Fitchneal

An Irish Game

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Fitchneal is an Irish game of the Middle Ages. It is descended from the Norse game Hnefetafl, differing in a few minor details and perhaps in board size.

The object of the game is to capture the defender's king, or to get the king to escape by reaching a board edge. The defender has six men and a king; the attacker has twelve men.

All pieces move in a straight line along a row or column (no diagonals, much as a rook moves in chess). The light square in the center is called the "king's square", and only the king may land on it or move over it. Pieces may not be jumped. Ordinary pieces (but not the king) are captured by being bracketed (called custodial capture) by two enemy pieces across from each other. The king's square can also be used (in place of a piece) to capture an attacker or the king, although the king may not be used to capture. A piece may safely move between two enemy pieces, though; only the moving player may capture.

The king may be captured by being surrounded on all four sides by enemy pieces or the king's square.

The attacker moves first.