Hnefatafl - tactics and strategy

more complex barricades

Article text
Now we will see some more complex barricades, more complex because white has had a chance to infiltrate a warrior into a position near the corner

It may not look like it at first, but black has got all these corners secure, even though white has managed to gain a foot-hold in each corner.

The reason is that the white king cannot jump over his own warrior, so that warrior must move out of the way, before the king can reach the corner.

As soon as the white warrior moves out of the way, black can easily close up the gap behind it, sealing the corner off securely.

This is a very good example of a fundamental principle of black hnefatafl strategy: use the fact that the white warriors get in the king’s way ! You’ll find sometimes that the only thing stopping the king from winning the game is that one of his own warriors is between him and the corner – even if you can capture that warrior, it might be better to leave him there, or even block him in so that he can’t move out of the way.

Incidentally, if possible try out these positions on a real hnefatafl board, and reassure yourself that white really can’t get past them. There’s no substitute for trying things out on a real board.