The problematic term “Viking chess”


Interesting

wilhelmszabel

A number of games have been termed “Viking chess” by other writers, though I generally avoid the term altogether because it is both ambiguous and inaccurate. Both hnefatafl and kubb have been called “Viking chess”, as well as at least one actual chess variant.

The problem with calling hnefatafl “Viking chess” is that while hnefatafl and chess are both board games, their invention and development were totally independent of each other, their physical form bears very little similarity, and the fundamental strategies of two games are based on two very different ways of thinking.

The problem with calling any actual chess variant “Viking chess” is that it is inherently anachronistic. Chess was introduced to Scandinavia by the returning crusaders after the Norwegian Crusade. The Norwegian Crusade, at the dawn of the 12th century, came on the heels of the end of the Viking Age in the 11th century. Viking Age scandinavians played…

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