Board game risk which color is European

Keyword: Random generator

German summary
In this article I describe a type of gambling that was widespread in Central and Western Europe for several centuries. As far as I know, there is no uniform name for either the gaming device or the game of chance played with it. After an introductory description (1) and a comparison with similar play equipment (2), I am therefore listing a number of terms (3) that have historically been used for the game (equipment), whereby I mainly focus on the German-speaking area. Finally, I list some figures (4) and game boards received (5) to allow a cursory overview.


English abstract
In this article I describe a type of games of chance which was common for several centuries in Middle and Western Europe. As far as I know there is no consistent terminology for either the game nor the tool it employs. After an introductory description and overview of research (1) as well as comparison with similar gaming tools (2) I list a number of words (3) which were or are used for this game or tool (with a focus on German expressions). Finally I list some depictions (4) and surviving boards (5) to allow a cursory overview.

1. Description and research history

Games of chance in which various symbols (e.g. numbers or playing cards) are arranged around a rotating needle have been around since the late 15th century. It is a mechanical random number generator: the pointer is set in rotation. The square he points to when he stops is the result of chance. In gambling, for example, money can be wagered on the results. The individual fields can also specify certain values ​​/ game actions, e.g. "pay 2 (into the bank)" or "take 1".

In our cultural area, circular games of chance with a rotating element are inevitably related to the old idea of ​​the wheel of fortune (Wheel of Fortune) - right up to the modern television game "Wheel of Fortune". This is supposed to be about games of chance, in which a moving pointer is set in rotation over an immovable game board in order to determine a random result.

Some of these game boards with a rotating needle have been described a long time ago, e.g. in exhibition catalogs. However, a detailed discussion about the individual objects did not arise until the 1990s. For the level of knowledge at the beginning of this research phase, the short description from Manfred Zollinger's work on History of gambling stand:

Turntable (Drandl game; pointer game):
A widespread playing instrument documented mainly in rural areas from the 17th to the 19th century. Various combinations of dice or playing cards are drawn on a round board. The profit sector is determined by means of a rotating pointer.

Zollinger, History of Gambling (1997)1

In the meantime, our knowledge has grown. Thierry Depaulis and later Giampaolo Dossena dealt with this type of game, among other things, with regard to the prehistory of roulette.2

Peter Blaas has examined games with a rotary pointer in detail - especially those from the Tyrolean region. In his articles from 2003 and 2019, he compiles sources that provide details on how to play. Most of all, he describes nineteen3 Boards, with particular attention to the playing cards depicted on these boards. Another article with more wires is in preparation.4

At the Board Game Studies Colloquium 2015 in La Tour de Peilz (Switzerland), Fred Horn presented ceramic tiles with a rotary pointer and referred to earlier works. He also published his article in the AGPC Quarterly.5

There is currently no standardized terminology. As a general, descriptive umbrella term I use Game (board) with rotating needle or Pointer roulette and follow the custom of the literature in detail, e.g. for corresponding play equipment from the Tyrolean area the expression (Kirchweih-) Drahndl to use.

2. Comparable random number generators

Games of chance with a pointer: Twister, spin the bottle, wheel of fortune

A disc with a rotating pointer is also used in some other games; for example with the modern classic Twister. A similar random number generator is used in Spin the Bottle; the bottle replaces the pointer here, the possible “results” are the people sitting in a circle. Also related in the broader sense is the wheel of fortune, in which the disc rotates while the pointer occupies a fixed position on the edge.

Games of chance with balls: roulette and roulette variants

Play equipment in which a ball comes to rest after a circular movement in one of several marked fields can also be associated. The best-known variant of such random number generators is certainly the roulette wheel (roulette wheel, the roulette) in the game of roulette, but also roulette variants such as boules, EO6, Optical ball carousel, roulette Opta, etc.7 For roulette games in which a ball rolls until it lands in one of several depressions, I will use the term “ball roulette” in the following. In roulette games, it is common to have an area with fields (the tableau) on which the stakes are placed, separate from the rotating bowl.

Another type is called Spinning top roulette, Tyrolean roulette or Farmer's Roulette denotes: A top is made to rotate in a flat bowl; Due to the edges in the lower area, balls rolling towards the top are pushed towards the edge of the bowl, where they can land in depressions marked with numbers. While the expression “round roulette” can convey the salient features of the play equipment well, “pawn roulette” is ambiguous in a highly unsatisfactory way, because it also means the optical ball carousel8 as well as boards with rotary pointer9 can be designated. It's a fuzzy term that I don't find helpful.

One such top roulette, which presumably dates from the first half of the 20th century, is in the collection of the German Games Museum in Chemnitz.10 Other museums carry more copies, for example The new game: Black, White, Red or German Roulettewhich was produced by Spear and Sons around 1910.11 Whether this type of play equipment is even older and how it is like today? Tyrolean roulette has come, as far as I know there are no studies on this.

Blaas depicts a kind of wheel of fortune.12 According to his description (and the ball visible in the picture below in the nail ring) it is a game in which a ball rolls in a path of nails until it stops on a field (= area between two nails). I am not convinced of it. According to Blaas, no ball was found on the wheel of fortune. On the left below the turntable a holder can be seen in which a pointer could be attached, which points to the winning field if the wheel stops. The ball is therefore superfluous for functionality. I don't understand why the museum put them in the picture.

Another game of chance in which balls roll down a spiral path and finally end up in one of several numbered depressions is the kakelorum.

The statements that the ancient Greeks (in the game) rotated their shields on sword points, and that the Roman emperor Augustus had a horizontally rotating cartwheel set up as a game object, I will not go into here.13

3. Designations for games of chance with a rotating needle

The following list does not claim to be complete. The focus is on German-language expressions, a good part of which are taken from dictionaries. Most of the terms mentioned are ambiguous, but I only go into the additional meanings in individual cases.

Drahndl (Drehndl, Drandl, Trandel, Trondl, Drahudl)

Peter Blaas lists - mainly for the Tyrolean area - the expressions Drahndl, Drehndl, Drahudl, Drehbrett, Trandel, Trondl, Träh (e) Spill (= Drehspiel).14

Form Drahudl looks peculiar. At the root of the verb is here -udl appended - I don't know whether this is a common derivation. If Drahudl should only go back to a (single) written document, but not be attested multiple times (in independent sources) or verbally, the suspicion is that a typesetter inadvertently turned an n to a u and thus inadvertently became Drahndl> Drahudl .15

All these words are formed from the linguistic root that is in the verb "rotate", which of course is not surprising given the way the game works. The intensified form "twist" (dræ (h) eln), but also the derivation "Dreher" (wire) could also designate gambling with the rotating pointer, see Schmeller / Frommann, Bavarian Dictionary 1,560: "Das Dræeln (Trädeln) or the wire, as a game of chance, can be found next to the Paschen since the LR v. 1616 (f. 570) forbidden by repeated mandates. A similar ban was meted out by the traders or Leyerer in the markets (presumably so named after turning their instruments over). Mandate from 1654. “Ibid., Col. 1,667, we read that one Trenderle can denote a top. The evidence mentioned by Schmeller for tradtlen from an ordinance of 1616 reads as follows:

[C.VII.7] The sibent articul. From the scholder.
It should also be the scholder, as with all sorts of dice in the brendten vnd trachten, that tradt and the like on the sheer luck staged game and forbidden, for the sake of that also consistently in country dishes as court marches are kept the same thing.

Bavarian church regulations from 161616

The Swiss Idiotikon also records the Dräjet, only in compound form Lebchueche (n) dräjet (SwitzerlandId 14.713) proves: “Roulette, where you can win gingerbread” (with a document from 1917).

There seems to be a long tradition of playing gingerbread.17 In the article dräjen (SchweizId 14,688ff, here Col. 692) the method of use about something dräjen / turn (with obj. saved) with the meaning of gambling for something. The oldest documented evidence of this use is from 1480: Hennsly von Egre uff Dietschin von Wupckingen complains, he incumbent Hennsly von Egre, and others have been fed up with a quiver on the farm and have been thrown half-twig with a boy. Whether a play device with a rotating pointer was used here or whether the delicacy was played in some other way cannot be determined on the basis of the receipt.

Turntable, turntable ...

Further evidence on the turntable and turntable (both expressions have already been listed by Blaas):

... moving iron, turntable

Moving iron is presumably also a name for the type of game dealt with here. The word also means, among other things, a tool of the turner.

The German legal dictionary (DRW) explains Dreheisen as "a kind of game" and gives the following evidence: Turning iron, Tornus (in: General German legal lexicon by Thomas Hayme (1738), p. 96, where reference is made to “Game”, p. 1113, but the word does not appear there again). “Tornus” can refer to the tool “turning iron, moving iron”. Overall, the Hayme receipt from the DRW is rather questionable to me. I find the following evidence clearer:

We can infer the term “turntable” from the derivation “wire cutter” as an expression for a person who plays such games at fairs. A dictionary entry for the "Drehscheiber" is in the German legal dictionary, it is there in only one source from 1732: [Announcement that] the lucky stoppers, wire-scrapers, belt-diggers, Nappen-, Docken, - Mannel-players, and other vagabonds [...] completely abolished and forbidden to drive over the Oder for a while at night20

We can probably assume that what is meant is a disc that is not rotated itself, but is firmly anchored, and on which a pointer is rotated. Like the moving iron, the turntable also means primarily a craft device, see the entry 'turntable' in the German dictionary. It could possibly also be used to describe a hurdy-gurdy.21

In the Schweizerischer Idiotikon, sub-item 2. e) η) of the article Schīb (eⁿ) “in the game of chance, which is often set up at church fairs, the round board with numbers all around and painted figures (lion, virgin, fool, etc.), above which a pointer moves if you move the pointer to the highest number, you win ”(SwitzerlandId 8,48).

To expression Turning needle (game) Evidence is listed in the Lucky Circle section below.

Firl, Dorl, Trulle

Firl and Dorl are both expressions that both designate a top (i.e. the toy that balances on the tip by turning)22 as well as games of chance with a rotating needle.

Firl or Ningelum.
The special effort on "Knabbelkok and Pepernöt" at Christmas and especially on Christmas Eve also included a special game, which therefore characterized itself as a real Christmas and family game. The clock-hand-shaped Firl or Ningel, carved from wood, was fixed freely on the table by means of a pen (usually a darning needle), the periphery was drawn with chalk as the radius, and the number 1-12 was attached to it as on the dial of a clock and the Marked the middle of their distance from each other by a sign. The players each provided themselves with a sizeable pile of game nuts (cube-shaped pepper nuts) and, one after the other, set the firl in rapid rotation. If he stopped halfway [meaning: on the sign between two numbers, JR], the thrust was renewed; in all other cases the next number applied. If this was, as always at the beginning, still unoccupied, the player had to fill it with as many nuts as it indicated. If it was already occupied, it was swept as welcome prey. So it went on at will: empty was occupied, occupied became empty.

N. Mittgaard: Firl or Ningelum, in: Die Heimat. Journal of Natural and Regional Studies of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, 21 (1911), p. 298.23

The Schleswig-Holstein dictionary adds that the word or game is documented for the Tondern area.24

In Thuringia, the game with rotating needle can be used as a Dorlspiel referred to as:

Dorlspiel.
'Roulette-like game in which a dorl shows the amount of the win in a recorded number circle' consisting of a potato slice and a sharpened wood chip that rotates around a nail driven in the middle of the table, the winnings are paid out in hazelnuts

Article 'Dorlspiel', in: Thuringian Dictionary Vol. 1 (1999), Col. 1293.

Etymologically related to "Dorl" are the following Alemannic expressions from the Swiss Idioticon:
'Trulle' in Switzerland Id 14,943: "Wheel of fortune or similar"
'Trülle' ibid. 14,949: "Rotary game with a plate"
‚Trülleren 'ibid. 14,957:" Turntable with pointer or ball, roulette game "
‚Trüll (en) spil‘ ibid. 10.161: "a game of chance like the wheel of fortune"

It is conceivable that other expressions for “spinning top” (the toy) were also used to denote games with rotating needles.

Wheel of fortune, circle of fortune

It hardly needs to be mentioned that in our cultural area the association of the wheel with the god of fate Fortuna is obvious when it comes to circular games of chance. The idea of ​​the “wheel of fortune”, with the rotation of which a person's fortunes inevitably change, is firmly established in our cultural history. In addition to this symbolic use, the term wheel of fortune was also applied specifically to playground equipment. Most often the term seems to refer to wheels or drums from which the winning numbers were drawn in a lottery or which a lottery player uses to select a number. But it also serves as a name for a type of lottery book.25

The explanation "As a wheel-shaped device in certain games of chance" in the article 'Glücksrad' in the German dictionary is ambiguous, but it is conceivable that this expression was also used for the play equipment with a rotating needle discussed here.One possible evidence for this use is the mention of wheels of fortune on the lids of mugs: “[…] of the old drinking vessels […] that had a wheel of fortune on their lids that was quickly turned around before drinking under certain pious wishes, and The number at which the pointer of the wheel stopped, so much glass, corresponding to this number, had to or was allowed to empty the drinker. "26 The phrase “at which number the needle of the wheel stopped” suggests, in my opinion, that the needle is movable, i.e. it is a rotating needle.

On the other hand, the entry “Glückskreisel” in the German dictionary seems unambiguous to me: “a kind of game of chance in which the winnings depend on the movement of an iron circle turned around”. However, the expression is rarely documented, the DWB can only cite two sources. The entry 'turning needle' in turn refers to 'happiness circle'. In Adelungs Grammatical-Critical Dictionary the possibility of fraud by influencing the pointer with a magnet is pointed out under “Glückskreisel”. This information is also in Krünitz ‘ Economic encyclopedia.27 Ippels Dutch-German Textbook translates happiness circles as draaibord28, likewise that New, complete German-Dutch and Dutch-German dictionary from Calisch. Here, as in the DWB, under “rotating needle” reference is made to “happiness circle”, the latter is translated as ndl. draaibord, verkeerbord. A few lines above it is the entry 'Wheel of Fortune', translated as rad van avontuur, ~ van fortuin, draaibord.29 Thibauts Nouveau dictionnaire de poche, français-allemand et allemand-français translates the meaning of French that is of interest to us here. tourniquet With Circle of luck, the spinning needle (a game of chance).30

Heart beat

In the catalogs of the Austrian Museum of Folklore, a game of chance with a rotating needle is referred to as a “farmer's lottery” or “Drahudl” and it is added that in Avelengo (near Merano) as Heart beat would be referred to.31 The heart-shaped pointer tip is probably decisive for this name. The rear end of the pointer, however, has the shape of a crescent moon.

"... a kind of roulette ..."

The French word roulette was exported to other European countries and beyond with the success of the ball roulette games. The expression was then transferred to games with a rotating needle (instead of a ball), e.g. the ones shown below new roulette games from the middle of the 19th century or in the following text excerpt:

We even got other company, a very old, barefoot couple who went from one fair to the next with a game of chance, a kind of roulette.

Heinrich Noë: Pictures from South Tyrol and from the shores of Lake Garda, 1871, p. 40 GBS

The ambiguous word Farmer's Roulette we have already met. Apart from the conceptual fuzziness, I also find the derogatory or elitist aftertaste not helpful. It is true that gambling with this random number generator often appears to have been offered at village folk festivals. However, as various examples collected here show, this play device was not only widespread in the rural population.

The expression is more descriptive and therefore better Pointer roulette. A central difference to the ball roulette becomes clear, even if it remains open whether the pointer stands still over a rotating disc or rotates itself. But my impression is that Pointer roulette is mainly used for games with a rotating needle, while those with a rotating disk rather than Wheel of fortune are designated.

Instinctual play?

The expression is uncertain in its meaning Instinctual play. Granados uses it (among others) for gambling with a spinning needle.32 Both the Triebspiel entry in the German dictionary and the following document from the end of the 18th century, however, indicate that the Triebspiel is not identical to the rotary game: “... the equestrian or Triebspiel with Lebzelten is permitted with a permit, however Thurn, dice and turner games and leather stabbing are prohibited. "33


In the following I name some terms in other languages ​​(Italian, English, French).

Gioco della Mea

The Italian Mea Game (Nobilissimo gioco della Mea, Diletevole gioco della Mea - also in the older spelling giuoco) represents a certain line of tradition within the games of chance with a spinning needle. Some of the boards that have been preserved are shown below. These games each have specifications on the individual fields, which amounts or how many tokens are to be deposited or drawn from the supply / pot.34

Such specifications are also typical for owl games (also called owl game, Italian Pela il Chiù = "pluck the owl"; French jeu de la chouette, English owl game). Most of the time, the fields for the possible combinations of three cubes were arranged concentrically (in circles or ellipses). Theoretically, the circular owl games could also be played with a rotating needle instead of dice. In fact, a gaming table from the end of the 18th century has survived, the game board for which the owl game has a rotating pointer in addition to the usual markings for dice combinations.35

Another Italian name is orologio or the dialectal form arlui (“Clock”, because of its similarity to the face of a clock), see the image section by Mitelli under the images below.

Tourniquet, Roue de Fortune, Petite Loterie

Tourniquet is used as a historical French name for games with a rotating needle, but also serves as an expression for very different things with a rotating mechanism (rotating doors, tourniquet, etc.). This is how a French dictionary describes at the end of the 17th century: "Tourniquet, est aussi un certain jeu auquel on fait tourner une aiguille sur une espece de quadran, ou il y a certain nombre de chiffres en rond comme à la monstre d’une horloge, ce jeu s’appelle autrement, Roue de fortune."36

About a hundred years later, im Dictionnaire des jeux familiers nor the name Roue de Fortune listed (she refers to Loterie (petite), pp. 90f.), tourniquet however, does not appear. The pair of names Jeu de la Roue de Fortune, ou de la Petite Loterie is also recorded on the rules of the game for a gaming table around 1800 (Adrian Seville Collection).37

Regulate du Jeu de la Roue de Fortune, ou de la Petite Loterie:
qui se vend chez Vaugeois, rue des Arcis, au Singe Vert.

Il ya plusieurs facons de le jouer, favoir un contre un à qui amenera le plus haut point, ou plusieurs ensemble, en placant sur différents numéros: celui des numéros sur lequel l'Aiguille s'arrête gagne ce qui est sur le jeu, quoique ce ne soit point lui qui ait tourné l'Aiguille; il sussit que ce soit son numéro. Si c’est le numéro de celui qui a tourné l’Aiguille sur lequel elle s’arrête, chaque Joueur le paye double, c’est-à-dire qu’il lui paye autant qu’il avoit mis au jeu. On convient, avant de jouer, lequel des deux bout de l’Aiguille doit marquer.

Rules of the game from the Vaugeois gaming table in the Adrian Seville collection

In her work on gaming tables, Granados uses, among other things, the expression boule royale.38 I think it is questionable that this should actually have been a name for games with a rotating needle. But I can't rule it out. The end of the 18th century boule royale as a name variant too boule cipher occupied. It is a game of chance, but the rules of the game say nothing about which instrument or random number generator is used.39 Lhôte explains boule royale as a variant of the cochonnet (in the sense of a polyhedron, often a dodecahedron, i.e. a twelve-sided cube), in which bets are placed on fields that are laid out in a ring, and in which the winning field is determined with a 24-sided cube (the "royal ball") .40

Norfolk Wheel, Spinning Jenny, Twister, Twizzler

As British names, Arthur Taylor lists in his collection of pub games Norfolk Wheel, Twister (Twizzler) and isolated Spinning Jenny41 on. The game boards are usually divided into 12 segments; in one case there are 20 (with numbers from 1-10 and ten unnumbered symbols). It is uncertain whether in 18th century English roulette) and roly-poly Names for a pointer roulette or for a ball roulette were.42

4. Illustrations

Rabel, Les Fées des Forest de S. Germain (1625)

From the sketches (for the ballet Les Fées des Forests de S. Germain, second part Ballet you Jeu) of Daniel Rabel's studio, 1625:

Nicolas de Larmessin, Habit de Tabletier (late 17th century)

The tourniquet (in the picture itself torniquet written) is divided into twelve segments. (I already have my own blog article in preparation for this picture.)

Mitelli, Zugh d’tutt i Zugh (1702): Arlui

Giuseppe Maria Mitelli was a Baroque artist. His work also includes a number of board and dice games, including that Zugh d’tutt i Zugh (Game of all games, 1702). Games are shown on each of its fields. One field shows the game "Arlui", a game of chance with a rotating needle. The name of the game is a dialectal form that corresponds to “orologio” (clock), as the game board with its division into twelve sections is reminiscent of the face of a clock.43

Marcola Marco, Gioco della Mea (2nd half of the 18th century)

I can't make out any details on the turntable.

Michel Poisson, Petite Lottery (1774)

In France, for a few decades before and after 1800, the pointer roulette became a frequently depicted motif. In addition to the images shown here, I refer to the chapter in D’Allemagnes Récréations et pass-temps.44

In Poisson's picture, the “little lottery” is divided into 12 segments, which are numbered one after the other with Roman numerals. In this and the two following pictures, the pointer roulette is mounted on a cylinder or a kind of drum; partly the shoulder strap can be seen. What is striking is the poor clothing of the figure who is offered the game of chance ("spin for a Liard [= a certain coin], you win something in any case"). In the Singspiel linked above The two Savoyards (1792) contains a scene with such socially marginalized people who offer the play.

Claude-Louis Desrais: Petits métiers et cris de Paris (2nd half of the 18th century)

The following illustration comes from an undated series of images.

Les Oublies. Le Bon Genre No. 79 (1815)

Les Oublies“Were a kind of patisserie, but were also often associated with games of chance (see also Engelmann's title below).45 According to D’Allemagne, this pastry was already on sale on the streets of Paris in the 16th century. Since the 18th century tourniquets, which were attached to the large cylinders in which the pastries were transported, were used to play around the oublies.