board diagram -

Robert ip Ifan is the original source of information about the Welsh tawlbwrdd, and through F.R.Lewis we learn that ip Ifan describes the board as 11x11 with the only distinguished square being a throne in the center.

So it appears that the Welsh Tawlbwrdd 11x11 indeed has a throne, the same as we know that has the Saami Tablut 9x9.

Now, returning to our ten test tournaments, we found that only two 11x11 setups with a throne are well balanced:

Tablut Lewis cross 11x11:
Tablut Bell 11x11:

Given the choice, the Tablut Lewis cross does appear somewhat "un-taflic" with its four double lines uncovered by the attackers. Usually lines uncovered by the attackers are single lines.

In the light of this, I suggest that the historical Welsh Tawlbwrdd setup is the Tablut Bell 11x11:

(P.S. At the same time we also learn from the ip Ifan diagram that there exist no such thing as "attackers' base camps" as used in the Foteviken tafl).

Test tournament:

Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Sat Jul 23, 2016 6:59 pm
by Hagbard
Two more test tournaments of the two Tawlbwrdd setups were done to find a best choice for the World Tafl Federation Championship Tournament 2016 round 1.
Both setups were found to work all right, the game balances being -1.13 and -1.17, and both setups gave many good games.
I went through all the games using the Replay function, and this is my opinion:

Hist. Hnef. Lewis cross 11x11

This attackers' setup fits well with the ap Ifan text "... twenty-four men seek to capture him [the king]. These are placed, six in the centre of each side of the board and in the six central positions."

Gathering all attackers in edge center blocks and thus leaving eight open lines and maximum empty space in the corners, could make one believe that the defenders can slip through all this open space easily.

The test games showed, however, that it's very hard for the defenders (white) to escape. I had a number of games against high rated players, and my experience was that for the defenders the game is very tight and slightly random, meaning that you might be lucky enough to early catch the opponent in a position where his moves can be forced all the rest of the game until white victory, and if you do just one white move differently it all falls apart and white loses.

White's toolbox lacks the Millar Gambit with this setup (attacking f3 ao.), and one player mentioned that he misses it.

Hist. Hnef. Bell 11x11

This defenders' setup fits well with the ap Ifan text "... a king in the centre and twelve men in the places next to him ...".

This setup allows for the Millar Gambit, and going through the games one finds a lot of interesting and varied game play. This is a game which can take many directions.

The two setups could do with further testing, but for now it seems that the Bell setup would be the best choice for the Championship round 1.

Other players' comments from the small forum:
2016-07-03 11:00:22 Tuireann: I think Tawlbwrdd 1 [Bell] creates more interesting games [...] and I have made some pretty unbelievable victories from behind on Tawlbwrdd 2 [Lewis cross] as black.

2016-07-05 18:51:14 Sigurd: Between Tawlbwrdd Bell & Lewis Cross it's close, but I'll go with Bell at this point. More games of each are needed though. I'm hoping they both hold up.

Re: Tawlbwrdd 11x11

Posted: Thu May 25, 2017 1:57 am
by Hagbard
May 22nd, Jarl Herjan on Facebook, photo of a fine tawlbwrdd board 11x11 with throne and no corners, and diamond-Bell setup, just as we recommend it here.
But also with a dicebox and six dice, and the comment
This is my new Tawlbwrdd (Welsh Tafl) which I had designed. In addition I have come up with a set of rules for Tawlbwrdd that is in keeeping with its literal translation meaning "Throw Board" which suggests the possible use of dice in the game. What I have come up with following my research and playing various versions of Tawlbwrdd is a game that is fun and easy to play with an element of luck and a gamble that would have appealed to Vikings and the Welsh in the early medieval world.
"Throw Board" is an old mistranslation of the word "Tawlbwrdd", Tawlbwrdd simply being the wellknown Scandinavian word Tavlbord = Game Board, in my opinion.

But in any case Herjan has invented an interesting tawlbwrdd variant. How do one play this game?