Saami Tablut

Tafl rules
Hagbard
Posts: 409
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Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Hagbard » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:00 pm

Strictly speaking, I'd call the yourturnmyturn variant "Tafl" and not "Tablut", because yourturnmyturn is not seriously based on the Linnaeus diary. Linnaeus gives two clear examples of winning moves which are both non-winning in the yourturnmyturn.

Likewise I'd call the Rachunek variant used on Brainking and Dragonheelslair also "Tafl" and not "Tablut", because Linnaeus describes the king to be captured from two sides when away from center, where Rachunek always requires capture from four sides. I know that the two-side-capture rule somehow was lost in a certain early English translation, but at some point the Brainking community actually did have a lenghty discussion on the original Linnaeus text and yet sticked to the four-side-capture rule.

A strange case is the "Swedish Tablut" rules given by the Swedish museums; here they are from the Foteviken Museum in Scone, Sweden:
http://www.fotevikensmuseum.se/art_50_9 ... art84b.htm
One should expect Swedish museums to be the first authority on Tablut, and yet they too ignore the two-side-capture rule of the king described by Linnaeus.

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

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:55 pm

Well, in a way you could say that all modern tafl games are variants on the Linnaeus rules, and we have Murray to thank that we even know what kind of game Hnefatafl was. The only other known rules (Robert ap Ifan - please correct me if some other tafl rules source exist) are very terse, and not really possible to understand without knowing the Linnaeus description. It is interesting that this second source agrees with the Cartier translation; it also describes a game with two sided king capture, and (probably) escape to the edge.

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

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:09 am

Hi everyone,

Very interesting thread! I'll "re-animate" it since I have some questions on some things written:
Hagbard wrote: We know from experience that
...
king captured from 2 sides is of course easier for white than an unarmed king, and captured from 4 sides is even easier.
Could you elaborate on the first part of this statement? I lack experience, but my initial feeling was that 2 sided king capture was harder for the Defenders, than four-sided unarmed king.
Hagbard wrote:Rereading the small forum, I saw that already last year test games showed the variant
11x11 board, edge win, king captured from 2 sides (Scandinavian Museums Edge 11x11)
to be unbalanced in favour of white.
This is interesting! Since Scandinavian Museums Edge is the variant closest to known historical variants (which is of interest to me), it would be great if you could point me to these test games. Do you know how representative they are? Were they played with rules against repetitive play? As seen from the Copenhagen vs Fetlar rules, the possibility to force draws moves game balance in favor of the Defenders.

Hagbard
Posts: 409
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by Hagbard » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:44 am

conanlibrarian wrote:
Hagbard wrote: We know from experience that
...
king captured from 2 sides is of course easier for white than an unarmed king, and captured from 4 sides is even easier.
Could you elaborate on the first part of this statement? I lack experience, but my initial feeling was that 2 sided king capture was harder for the Defenders, than four-sided unarmed king.
The experience applied to the first two lines ("the 9x9 board is easier for white than 11x11", and "edge win is easier for white than corner win").
The last line is merely a logic claim ("king captured from 2 sides easier etc."). But you might've pointed out a fault in that logic. What can be stated is only that an armed king captured from 4 sides is easier for white than an unarmed king captured from 4 sides. Comparing an armed king captured from 2 sides with an unarmed king captured from 4 sides is not so obvious; I think you have a point there.
conanlibrarian wrote:
Hagbard wrote:Rereading the small forum, I saw that already last year test games showed the variant
11x11 board, edge win, king captured from 2 sides (Scandinavian Museums Edge 11x11)
to be unbalanced in favour of white.
This is interesting! Since Scandinavian Museums Edge is the variant closest to known historical variants (which is of interest to me), it would be great if you could point me to these test games. Do you know how representative they are? Were they played with rules against repetitive play? As seen from the Copenhagen vs Fetlar rules, the possibility to force draws moves game balance in favor of the Defenders.
The Scandinavian Museums Edge 11x11 test games last year were unfortunately not archived, so the outcome is reflected in the small forum discussion from that time only. But as far as I remember that test wasn't too substantial, maybe about ten games and a few players. I also remember that the games were not played with rules against repetitive play.

To achieve more certain experience with the Scandinavian Museums Edge 11x11 variant, I suggest a test tournament as soon as possible. The tournament can start in a couple of weeks, when the current Berserk tournament is well underway.

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

Re: Balanced 9x9 and 11x11 tafl variants

Post by crust » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:08 pm

conanlibrarian wrote:Since Scandinavian Museums Edge is the variant closest to known historical variants
Hello Conanlibrarian. Do you mean Linnaeus' Tablut and Robert ap Ifan's Tawlbwrdd? Both are ambiguous enough for multiple interpretations. Or are there other sources?

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

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:43 am

crust wrote:
conanlibrarian wrote:Since Scandinavian Museums Edge is the variant closest to known historical variants
Hello Conanlibrarian. Do you mean Linnaeus' Tablut and Robert ap Ifan's Tawlbwrdd? Both are ambiguous enough for multiple interpretations. Or are there other sources?
Hi crust! Yes, those are the two sources I meant. Sure, there are room for interpretation, although my thinking is that this room for interpretations are not as big as some would say. Approaching the correctly translated text of Linnaeus without any knowledge of the modern game variants (and without over-analyzing) surely would end up with something quite close to Scandinavian Museum Edge, i.e. edge escape plus two sided king capture. Ap Ifan is quite incomplete, but what it actually does say agrees with Linnaeus. My feeling is that the plethora of variant interpretations are due to the fact that the plain reading of the rules in Smith's translation of Linnaeus is basically unplayable, and thus require "creative interpretations" by those interested in playing the game. This would probably not have been the case with the correct translation. (I am talking here explicitly about the faulty translation of 'item rex', as "except for the king..." by Smith, instead of the correct "and likewise for the king". Other points would still require some interpretation.)

With closest I meant in the general sense of two sided king capture, and escape to edge. Although there is no historical support for either four-sided capture, corner escape, or weaponless king, it is a fact that the two-sided king capture/edge escape combination has seen the least amount of play in modern times. I look forward to the tournament, and will try to take part, in case you need someone to be last place in the tournament! :P

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

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by crust » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:35 pm

Hello Conanlibrarian
Thanks very much for your detailed answer! Very informative. There seem to be real problems in these translations. That Smith fellow has a lot to answer for, it seems! I wanted to question something you said:
conanlibrarian wrote:there is no historical support for either four-sided capture, corner escape, or weaponless king
I thought there was some evidence for corner escape from at least one board found with marked corners known as the Balinderry board. Also, if the Ockelbo stone is hnefatafl, it has clear corner markings. That's a big if, of course. Finally, Alea Evangelii has marked corners in the manuscript illustration, though admittedly it also has a lot of other strange and ambiguous marks. Gokstad, Deerness, Toftanes, Trondheim and Vimose don't have marked corners, that's true, though the corner square is always the easiest square to find in a grid, and wouldn't need to be marked even if it had special status... whereas there would seem to be little point in marking it if it had no special status.

This is all total guesswork of course, and I defer to your more detailed knowledge! Please do take part in the forthcoming tournament and don't be put off by the tyrannosaurus-like stomping of some of the bigger beasts in this jungle ;) It will be very interesting to see whether this most "historically accurate" tafl form is at all balanced. I don't know about you, but I just don't buy the idea that Viking gamers would have played an unbalanced game, even using bidding or some other system to try to rebalance it. But who knows.
Thanks again for your learned contributions :D

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

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:01 am

crust wrote:Hello Conanlibrarian
conanlibrarian wrote:there is no historical support for either four-sided capture, corner escape, or weaponless king
I thought there was some evidence for corner escape from at least one board found with marked corners known as the Balinderry board. Also, if the Ockelbo stone is hnefatafl, it has clear corner markings. That's a big if, of course. Finally, Alea Evangelii has marked corners in the manuscript illustration, though admittedly it also has a lot of other strange and ambiguous marks.
Yes, you are right, my statement was stronger than called for - I (conveniently) forgot about Ockelbo and Ballinderry. (As you can see, I am no scholar of game history, just interested in the topic :) ) Yes, these cases points to a game with special status for the corner, but as you say the question is if this game is a Tafl game (i.e. closely related to Linnaeus and Ap Ifan). It could also be some "fox and gease" variant? If you were to reconstruct rules from first principle (without knowing the modern invention of corner escape) it seems unlikely that these two (three if you count Alea Evangelii) cases would get more weight than the written source(s) and several game boards. My feeling is that these cases are mainly considered since they support the modern rules.

But It is of cause possible that historical Hnefatafl was really played to the corner in most cases, and that Tablut and Ap Ifan represent a variant. That would be a very interesting coincidence where the modern invention would agree with forgotten and almost unsupported history. I find it more likely that the Ballinderry board was for Brandduhb (as proposed by Sten Helmfrid), and that the corner escape was introduced there to make such a small Tafl game playable.

So you are right, to say that there is no historical support for corner escape is too strong a claim. I should rather have said that historically attested rules and description give no support to corner escape.

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

Re: Balanced 9x9 and 11x11 tafl variants

Post by crust » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:46 am

conanlibrarian wrote:Yes, you are right, my statement was stronger than called for
Forgive my nit-picking and hair-splitting :D I'm no scholar either, and my grasp of Old Norse is very tenuous, not to mention Latin.
conanlibrarian wrote:My feeling is that these cases [featuring corner markings] are mainly considered since they support the modern rules.
I'm happy to concede that the documentary evidence favours edge escape, though I think it's more likely that the corner escape in "modern" hnefatafl was inspired by the archaeological evidence, not the other way round. I'm a bit torn here, because I want to use the historicity of hnefatafl to promote the game (e.g. presenting hnefatafl at a forthcoming Saxon festival, whilst dressed as a saxon) but as a player I want to use the best and most exciting rules, to get the best game, and I find corner escape and a strong king (four-side capture) gives that. So there is a conflict there which I am aware of. Hence my desire for a rigidly-defined area of doubt and uncertainty over what the historical rules actually were, unless it so happens that the evidence should support my particular creed. The mark of a true fundamentalist! :roll:

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

Re: Saami Tablut

Post by conanlibrarian » Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:36 pm

I found, "Iter Lapponicum", the primary source for the Linnaeus rules online (at archive.org) some time ago, I'll post it here in case someone else wants to have a look.

It is interesting looking at this book in general if you can read Swedish, since it gives a feeling for what he describes, and how. The book was published in 1889 (i.e. more than 100 years after it's writing), and most of the book is Swedish with only limited sections in Latin. From a note by the editor it seems that it has seen only very light editing, only normalization of the spelling of the Swedish. As for the Tablut section, it is immediately preceded by a description of a Saami ball and sticks game, in Swedish. There is no introduction to the game of Tablut, and the setup and rules are the only text on the topic. After rule number 14, the topic switches abruptly to reindeer skin preparation, in Swedish. It is interesting that he choose to describe the game in Latin, perhaps he felt he could express the rules more precisely?

As a side note, it is often assumed that the use of black for Moscovites/attackers and white for Swedes/defenders comes from the Linnaeus manuscript, but I can find no such information here, and also not in the Smith edition. (which I have learned was actually not translated by Smith, who was the editor, but by a young Swedish merchant named Carl Troilius, who happened to be in London at the time...) Has anyone got a clue where the colors come from?

Here is a direct link to the pages on Tablut (the rules continue at the next page): http://archive.org/stream/ungdomsskrift ... 5/mode/2up
Here is a link to the information page at "archive.org" for the book: http://archive.org/details/ungdomsskrifter02linne

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