Game of the Month: Tablero de Jesus

by Dagonell the Juggler

UPDATE: This was one of the first games articles I ever wrote. I took my documentation primarily from Medieval Games by Salamaah the Corpulent. It has since been proven that the provinence of this game is a hoax. It was created in the 1970's. The Suspicion   The Proof

The Original Article
Tablero de Jesus (pronounced 'Hay-sue') is a 15th century Spanish gambling game. Players use their own money as playing pieces and play until they can no longer afford it. Friendlier games use thirty wooden markers and distribute them equally between the two players.

The board is seven rows by seven columns, similar to a chess board, but with one fewer row and column. The board is completely undifferentiated, but may be decorated as lavishly as the owner wishes. Two standard dice are used.

Players roll the die to determine who goes first. High roller places one coin in each of the two right-most columns in his home row. Low roller places one coin in each of the remaining columns in his own home row and goes first. The object of the game is to form rows of coins in the center of the board in order to remove them.

On his turn, each player throws the dice and moves any two coins either forward or backward in their own columns the number of spaces indicated by the dice. Each die must control a separate coin. If, for example, the dice were to come up 6 & 3, you couldn't move one coin five spaces and the other four, nor could you move one coin six spaces forward and three back.

When a player succeeds in getting two or more coins in adjacent columns on the same row, other than either home row, he may either remove them from the board and end his turn, or continue to throw the dice hoping to make the row longer and capture more coins. VARIATION: If a player succeeds in lining up all seven coins, he not only collects those coins, but an eighth coin from his opponent as well.

If a player throws 7, 11 or 12, he must immediately surrender the dice to his opponent without removing any coins from the board. Mathematically, the probability of this occurring is exactly 1 chance in 4. If a player throws a roll which cannot be made, for example, a six with no coins on either home row, he must also surrender the dice. I have also seen the game played where a player must surrender the dice if he fails to make a row of at least two coins. This is NOT correct and makes the game more difficult with smaller winnings.

When a player removes coins from the board, his turn ends and he hands the dice to his opponent. His opponent must fill the empty columns by placing his own coins in those columns in his own home row. If a player is forced to surrender the dice when there is a row of coins on the board, his opponent may take the coins and return the dice without ever making a throw. When a player no longer has enough coins to fill empty columns, he has lost the game.

ADULT VARIATION: In An Tir, they play a drinker's version of this game called Tablero de Gucci. The game is played with seven shot glasses and a can of beer per player instead of coins. The highest ranking female present rolls the dice to determine "The Queen's Number", a custom that began when the Queen of An Tir claimed a number for her own use. The game is played as normally, but instead of removing the shot glass from the board, you drink it dry and place the empty glass on your opponent's home row for him to refill from his can of beer.

When the Queen's number comes up, the roller may take any shotglass on the board, drink it and place it on his opponent's home row before taking his turn. Skilled players will choose this glass strategically. When all seven shotglasses have been lined up, spectators cry "SET 'EM UP AND KNOCK 'EM DOWN!" as the player collects his winnings. When a player can no longer refill a shotglass because his can of beer is empty, he has lost. Children in An Tir have been seen playing this game with bottles of pop or packages of M&M's. WARNING: DO NOT play this game with anything stronger than beer or wine cooler. A skilled player can down at least two shots per turn and come down with alcohol poisoning by the end of the game.