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In other Roman languages, this word was used to name Chess but under the hand of Alfonso X, King of Castile in the 13th century, it meant another game.

It was an astrological game which only has a remote connection with Chess.

Seven players were competing around a round board moving astral bodies with a special 7-sided dice.

Click to enlarge

folio 96v

DESCRIPTION:

The board was circular with 7 concentric circles divided into 12 sectors.

Each player had 1 piece. The 7 pieces were, from center to periphery: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

The 12 sectors represented the zodiac houses. Every sector was divided into a number of square, from 1 for Moon to 7 for Saturn.

The players were moving their piece according to the result of the throw of a special 7-sided die. They were winning or losing stakes depending on the formed arrangement on the board between their piece and the other players' pieces (conjunction, opposition, quarter, etc.)

This game was probably similar to al-falakîya, Celestial Chess, described by al- Mas‘ûdî (circa 950). As for other games in Alfonso's codex, the Muslim influence is strongly evidenced.

 

ASSOCIATED TABLES:

Often in this Libro de los juegos, a Table game was associated to a Chess game, through the die both were employing. In this case, Escaques is associated with a 7-handed Tables, a kind of Backgammon for 7 players on an heptagonal board divided into 7 sectors.

Clcik to enlarge

folio 97v

ORIGINAL TEXT in OLD SPANISH :

 

Este es Tablero de los escaque se de las tablas; que sse iuega por Astronomia.

Mostradas todas las tres maneras de Juegos que son dichasen los Libros ante deste; tanbien en el iogar de los Escaques; como de los dados e de las tablas. E departidos todos los departimientos que en ellos ha; e de como se pueden iogar; segund las mas apuestas maneras que los omnes y fallaron; por entendimiento e por uso.

Con uiene agora que se muestre otra natura de iuego muy noble & muy estranno e muy apuesto. E de grand entendimiento; pora los entendudos. E mayor mientre pora aquellos que saben la Arte de Astronomia.

Et este iuego nueuo es fecho segundo los siete cielos en que estan las Siete planetas. Et ell ochauo enque estan los doze Signos e las otras estrellas fixas. Et mostrando de cada uno como andan sus andamiento se como se catan echando los Rayos unos a otros; los unos de catamiento damor; los otros de mal querencia. Et esto segund los sabios partieron el cielo en doze quartos. E demuestran por cada uno dellos segun tel mouimiento delas planetas; quales el catamiento de amor o de desamor.

Delos Sextiles. Et estos catamientos son Siete. los dos que llaman de sextil;que son damor; que se cuentan desse mismo Signo al tercero. assi como si contassen. de Aries a Gemini que es su tercero delante. o dell Aquario que es su tercero detras.

Delos Trinos. Et otros si los Trinos son dos; assi como de Aries a Leo que es delante. o del a Sagitario que es detras.

Delas quadraduras e dela posicion. Otros si son dos quadraduras quese muestran de malquerencia. assi como de Aries a Cancro o del a Capricornio;

Et ha y oppositionem que se ffaz desse mismo signo al otro que es contra ell. assi como de Aries a Libra o de Cancro a Capricornio.

Dela coniuncion corporal. Et sin esso ha y coniunction corporal que es aiuntamiento de dos planetas en un signo. e auegadas muestra amor & auegadas des amor. Et este es mas fuerte que ningun catamiento o en bien o en mal. Et segunda questo que agora aqui dixiemos;es este iuego establecido.

De la figura del Tablero & de como deue seer fecho. Este Tablero ha de seer de Siete lados de fuera por que han y de iogar siete jogadores cada uno con su planeta. Et han de tener doze(doze) tantos de qual precio se abinieren. Et ha en ell ocho cercos de dentro redondos; segund son los ocho cielos. Et el cerco ochauo ha de seer llano. & las figuras de los doze signos puestas en ell como deuen seer. que son estas.

Aries.
Tauro.
Gemini.
Cancer.
Leo.
Virgo.
Libra.
Scorpio.
Sagitario.
Capricornio.
Aquario.
Picis.

Et es partido en doze partes segunt. estos doze signos.

Et del comienco de cada Signo sale una linna & taia los otros siete cercos; & llega fata el cerco dell helemento del fuego.

Et los otros siete cercos son segund los siete cielos; en que estan las siete planetas. & son un poco cauados. &esta en cada uno dellos una tabla quadrada que anda enderredor.

Et enestas tablas ha logares o ponen las figuras de las siete planetas quando quieren iogar. & caduna destas tablas ha de seer dela color dela planeta que han de poner en ella.

Etotrossi ha y quatro cercos redondos que son segundo los quatro helementos; que son de dentro destos ocho.
El primero es uermeio que es por ell helemento del fuego.
El segundo es cardeno claro por ell helemento dell ayre.
El tercero es blanco; por ell elemento dell agua.
Elquarto es redondo a manera de pella & de color parda que es por ell helemento dela tierra.

Del departimiento delos siete cercos;& de quantas casas ha en ellos. Estos siete cercos sobre dichos;
El primero es partido; en ochenta & quatro casas.
El segundo. es partido; en setaenta & dos casas
El tercero es partido en sessaenta casas.
El quarto es partido en quarenta & ocho casas.
El quinto es partido en treynta & seys casas.
El sexto es partido en ueynt & quatro casas.
El septimo es partido en doze casas.

Et como quiere que los Siete cielos son departidos en mas partes; & non podrien aqui caber en este tablero que fuessen apuestos; tomamos destos departimientos segunta quella cuenta lo mas breue que conuiene a este juego.

De las figuras que los sabios antigos pusieron las siete planetas & de que colores son.

De la figura de Saturno. Saturno es el primero que estamas alto de todos & fizieron le a figura de omne uieio & magro queanda coruo & desnudo todo si no pannos menores & enbuelto en una manta negra sobre la cabeca & que es tristede cara & tiene la mano ala mexiella como omne cuydadoso.

De la figura de Jupiter. Ivpiter que esta cerca ell; ha semeianca domne de mediana edat. & de cara alegre & uestido de pannos uerdes & que tiene en la cabeca coffia ultra marina & tiene un libro antessi.

De la figura de Mars. Mars ha semeianca de omne mancebo. & uestido de armaduras antiguas de grecia todas uermeias & tiene en la mano derecha una espada sacada dela uayna. & en la otrauna cabeca domne colgada por los cabellos fresca mientre descabecada.

De la figura del Sol. El sol ha semeianca de Rey mancebo que tiene corona doro en la cabeca. & uiste pannos doro reluzientes. & tiene en la mano siniestra una macana redonda. & en la otra (un ramo) un Ramo con flores assi como los Emperadores quando los coronan.

De la figura de Venus. Uenus ha figura de mugier manceba muy fremosa & los cabellos muy ruuios luengos por las espaldas & tiene en la cabeca guerlanda de Rosas & uestida de pannos de violet. &tiene en la mano derecha un penne & en la otra un espeio en que se cata.

De la figura de Mercurio. Mercurio ha semeianca domne mancebo uestido de pannos de. muchas colores. & que esta escriuiendo en un Libro.

De la figura dela Luna. La Luna ha semeianca de mugier manceba; uestida de pannos blancos. & tiene con amas la manos sobre su cabeca una figura deLuna.

De como se deuen entablar estas siete Planetas en el Tablero quando quieren comencar a iogar con ellas. En el primer cerco que esta mascerca del cerco delos Signos; ha de estar la planeta que llaman Saturno.
En el segundo hade estar la planeta que llaman Jupiter.
En el tercero ha de estar la (p)planeta que llaman mars.
En el quarto ha de estar la planeta. que llaman Sol.
En el quinto ha de estar la planeta que llaman Venus.
En el sexto ha de estar la planeta que llaman mercurio.
En el seteno ha de estar la planeta; que llaman Luna.

Et assi se han de entablar en sus casas. Et por que las mas del las han dos (dos) casas sennaladas en sus Signos;ponemos la en aquella que estamas apoderada assi como.

Saturno en Aquario.
Et Jupiter; en Sagitario.
Et Mars en Scorpio.
E el Sol en Leo.
Et Venus en Tauro.
Et Mercurio en Virgo.
Et la Luna en Cancro.

De como este iuego de los escaques se ha de iogar con un dado & no con mas. Este juego se deue iogar desta manera. que cada uno de los iogadores que lancen su suerte con un dado en que ha siete sobre ffazes & ha en el puntos; duno fasta siete.por que sepa cada uno con qual planeta .ha de iogar.
El que ouiere por suerte los siete que son los mas puntos; aura Saturno.
Et el que ouiere los seys; aura Jupiter.
Et el que ouiere los cinco; aura Mars.
Et el que ouiere los quatro; aura el Sol.
Et el que ouiere los tres puntos; aura Venus.
Etel que ouiere los dos; aura mercurio.
Et el que ouiere ell uno. haura la luna.

Et otrossi lancan batalla. & el que la uenciere aura la mano. & lanca el dado & quantos puntos le muestra; tantas casas ha de andar con su planeta. Et si non andudiere tantas casas por que non salga del signo en que esta ; nin gana nin pierde. mas si entrare en ell otro Signo; pierde o gana segun tel catamiento que ouiere con las otras planetas.

Et si esta planeta entrare en el sextil de la otra; gana del la dos de doze. & si entrare enso trino; gana tres de doze. Et si entrare en su quadradura; pierde tresde doze. Et si entrare en su opposicion; pierde seys de doze. Et si entrare en su coniuncion; ha de pechar doze.

Et desta guisa se ha de iogar este iuego.

Et esta es la figura del tablero; &de las Siete planetas de como estan entabladas en el.

LIBRO DELAS TABLAS.

Este es el Tablero de las tablas segund la natura de los Escaques; quese iuega por Astronomia.

El Tablero de lasTablas ha de seer de siete lados; assi como elTablero de los Escaques.tan bien de dentro como de fuera. & de la parte del lado que es de dentro; ha de auer siete casas.

Et esto deue seer en cada uno delos otros lados. & entre ell un(o) lado. & ell otro; ha de auer un departimiento que de parte amos los lados.

Et da quel departimiento ha de auer una Linna luenga que llegue fata en medio del punto del tablero.

Et cada unas de las tablas destos lados; han de seer de la color de las plantas. Et las tablas han de seer tantas como son las casas.

Et sobre cada un lado a de seer; figura da la planeta a que pertenece; aquella do pintada & colorada da quella color quel conuiene.
Saturno de negro.
Iupiter de uerde.
Mars de uermeio.
El Sol de Amariello.
Venus de uiolet.
Mercurio de muchas colores diuersas.
La luna blanca.

Et por end aquestas tablas que pertenecen a aquella planeta; anas seer de su color.

Et ell entablamiento ha de seer desta guisa. que todas las siete tablas sean entabladas en la primera casa de las setenas que esta aman siniestra. &han siempre de iogar a la mano diestra; segunt los puntos que mostraren .los dados de las siete llanas que de suso dixiemos. Et non cuenta y la casa en que estan entabladas ni la otra casa que esta a su mano diestra; que es entablamiento de las otras siete tablas. si no si fincasse y una tabla sennera que la puede tomar la casa uazia que puede y fincar; segunt le dixiere la Astronomia

Et el iogar es desta guisa. que cada uno de los jogadores; tenga siete tantos. de qual precio se auinieren demorauedi; o de qual moneda quisieren. & si tomare tabla dell otro; no la ha de tornar. & deue tomar dell un(c) [t]anto; por ella & por quantas tomare. & assi andan todos en derredor; fasta que finca todo el iuego en uno de los que iogaren. ca aquel finca por uencedor.

Et esta es la figura del Tablero; & delas tablas.

 

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ORIGINAL TEXT :

I add here the translation made by Sonja Musser. I acknowledge the very high quality of her work.

Sonja Musser's additional notes are put between brackets.

This is the board of the checkers that are played by astrology

Having shown all the three kinds of games that are explained in the books before this one, as well as in the play of chess, like that of dice and that of tables and explained all their differences and how they can be played according to the most beautiful ways men found in them, for understanding and use, it is fitting that another nature of game now be shown that is very noble, strange, beautiful, and of great understanding, for learned men and primarily for those who know the art of astrology.

And this new game is fashioned according to the seven heavens in which there are seven planets. And the eighth, in which are the twelve signs [That is, of the zodiac] and the other fixed stars. And showing for each one how it moves its movements and how they regard each other sending rays to one another, some with favorable aspects, others with unfavorable. And this is according to the wise men who divided the heavens into twelve quadrants and show for each of them according to the movements of the planets which is their aspect, favorable or unfavorable.

On Sextiles

And these aspects are seven, two are called sextile, which are favorable and which are counted from that same sign to the third, as if they were to count from Aries to Gemini which is the third [The manner of counting here is the same used in the “Libro del acedrex” where the beginning sign is counted as the first] ahead of it or from Aquarius which is the third behind.

On Trines

And also there are two trines, as from Aries to Leo, which is ahead, or from it (Aries) to Sagittarius, which is behind.

On Squares and on [op]position

Also there are two squares that are unfavorable as from Aries to Cancer or from it (Aries) to Capricorn. And there is opposition that is made from this same sign to the other which is opposite it as with from Aries to Libra or from Cancer to Capricorn.

On corporal conjunction

And besides that there is corporal conjunction, which is the coming together of two planets in one sign. And sometimes it is favorable and sometimes unfavorable. And this is stronger than any other favorable or unfavorable aspect. And after this which we have told is this game fashioned.

On the shape of the board and how it is to be made

This board is to be of seven sides around the outside because seven players are to play there, each one with his planet. And they are to have twelve amounts of whatever wager they might agree upon. And it has in it eight concentric circles, after the eight heavens. The eighth circle is to be flat and the figures of the twelve signs put in it as they should be, which are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. And it is divided into twelve section af- [fol. 95v] ter these twelve signs. And from out of the edge of the each sign comes a line and it cuts through the other seven circles, which the seven planets go and they are slightly scooped out and in each one them is a square piece [Notably tabla and not trebeio, iuego or pieza as in other chess variants] which moves around.

And on these pieces there are places where they put the figures of the seven planets when they want to play and each one of these pieces is to be of the color of the planet that is to be put on it.

And also there are to be four circles that are after the four elements, which are inside these eight. The first is red for the element of fire. The second is purple for the element of air. The third is white, for the element of water. The fourth is round like a ball and of brown that is for the element of earth.

On the division of the seven circles and how many spaces there are in them

These aforementioned seven circles, the first is divided into eighty-four spaces, the second is divided into seventy-two spaces, the third is divided into sixty spaces, the fourth is divided into forty-eight spaces, the fifth is divided into thirty-six spaces, the sixth is divided into twenty-four spaces, the seventh is divided into twelve spaces. And even though the seven heavens are divided into more areas and they could not fit beautifully onto this board, we took from these divisions according to the smallest total that suits this game.

On the figure of Saturn

Saturn is first because he is the highest of all and they made him look like an old, thin man who walks bent over. He is naked expect for underwear and a black cloak wrapped about his head. He is sad of face and he has his hand to his cheek like a troubled man.

On the figure of Jupiter

Jupiter, which is near him, looks like a middle-aged man. He has a happy face and is dressed in green clothes. He has an ultramarine blue hood and holds a book before him.

On the figure of Mars

Mars looks like a young man dressed in the armor of ancient Greece, all red. He holds in his right hand a sword, drawn from its scabbard, and in the other the head of a man, hanging by its hair, freshly beheaded.

On the figure of the Sun

The Sun looks like a young king with a crown of gold on his head. He wears clothes of shining gold. He holds in his left hand a round apple and in the other a bough with flowers like the Emperors when they crown them.

On the figure of Venus

Venus has the figure of a young woman. She is very beautiful with very blond, long hair handing down her back. She has on her head a garland of roses and wears purple clothes. She holds a comb in her right hand and in the other a mirror in which is admires herself.

On the figure of Mercury

Mercury looks like a young man dressed in many-colored clothes and he is writing in a book.

On the figure of the Moon

The Moon has the figure of a young woman, dressed in white clothes. She holds with both hands over her head the figure of the moon.

On how these seven planets should be placed on the board when they want to begin to play with them

In the first circle that is closest to the circle of the zodiac signs is to be the planet they call Saturn. In the second is to be the planet they call Jupiter. In the third is to be the planet they call Mars. In the fourth is to be the planet they call the Sun. In the fifth is to be the planet they call Venus. In the sixth is to be the planet they call Mercury. In the seventh is to be the planet they call the Moon.

And in this way they are to be placed in their spaces. And because most of them have two houses indicated in their signs, we place it in that one which is more powerful as with Saturn in Aquarius, Jupiter in Sagittarius, Mars in Scorpio, the Sun in Leo, Venus in Taurus, Mercury in Virgo, and the Moon in Cancer.

On how this game of checkers is to be played with one die and with no more

This game should be played in this manner: that each one of the players that they roll their luck with a 7-sided die with one to seven pips on it, so that each player knows with which planet he is to play.

And he who should have as his roll seven which is the highest number of pips, will have Saturn. And he who should have six, will have Jupiter. And he who should have five, will have Mars. And he who should have four will have the Sun. And he who should have three pips, will have Venus. And he who should have two, will have Mercury. And he who should have the one, will have the Moon.

And also they roll battle and he who wins the battle will play first. And he rolls the die and for as many pips as it shows he is to move his planet that many spaces. And if he does not move enough spaces to leave the sign he is in, he neither wins nor loses, but if he enters another sign he loses or wins according to the aspect he has with the other planets. And if this planet enters in the sextile of the other, he wins from it two of twelve. And if he enters in its trine, he wins three of twelve. And if he enters into its square, he loses three of twelve. And if he enters into its opposition, he loses six of twelve. And if he enters into a conjunction, he is to put up of twelve (of twelve). And in this way this game is to be played.

And this is the diagram of the board and of the seven planets as they are placed on it.

This is the board for tables, after the (same) nature of the checkers, which is played by astrology.

The board for these tables is to have seven sides, like the board for the checkers, both inside and out. And on the inner division it is to have seven spaces. And this should be on each one of the other divisions. And in between the one division and the other there is to be a divider that marks both sides. And from that divider there is to be a long line that goes to the middle of the board.

And each ones of the pieces of these sides, are to be of the color of the planets. And the pieces are to be as many as the spaces. And over each side there is to be drawn the likeness of the planet to which it belongs, that side painted and colored of that color which suits. Saturn in black, Jupiter in green, Mars in red, the Sun in yellow, Venus in purple, Mercury in many different colors, the Moon white. And because the pieces belong to that planet, they are to be of its color.

And the arrangement is to be in this manner: that all seven pieces be placed in the first and leftmost of the seven spaces and they are always to move to the right, according to the numbers that the seven-sided die show, as we said above. And neither is counted the space they occupy nor the space to their right which is the beginning space for the other seven pieces, unless there remains one lone piece which can be captured, leaving the space empty or occupying it according to astrology. [Ms.: Astronomia; HSMS: “??”. This word is now within seam repairing a tear to the folio. In the original it is discernible between the stitches; in the facsimile it cannot be read. Steiger as well as Crombach and Canettieri who follow him all give a mostly logical but incorrect reading of “suerte]

And play is in this way: that each one of the players has seven amounts of whatever wager they agree upon of maravedí or whatever coin they like. And if one captures the piece of another, he is not to return it and he should take one amount from him for it and for as many as he captures. And so on around until the whole game belongs to one of those that play it, because that one who remains is the winner.

And this is the diagram of the board and of the pieces.


 

 References:

26/12/2013