Saami Tablut

Tafl rules
Hagbard
Posts: 405
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Hagbard » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:20 pm

Concerning the works of Linnaeus, Murray and Bell and their treatment of the Lappish tafl game Tablut, it is thoroughly dealt with in John C. Ashton's article in the magazine The Heroic Age, 2010.

Ashton may go one bridge too far with the conclusions about the predecessor Hnefatafl, but the analysis of Tablut is very plausible.

conanlibrarian
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:48 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:11 pm

Greetings everyone,

I have long been somewhat fascinated by Tablut and Hnefatafl, and in the last days I started thinking about starting playing the game, which led to the question of which rules to learn to play by. And as a consequence I started reading about the documented rules of Tablut, as described by Linnaeus.

Most of you know the discovery by Ashton (http://blog.gametime24x7.com/blog/file. ... Longer.pdf), that translation errors led to the use of the four men capture rule for the king, and that two men capture is the rule described by Linnaeus except for on or next to the citadell/throne. This impressed me, but when reading the article further, I was not convinced by some conclusions he reached regarding other rules, specifically regarding the base camps. Because of this, I decided to have a go myself at translating the rules, and see where I ended up. With no real knowledge of Latin, armed with only "Google translate" and previous translations as a reference, this perhaps is foolhardy ;) , but I think I have reached some interesting conclusions, that I discuss below. When almost finished, I also discovered that Nicolas Cartier seems to have reached similar conclusions. His analysis is available on this site, but only in French, which I do not know (http://aagenielsen.dk/Cartier-IterLapponicum.pdf), although the derived rules are also available in English (http://aagenielsen.dk/TablutrulesbyCartier.pdf).

My basic approach is my belief that Linnaeus actually knew and understood the game he is describing. I think this is clear from the detailed nuances, for instance in the rules describing capture of the king; these are not mere observations of play, but rules stated in the form of examples. In other words, Linnaeus knew the game (or at least had an informant who did), and did his best to describe it in a clear and complete fashion.

Anyway, here are my translations and discussions of the paragraphs of Linnaeus Tablut where I disagree with Ashton. I have taken the Latin text from Ashton, since I do not have access to a scan of the manuscript.
O. Vacua loca occupare cuique licitum, item Regi, idem valet de locis characterisatis praeter arcem.
O. Empty squares may be occupied legally, also of the king. Also allowed are the marked [with numbers] squares, except for the castle.
This paragraph is used by Ashton to support the concept of restricted "base camps", but I think the translation should be as above. If the Moscovite starting areas were restricted, Linnaeus would have written that explicitly in the section describing them, as he did for the center square. Linnaeus only explicitly calls the center square arx, and always use the singular form. I see no support in extending the concept to the Moscovite starting areas as Ashton does. The rules as written by Linnaeus does not give any special properties to these areas.
4. Si Rex tali modo exit, est praelium fiuitum.
4. If the king exits in such a way, the battle is ended.
This translation is straight forward, but Ashton inserts an extra reference forbidding exiting over the base camps here. Ashton makes a big deal of the fact that all exit examples take place away from the Moscovite base camp, but I think this is an artifact of the labeling. Linnaeus started by drawing the game board, then described the game setup, adding the numerical labels. When he got to describing the rules, he could not use the Moscovite starting areas in examples in an exact way, since all these squares were labeled with a 4!
12. Rege capto vel intercluso finitur bellum et victor retinet svecos, devictus muscovitas et
ludus incipiatur.
12. If the king is captured or escapes, the war is finished, and the victor takes the Swedes, the loser the Moscovites, and the game begins anew.
This rule is interesting, and I have not seen any satisfying translation before. I think it is a rule for match play, or other extended sessions. What this tells us is that in a match (or a money game) the winner will play the Swedes in the next game. I think this shows that the players knew that that side is stronger, since the winner is rewarded with this side. The effect is that in a long enough session the best player will definitely have the most won games, since even if starting as Moscovite, he will win sooner or later, and then get to play the Swedes, where he will have the double advantage of having the stronger side, and being the stronger player.
14. Arx potest intercludere, aeque ac trio, ut si miles in 2 et hostis in 3 est, occidat.
14. The castle can block [movement], as well as act as a third piece [in capture], such that if a soldier is in 2 and an enemy in 3, the soldier is killed.
I think this rule explicitly says that pieces cannot cross the castle, and also that it can assist in capture.

Well, long rambling first post, but I had to write it down. As I said above, Nicolas Cartier reached similar conclusions, but since his thoughts are only available in French, I thought I better write this down before I forget it. In the English rules from N. Cartier the king can not reenter the castle after leaving it. I am not sure about this. On one hand no exception for the king is mentioned in the rules (if one do not interpret the paragraph labeled O. to mean this), on the other hand calling the square "the kings castle", or "throne" in Sami would seem weird if the king was not allowed there. I believe the rules from Linnaeus are not clear on this as they stand, but I am prepared to be convince otherwise. :)

So that's that. I am no closer to deciding on what rule set to learn to play, but perhaps I learned something else instead.

Adam
Posts: 115
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:28 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Adam » Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:43 pm

conanlibrarian wrote: This rule is interesting, and I have not seen any satisfying translation before. I think it is a rule for match play, or other extended sessions. What this tells us is that in a match (or a money game) the winner will play the Swedes in the next game. I think this shows that the players knew that that side is stronger, since the winner is rewarded with this side. The effect is that in a long enough session the best player will definitely have the most won games, since even if starting as Moscovite, he will win sooner or later, and then get to play the Swedes, where he will have the double advantage of having the stronger side, and being the stronger player.
Very interesting post. My latin knowledge extends to Romanes eunt domus, people call romans they go the house.

http://latin-dictionary.co.uk/latin-phr ... in-lesson/

So while I can't vouch for your translations, they are very interesting. The blocked base camps have never made sense to me. If you have the knowledge, might you post a fresh latin translation for everyone to look at in english? If anyone has access to the original latin text, please post it up a for conanlibrarian.

I'm interested also in the winner plays the kings side rule. It does indicate an accepted game imbalance. Though I would have assumed the opposite, that the loser is playing the stronger side in a bid to balance the game and handicap the stronger player. Otherwise how are players going to improve their game?

In our experience of playing on this site, the only way to ensure a 100% balanced game is for a game to consist of two games, one as each colour, though the consensus is that the Fetlar rules and rachuneck rule sets offer very even tafl games.

Hope to see a full translation soon! Good work : )

Adam

conanlibrarian
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Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:48 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:58 pm

I actually do not know much/any Latin either... :) As I said, I used Google translate (it works for Latin), plus occasional use of word lists, plus common sense. So my translation is not necessarily any better, and I hesitated to publish it completely - getting Nicolas Cartiers article in English would probably be better. But I have attached my translation anyway, it is heavily indebted to Ashton and also to Cartier. It is meant to be a literal (but not word for word, of course) translation of the rules, and I try to keep interpretations to a minimum. If someone does know Latin, please comment on the translations.

Regarding the translation of paragraph 12, I have the feeling that Linnaeus use Swedish/Germanic grammar here, and uses Latin words as a code. A word for word translation into English more or less give my suggested meaning, while most other translations of this rules doesn't really mean anything. :) I do not know if it is a good rule or not, though. ;)

Hagbard
Posts: 405
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Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Hagbard » Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:12 pm

Adam wrote:
conanlibrarian wrote:If anyone has access to the original latin text, please post it up a for conanlibrarian.
There was a discussion on Brainking in 2005 on the matter; this note should give the full Latin text:
http://brainking.com/dk/Board?bc=18&ngi=259250
- I just discovered that conanlibrarian has it also.

conanlibrarian
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:48 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:53 am

To clarify my position - the problem with Ashton's article is that he mixes the translation with the interpretation of the rules. This is most clear in the paragraph labeled O, where you do not need to know any Latin to see that he inserted information - Just compare the word counts - but also in case of Law 4, and some other cases, where he again inserted words to support his interpretations. I think it is a pity that he took this approach, instead of clearly indicating what is translation, and what is interpretation. As I said, my translation is perhaps not better (Ashton wrote that he had his translation checked professionally), but it is available - the basic translation (without interpretation) of Ashton is not available at all. In the PDF of my translation, I have also included some extra words (as interpretation), but they are all in square brackets. For those who know French, Nicolas Cartier's translation is probably the best way to go, I only read it with Google translate, and read the final interpreted rules, that are available in English.

It seems that the rules of Cartier are the closest to Linnaeus original writing published to date. Anyone know of a place where you can play online according to these rules, or something similar (escape to edge, king can capture, king is captured as normal piece)?

Hagbard
Posts: 405
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Hagbard » Wed Dec 14, 2011 12:59 pm

conanlibrarian wrote:the problem with Ashton's article is that he mixes the translation with the interpretation of the rules.
To be fair, Ashton originally wrote a very thorugh article 18 pages long with all intermediate calculations included. But The Heroic Age magazine forced him to shorten it down heavily.
conanlibrarian wrote:It seems that the rules of Cartier are the closest to Linnaeus original writing published to date. Anyone know of a place where you can play online according to these rules, or something similar (escape to edge, king can capture, king is captured as normal piece)?
Cartier's article on Tablut is very interesting - Cartier has the advantage of a native language (French) close to Latin. The Cartier Tablut rules will be implemented here as an experiment, but maybe not till after New Year.

crust
Posts: 127
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:29 am

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by crust » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:30 pm

Am I right in thinking that we now have three playable tafl forms all claiming to be the correct interpretation of Linnaeus? Swedish, Rachunek and Cartier. Maybe we should be calling them Linnaeus A, B and C. They are a diverse lot - hard to believe they all come from accidents of translation. Just about the only things they have in common are the 9 x 9 board size, escape to the edge and custodial capture.

Well done Hagbard on the programming. The Cartier is really nice. Oo la la!

crust

Hagbard
Posts: 405
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Hagbard » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:04 pm

crust wrote:Am I right in thinking that we now have three playable tafl forms all claiming to be the correct interpretation of Linnaeus?
- Four! There's also the Ashton interpretation. Not implemented as live play yet, but can be played against the computer from this page:
http://aagenielsen.dk/tablut_online.html

crust
Posts: 127
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:29 am

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by crust » Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:08 pm

Okay - I have just come across a fifth. That's right, folks, Linnaeus version 5. It's escape to the corner, with an unarmed king, and hostile corners, throne and board edge.

Here is the link: http://www.yourturnmyturn.com/rules/tablut.php

Thanks to "matematician" on Dragonheelslair who directed me to it. This website says "Several rules are known for this board game, yourturnmyturn.com chose to play with a variant that has equal winning chances for all players" - I don't believe this. Surely black will win almost all the time?

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