Hnefatafl - tactics and strategy

guillotine 2

Article text
OK. White has just moved i1 - j1 x. In other words, the executioner has just chopped the head off the warrior on j2.

Notice that black cannot capture the executioner on j1 because he is the only thing stopping the king getting to j1. If black captures the executioner, say, with h1 - i1 x, then the king moves j3 - j1 and is unstoppable. Notice also that black cannot "block in" the executioner, to stop him from moving out of the way of the king, because the only way to stop the executioner moving back to i1 is to put a black piece on i1 first, and that would capture the executioner, clear a path for the king, and lose the game.

So black can't capture the executioner, and can't block it in either. Also, black can't really allow white to advance the king to j2, threatening then to get into k2 and win, or move the executioner back to i1 and then the king is unstoppable. There's only one thing black can do...