The Libro de los Juegos
, ("Book of games"), or Libro de acedrex, dados e tablas
, ("Book of chess, dice and tables", in Old Spanish) was commissioned by Alfonso X, king of León, Galicia and Castile, during the 13th century and completed in 1283.
[Wollesen, Jens T. "Sub specie ludi...: Text and Images in Alfonso El Sabio's Libro de Acedrex, Dados e Tablas", Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 53:3, 1990. pp. 277-308.]
It consists of 98 pages, many with color illustrations.
[chess (including the earliest known European chess problems), dice, and tables (the family of games that includes backgammon).] [Arab kingdoms.]
It is one of the most important documents for researching the history of board games. The only known original is held in the library of the monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial near Madrid in Spain. The book is bound in sheepskin and is 40 cm high and 28 cm wide (16 in × 11 in).
BackgroundAlfonso was likely influenced by his contact with scholars in the Arab world.
[astrological context.] [Frederick II's text on falconry.]
ChessThe Libro de juegos contains an extensive collection of writings on chess, with over 100 chess problems and variants.
[ajedrex de los quatro tiempos ("chess of the four seasons"). This game is a chess variant for four players, described as representing a conflict between the four elements and the four humors. The chessmen are marked correspondingly in green, red, black, and white, and pieces are moved according to the roll of dice.]
TablesThe book describes the rules for a number of games in the tables family. One notable entry is todas tablas, which has an identical starting position to modern backgammon and follows the same rules for movement and bearoff.
Alfonso also describes a variant played on a board with seven points in each table. Players rolled seven-sided dice to determine the movement of pieces, an example of Alfonso's preference for the number seven.