18 Ocak 2016 Pazartesi

The Astrologers’ Game

Ouranomachia – The Astrologers’ Game

In his Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton recommended to those seeking a cure for melancholy to play the Astrologers’ Game. He wrote:
“… D Fulkes Metromachia and his Ouranomachia, with the rest of those intricate astrologicall and geometrical fictions, for such especially as are mathematically given.” (p416)
One of the books he refers to is William Fulke’s Ouranomachia, hoc est, Astrologorum lupus, Londini : Per Thomam Eastum & Henricum Middeltonum, impensis Guilielmi Iones, 1572.
Therein Fulke closely compares the Astrologers’ Game to Rithmomachia, the Philosophers’ game, which is still played today. (For more on Rithmomachia, see the Wikipedia entry here: Rithmomachy – Wikipedia ). He claims that the Astrologers’ Game was created for the exercise of the mind, and of the art of astrology, as well as for scholarly relaxation. In Metromachia, the other book mentioned by Burton, Fulke writes that he gave copies of his Astrologers’ Game to Guillaume Postel and Petrus Ramus. He also seems to have given a copy and a game board to Queen Elizabeth I.
We do not know much about the origins of this game, but one of the same name was found in a Spanish games manual belonging to Alfonso X.
astrologers game
A similar game was known as al-falakiya in Arabic, and kawakib in Parsi, which was played by seven people. At the beginning, each player choses one planet and positions it in a sign of its rulership. The moves are determined with the rolls of a seven-sided die. It is believed that payments to the other player(s) have to be made when one player’s planet applies to a hard aspect with another’s. Money is earned when the planet of the player whose turn it is to roll the die applies to a beneficial aspect.
Fulke’s game was much more sophisticated! It was only meant to be played by two players, who controlled seven planets each. As can be seen from the picture of the board, shown below, each player ‘owns’ a full circle of 12 zodiac signs. The two circles are lined up in a way that each player’s sign is in opposition to the other player’s (Aries/Libra, Taurus/Scorpio, etc).
fulke board
The two players are moving in turns, whereby their pieces move just as the planets they represent would move in the heavens, as described by Ptolemy in his Almagest. The Sun is only allowed to move one degree at a time and only in one direction, because of his lack of epicycles. The Moon moves between 12 and 15 degrees each time in a regular ascending and descending pattern. The other planets move in a similar way, taking into consideration the maximum number of degrees they can move and the maximum number of degrees they can be distant from the Sun (Venus and Mercury).
At the start of each game the pieces are located in their signs of rulership. There are specific rules, stating that the Sun is placed in the 16th degree of Leo, the Moon in the 8th degree of Cancer and Saturn in the 20th degree of Capricorn. As the players move their planets around the board, they try to capture pieces of each other’s planetary set. This is achieved by trying to gain power over the opponent’s pieces. Once a planet is getting into the orb of one of the opponent’s planets, a ‘battle’ ensues’. The players assess the individual strength of the aspecting and the aspected planet, according to their essential and accidental dignities or debilities. The player whose planet has a higher dignity count can then either add the difference to his own overall count or capture the piece if the other player’s planet is completely wiped out.
Adding to the rules described above, and to its difficulty, the game also took the concept of cosmic rays into account. This meant that if one player’s planet was getting into close contact with another one of his own set, he could add levels of dignity, therefore increasing its strength.
The players move their pieces around the board, counting their accumulated level of dignity, until one player manages to capture the other’s Sun, thus winning the game.
William Fulke Astro pieces

SEDENTARY GAMES.--This chapter is appropriated to sedentary games, and in treating upon most of them I am under the necessity of confining myself to very narrow limits. To attempt a minute investigation of their properties, to explain the different manners in which they have been played, or to produce all the regulations by which they have been governed, is absolutely incompatible with my present design. Instead, therefore, of following the various writers upon these subjects, whose opinions are rarely in unison, through the multiplicity of their arguments, I shall content myself by selecting such of them as appear to be most cogent, and be exceedingly brief in my own observations.
DICE-PLAY--ITS PREVALENCY AND BAD EFFECTS.--There is not, I believe, any species of amusement more ancient than dice-playing; none has been more universally prevalent, and, generally speaking, none is more pernicious in its con-sequences. It is the earliest, or at least one of. the most early pastimes in use among the Grecians. Dice are said to have been invented, together with chess, by Palamedes, the son of Nauplius, King of Eubœa. Others, agreeing to the time of the invention of dice, attribute it to a Greek soldier named Alea, and therefore say that the game was so denominated. But Herodotus attributes both dice and chess to the Lydians, a people of Asia; in which part of the world, it is most probable, they originated at some very remote but uncertain period. We have already seen that the ancient Germans, even in their state of barbarism, indulged the propensity for gambling with the dice to a degree of madness, not only staking all they were worth, but even their liberty, upon the chance of a throw, and submitted to slavery if fortune declared against them. The Saxons, the Danes, and the Normans, their descendants, were all of them greatly addicted to the same infatuating pastime. One would not, at first sight, imagine that the dice could afford any great variety of amusement, especially if they be abstractedly considered; and yet John of Salisbury, in the twelfth century, speaks of ten different games of dice then in use; but as he has only given us the names, their properties cannot be investigated. He calls it, 1 "The damnable
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art of dice-playing." Another author, contemporary with him, says, "The clergymen and bishops are fond of dice-playing." 1
* It was customary to use a Dice-board in some forms of dice throwing. The board was divided by diagonal lines into ten spaces, and the value of the cast depended not only upon the upper markings of the dice, but upon the particular space into which they fell. One of these Dice-boards is figured on the top of a most beautifully inlaid Elizabethan games table, which was made for Bess of Hardwick, and is still to be seen at Hardwick Hall. It measures 15 inches by 19½. Upon the board, in one of the divisions, are the representations of three dice. On the same table, which is 10 feet in length, there are also inlaid representations of full-sized chess and backgammon boards. 2
ANCIENT DICE-BOX--ANECDOTE RELATING TO FALSE DICE.--The common method of throwing the dice is with a hollow cylinder of wood, called the dice-box, into which they are put, and thence, being first shaken together, thrown out upon the table; but in one of the prints which occur in the Vocabulary of Commenius3 we meet with a contrivance for playing with the dice that does not require them to be numbered upon their faces. This curious machine 4 appears on plate thirty-three.
The dice are thrown into the receptacle at the top, whence they fall upon the circular part of the table below, which is divided into six compartments, numbered as the dice usually are; and according to the value of the figures affixed to the compartments into which they fall the throw is estimated. The inner part of the circle, with the apparatus above it, was so constructed as to move round with great rapidity when the dice were put into the funnel. 5 It would thus be analogous to the E O tables of the present day, wherein a ball is used, and the game is determined by the letters E or O being marked upon the compartment into which it falls. The E O tables may have derived their origin from the above contrivance.
Dice-playing has been reprobated by the grave and judicious authors of this country for many centuries back; the legislature set its face against it at a very early period; 6 and in various statutes promulgated for the suppression of unlawful games, from Richard II. to Elizabeth, it is constantly particularised and strictly prohibited.
* In Northbrooke's treatise against dicing, etc., published in 1579, the most unrestrained language is used against dicing, of which the following sentence is but a brief specimen:--"This arte is the mother of lies, of perjuries, of theft, of debate, of injuries, of manslaughter, the verie invention of the Divels of hell." It must, however, be remembered that this strenuous condemnation was directed

against mere dice-throwing, and not against "tables," by which was implied such a game as backgammon, wherein the dice were thrown within a limited space to direct certain moves. "Playing at tables," says Northbrooke, "is far more tollerable (although in all respects not allowable) than Dice and Cardes are, for that it leaneth partlie to chance, and partlie to industrie of the minde."

Supposing the play to be fair on either side, the chances upon the dice are equal to both parties; and the professed gamblers being well aware of this, will not trust to the determination of fortune, but have recourse to many nefarious arts to circumvent the unwary; hence we hear of loaded dice, and dice of the high cut. The former are dice made heavier on one side than the other by the insertion of a small portion of lead; and the latter may be known by the following anecdote in an anonymous MS. written about the reign of James I., and preserved in the Harleian Collection. 1 "Sir William Herbert, playing at dice with another gentleman, there rose some questions about a cast. Sir William's antagonist declared it was a four and a five; he as positively insisted that it was a five and a six; the other then swore, with a bitter imprecation, 2 that it was as he had said: Sir William then replied, 'Thou art a perjured knave; for give me a sixpence, and if there be a four upon the dice, I will return you a thousand pounds'; at which the other was presently abashed, for indeed the dice were false, and of a high cut, without a four." The dice are usually made of bone or ivory, but sometimes of silver, and probably of other metals. The wife of the unfortunate Arden of Feversham, sent to Mosbie, her paramour, a pair of silver dice, in order to reconcile a disagreement that had subsisted between them, and occasioned his abstaining from her company. 3

* DICING GAMES WITHOUT "TABLES."--Under the general head of Dicing used to be included two distinct sets of games that were termed "games within the tables" and "games without the tables." The latter were of a purely gambling character; in the Compleat Gamester, of 1674, three games of this nature are described. Inn and Inn is named as very much used in an ordinary, and could be played by two or three, each having a box in his hand. It was played with four dice, the players depositing sixpences, shillings, or guineas. For an Inn throw nothing was scored, for an Out throw the adversary or adversaries won; for an Inn and Inn throw all was swept by the thrower. An Inn throw was doublets of any sort; an Out throw had no doublets; an Inn and Inn was all doublets, whether of a sort or otherwise. The battle point was fixed beforehand, from twenty shillings to twenty pounds, or on to a thousand; "the battail is not ended till every penny of that money agreed upon for the battail be won."

* PASSAGE was played by two with three dice. The caster threw continually

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* HAZARD was played with two dice, but as many could play it as could stand round the largest round table. Cotton dilates on "main," "chance," "nick," "ames-ace," "deuce-ace," and the like, describing it as "the most bewitching game that is plaid on the dice"; nevertheless he somewhat illogically thus ends his long explanation:--"To conclude, happy is he that having been much inclined to this time-spending, money-wasting Game, hath took up in time, and resolved for the future never to be concerned with it more; but more happy is he that hath never heard the name thereof."

* DICING GAMES WITHIN TABLES.--Of "Games within the Tables" Cotton names seven, of which backgammon is the most important, and has proved the most enduring. Irish is described as an ingenious game requiring much skill, and not to be learned without much observation and practice. From the description given it seems to have been much like backgammon, save that it was slower, inasmuch as doublets were not reckoned fourfold. In Tick-tack all the men stood on the ace-point, and from thence played forward. If you hit your adversary and neglected the advantage you lost a man. At Doublets fifteen men were used. At Site-ace five could play with six men a piece. At Ketch-dolt the men were laid down according to the throw from the heap of men without the tables.

* BACKGAMMON.--In Howell's Letters, circa 1645, occur these words, cited in the Oxford Dictionary:--"Though you have learnt to play at Baggammon, you must not forget Irish, which is a more serious and solid game." Tables was the term always employed for these dice games of mixed chance and skill, until the seventeenth century, when the word backgammon came gradually into general use. The name is apparently derived from back-game or back-play, because the men, under certain circumstances, are hit or taken up and obliged to go back and re-enter the table.

The ancient form of the backgammon-table may be seen at the bottom of plate thirty-four; the original occurs in a beautifully illuminated manuscript of the fourteenth century. 1 The table, as here delineated, is not divided in the middle, but the points, on either side, are contained in a single compartment. If we turn to the thirty-third plate we shall find a table of fifteenth century date. In this the division is fairly made, but the points are not distinguished by different colours, according to the present, and indeed more ancient usage. The writer of the manuscript, from which the latter table is taken, says, "There are many methods of playing at the tables with the dice. The first of these, and the longest, is called the English game, Ludus Anglicorum, which is thus performed: he who sits on the side of the board marked 1--12 has fifteen men (homines) in the part marked 24, and he who sits on the side marked 13--24

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has a like number of men in the part 1. They play with three dice, or else with two, allowing always six for a third die. Then he who is seated at 1--12 must bring all his men placed at 24 through the partitions (paginas), from 24 to 19, from 18 to 13, and from 12 to 7, into the division 6--1, and then bear them off; his opponent must do the same from 1 to 7, thence to 12, thence to 18, into the compartment 19--24; and he who first bears off all his men is conqueror." Here we may observe, that the most material circumstances in which the game differed, at this remote period, from the present method of playing it, are, first, in having three dice instead of two, or reckoning a certain number for the third; and secondly, in placing all the men within the antagonist's table, which, if I do not mistake the author, must be put upon his ace-point. But to go on: "There is," says he, "another game upon the tables called Paume Carie, which is played with two dice, and requires four players, that is, two on either side; or six, and then three are opposed to three." He then speaks of a third game, called Lucius Lumbardorum, the Game of Lombardy, and thus played: he who sits on the side marked 13--24 has his men at 6, and his antagonist has his men at 19"; which is changing the ace point in the English game for the size point: and this alteration probably shortened the game. He then mentions the five following variations by name only; the Imperial game, the Provincial game, the games called Baralie, Mylys, and Faylis. 1

* The various table games given in the 1674 edition of the Compleat Gamester continued to be reprinted in subsequent issues until 1721, when "The Famous Game called Verqnere" was placed first among "Games within the Tables." It came from Holland, where they are said to practise it from infancy; the chief feature of it was that "all the table-men are placed on the ace-point, where you set two men at backgammon." The description of Tick-tack is repeated, and that is followed by "The Noble and Courtly Game at Tables called Grand Trick-track," played after the same fashion as Tick-tack, but with three other pieces, in addition to the table-men, which were termed markers.

ITS FORMER AND PRESENT ESTIMATION.--At the commencement of the eighteenth century backgammon was a very favourite amusement, and pursued at leisure times by most persons of opulence, and especially by the clergy, which occasioned Dean Swift, when writing to a friend of his in the country, sarcastically to ask the following question: "In what esteem are you with the vicar of the parish; can you play with him at backgammon?" But of late years (1800) this pastime is become unfashionable, and of course it is not often practised. The tables, indeed, are frequently enough to be met with in the country mansions; but upon examination you will generally find the men deficient, the dice lost, or some other cause to render them useless. Backgammon is certainly a diversion by no means fitted for company, which cards are made to accommodate in a more extensive manner; and therefore it is no wonder they have gained the ascendancy.

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CHESS--ITS ANTIQUITY.--This noble, or, as it is frequently called, royal pastime, is said, by some authors, to have originated, together with dice-playing, at the siege of Troy; and the invention of both is attributed to Palamedes, the son of Nauplius, king of Eubœa; 1 others make Diomedes, and others again, Ulysses, the inventor of chess. 2 The honour has also been attributed to Ledo and Tyrrheno, two Grecians, and brothers, who being much pressed by hunger, sought to alleviate their bodily sufferings by diverting the mind. 3 None of these stories have any solid foundation for their support; and I am inclined to follow the opinion of Dr Hyde and other learned authors, who readily agree that the pastime is of very remote antiquity, but think it first made its appearance in Asia.

THE MORALS OF CHESS.--John de Vigney wrote a book which he called The Moralisation of Chess, wherein he assures us that this game was invented by a philosopher named Xerxes in the reign of Evil Merodach, king of Babylon, and was made known to that monarch in order to engage his attention and correct his manners. "There are three reasons," says de Vigney, "which induced the philosopher to institute this new pastime: the first, to reclaim a wicked king; the second, to prevent idleness; and the third, practically to demonstrate the nature and necessity of nobleness." He then adds, "The game of chess passed from Chaldea into Greece, and thence diffused itself all over Europe." I have followed a MS. copy at the Museum in the Harleian Library. 4 Our countryman Chaucer, on what authority I know not, says it was

--Athalus that made the game
First of the chesse, so was his name. 5

The Arabians and the Saracens, who are said to be admirable players at chess, have new-modelled the story of de Vigney and adapted it to their own country, changing the name of the philosopher from Xerxes to Sisa. 6

EARLY CHESS-PLAY IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND.--It is impossible to say when the game of chess was first brought into this kingdom; but we have good reason to suppose it to have been well known here at least a century anterior to the Conquest, and it was then a favourite pastime with persons of the highest rank.

* The Emperor Charlemagne is known to have had much taste for chess, and his chessmen are celebrated. The English scholar Alcuin was on the most intimate terms with the emperor and his family; he visited his native country from 790 to 793, and it is at the least highly probable that he was the first to introduce chess into this country. 7
Canute the Dane, who ascended the throne of England A.D. 1017, was partial to this pastime. 1 The following story is told of William, duke of Normandy, afterwards king of England. When a young man, he was invited to the court of the French king, and during his residence there, being one day engaged at chess with the king's eldest son, a dispute arose concerning the play; and William, exasperated at something his antagonist had said, struck him with the chess-board, which obliged him to make a precipitate retreat from France, in order to avoid the consequences of so rash an action. 2 A similar circumstance is said by Leland to have happened in England. 3 John, the youngest son of Henry II., playing at chess one day with Fulco Guarine, a nobleman of Shropshire, a quarrel ensued, and John broke the head of Guarine with the chess-board, who in return struck the prince such a blow that he almost killed him. It seems, however, that Fulco found means of making his peace with King Henry, by whom he was knighted, with three of his brethren, a short time afterwards. John did not so easily forgive the affront; but, on the contrary, showed his resentment long after his accession to the English throne, by keeping him from the possession of Whittington Castle, to which he was the rightful heir. 4 It is also said of this monarch, that he was engaged at chess when the deputies from Rouen came to acquaint him that the city was besieged by Philip, king of France, but he would not hear them out till he had finished the game. In like manner Charles I. was playing at chess when he was told that the final resolution of the Scots was to sell him to the parliament; and he was so little discomposed by the alarming intelligence, that he continued the game with great composure. 5 Several other instances to the same purpose might be produced, but these may suffice; and in truth, I know not what interpretation to put upon such extraordinary conduct; it proves at least that the fascinating powers of this fashionable diversion are very extensive upon the minds of those who pursue it earnestly.
THE CHESS-BOARD.--The number of the pieces and the manner in which they are placed do not appear to have undergone much, if any, variation for several centuries. If the reader will turn to plate thirty-four, he will find the most ancient representation of the pastime that I have met with. 6 On the thirty-third plate he will see two boards with the manner of placing the pieces upon them, taken from a MS. of the thirteenth century, and one of them, a perfect singularity, is of circular form. 7
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In this representation is exhibited the manner of placing the pieces, which are thus called in Latin verse
Miles et Alphinus, rex, roc, regina, pedinus. CHESS-PIECES, AND THEIR FORM.--The names of the chess pieces, as they are given in the foregoing manuscript, are these: Rey--Reyne, or Ferce--Roc--Alfin--Chivaler--Poun: that is: 1. The King--2. The Queen, or Ferce 1--3. The Rock--4. The Alfin--5. The Knight--6. The Pawn. Their forms are copied on the thirtieth plate.
In more modern times the roc is corruptedly called a rook, but formerly it signified a rock or fortress (now castle); the alfin was denominated by the French fol, and with us an archer, and at last a bishop.
THE VARIOUS GAMES OF CHESS.--In a manuscript in the Royal Library, 2 written about the same time as that last mentioned, we find no less than forty-four different names given to so many games of chess, and some of them are played more ways than one, so that on the whole they may be said to amount to fifty-seven; 3 and under every title there are directions for playing the game, but I apprehend they would be of little use to a modern player. I shall, however, give the several denominations as they occur, with an attempt at a translation. If the learned reader should find that I have mistaken the meaning of any of these titles, which is very likely to be the case, he will consider the difficulty I had to encounter, and remember I give the translation with diffidence.
1. Guy de chivaler, played three ways--2. De dames--3. De damoyseles--4. De alfins, two ways--5. De anel--6. De covenant--7. De propre confusion, three ways--8. Mal assis--9. Cotidian, two ways--10. Poynt estraunge, two ways--11. Ky perde sey sauve--12. Ky ne doune ces ke it eyme, ne prendrant ke disire--13. Bien trove--14. Beal petit--15. Mieut vaut engyn ke force--16. Ky est larges est sages--17. Ky doune ganye--18. Ly enginous e ly coveytous--19. Covenaunt fet ley--20. De pres seu joyst ke loyns veyt--21. Meschief fet hom penser--22. La chace de chivaler--23. La chace de ferce et de chivaler--24. Bien fort--25. Fol si prent--26. Ly envoyns--27. Le seon sey envoye--28. Le veyl conu--29. Le haut enprise--30. De cundut--31. Ky put se prenge--32. La batalie sans array--33. Le tret emble, two ways--34. Ly desperes--35. Ly marvelious, two ways--36. Ne poun ferce home fet--37. Muse vyleyn--38. De dames et de damoyceles--39. Fol si sey fie, two ways--40. Mal veysyn, two ways--41. Je mat de ferces--42. Flour de guys--43. La batalie de rokes--44. Double eschec.
1. The knights' game--2. The ladies' game--3. The damsels' game--4. The game of the alfins--5. The ring--6. The agreement--7. Self-confounded -8. Ill placed or bad enough--9. Day by day--10. The foreign point--11. The loser wins--12. He that gives not what he esteems, shall not take that
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he desires--13. Well found--14. Fair and small--15. Craft surpasses strength -16. He that is bountiful is wise--17. Who gives gains--18. Subtilty and covetousness--19. Agreement makes law--20. He sees his play at hand who sees it at a distance--21. Misfortunes make a man think--22. The chace of the knight--23. The chace of the queen and the knight--24. Very strong--25. He is a fool if he takes--26. The messengers--27. Sent by his own party--28. The old one known--29. The high place taken--30. Perhaps for conduit, managed or conducted--31. Take if you can--32. The battle without arrangement-33. The stolen blow--34. The desperates--35. The wonder--36. A pawn cannot make a queen--37. The clown's lurking place--38. The ladies and the damsels--39. A fool if he trusts--40. Bad neighbour--41. I mate the queen--42. The flower or beauty of the games--43. The battle of the rooks--44. Double chess.
* So great a hold did the game of chess take upon England--a hold that seems to strengthen with every decade of national life--that almost every English writer of repute, from the earliest days, has made reference to this royal pastime, or drawn similes and figures of speech from the chess-board. Such a list includes the names of Chaucer, Lydgate, Gower, Skelton, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser, Shakespeare, Cowley, Beaumont, Fletcher, Middleton and Dryden.
* The prolific dramatist Thomas Middleton wrote a satirical play called Game at Chess, which was first acted at the Globe in 1624. Ignatius Loyola, in the induction, discovers Error asleep, who had seen a strange game of chess in a dream. Loyola expresses a desire to see the game, and the play begins. The dramatis personæ were the chessmen, the white being Protestants and the black Papists. At the conclusion the blacks receive checkmate and are put in a bag. The Spanish Ambassador complained to the authorities that the king of Spain and others were being ridiculed and dishonoured on the stage, with the result that the players were severely reprimanded, the play suppressed, and the author imprisoned. Middleton, however, erelong secured his release by presenting to the king the following rhymed petition:--
"A harmless game, coyned only for delight,
Was played betwixt the black house and the white.
The white house won--yet still the black doth brag,
They had the power to put me in the bag.
Use but your royal hand, ’twill set me free:
’Tis but removing of a man, that's me." 1
ANCIENT GAMES SIMILAR TO CHESS.--The ancient pastimes, if more than one be meant, which bear the names of ludus latrunculorum, ludus calculorum, et ludus scrupulorum, have been generally considered as similar to chess, if not precisely the same; but the authors of the Encyclopédie Françoise, assure us they did not bear any resemblance to it, at least in those essential parts of the
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game which distinguish it from all others; but were played with stones, shells, or counters. The ancients, we are told, used little stones, shells, and nuts, in making their calculations without the assistance of writing. These little stones were called by the Greeks ψηφοι, and calculi or scrupuli by the Romans; and such articles, it is supposed, were employed by them in playing the games above mentioned. This method of reckoning passed from the Greeks to the Romans, but when luxury introduced itself at Rome, the stones and shells were laid aside, and counters made with ivory became their substitutes. If the fore-going observations be well founded, we may justly conclude that the ludus calculorum which Homer mentions as a pastime practised by his heroes, called in Greek πετος or πεσσος, consisted in a certain arrangement and combination of numbers, every piece employed in the game being marked with an appropriate number, and probably might resemble a more modern pastime, which still retains the Greek name of Rithmomachia, from αριθμος, numerus, et μαχι, pugna, expressive of a battle with numbers, said by some to have been invented by Pythagoras, 1 and by others to be more ancient: with us it is called the Philosopher's Game, and seems indeed to have been well calculated for the diversion of soldiers, because it consists, not only in a contention for superiority by the skilful adjustment of the numbers, but in addition, allows the conqueror to triumph and erect his trophy in token of the victory; this part of the game, we are told, requires much judgment to perform with propriety, and if the player fails, his glories are but half achieved.
THE PHILOSOPHER'S GAME.--We have some account of the philosopher's game, but very loosely drawn up, in a manuscript in the Sloan Library 2 at the British Museum. It is called, says the author, "a number fight," because in it men fight and strive together by the art of counting or numbering how one may take his adversary's king and erect a triumph upon the deficiency of his calculations. It is then said, "you may make your triumph as well with your enemy's men taken, as with your own not taken."
The board or table for playing this game is made in the form of a parallelogram just as long again as it is broad; it is divided into eight squares the narrow way, and extended to sixteen the other, and bears the resemblance of two chess-boards fastened together: the chequers in like manner being alternately black and white, and two persons only at one time can properly play the game; to either party is assigned twenty-four soldiers, which constitute his army, (hoste, in the original,) and one of them is called the Pyramis or king: one third of these pieces are circular, which form two rows in the front of the army; one third are triangular, which are placed in the middle; and one third are square, which bring up the rear, and one of these situated in the fifth row is the Pyramis. The men belonging to the two parties are distinguished by being black and white, and every one of them is marked with an appropriate number. There
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were sometimes added to these numbers certain signs or algebraic figures, called cossical signings, which increased the intricacy of the game. The army that presents a front of even numbers is called the even host, and the other the odd host. The two armies at the commencement of the play are drawn up in the order represented on .
It was my wish to have subjoined a general outline of the method of playing the game, but the author is so exceedingly obscure in his phraseology, and negligent in his explanations, that I found it impossible to follow him with the least degree of satisfaction. It is, however, certain, that the great object of each player is to take the king from his opponent, because he who succeeds may make his triumph and erect his trophy.
Burton, speaking of this pastime in his Anatomy of Melancholy1 calls it the Philosophy Game, and thinks it "not convenient for students"; to which he adds, "the like I say of Dr Fulke's Metromachia, and his Ouronomachia, with the rest of those intricate, astrological, and geometrical fictions, for such as are mathematically given, and other curious games."
* Fulke's Metromachia eine Suden Geometricus, was dedicated to the Earl of Leicester, and printed in 1578. It consists of fifty-two pages, and has an elaborate folding plate at the end.
DRAUGHTS.--The pastime of draughts is well known in the present day (1800); and I believe there are now in London as excellent draught-players as ever existed. Draughts, no doubt, is easier to be learnt than chess, because it is not so intricate; for the pieces are of equal value till they become kings, and can only move one way, that is, diagonally; but, like chess, it depends entirely upon skill, and one false move frequently occasions the loss of the game.
* Draughts has a far greater proved antiquity than chess, some of the draughtsmen and part of the board belonging to Queen Hatasu of Egypt, who flourished about 1600 B.C., were discovered in 1887. 2 The game was introduced into Italy from Egypt, and is known in Latin as ludus latrunculorum, or the game of the Little Soldiers. The name of draughts is derived from the verb to draw or to move, and was at one time applicable to chess as well as to draughts. The first known work on modern draughts proceeded from Spain in 1547. The earliest French work was that of Pierre Malet, published in 1668. The old French draughts was exactly like English draughts. The Polish game came into fashion in 1727, and in France superseded for the most part the older game; it is played upon a board of a hundred squares with forty men; it never obtained much favour in England, but was occasionally played in London at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Mr J. G. Pohlman brought out an illustrated book on Polish Draughts in 1811.
* There are various casual seventeenth century references to this game as distinct from chess in English writers; but the English school of draught playing did not really begin until Payne brought out the first printed account of it in
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the vulgar tongue in 1756. Joshua Sturges first published his standard work in 1800, under the title Guide to the Game of Draughts, containing 500 select games. In it he reproduced almost all Payne's work, but with considerable amendments and new games. Since that date Sturges's book has been continually reproduced both in England and America. 1
MERELLES--NINE MEN'S MORRIS.--Merelles, or, as it was formerly called in England, nine men's morris, and also five-penny morris, is a game of some antiquity. Cotgrave describes it as a boyish game, and says it was played here commonly with stones, but in France with pawns, or men, made on purpose, and they were termed merelles; hence the pastime itself received that denomination. It was certainly much used by the shepherds formerly, and continues to be used by them, and other rustics, to the present hour (1800). But it is very far from being confined to the practice of boys and girls. The form of the merelle-table, and the lines upon it, as it appeared in the fourteenth century, is given upon plate thirty-three; and these lines have not since been varied. The black spots at every angle and intersection of the lines are the places for the men to be laid upon. The men are different in form or colour for distinction sake; and from the moving these men backwards or forwards, as though they were dancing a morris, I suppose the pastime received the appellation of nine men's morris; but why it should have been called five-penny morris, I do not know. The manner of playing is briefly this: two persons, having each of them nine pieces, or men, lay them down alternately, one by one, upon the spots; and the business of either party is to prevent his antagonist from placing three of his pieces so as to form a row of three, without the intervention of an opponent piece. If a row be formed, he that made it is at liberty to take up one of his competitor's pieces from any part he thinks most to his own advantage; excepting he has made a row, which must not be touched if he have another piece upon the board that is not a component part of that row. When all the pieces are laid down, they are played backwards and forwards, in any direction that the lines run, but only can move from one spot to another at one time: he that takes off all his antagonist's pieces is the conqueror. The rustics, when they have not materials at hand to make a table, cut the lines in the same form upon the ground, and make a small hole for every dot. They then collect, as above-mentioned, stones of different forms or colours for the pieces, and play the game by depositing them in the holes in the same manner that they are set over the dots upon the table. Hence Shakspeare, describing the effects of a wet and stormy season, says:
The folds stand empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock,
The nine men's morris is filled up with mud.
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"A correspondent of Notes and Queries, in 1875, wrote:--"The game is known in Derbyshire as 'three mans' marriage,' and for this game three men are used, and the board on which the game is played contains nine holes or points. One 'board' on which we played the game was generally a flat stone, upon which, with chalk, we made a square, intersecting it with a horizontal and a vertical line, which produced the nine holes or points. Two played the game, laying their men alternately on any of the points of the board. The object of each player was to get his men 'all in a row,' and the game was won. 'Nine men's marriage' is quite a different affair, and much more elaborate. Each player uses nine men, and the 'board' is three squares one inside the other, and the squares are connected by four lines drawn through the sides of the squares. This board contains twenty-four holes or points. The players in this game lay their men alternately, each taking care that his opponent does not get a row during the placing of the men. When the men have all been dealt the players move a man in turn. Each player tries to get three of his men in a row, at the same time striving to hinder his opponent from making a row. When a player has made a row his three men are married and he may take a man from his opponent. The game 'nine men's marriage' is also called 'tink-track,' because with good play, a player may get five of his men in such a position, that a 'tink-track' is formed, by means of which he can clear the board of the enemy, one by one, in so many moves." 1
* BOY-GAMES IN CLOISTERS.--In 1892, Mr J. T. Micklethwaite read a most interesting paper before the Archæological Institute "On the Indoor Games of School Boys in the Middle Ages." 2 He was able to prove that certain "cup markings" arranged in squares of nine on the benches of the cloisters of Westminster, Canterbury, Norwich, Salisbury, and Chichester were the work of school boys and others in pre-Reformation times. Other instances have been found in the porches of parochial churches. Some of these stone cut "boards" are for Nine Men's Morris, others for Fox and Geese, and others for a simpler game of In and Out. Mr Micklethwaite's remarks as to the age of these interesting survivals are as follows:--
"For the last three centuries and a half cloisters everywhere in England have been open passages, and there have generally been school-boys about. It is therefore not unlikely that they should have left behind them such traces as these play-boards. But if they are of later date they would not be found to be distributed in monastic cloisters with respect to the monastic arrangement, and we do find them so. At Westminster Abbey they are only found in the north-west corner, which if the arrangement agreed with that of Durham, as there is reason to believe it did, was the place of the school. At Norwich, where the game boards
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are very many, they are found in every part of the cloister except the north walk, where the monks had their library and studies. At Gloucester the morris and fox and geese boards are in the north walk and the simpler in and out boards in the west walk and none is found in the south, which was the monks' side, or in the east, which was most used by them as a passage way. At Canterbury the play boards are found only in the south walk, which is that against the church, and so according to the usual plan it would be the monks' place. But I think it was not so there, as that walk was the passage between the Archbishop's palace and the quire. We do not really know what the arrangement of the cloister was at Canterbury.
"In the secular cloister of Salisbury the boards are only found in the east walk between the Chapter House door and that towards the Bishop's Palace. I can give no reason for this, unless it be that a school was kept there, which is not unlikely. We know that till comparatively late times school was held in the cloister at Winchester College during the summer.
"As the games themselves did not die out, it is remarkable that all the boards noticed are cut upon stone or wood, which was wrought at the latest before the middle of the sixteenth century, and this is a further confirmation of their antiquity."
* The late Rev. R. S. Baker, rector of Hargrave, Northamptonshire, found a Nine Men's Morris stone in the porch of his church during restoration in 1868. It was recognised by the labouring population as a "Peg Meryll" stone. Sending an account of this to Land and Water produced an interesting correspondence, by which he was able to show that the game was at that time played in Essex as "Merelles or Merils"; in Cambridgeshire as "Morels or Murrells"; in Lincolnshire as "Meg Merryleys"; in Norfolk and Cornwall as "Morris or Morrice"; in Leicestershire as "Blind Men's Morris"; and in Oxfordshire as "Ninepenny." 1
FOX AND GEESE.--This is a game somewhat resembling that of merelles in the manner the pieces are moved, but in other respects, as well as in the form of the table, it differs materially; the intersection and angles are more numerous, and the dots of course increased, which adds to the number of the moves. It is certainly as old in this country as the thirteenth century.
To play this game there are seventeen pieces, called geese, which are placed as we see them on plate thirty three, and the fox in the middle, distinguished either by his size or difference of colour, as here, for instance, he is black. The business of the game is to shut the fox up, so that he cannot move. All the pieces have the power to move from one spot to another, in the direction of the right lines, but cannot pass over two spots at one time. It is to be observed, that this board is sometimes made with holes bored through it, where the dots are made, and pegs equal to the number of geese put into them, and the fox is distinguished by being larger and taller than the rest. The geese
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are not permitted to take the fox if he stands close to them, but the fox may take a goose, in like case, if the spot behind it be unoccupied, or not guarded by another goose; and if all be taken, or the number so reduced that the fox cannot be blocked, the game is won. The great deficiency of this game is, that the fox must inevitably be blocked if the geese are played by a skilful hand; for which reason, I am told, of late some players have added another fox; but this I have not seen.
THE SOLITARY GAME.--This is so denominated because it is played by one person only. It is said to have been invented by an unfortunate man who was several years kept in solitary confinement at the Bastile in Paris. The board for this pastime is of a circular form, and perforated with holes at half an inch distance from each other, to the amount of fifty or sixty. A certain number of pegs are then fitted to these holes, but not enough to fill them all; and the manner of playing the game is to pass one of the pegs over another into a hole that is unoccupied, taking the peg so passed from the board, and to continue doing so till all the pegs but one are taken away; which is an operation much more difficult to perform than any one could readily imagine who had not made the attempt. It must be remembered that only one peg can be passed over at a time, and that no peg can be put over another, unless it stands close to it without an intervening hole. 1
DOMINOES.--Dominoes seems to have been little known in England till towards the end of the eighteenth century, when it was imported from France. It consists of twenty-eight small oblong and flat pieces of ivory or bone, and all of the same size and shape. The back of every piece is plain, and sometimes black; the face is white, divided into two parts by a line in the middle, and marked with a double number, or with two different numbers, or with a number and a blank, and one of them is a double blank. The numbers are the same as those upon the dice, from one to six inclusive. When two play, the whole of the pieces are hustled about the table with their faces downwards, and each of them draw seven or nine, according to agreement, and the remaining pieces are undiscovered until the hand is played, which is thus performed: the right of first playing being cut for, he who obtains it lays down one of his pieces, and the other is to match one of the numbers marked upon it with a similar number marked upon a piece of his own, which he lays close to it; the other then matches one of the open numbers in like manner; and thus they continue alternately to lay down their pieces as long as they can be matched; and he who first gets rid of all his pieces wins the game; but if it so happen, as it often does, that neither of them have exhausted their pieces, nor can match the open numbers on the table, they then discover what remains on both sides, and he whose pieces contain the fewest spots obtains the victory. Sometimes four play,
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in which case they deal out six cards to each, leaving only four upon the table, and then play on in rotation.
* Dominoes is by no means a mere game of chance, and has of late received much attention. In 1879, the special Spanish form of playing dominoes was popularised in England, and is at present (1902) in commoner use than any other form, particularly in City restaurants. 1
* CARDS--WHEN INVENTED.--SO far as English card-playing is concerned, the attempt made by Mr Barrington in the eighteenth century 2 to prove that Edward I. played cards, because an entry, of 1278, in the wardrobe accounts, names his playing at the Four Kings has been upset, and shown to be a form of chess. It is generally admitted that playing cards came to Europe from the East. There have been various more or less plausible suppositions as to the period when they were first used on the continent or in England, but the positive history of cards in Europe does not begin till the year 1393, when three packs of cards (jeux de cartes), gilt and coloured, were purchased in Paris of one Jacquemin Gringonneur, painter, for the amusement of King Charles VI., who had lost his reason in the previous year. A French edict relative to games of chance in 1369 makes no reference to cards, but another edict of 1397 prohibits the working people playing cards on working days. Between these two dates it is safe to say that cards became popular in France. By the Synod of Langres, 1404, card-playing was forbidden to the clergy. Early in the fifteenth century card-making and card-painting had become a regular industry in Germany, particularly at Nuremberg.
* CARD-PLAYING IN ENGLAND.--Cards were well known in England in 1463, for by an act of parliament of that year their importation was prohibited, in order, apparently, to protect their home manufacture. A little later in that century there is evidence that they were a common Christmas game. On Christmas Eve, 1484, Margery Paston wrote to her husband to the following effect:--"I sent your eldest sunne to my Lady Morlee to have knolage wat sports were busyd in her hows in Kyrstemesse next folloyng aftyr the decysse of my lord her husbond; and sche seyd that ther wer non dysgysyngs, ner harpyng, ner lutyng, ner syngyn, ner non lowde dysports, but pleyng at the tabyllys, and schesse, and cards. Sweche dysports sche gave her folkys leve to play and non odyr." 3 The privy purse expenses of Henry VII. show his losses at cards on several occasions.
* When the sixteenth century is reached the references to card-playing in England, and the proofs that it was popular among all classes, are most abundant. Losses at cards occur in Henry VIII. privy purse expenses; whilst
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those of his daughter Mary, afterwards Queen, from 1536 to 1544, show that card-playing was her constant habit. A statute of 1541 forbids card-playing by the working-classes. Whole chapters could be filled with the notices of card-playing that occur in the poems and plays of this century. One must suffice. In the comedy of Gammer Gurton's Needle, first printed in 1551, old Dame Chat thus invites two of her friends to a game of cards:--
"What, Diccon? Come nere, ye be no stranger,
We be fast set a trump, man, hard by the fire;
Thou shalt set on the king, if thou come a little nyer.
Come hither, Dol; Dol, sit down and play this game,
And as thou sawest me do, see thou do even the same,
There is five trumps besides the queen, the hindmost thou shalt find her,
Take hede of Gim Glover's wife, she hath an eye behind her."
* Minister Northbrooke was most strenuous in his condemnation of card-playing in Elizabeth's reign, stating that--"The plaie at Cardes is an invention of the devill, which he founde out, that he might the easilier bring in idolatrie amongest men: For the Kings and Coate cardes that we use nowe were in olde time the images of idols and false Gods, which since they that woulde seeme Christians have chaunged into Charlemaine, Launcelot, Hector, and suchlike names, because they would not seeme to imitate their idolatrie therein, and yet mainteine the plaie itselfe, the verie invention of Saban the Devill and woulde so disguise this mischiefe under the cloak of suche gaie names." 1
* The knaves of that date, in English and French packs, were usually known as Lancelot, Hogier, Rolant, and Valery; the kings bore the names of David, Alexander, Caesar, and Charlemagne; and the queens, Rachael, Argine, Pallas, and Judith.
* PRIMERO AND MAW.--Queen Elizabeth was fond of taking a hand at Primero which was then the fashionable game of cards. The favourite game of James I. was Maw which took the place of Primero during his reign; it afterwards became popular under the name of Five Cards. In 1643, on the complaint of several poor cardmakers, parliament prohibited all importation of foreign packs. With the restoration of Charles II., card-playing received a great impetus, and their use became almost universal.
* Philip Kinder in his MS. History of Derbyshire2 written about the middle of the seventeenth century, says of the natives of that shire that "they love ye Cards, and in this they imitate the Spaniard who instade of Kings, Queens and Knaves, they have Kings, Knights and souldiers; but in all ye rest to ye Ace noe Tradesman, Lawyer, or Divines, signifying yt all other were but asses to play at Cardes. But this Countrie hath Picts and Spades amongsd ye Minors, and these men at Christmas tyme will carry tenn or twentie pound about them, game freely, and returne home againe all ye yeere after very good husbands."
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* OMBRE.--Ombre was the particular card game popularised by the court of Charles II., and was the favourite play of his queen, Catherine of Portugal. It is well to remember that the name "Ombre" for the once fashionable card game is a misspelling arising from the non-pronunciation of the h in Spanish; it should be "Hombre," a man, and has no connection with the French "Ombre," a shadow. In this reign the trade of card-making flourished to a remarkable extent, and every kind of eccentricity was used in their illustration both of heraldic and historical character.
* WHIST AND OTHER GAMES.--The first edition of Cotton's Compleat Gamester, published in 1674, mentions the following card games:
(1) Ruff and Honours, otherwise called Slam, described as so well known in England that every child almost of eight years old hath a competent knowledge of it.
(2) Whist, which differed much from the modern game of that name; "it is called Whist from the silence that is to be observed in the play"; "he that can by craft overlook his adversary's game hath a great advantage."
(3) French Ruff, which could be played by either two, four, or six of a-side, dealing to each five a piece.
(4) Gleek, which could be played only by three "neither more nor less." It is styled by Cotton "a noble and delightful game or recreation."
(5) Ombre, described as a Spanish game of several sorts, "but that which is the chief is called Renegado, at which three only can play."
(6) Lanterloo, a round game; two distinct methods of playing are set forth.
(7) Bankafelet, "the cheat lies in securing an ace or any other sure winning card, and if you mark the cards aforehand, so as to know them by the backside, you know how to make your advantage."
(8) Beast, "called by the French La Bët," a round game, with five dealt to each player, and the remainder divided into three heaps, called the King, the Play, and the Triolet.
(9) Basset, described as a French game, and "amongst all those on the cards is accounted to be the most courtly, being properly by the understanders of it, thought only fit for Kings and Queens, great princes, noblemen, etc., to play at, by reason of such great losses or advantages, as may possibly be one side or other during time of play." It was very fashionable towards the close of the seventeenth century; it was a round game with a banker, and resembled baccarat.
(10) Bragg is described as "an ingenious and pleasant game in which each gamester is to put down three stakes."
(11) Picquet; the rules given are almost identical with those now in use.
(12) Primero, a Spanish game; though mentioned last by Cotton it is considered the oldest game of cards played in England. It is described as having a close resemblance to Ombre, by which it had been superseded. In
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both the spadillo, or ace of spades, was reckoned the best card, but Primero was played with six cards and Ombre with nine.
* Two years later the Compleat Gamester was republished. In the 1676 edition there were many changes particularly with reference to cards. The card games not previously mentioned are: Cribbidge; All-Fours; Five-Cards, an Irish game for two, much resembling Maw of James I. reign; Costly Colours, for two; Bone-Ace, "trivial and very inconsiderable, but played by ladies and persons of quality, and a licking (round) game for money"; Putt, "the ordinary rooking game"; Wit and Reason; the Art of Memory; Plain Dealing; Queen Nazareen; Penneech; and Post and Pair. The same list of card games was repeated in several other editions of the Compleat Gamester down to 1725.
* Quadrille, which much resembled Ombre with the addition of a fourth player, came into fashion in the first half of the eighteenth century. In 1737 Hoyle's Treatise on Whist made its first appearance, and speedily ran through many editions. From that date Whist in its improved shape came rapidly into fashion, and held its own as the essentially English game of English origin throughout the nineteenth century.
ANCIENT CARDS.--The early specimens of playing-cards that have been produced, differ but little in their form from those now used. This form is certainly the most convenient for the purposes assigned to them, and has been most generally adopted. The figures and devices, however, that constitute the different suits of the cards seem anciently to have depended upon the taste and invention of the card-makers and differed much in different countries.
It has been observed, that outlines made upon blocks of wood were stamped upon the cards, and afterwards filled up by the hand; but, soon after the invention of engraving upon copper, the devices were produced by the graver, and sufficiently finished, so that the impressions did not require any assistance from the pencil. It appears also, that the best artists of the time were employed for this purpose. I am exceedingly happy to have it in my power to lay before my readers a curious specimen of ancient engraved cards (), in the possession of Mr Douce, with whose permission they are added to this work. I have chosen one from each of the different suits, namely, the King of Columbines, the Queen of Hares, the Knave of Pinks, and the Ace of Roses; which answered to the spades, the clubs, the diamonds, and the hearts, of the moderns. The annexed engravings are of the same size as the originals. They are nearly square, and, originally, I have no doubt but they were perfectly so.
Upon the other cards belonging to the pack the number of the flowers or animals answered to the pips at present, with the addition of numeral figures corresponding with the devices, that they might be readily distinguished without the trouble of counting them. The originals of these cards, I make no doubt, are the work of Martin Schoen, a well-known and justly celebrated German artist; and Mr Douce is in possession of part of another set, which evidently
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appear to be the production of Israel Van Mecken, who was contemporary with Schoen. Mecken outlived Martin Schoen a considerable time; the latter died in 1486, and the former in 1523. The earliest print that I have seen by Mecken with a date is 1480; but he practised the art of engraving some time prior to that period.
A set or pack of cards, but not equally ancient with those above mentioned, were in the possession of Dr Stukeley: the four suits upon them consisted of bells, of hearts, of leaves, and of acorns; by which, the doctor imagined, were represented the four orders of men among us: the bells are such as are usually tied to the legs of the hawks, and denoted the nobility; the hearts were intended for the ecclesiastics; the leaves alluded to the gentry, who possess lands, woods, manors, and parks; the acorns signified the farmers, peasants, woodmen, park-keepers, and hunters. But this definition will, I trust, be generally considered as a mere effusion of fancy. It is remarkable that in these cards there are neither queens nor aces; but the former are supplied by knights, the latter have no substitute. Dr Stukeley's cards were purchased at his sale by Mr Tuttet, and again at his sale by Mr Gough, in whose possession they now remain (i 800). The last gentleman has given a full description of them in a paper upon the subject of card-playing, in the Archæologia1 The figured cards, by us denominated court cards, were formerly called coat cards; and originally, I conceive, the name implied coated figures, that is, men and women who wore coats, in contradistinction to the other devices of flowers and animals not of the human species. The pack or set of cards, in the old plays, is continually called a pair of cards; which has suggested the idea that anciently two packs of cards were used, a custom common enough at present in playing at quadrille; one pack being laid by the side of the player who is to deal the next time. But this supposition rests entirely upon the application of the term itself, without any other kind of proof whatever: and seems, indeed, to be entirely overturned by a passage in a very old play entitled The longer thou livest the more Foote thou art; in which Idleness desires Moros the clown to look at "his booke," and shows him "a paire of cardes." In a comedy called A Woman killed with Kindness, a pair of cards and counters to play with are mentioned. 2
* The earliest known specimens of the cards engraved on copper are the German ones of circular pattern, with hares, parroquets, pinks, and columbines, as the usual marks of the suits, illustrations of which have just been described. In each suit of such cards there are four coat (or court) cards, namely King, Queen, Squire, and Knave. The marks and names of the suits differed much and still differ in different countries; but from an early date English cards corresponded with those of France, and were distinguished as cœrs, carreaux, piques, et trefles, or hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs. It would be unsatisfactory to attempt, even in two or three pages, to give an account of the great and interesting variety of English playing-cards, and of the moral, political, or

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historical use to which it was the custom for two or three centuries to apply their pictures. 1
THE GAME OF GOOSE--AND OF THE SNAKE.--In addition to the pastimes mentioned in the preceding pages, I shall produce two or three more; and they are such as require no skill in the performance, but depend entirely upon chance for the determination of the contest.
We have a childish diversion usually introduced at Christmas time, called the Game of Goose. This game may be played by two persons; but it will readily admit of many more; it originated, I believe, in Germany, and is well calculated to make children ready at reckoning the produce of two given numbers. The table for playing at goose is usually an impression from a copper-plate pasted upon a cartoon about the size of a sheet almanack, and divided into sixty-two small compartments arranged in a spiral form, with a large open space in the midst marked with the number sixty-three; the lesser compartments have singly an appropriate number from one to sixty-two inclusive, beginning at the outmost extremity of the spiral lines. At the commencement of the play, every one of the competitors puts a stake into the space at No. 63. There are also different forfeitures in the course of the game that are added, and the whole belongs to the winner. At No. 5 is a bridge which claims a forfeit at passing; at 19, an alehouse where a forfeit is exacted and to stop two throws; at 30, a fountain where you pay for washing; at 42, a labyrinth which carries you back to 23; at 52, the prison where you must rest until relieved by another casting the same throw; at 58, the grave whence you begin the game again; and at 61, the goblet where you pay for tasting. 2 The game is played with two dice, and every player throws in his turn as he sits at the table: he must have a counter or some other small mark which he can distinguish from the marks of his antagonists, and according to the amount of the two numbers thrown upon the dice he places his mark; that is to say, if he throws a four and a five, which amount to nine, he places his mark at nine upon the table, moving it the next throw as many numbers forward as the dice permit him, and so on until the game be completed, namely, when the number sixty-three is made exactly; all above it the player reckons back, and then throws again in his turn. If the second thrower at the beginning of the game casts the same number as the first, he takes up his piece, and the first player is obliged to begin the game again. If the same thing happens in the middle of the game, the first player goes back to the place the last came from. It is called the game of the goose, because at every fourth and fifth compartment in succession a goose is depicted, and if the cast thrown by the player falls upon a goose, he moves forward double the number of his throw.
We have also the Game of Snake, and the more modern Game of Matrimony,
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with others of the like kind; formed upon the same plan as that of the goose, but none of them, according to my opinion, are the least improved by the variations. 1
CROSS AND PILE.--Cross and pile, or with us heads or tails, is a silly pastime well enough known among the lowest and most vulgar classes of the community, and to whom it is at present very properly confined; formerly, however, it held a higher rank, and was introduced at the court. Edward II. was partial to this and such like frivolous diversions, and spent much of his time in the pursuit of them. In one of his wardrobe rolls we meet with the following entries: "Item, paid to Henry, the king's barber, for money which he lent to the king to play at cross and pile, five shillings. Item, paid to Pires Barnard, usher of the king's chamber, money which he lent the king, and which he lost at cross and pile; to Monsieur Robert Wattewille eightpence." 2
A halfpenny is generally now used in playing this game; but any other coin with a head impressed on one side will answer the purpose: the reverse of the head being called the tail without respect to the figure upon it, and the same if it was blank. Anciently the English coins were stamped on one side with a cross. One person tosses the halfpenny up and the other calls at pleasure head or tail; if his call lies uppermost when the halfpenny descends and rests upon the ground, he wins; and if on the contrary, of course he loses. Cross and pile is evidently derived from a pastime called Ostrachinda, Οστρακινδα, known in ancient times to the Grecian boys, and practised by them upon various occasions; having procured a shell, it was seared over with pitch on one side for distinction sake, and the other side was left white; a boy tossed up this shell and his antagonist called white or block, Νυξ et ημερα, (literally night and day), as he thought proper, and his success was determined by the white or black part of the shell being uppermost.

Rithmomachy (or Rithmomachia, also Arithmomachia, Rythmomachy, Rhythmomachy, or sundry other variants; sometimes known as The Philosophers' Game) is a highly complex, early European mathematical board game. The earliest known description of it dates from the eleventh century. A literal translation of the name is "The Battle of the Numbers". The game is much like chess, except most methods of capture depend on the numbers inscribed on each piece.
It has been argued that between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, "rithmomachia served as a practical exemplar for teaching the contemplative values of Boethian mathematical philosophy, which emphasized the natural harmony and perfection of number and proportion. The game, Moyer argues, was used both as a mnemonic drill for the study of Boethian number theory and, more importantly, as a vehicle for moral education, by reminding players of the mathematical harmony of creation."

Very little, if anything, is known about the origin of the game. But it is known that medieval writers attributed it to Pythagoras, although no trace of it has been discovered in Greek literature, and the earliest mention of it is from the time of Hermannus Contractus (1013–1054).

The name, which appears in a variety of forms, points to a Greek origin, the more so because Greek was little known at the time when the game first appeared in literature. Based upon the Greek theory of numbers, and having a Greek name, it is still speculated by some that the origin of the game is to be sought in the Greek civilization, and perhaps in the later schools of Byzantium or Alexandria.

The first written evidence of Rithmomachia dates back to around 1030, when a monk, named Asilo, created a game that illustrated the number theory of Boëthius' De institutione arithmetica, for the students of monastery schools. The rules of the game were improved shortly thereafter by the respected monk, Hermannus Contractus, from Reichenau, and in the school of Liège. In the following centuries, Rithmomachia spread quickly through schools and monasteries in the southern parts of Germany and France. It was used mainly as a teaching aid, but, gradually, intellectuals started to play it for pleasure. In the 13th century Rithmomachia came to England, where famous mathematician Thomas Bradwardine wrote a text about it. Even Roger Bacon recommended Rithmomachia to his students, while Sir Thomas More let the inhabitants of the fictitious Utopia play it for recreation.

The game was well enough known as to justify printed treatises in Latin, French, Italian, and German, in the sixteenth century, and to have public advertisements of the sale of the board and pieces under the shadow of the old Sorbonne.
Hand-made Rithmomachy set

The game was played on a board resembling the one used for chess or checkers, with eight squares on the shorter side, but with sixteen on the longer side. The forms used for the pieces were triangles, squares, and rounds. Pyramids could be formed by stacking pieces. The game was noteworthy in that the black and white forces were not symmetrical. Although each side had the same array of pieces, the numbers on them differed, allowing different possible captures and winning configurations to the two players.

The rules below describe the most common version of the game, played through much of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. There was also a variant propounded by Fulke in the 16th century, with significantly different (and somewhat more consistent) capture rules.[2]

There are four types of pieces, which are Rounds, Triangles, Squares, and Pyramids.

    Rounds: Rounds move one square in any of the four diagonals.
    Triangles: Triangles can move exactly two squares vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally.
    Squares: Squares can move exactly three squares vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally.
    Pyramids: Pyramids are not actually one piece, but more than one piece put together. The White Pyramid is made of a "36" Square, a "25" Square, a "16" Triangle, a "9" Triangle, a "4" Round, and a "1" Round, which totals up to the Pyramid's value of 91. The Black Pyramid is made up of a "64" Square, a "49" Square, a "36" Triangle, a "25" Triangle, and a "16" Round, which adds up to the Pyramid's value of 190. These irregular values make it hard for them to be captured by most of the capturing methods listed below, except for Siege. Pyramids can move like a Round, a Triangle, or a Square, as long as they still contain the respective piece, which makes them very valuable.


There were a variety of capture methods. Pieces do not land on another piece to capture it, but instead remain in their square and remove the other. If a piece is captured, it changes sides.[3]

    Meeting: If a piece could capture another piece with the same value by landing on it, the piece stays in its location and the opponent's piece is taken from the board.
    Assault: If a piece with a small value, multiplied by the number of vacant spaces between it and another larger piece is equal to the larger piece, the larger piece is captured.
    Ambuscade: If two pieces' sum is equal to an enemy piece that is placed between the two (i.e. the enemy piece is within a move of both attacking pieces), the enemy piece is captured and removed from the board.
    Siege: If a piece is surrounded on all four sides, it is removed.


There were also a variety of victory conditions for determining when a game would end and who the winner was. There were common victories, and proper victories, which were recommended for more skilled players. Proper victories required placing pieces in linear arrangements in the opponent's side of the board, with the numbers formed by the arrangement following various types of numerical progression. The types of progression required — arithmetic, geometric and harmonic — suggest a connection with the mathematical work of Boëthius.

    Common Victories:
        De Corpore (Latin: "by body"): If a player captures a certain number of pieces set by both players, he wins the game.
        De Bonis ("by goods"): If a player captures enough pieces to add up to or exceed a certain value that is set by both players, he wins the game.
        De Lite ("by lawsuit"): If a player captures enough pieces to add up to or exceed a certain value that is set by both players, and the number of digits in his captured pieces' values are less than a number set by both players, he wins the game.
        De Honore ("by honour"): If a player captures enough pieces to add up to or exceed a certain value that is set by both players, and the number of pieces he captured are less than a certain number set by both players, he wins the game.
        De Honore Liteque ("by honour and lawsuit"): If a player captures enough pieces to add up to or exceed a certain value that is set by both players, the number of digits in his captured pieces' values are less than a number set by both players, and the number of pieces he captured are less than a certain number set by both players, he wins the game.
    Proper Victories:
        Victoria Magna ("great victory"): This occurs when three pieces that are arranged are in an arithmetic progression.
        Victoria Major ("greater victory"): This occurs when four pieces that are arranged have three pieces that are in a certain progression, and another three pieces that are in another type of progression.
        Victoria Excellentissima ("most excellent victory"): This occurs when four pieces that are arranged have all three types of mathematical progressions in three different groups.


From the seventeenth century onwards the game, which at its peak rivaled chess for popularity in Europe, virtually disappeared until the late 19th and early 20th century when rediscovered by historians.


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