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Medieval Board Games
TRIC TRAC
- CHESS - MERRILS


Two of the most popular board games during the Middle Ages were chess and tric-trac, which we now call backgammon. Playing boards could be simple but most of those which have survived today show elaborate inlaid panels or painted boards and pieces which were skillfully carved. Merrils or Nine Man's Morris was also played but these do not seem to have been afforded the same level of workmanship with either boards or playing pieces.

Tric Trac
Shown at left is a painted and inlaid tric-trac board with gold gilding and rose-and-lily central design. The board itself is hinged but does not have a designated area for bearing off at the end of the game. Unlike cards, this was a game which could be played by ladies.

Chess
Chess was a game which was also popular with female nobility and women in the upper classes, and pieces were carved out of materials which ranged from simple wood to bone and ivory. Naturally, ivory chess sets were exclusively the domain of the wealthy.

Shown at right is a common bone chess set from the 14th century from Scandinavia. It is housed in the Musée National du Moyen-Âge, in Cluny, France.

The rules for medieval chess were mostly similar to those which we have today, with only a few variations. The pieces moved as follows:

- The king moved as normal.
- The rook moved as normal.
- The knight moved as normal.
- The pawns only traveled one square, even on the first move.
- The bishops moved diagonally only two squares but could jump other pieces.
- The queen moved diagonally only, and one square at a time.
- Stalemate and Checkmate were the same as today.
- Baremate also existed if a king was left with no pieces.

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