Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Games Galore

By THL Raffe Scholemaystre

Many games developed throughout period to entertain the gentles of the this time. Many of these games have been passed down to us nearly unchanged exfept for the name, while others have kept the name but have changed greatly over time.

Only some of the games that were played in period have been played throughout history. Games like Mancala, Marienbad (or Nim), the Morris variations and Tables (now generally called Backgammon) have existed in one form or another back to ancient Egypt and Mesoptamia and some back to pre-history. Dice have been found dating back to at least 900 BCE. Mancala and Morris and Marienbad seem to have been common in many cultures around the world.

Other games were developed in one area and spread elsewhere. The classic example is that of Chess. It was developed probably in India and was common in the Arabic world by the time of the Crusades under the name Shatranj. It was introduced into Europe and developed slowly into Renaissance Chess fairly similar to modern Chess.

Tables or Backgammon was popular in Roman times, faded and then was reintroduced again through Islamic culture. Backgammon started with many variations and eventually Nard would become the version most play today.

The development of the playing card, around 1371, changed games forever. Dice became less important as cards gained popularity, One of the earliest card games, Thirty-One, was an adaptation of a dice game of the same name. Many late Medieval card games survive today, but under new names. Vieux Garcon became Old Maid, Andare a Piscere is Go Fish, and Noddy is a precursor to Cribbage, which was developed in the 1630’s.

However the games of Bridge, Poker, Rummy, Solitaire, Black Jack, Euchre, Dominoes and Chinese Checkers were developed after 1700 and many late in the 19th Century. While some games like Parcheesi did not reach Europe until the late 17th Century.

In the accompanying chart, I have attempted to layout what games were developed or introduced into what region and when. If a game was played in an earlier period, one can generally assume that the game was known later.       Since many rules varied by gepgraphy and over time, it is very important that the players opf a game agree on the rules you will be using before you begin play. For the exact rules for the games noted here please consult the texts listed below.

Smith, P.J., “Period Pastimes”, The Complete Anachronist #71, SCA Inc, Jan 1994

Schovanek, J., ed. “Indoor Games”, The Complete Anachronist #2, SCA Inc., Jan. 1983

Salamallah, Medieval Games, Raymond’s Quiet Press, Albuerque, NM, 1982.

Bell, R.C., Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations (Revised Edition), Dover Publications Inc., 1979

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