Sunday, August 09, 2015
Tables: Ludus Anglicorum, Imperial and Provincial
A clearer image of the illustration is reproduced here.
The English Game
There are many games of tables with dice, the first being the long game, which is the English Game. It is common here, and is played as follows: he who sits on .am. side has 15 men on .&. point, and he who sits on the .n&. side has 15 men on .a. point. They play with three dice or with two, the third throw being always counted as a 6. He who sits on .am. side moves all his men placed on .&. through the pages .&t., .sn., .mg. and into the page .fa. and then bears them off.
He who sits on .n&. side moves all his men placed on .a. through the pages .af., .gm., .ns. and into the page .t&. and then bears them off. And he who first bears off all his men wins.
And note that he who sits on .am. side can secure any point from .mg. and .fa., except the .a. point, that is occupied by two or more opposing men, and when there is only one, he can take it. If an opposing man is undoubled, he can take it by moving with one or two dice, then the captured man has to return in .t&., and reenter with a 6 in .t., or with a 5 in .u., or with a 4 in .x., or with a 3 in .y, or with a 2 in .z., or with a 1 in .&., if these points are not occupied by his own men nor doubled by his opponent ones. And his opponent cannot play until he has reentered the captured man.
And note that in this play it is good to secure the .g. and .f. points. With three dice, the third one being always a 6 ; securing the .g. point prevents the opponent from crossing the bar with a 6. Also note that you can bring all the men you want on doubled points; from these doubled points, you can also hit the undoubled, and make them return in the table where they were placed at the beginning of the game.
Thus he who sits on .n&. side can secure any point in .ns. and .t&. except the .&. point that is occupied by two or more opposing men and when there will be only one, he can hit it. And, if an opposing man is undoubled, then he can hit it by moving with one or two dice. And then this captured man returns in .fa., and reenter with a 6 in .f., with a 5 in .e., with a 4 in .d., with a 3 in .c., with a 2 in .b., with a 1 in .a., if these points are not occupied by his own men nor doubled by the opponent ones. And the opponent cannot play until he has reentered the captured man.
Also note that in this play it is good to secure the .s. and .t. points, for the same reason mentioned above. And as soon as he who sits on .n&. side brings all his men in .t&., he bears them off as follows: if some men are on .t., they are born off with a 6 or an equivalent combination i.e 4-2, 3-3, 5-1, the points on .u. are born off with a 5 or its equivalent 4-1, 3-2, or with a 6 if there is no men on .t.; the points on .x. are born off with a 4 or its equivalent i.e 3-1, 2-2 or with a 6 or a 5 if there is no man in .t. nor in .u.; and if these men are in .y., they are born off with a 3 or its equivalent 2-1 or with a 6, 5 or 4 if there is no men in .t. nor in .u. nor in .x.; and if some men are in .z., there are born off with a 2 or with 1-1 or with 6, 5, 4, 3 if there is no man in .t. nor in .u. nor in .x. nor in .y.; and if some men are in .&., they are born off with a 1 or with 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 if there is no man in .u. nor in .x. nor in .y. nor in .z. Thus he who sits on .am. side bears his men in .fa., and he who bears his men off first wins.
He who sits on .n&. side has a great mastery of the game if he manages to secure .n. .o. .p. .q. .r. points, the .s. point being open, and if he forces his opponent to bring up eight men to .a., and to have one man on .t., another on .u., another on .x., another on .y., another on .z., another on .&. and also a seventh man not reentered yet ; and this victory is called lympoldyng.
Moreover if his opponent fills the whole .t&. page and also the .s. point, this victory is not called limpolding but lurching. He who sits on .n&. side must be careful to secure .n. .o. .p. .q. .r. points, the .s. point being opened, to allow the opponent to go into .mg. By moving one or even two of his own, he secures the .s. point and his opponent cannot cross all his men, which must be brought into .mg. and placed in .a. Then the .t. .v. .x. .y. .z. points are occupied by his opponent. The .s. point being opened, as his opponent can go into .mg., his opponent brings up to eight men in .a. Closing the .s. point forces his opponent to fill with his men the points .t. .u. .x. .y. .z, and two opposing men stay in .&. By releasing the .s. point, you take the opposing man in .t. and he takes you back with a 6, which always is the third assumed throw. You come back to .fa., .ns., until his opponent is forced to evacuate his second man from the .&. point, thus there is only one man in .&. and the remaining points .t. .u. .x. .y. .z. are occupied by one man, and then you take his seventh undoubled man and the opponent is limpolded.
There is a method of playing without dice where throws are chosen at will. But he who has the advantage of starting wins if he plays well, he first choses 6-6-5 to make two men cross outside the table where they are; at first move, he always can secure a point and take an opposing man that must come back and his opponent will lose the second die.
There is a third method of playing where one choses two dice and his opponent gives him 6 for the third throw, or, if he throws his dice, his opponent gives him a third throw.
There is another game of tables called Imperial, and is played as follows. He who sits on the .n&. side has his men in three piles, i.e five on .p., the other third on .s. and the other third on .t. And he who sits on the .am. side has in the same way his men on .k. .g. .f. And he who sits on the .n&. side brings all his men on .&. then he wins. And his opponent wins if he brings them on .a. And this game is played with three dice.
There is another game of tables called Provincial similar to Imperial except the starting position where all the men of one side are on .g. and .f.
BL Royal 13 A XVIII, ff 158r-160r. Transcribed in Fiske, Willard, and Horatio S. White. 1905. Chess in Iceland and in Icelandic literature, with historical notes on other table-games. Florence: Florentine Typographical Society. Transcription reproduced here. Translation copyright Will McLean 2015.