Fox Geese

FOX and GEESE an intriguing contest between two unequal opponents, has been a favorite game throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. Even though the Geese outnumber the Fox in this hunt game, they are more restricted in the moves they can make and must try to capture the Fox by crowding it into a corner where it cannot move. But the Fox has a different objective. It tries to capture as many of the Geese as possible to prevent its own capture. If careful in their strategic chasing of the Fox, the Geese should always win the game.

Not only does a description of Fox and Geese appear in the Grettis Saga, an Icelandic poem written about A.u. 1300, but also in the household accounts of Edward IV of England, who purchased two Fox and Geese sets made of silver. English royalty was still playing the game during the nineteenth century, and it is known to have been a favorite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The tactical possibilities in Fox and Geese make it a popular game not only in Europe but in the Orient and North America as well. Japanese call the game juroku musashi, or “sixteen soldiers.” In their vcrsion, 16 soldiers try to surround their general. Among the Indians of the Southwestern United States, a coyote tries to outwit the chickens, or a jack rabbit attempts to escape Indian hunters. The Cree and Chippewa Indians of Canada also played Fox and Geese but called it rnusinaykahwhan metowaywin.

Fox and Geese is one of the many board games included in this book that were often played outdoors with their board inscribed on stone or in clay, or drawn on the ground. It is also a popular game often played by children on playgrounds or in the snow, where a number of concentric circles, crisscrossed with straight lines, are drawn.