Monday, March 30, 2009

About our Games Part 1: Hnefetafl

Hnefetafl is the Viking version of the ancient tafl games, also known as King's Table. It is a northern European style of Chess that dates back to the 8th century B.C. Hnefetafl was popular in Medieval Scandanavia and is mentioned in several Norse Sagas. However, we do not know for certain how the game was played at that time.

A game of uneven strength between sides, the players traditionally take turns being the attacker and the defender.

In the widely-accepted rules which we have chosen to include with our boards, the outnumbered Swedes try to help their king escape (to the side of the board) from the invading Muscovites. Pieces are moved in the same way as the rook in chess.

Players take turns moving, with the attackers moving first. All of the pieces move any number of spaces in a straight line along a row or column (no diagonals) until encountering another piece or the edge of the board, similar to how a rook moves in chess. Pieces may not be jumped.

A piece is captured if two of the opposing pieces are moved onto adjacent spaces on either side of it. That piece is then removed from the board. However, a piece may safely land between two enemy pieces – only the moving player may capture. The King may also be used to capture.

Hnefetafl is a two player board game

Friday, March 20, 2009

Plutarch, Aristotle, Shakespeare and a game of Chess

Spring has only just begun to have sprung here in the Great Lakes Region, but already it tempts us to throw studies to the wind and breathe in the still-nippy air, drinking in the rare sunshine. We as a homeschool family certainly prefer to take a "Sunny Day" off from school to foregoing schoolwork on a "Snow Day".

However, school is still in session and an extraordinary portion of our day is given to studying Plutarch's Lives (currently Poplicola), Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew), Latin, Logic, World History, music, art, geography, math, English, science, nature study, etc., etc.

So when our young students finish school early and have some free time they run excitedly........

to the game cupboard. Yes, my children, while wildly in love with being in the great outdoors, are also obsessed with challenging each other to a game of chess. Does this make their nerdy mother's heart sing? Absolutely! It excites me to see my children not only love to do things together, but to do intellectually stimulating things, and in their free time, too!

So while they are certainly getting healthy doses of this glorious springtime as it roars like a lion and lies calmly like lambs, I get giddy when I see them playing a board game.

What is your family doing to spend time together? May I recommend browsing through our game cupboard? You might find a new obsession of your own!