Astronomical Tables, or Seven Player Backgammon

about the game
This game can be found in Libros del axedrez, dados et tablas, a gaming book commissioned by Alfonso X of Spain in 1283. Although the illumination of the game does not show, the description notes that each segment and accompanying pieces is colored different, each representing a known planet.
Play has been described as being little like modern backgammon, and is considered a gambling game.

about my board
I was prepping knuckle bones with my friend Kyohara, and conversation naturally navigated around gaming. He had described playing Astronomical Tables, but felt that the pieces were too small to make for ease of game play.
This got me a thinkin’.
In the mundane, we have games as quick and easy as a swipe of an icon, and I have found, including myself, that a historic game will lose player interest if its components disrupt play. I was determined to make as playable a board as possible, without taking away from a historic experience.

I picked up a yard of canvas from the craft store, along with some fine-tip fabric paint. I centered and painted a heptagon that covered most of the space, thinking of a folding card table for play, or perhaps the floor as pictured in Alfonso’s book. Anticipating outdoor play, I sewed the edges over, and turned them into simple pockets for weights.
I chose fabric paint for its texture, to enhance the scalloped counter slots while avoiding painting the body of the board, making it smooth for the counters.

I have not produced pieces yet- the ones you see in the image were provided by the Pennsic games tent. They have also covered it in plastic, and clamped it to the table for protection.
Play is reported to be smooth. I am happy.

Astronomical Tables/Seven Player Backgammon

Astronomical Tables/Seven Player Backgammon


Further embellishment. My toes are in shot for scale.

Further embellishment…

Fall 2014 I was commissioned to produce another. Having played on the prototype, it was agreed that the size and media made for smooth game play, as was my objective. I will therefore use the same materials, and perhaps be able to come up with a price estimate for further commissions.


One thought on “Astronomical Tables, or Seven Player Backgammon

  1. Pingback: Award of the Dragon’s Heart/Seven Player Backgammon | Lady Heather Hall

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