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Re: Saami Tablut

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 9:03 am
by Hagbard
New translations are coming up of the Latin description of the tafl game Tablut in the Linné diary 1732.
The Finnish linguist Olli Salmi is right now working on a translation here:

and the subject is discussed in the forum here: ... p=869#p869

If the historical Linné Lapp Tablut turns out to be in all probability the same as "Skalk Hnefatafl Edge 9x9", I'd suggest that real life tournaments such as those planned in Tromsø and Berlin next year add to the event a demonstration match of this game, to draw a line back to the historical tafl roots.

Re: Linnaeus Tablut and Translations

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:32 am
by cyningstan
About Troilius: in his introduction to Lachesis Lapponica, Smith explains that Troilius' Latin wasn't too strong, so Smith had to retranslate all that himself (as I understand it). So we have Smith himself to thank for the tablut translation.

Thanks also for adding my note to the bottom of the translation table. It should be noted, though, that the rules numbers I quote are from my own paraphrase, rather than Linnaeus' original - the out-of-context reference to "rule 7" confused even me for a minute. I reordered them to suit my standard rule order of begin-move-capture-win.

Re: Linnaeus Tablut and Translations

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:23 am
by Hagbard
Olli Salmi sent this mail with three very interesting photo copies of pages in the Linné diary:
Översättningen på ss. 7-8 är bra, faktist bättre än den professionella översättarens version, men den senare har förstått regeln 12. Ashton borde ha utelämnat all spekulation.

Jag skickar en kopia av den skytteanska utgåvan, del 1, som jag tog några år sedan. Där ser man att alla "karakteriserade" rutor har nummer.
Jag lånade Linnés Iter Lapponicum från universitetet i Åbo.
Dagbokstexten hade skrivits ut i sin helhet av filosofie doktor Algot Hellbom efter handskriftsfotograferna. "Han hade under ett långt liv skaffat sig stor erfarenhet av äldre handskrifter och en vana att läsa dem, och var alltså väl skickad för uppgiften". Han markerade de vädertagna förkortningarna som Linné hade använt och skrev ut Linnés egna förkortningar, särskilt utelämnade ändelser i latinorden, ..."

"Algot Hellbom avled den 6 juli 1996, nittiotre år gammal. Han hade året innan slutfört sin viktiga del av textetableringen, som han hade arbetat med, skickligt och energiskt, under tio års tid."

"... avsnitt i latin har översatts för kommentaren av fil.mag, Ingegerd Fries."
The email says:
The translation on pages 7-8 [in John C. Ashtons full paper] are good, actually better than the professional translator's version [in the same paper], but the latter understood rule 12. Ashton should have omitted all speculation.

I send a copy from the Skyttean edition, part 1, which I took some years ago. There you see that all "marked" squares have numbers.
I borrowed Linné's Iter Lapponicum from the university in Åbo [Finland].
The diary text was transcribed in full by philosophy doctor Algot Hellbom from photoes of the handwritten manuscript. "He through a long life acquired considerable experience with old handwritten manuscripts and routine in reading them, and was therefore well qualified for the task." He marked the conventional abbreviations, which Linné used, and transcribed Linnés own abbreviations, especially the left out endings in Latin words, ..."

"Algot Hellbom passed away July 6th 1996, 93 years old. The year before, he had completed his important part of the text establishing, which he had been working on, skilfully and energetically, for ten years."

"... Latin passages were translated for the commentary by cand. phil. Ingegerd Fries."
Olli Salmi's page on the Linné tablut is found here:

When the Linné copies will be shown on Salmi's site, the links will be changed to use them, but for now you can see them here:

Two pages from the printed Linné diary with diagram and rules
page 1
page 2

Page from the original, handwritten diary of Linné with diagram and rules!
page 3

Linnaeus Tablut and Translations

Posted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:34 pm
by Hagbard
This is an attempt to sum up the findings until now about the Linné Tablut.

During the latest few years the Linné rules were translated from Latin by John C. Ashton, Nicolas Cartier, Conanlibrarian and Olli Salmi. To this comes the translation 1811 by Carl Troilius / James Edward Smith.
A table overview of four translations of the Linné text.

The translations match the tafl variant, which we've been calling "Skalk Hnefatafl edge 9x9". The translations give rise to disagreement only about a few details.

Base camps.
John C. Ashton interprets the attackers' base camps as forbidden areas (likewise did the translator behind the Foteviken Museum variant), but rest of the translators disagree.
Conanlibrarian gives a good argument for those base camps not to be forbidden:
"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!"
Throne passable and re-enterable?
Ashton, Cartier and Conanlibrarian interprets rule 14 as a non-passable throne, and Ashton and Cartier interprets rule 1 as a non re-enterable throne.
Salmi comments:
Cartier's interpretation that one cannot jump over the citadel and that the king cannot return to it is possible but not necessary, especially the latter. After all what is a citadel if not a place of refuge?
Throne hostile when occupied by the king?
Damian Walker presents an effective argument for the point that the throne is hostile to the defenders, only when it's empty:
"An addition to the rules not found in Linnaeus' Latin text is the word 'empty' in rule 7. This has been added because, without it, rule 11 would be completely redundant. As it is, rule 11 describes the one instance where a defending piece can be captured against the non-empty central square."

Re: Saami Tablut

Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:08 pm
by conanlibrarian
Thanks for summarizing the current emerging consensus on the Tablut rules, Aage! I think it is great that we are reaching an understanding on how Tablut was historically played, and that this is actually an interesting, and fairly balanced game. Regarding my modest contributions, I actually have no strong opinion on weather the throne is passable or not, and I bow my head to Olli Salmi's real understanding of the language.

This autumn I have not had time to play anything here, due to finishing writing my PhD (on a completely unrelated computer science topic), but now that this is almost done, I look forward to play in the current tournament. Just one suggestion: Perhaps you should remove the use of the word "Lapp", in the name of the game, since it is quite dated, and might be considered offensive by some?

/Jonas (aka conanlibrarian)

Re: Linnaeus Tablut and Translations

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:45 am
by Hagbard
Our second test tournament of the Saami tablut game (Skalk Hnefatafl edge 9x9) is completed, and the measured game balance as of now is astonishingly near perfect: +1.01

This balance measurement is based on a broad experience, 189 Saami tablut games done by 23 players.

Did we reach a tafl milestone here? From the combined work by professional linguists, amateur (and professional) historians and devoted tafl players still more have been pointing towards this rules set (Skalk Hnefatafl edge 9x9) being the very tafl game observed and described by Linné in Lapland 1732, or very close to it possibly except a couple of very small details.
And our test games don't contradict such a theory; they support it.

Another small detail in support:
Enumerated alone, the result of the first test tournament a year ago was balance +1.23 (small favour to the defenders).
And enumerated alone, the result of this second test tournament was balance -1.20 (small favour to the attackers).
A way of interpreting this is that the attackers' strength improve with the players' growing experience. This fits in with the Linné rule 12, "When the king is taken or imprisoned, the war is over, and the conqueror takes the Swedes, the loser the Muscovites, and the play starts all over".
The rule 12 indicates, that the historical Saami tablut was balanced to some degree in favour of the attackers, and therefore the weaker player gets to play this side.

Let's compare all this with the competing suggestions for the tablut:
From test games of the Foteviken tablut we found a game balance of +1.57, which is in significant favour of the defenders.
And from test games of the Ashton tablut we found a game balance of -4.92, very heavily in favour of the attackers.

Re: Saami Tablut

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:13 pm
by crust
An excellent summary. It really sounds like we have hit the nail on the head. A milestone indeed.i vote for this as a tafl federation official 9x9 rule set.

I particularly like the rule 12 point.

Re: Linnaeus Tablut and Translations

Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:09 pm
by cyningstan
Adam wrote:An excellent summary. It really sounds like we have hit the nail on the head. A milestone indeed.i vote for this as a tafl federation official 9x9 rule set.
Much as I like sea battle tafl, I agree with this! If anything deserves to become a standard, this does. There are some pub-goers here in Hull who a friend of mine has introduced to sea battle tafl recently. If I can get them to give tablut a go, I may well organise a live tournament a few years hence.
I particularly like the rule 12 point.
Whether the game favours the attackers at higher levels or not, there will always be the perception among beginners and casual players that the king's task is the easier one. Whoever it is who has it easier, it's a sensible idea to play a double-game (as one of the sagas calls it).

Saami Tablut

Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:30 am
by Hagbard
Olli Salmi sent this mail:
Här är översättningen av Linnés regler i den skytteanska editionen av Iter Lapponicum. Ingegerd Fries har rätt om tuoiku, den finns i Wiklunds Lule-Lappisches Wörterbuch som är online. Den är prolativ pluralis, som det är lite svårt att översätta ("via those [routes]"). Annars är den största skillnaden "trio".

Ny version:

Vänliga hälsningar,
Here is the translation of the Linné rules in the Skyttean edition of Iter Lapponicum. Ingegerd Fries is right about the word tuoiku, it exists in Wiklund's Lule-Lappisches Wörterbuch, which is online. The word is in the form prolativ pluralis, which is a bit difficult to translate ("via those [routes]"). Apart from this, the largest difference is "trio".

New version:

Re: Saami Tablut

Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:22 pm
by Hagbard
Olli Salmi sent this mail:
Jag kollade lite var Linné var när han skrev reglerna. Han var på färden tillbaka till Umeå från Rørstad i Norge men ännu i fjällen. Han använde vägvisare och tolkar, så det här från Wikipedia måste vara fel: "His description, in Latin, was incomplete, as he did not speak the Sami language of his hosts and described the game only from observing the players." Hans etnografiska beskrivningar är också så detaljerade att de inte kan vara baserade endast på observation.
I checked a bit on the location of Linné when he wrote the rules. He was on his way back to Umeå from Rørstad in Norway but still in the mountains. He used guides and interpreters, so this part from Wikipedia has to be wrong: "His description, in Latin, was incomplete, as he did not speak the Sami language of his hosts and described the game only from observing the players." His ethnographic descriptions are also so detailed that they cannot be based solely upon obervation.