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Shetland Islands Host first World Hnefatafl Championship

Ancient Viking board game revived
Saturday, 16 August 2008 11:08 UK

Enthusiasts in the Shetland Islands are staging the first world championship of an ancient Viking board game.

Hnefatafl was popular in northern Europe for hundreds of years until it was eclipsed by the rise of chess.

The game simulates a Viking raid, with the king and his defenders trying to escape a larger force.

The contest between a dozen players, on the island of Fetlar, will be played on wooden boards with 121 squares and the king starting in the middle.

Hnefatafl is a game with a pedigree stretching back 1,000 years.

Warlike contest

It was taken to Shetland by the Vikings and there were references to Welsh and Irish versions in the Norse adventure stories known as sagas.

The game was popular because - like chess - it was a warlike contest.

There will be no medals in the competition on Fetlar but the winner will receive a board, a set and the title Hnefatafl Grand Master.

The games will be followed from as far afield as Texas and New York, where new players have been learning online.

Source: BBC News