Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson joins the latest Viking i

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson tries his hand at the Formby Viking Game with club founders Leo Kolassa and Tony Higginson.

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson is making moves on Formby as he joins the latest Viking invasion of the town.

Bill joined the Formby Viking Board Game Club to find out more about the historic game.

Formby members, who meet each Wednesday at 7pm at Cafe D'Art in Formby Village, pit their wits against opponents in the ancient game.

The board game, originally known as 'Hnefatafi' (King's Table) dates back to before 400AD and was extensively played during the Viking Era and would have been taken on their travels.

The rules of the game have been researched and adapted from a number of sources to create a 'Fornbei Hnefatafl' version making it easier to understand by putting it into a well known historic setting. Two players take part with one taking on the role of the invading Viking warriors, while the other plays the Anglo Saxon Court of King Alfred. Facing defeat King Alfred's only hope is to escape and rebuild his army. The Vikings know that if they can capture the King then they will win.

Formby club leaders, Leo Kolassa and Tony Higginson told Bill how they plan to increase the popularity of the ancient game.

Tony told Bill: "It is a lot of fun to play and very easy to pick up unlike chess.

"It is a strategic game that was popular up until around the 12th century when it was supplanted by chess. But the game dates right back to early times, even being mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas.

"While it is still a popular game with aficionados, Formby Viking Board Game Club is attempting to bring it back. And what better place to do that than the old Norse settlement of Fornbei."

The board game will play a part in the planned Viking Festival, which is being proposed for the first  weekend in October.

Leo said: "We are looking at a number of possible activities during the weekend and the board game plays a key part in that.

"Ideas for the festival include bringing a medieval Viking market to Formby, capitalising on our heritage through re-enactment, craft making, story telling, historical talks and the possibility of holding a Viking Board Game tournament.

"We are still in the early stages of organising the event, but the Formby Viking Board Game Club is the ideal place to start practising for the tournament as I suspect the visiting Vikings will want to challenge us."

Bill Esterson said although he was novice, he would be competing in the Viking Board Game tournament.

Bill said: "It is fitting that the Viking Board Game has a home in Formby, because the game itself mirrors the town's connection with the early Norse settlers.

"One side takes on the role of the Viking invaders, while the other takes on the role of the defending Anglo Saxons.

"Formby is intrinsically linked with the Vikings and it is good to see the town capitalise on that.

"I look forward to the Viking Festival later this year and I'd encourage everyone to go along to Cafe D'Art on Wednesday evenings to have a go at being either a defending Anglo Saxon or an invading Viking. It's great fun and a great way of promoting Formby."



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