Hnefatafl - tactics and strategy

Third Ranks and the “Magic Quadrat”

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This chapter applies equally to both black and white. Look at the starting position and notice which ranks and files are “open” – that is, unoccupied.

It is the third and ninth ranks, and files c and i. These are the third ranks. They are as important to hnefatafl strategy, in a way, as the corners. Many hnefatafl games feature a struggle for control of one or other of these third ranks. The reason for their importance should be clear from the example of the mobile King – namely that if the king gets on to an open third rank, he can do a lot of damage at very little risk to himself.