Traditional Board Games

Tawlbwrdd Leaflet

Tawlbwrdd leaflet
Tawlbwrdd leaflet

Download: Tawlbwrdd.pdf
Size 347kb, downloads 1447.

This Welsh form of the Norse game hnefatafl survived till the sixteenth century. A king has twelve defenders in the centre of the board, who face 24 attackers at the edge. The king must escape from the board, while the attackers must capture him.

The leaflet is designed to be printed on two sides of A4 paper which can then be folded into an A5 leaflet. These leaflets are copyright protected but may be freely printed and distributed unmodified.



I have been doing a bit of reading about this game and I have some questions:

1.  What happens if I move my piece between two of my opponent's pieces? Does my piece commit "suicide" and find itself removed from the board? Can it pass through unscathed?

2.On a related note,  I find this passage by ap Ifan very confusing:

" If the king himself comes between two of the attackers and if you say 'watch your king' before he moves into that place, and he is unable to escape, you catch him. If the other says gwrheill and goes between two, there is no harm. If the king can go along the line that side wins the game."

Let me see if I understand this... if you are the attacker and you can potentially trap your opponent's king, you should warn him before he makes his move, which would be somewhat analagous to a warning of "check" in chess.  Is that correct? Then, if he cannot move it is like a checkmate.

 "If the other says gwrheill..." Is "the other" the player who is operating the king? If he says "gwrheill", does that mean the king has a free passage and cannot be captured, like diplomatic immunity??? :P Does it just mean he has an escape route and cannot be "checkmated"? Maybe this is a bad translation from Welsh.

This would seem to make simple game overtly confusing. I notice you do not include any of this in your pamphlet, perhaps for good reason.

3.  I have been reading some of the online discussions with regard to trying to recreate the rules and comparisons between Tawlbwrdd and Tablut. Has there been any more progress on the debate as to whether Tawlwrdd has a throne or not, like Tablut? Looking at the evidence as a complete layman, it seems significant that the diagrams of the Tawlbwrdd board has a mark distinguishing the centre square. Have there been any research breakthroughs or developments lately to help further reconstruct the rules? Either way, it is a fascinating subject and I find learning more about these games intriguing.  I hope more documentary sources are discovered over time.




David - 11:15, 19/10/2017

I have another, more general question about Tawlbwrdd:

since its re-discovery and reconstrution, how popular has it become in modern Wales?  Are there Tawlbwrdd leagues now trying to promote it?  Is it being played as a pub game in many drinking establishments?  I'm interested to learn more about its cultural impact and current reception since it is basically the Welsh national boardgame/national pub game.

Also, are other forms of Tafl played over in England?  I am wondering particularly about the former Danelaw areas, since I would have presumed that that is where it would have been adopted if anywhere.

Thanks and cheers. This family of games is a fascinating subject to learn about.

David - 23:51, 19/10/2017

As an experiment, I ran the original Welsh text of the ap Ifan quote through Google Translate.  Interestingly, the English output from the software seems (slightly) clearer than the original translation:

"The game should be played with the king in the middle and twelve men around him, with twenty-four men trying to catch him. These are set as follows: six in the middle of each side of the board in the middle six. Both people move the pieces. If there is a piece between the opponent's pieces, then it dies, and the piece is removed out of the game. But if the king himself comes between his opponent's pieces, then if you say "Take care, watch your king!" before moving to that part (ie between two pieces) and if it can not move then it is caught. If your opponent says "I'm your servant!" and put one of its pieces between two of your pieces, then there will be a bad thing from that. And if the king is able to reach the line ... he wins the game."

David - 01:48, 20/10/2017

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