Hnefatafl: the Game of the Vikings

Game Notation

An annotated 9x9 hnefatafl board.
An annotated 9x9 hnefatafl board.

I propose here a notation for recording games. It is based heavily on chess notation, and was developed for use in the applet on this site.

As the board has rotational symmetry, those recording a game must decide from what direction they will view the board. Once done, the files are lettered starting with A on the left, not omitting letters I nor O for games that are large enough. Upper or lower case letters may be used at discretion. The ranks are numbered from 1 at the bottom.

A normal non-capturing move is represented as in chess co-ordinate notation, using the hyphen between the origin and destination squares, as in: E5-E8. For brevity, capturing moves may use this notation, but for clarity it is suggested that captures are explicitly stated as follows.

As a capture will occur on a square beside the destination, rather than the destination square as in chess, the captured piece must be identified explicitly. This is done by appending "x" and the square co-ordinates after the move, for instance, E5-E8xF8.

A move in hnefatafl can capture up to three pieces. If two or more pieces are captured in a move, the squares of the captured pieces are separated by a slash "/" character, as in E5-E8xD8/F8/E9.

If a move by the defending side gives the king a path to victory, a "+" may be appended to the move. Similarly, if a move by the attackers threatens the king with capture, a "+" may be added. These are analogous to "check" in chess. Note that the applet on this site does not support this part of the notation.

A winning move, that is, the escape or capture of the king, should have a "++" suffix.

If a player makes a suicidal move that would immediately end the game, this should be suffixed with "--". This may happen in a game between beginners if, neither having noticed that the king has one route to his exit, the attacker then opens up a second route; in this example the king would automatically have won without having to make a further move.

The "--" on its own could be used to signify a resignation.


Hi, this is a question regarding a rule / tactical issue, rather than just about notation, but it is sparked by your comment regarding a suicidal move.  You refer to a condition where  "...the king has one route to his exit, the attacker then opens up a second route;".  Can you please explain what is meant by "route to exit" ?  If this means that on his next go, the King could reach a winning destination (edge or corner), then surely there is little point in declaring the game as won by the King, without the King piece being moved for one last time?  Also, what if the defending player who owns the King still fails to recognise that he/she can make a winning move?  Am I missing something?  Thanks and kind regards, Keith  

Keith - 01:11, 30/12/2018

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