Colloquium XX

Board Game Studies Colloquium XX

The annual Board Game Studies Colloquium is the only recurring event devoted solely to the study of non-digital games. Over the years, it has brought together a large number of people from a wide range of disciplines, including archaeology, anthropology, psychology, mathematics, history, philology, computer science, and many others too numerous to be listed here.

The colloquium has succeeded not only in furthering our understanding of classical games across the globe, but also in bringing to light less well-known specimens from the distant as well as the more recent past. An essential component in analysing and discussing the games has always been the mulititude and variety of views involved.

The interdisciplinarity of the colloquiums is something most other academic fields of study can only dream of achieving.


After a pioneering symposium on board games organized by Irving Finkel at the British Museum in 1990, the first official Board Game Studies Colloquium was organized by Alex de Voogt at Leiden University in 1995.

The colloquium continued as a biennial event until 2001 when it became an annual fixture hosted at various venues throughout the world. This year marks the 20th Board Game Studies Colloquium and the first one ever to be held in a Scandinavian country.

Board Game Studies Journal

The proceedings of the Board Game Studies Colloquiums were initially published in the Board Game Studies Journal, but in 2004 the journal was discontinued due to financial and logistical problems.

In recent years it has resurfaced as an online journal, with all previous and new issues being freely available at

The lecture of Liuwe Westra is sponsored by:

The provincial governement of Fryslân and Tresoar.

©  MW, Stifitng WFD

The Role of Frisian Draughts in the International Development of Draughts

Fri 19 May, 14:00 - 14:30 (KUA3, Room 4A.0.69)

Dr Liuwe Westra

Senior Research Fellow, Tilburg University, Netherlands

The origin of draughts on a 100-square board is still shrouded in mystery. According to the late-eighteenth-century author Manoury, it developed around 1720. However, some earlier images (and alleged written sources) of 100-square boards seem to contradict this. Moreover, the story as Manoury tells it is rather fantastic.

However, it seems possible to make sense of all the sources when one takes the variant of draughts that is nowadays known as Frisian draughts into account. Using a number of new (also Scandinavian) sources, it can be shown that Frisian draughts, international draughts and 64-square draughts co-existed in North-Western Europe from the eighteenth century onwards, with international draughts moving only slowly to the north.

This throws an interesting light on the question of why people played draughts anyway. Draughts developed from a "friendly fight" for the upper classes to a source of income for common people, a leisurely pastime, a children's game, and a dwindling mind sport, respectively. Right now, draughts seems to be rediscovered as a highly abstract (online) game, helping people to develop concentration and abstraction skills. All this is uniquely connected with the interaction between Frisian and international draughts in the past three centuries.