Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Red and black, it's their colour scheme

The kings and queens of Scandiwegia have always enjoyed Tafl in all its variants. Christina of Sweden famously insisted on rousing her advisor Descartes out of bed every morning well before sparrowfart so she could play three rounds against him before a hearty breakfast of porridge and prunes. His only consolation was that the rest of the court were out of bed as well, zipped into Zorbs to become the playing pieces.

The red team have the large zorbs because there are fewer of them. They win if the Red Queen makes it past all obstructions to the edge of the board and falls off escapes. If Tafl is a war game, it is 4th-generation warfare where the guerillas count themselves as victors if they can run away from a direct confrontation.

The black team are more numerous and have smaller zorbs so most times Descartes' hunchbacked minion Igor* would get roped in to play, along with the midget jester, the cook's kids, two ducks and an otter. They win if they capture the Red Queen (you capture an opposing zorb by sandwiching it between two of your own side, except the Queen who needs to be surrounded completely). To make it fairer (this is a big ask) they're allowed knight moves on the board as well as rook moves. The extra move is partly to accommodate the movements of Spatty the kitchen cat, who turns bolshie when she's shut in a zorb to make up the black team numbers, and cannot be trusted to follow Descartes' commands.

Originally Christina used to play Live Tafl using her household cavalry. She switched to zorbs because her advisor was scared of horses.**

Three games before breakfast was the limit because any more and one zorb or another would inevitably spring a leak. Christina bought them from a second-hand zorb yard. Would you trust someone calling himself "Honest Athanasius Kircher"?

* Pronounced "Eye-gor".
** It was a mistake to put Descartes before the horse.


Rögnvald Kali Kolsson™³²®© said...

You know who was really good at Tafl?

Rögnvald Kali Kolsson™³²®©, that's who.

Rögnvald Kali Kolsson™³²®© said...

In addition, I'm totally excellent at pet counseling.

I'm concerned about your relationship with Mrs. Cat, S.C.

mikey said...

Oh dear. Here we see our friend Herr Smutz commiting that classic rookie sporstcasting blunder by mis-identifying the participants.

As most fans can tell you, back during the Very Big and Quite Noisy Argument of Ought Three, the Red Team was forced to change their name to the Magenta Team and to close down their Tafl Default Swaps retail locations.

Dood. Always make them give you a scorecard, because...Well, you know...

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I thought this would be a spider post!

Smut Clyde said...

"Putting Descartes before the horse" joke is from a Mathematical Games column from the early 1970s. It's not stolen from Martin Gardner, it's a homage.

fish said...

Ah, I see the queen has used the classic Guido Piano opening.

merc said...

I understand everything.

utthi, a wave hello from a ute.

Smut Clyde said...

the Red Team was forced to change their name to the Magenta Team

I figured that most of you are colour-blind and wouldn't notice the difference.

Another Kiwi said...

Three cheers for Smut Clyde who has used the Descartes joke- Martin Gardner

merc said...

Why did no one bring a plate, why?

bedogynb, an unspeakable Ozzie device for, well, enhancement.