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RE: [TY] RE: I need directions for an old Irish ga

Poster: meridies@web.ce.utk.edu

Here are the complete directions from the board Duc Orlando gave us one Christmas.  If you need documentation or better rules, you'll have to contact him off line.  And he uses the name "Fitchneal".

Pieces are set up as shown below.  The King and his defenders on the inside, the attackers around the edge of the board.
The goal of the King is to move off the board.  The goal of the attackers is to capture the King.  A man is captured when two of his opponent's pieces move to either side of him in a horizontal or vertical row.  (However, if a man moves between two other pieces voluntarily, he is not captured.)  The King is captured when he is surrounded by his opponent's men on all four sides, or on three sides plus the King's square, or if the King and one of his defenders are surrounded so that neither of them can move.  
The attacking side moves first, after which play alternates.  A piece can move any number of unoccupied squares either horizontally or vertically (like a rook in chess).  The center square is the "King's square" - only the King can rest on it, although other pieces may cross it.
If a move of the King or his men gives him a clear way out on his next move, he must announce that fact.  Multiple ways out must also be acknowledge.  No warning is required if the attacker's move allows the King to exit.

Board notes also say
Fitchneal is the Irish variant of a popular medieval entrapment game.  The same basic game, with minor changes, appeared throughout Europe under names such as Hneftatafl (Viking), Tablut (Finnish), and Tawlbyund (Welsh).

         Board set up is as below on a chess type board.

           X     X X X     X
           X         O       X
           X  O O O O O X
           X         O       X
           X      X X X    X

Hope this is what you're looking for.

Rebecca of Twywn

From: 	harbink@wdni.com
Sent: 	Sunday, May 25, 1997 7:48 PM
To: 	meridies@web.ce.utk.edu
Subject: 	[TY] RE: I need directions for an old Irish game please

Poster: harbink@wdni.com

Sim wrote:
>I am searching for an Irish game
>called Fidhchelf     (pron. fishell ?)

The modern spelling is Ficheail and can be pronounced fikyul or fikyal
(currently there are between 5 and 7 recognized dialects).  There is no
easy way of determining the actual 9th to 11th century pronunciation.

The only easy to access references to the game Fidchell  I have on hand
are the following:

1. Cormac's glossary (c. 900CE) - "Firstly the Fidchell is
four-cornered, its squares are right-angled and black and white men are
on it, and moreover it is different people that in turn win the games."

2. O'Donovan's "The Book of Rights" (1847) - "It was a board of silver
and pure gold, and every angle was illuminated with precious stones, and
a man-bag of woven brass wire.  Midir then arranged the Fithcheall.
'Play,' said Midir.  'I will not except for a wager,' replied Eochaidh."

All authors I have read relate Fidchell with what are generally termed
tafl games (pronounced tabl).  Tafl games consist of a king, and even
number of kings men, and twice their number in opposing forces.  The
object is for the king to make it to the edge of the board thereby
taking the field or escaping it (depending on who you ask :-)  Movement
is orthogonally (like the rook in chess).  Capture is custodial (on two
opposing sides) for all but the king piece which must be surrounded on
four sides or three and the throne (provided the throne is blocked
opposite the king.  The Irish Brandubh board is played with pegs on a
7x7 grid (an infuriating game), Welsh Tawlbwrdd on 11x11, Norwegian
Olafs Kongs Tafl on 13x13, and  Danish Hnefatafl on the lines of an
18x18 square board (place association is circumstantial based upon
archeological finds).  Additionally, Swedish Tablut (described by
Carolus Linnaeus in 1732) is played on raindeer hide board consisting of
9x9 squares.

Since Fidchell is an Irish game and the Brandubh board was found in
Ireland (7Oct1932) the two are often connected by those who like to name
things.  The Brandubh board is unique in that the four corner holes are
penned in with quarter circles.  This may indicate that the king-piece
must works its way to a corner in order to win.  Another version played
an 11x11 board with circles in the corners is sold by History Craft
Limited as "The Viking Game" (can be purchased from Arwen Myth & Music,
PO.Box 389, 100 Mile House, B.C. VOK 2EO - Canada).  This version is
popular in Blatha An Or and is the most even handed tafl game I have
played (though Tawlbwrdd and Hnefatafl are my favorites).

If memory serves there is an article on tafl in "Tournaments
Illuminated"  120 or 121 that may interest you.  General instructions
for tafl games can also be found in "The Known World Handbook" and "The
Compleat Anachronist" 4.  The bibliographies in those sources will also
help in a more in depth search.

BTW, you stated "I need to know HOW TO PLAY!!!"  Is there a story behind

Lord Rowan O'Sidhe
Gamesmaster, An Tir

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