A mystery strategy game comes back from the grave.
“And on a seat opposite to him, he beheld two auburn-haired youths playing at chess. He saw a silver board for the chess, and golden pieces thereon.”
“And beside a pillar in the hall, he saw a hoary-headed man, in a chair of ivory, with the figures of two eagles of ruddy gold thereon. Bracelets of gold were upon his arms, and many rings were on his hands, and a golden torque about his neck; and his hair was bound with a golden diadem. He was of powerful aspect. A chess-board of gold was before him, and a rod of gold, and a steel file in his hand. And he was carving out chess-men.”
The Dream of Macsen is an ancient symbolic Welsh tale of a dream of Magnus Maximus, who marched on Rome with the British armies in a semi successful attempt to become Roman Emperor in 383 CE, apparently a popular past time for aspiring leaders from Britain.
The chess game is in Welsh called Gwyddbwyll, and in Irish called Fidchell. The game features in many ancient Celtic tales as a game of destiny, a game that through the playing the hero wins a wife, kingdoms or other significant prize. The game was so popular amongst Celtic nobility, nobody bothered to tell the world how it was played, so there are no rules written down. Contrary to what some may think, though the translations call it chess, it is no chess game.
I have managed to discover the rules, an interesting story that I shall write about in a future blog.