Nefatavl rules


The initial setup is as shown on the front page. White, the attackers, start the game. After that, the two players take turns moving one of their stones.

All stones move as the rook in chess, that is vertically or horizontally to a free square, without jumping over blocking stones on the way. The ordinary stones are prohibited from standing on the 5 brown squares, but they are free to pass the center square. The black king, having the ornament, is alone allowed on the brown squares, and starts on the center square.

Both attackers and defenders can hit the opponent's stones, when they move to occupy the squares on each side of the enemy stone, horizontally or vertically. The stone that is killed is removed from the game board. Examples:


You can also kill an enemy stone by using a brown square in the role of one of the two killing stones. Examples:


However, an attacker can not kill a defender with the assistance of the center square if the king stands there.

If a stone voluntarily moves in between two enemies, it is not killed, and you cannot kill stones by squeezing them up against the edge. So, in the following examples, no stones are killed:


The black king can be killed in the same manner, but if he stands on the center square, it is required to occupy all four neighboring squares, and if he stands on one of the neighbouring squares, it is required to occupy the remaining three squares around him to kill him:


The attackers, white, win by killing the black king, the defenders, black, win by escaping to one of the four corner squares with the king. If one side along the way has no legal moves, that side looses the game (same as stalemate in chess, only in chess the game is then a draw).

To handle the problem with endless games, it is necessary to introduce rules to end games that do not progress. I don't want to introduce a draw as in chess, so the trick is to find a way to force the game to progress or to punish the player stalling the game. Here are some of my own suggestions:

Instead of 50 moves, a lower number could be chosen. During normal play, these extra rules are irrelevant, since a game usually progresses reasonably. These rules can also be complemented with other special rules, like rules forcing the players to kill when possible, rules expanding the possibilities to kill stones to make purely defensive play more difficult, or other action type rules, designed to make the game progress and not stall. If you have any ideas of your own, send an e-mail to me. I have been thinking about a lot of different ideas and rejected a lot of them again, but perhaps you have the idea for exactly that rule that will balance the game.

(Thanks to the periodical Skalk who has published a set of rules in various languages, (C)opyright Skalk, which can be obtained at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, or through buying a nefatavl game from Skalk, pages in danish.)

Last revised: 2020-05-22