So this is from a shoujo anime directed by Osamu Dezaki about tennis and so far I’m finding it pretty unremarkable but then I saw this line and nearly died laughing. The character who is speaking is basically this bishounen dude whose sole function in the story so far as I can tell is to show up out of nowhere and give the protagonist soft-spoken words of encouragement whenever she’s most vulnerable.
Fidchell (in Irish; also spelled fidhcheall, fidceall, fitchneal or fithchill) or gwyddbwyll (in Welsh) was an ancient Celtic board game. The name in both Irish and Welsh is a compound translating to “wood sense”; the fact that the compound is identical in both languages demonstrates that the name is of extreme antiquity. The game is often compared to or identified with chess, though this is evidently erroneous, as chess was unknown in Europe until the 12th century. The game was played between two people who moved “men” across a board; the board itself shared its name with the game played upon it. The name has evolved into ficheall, the Irish word for chess, while gwyddbwyll is the name for chess in modern Welsh.
Fidchell is mentioned quite often in ancient Celtic legends and lore, but the exact form of the game is open to speculation, due to the lack of detail on the rules, playing pieces, and even the board. What is clear is that it was played on a board, with opposing sets of pieces in equal numbers. It should not be confused with games like tawlbwrdd or tafl (also called hnefatafl), which involved a king in the center and pieces in a 2:1 ratio. One text reads, “‘Leth a fóirni d’ór buidi, in leth aili d’findruine,’ ‘Half its men were of yellow gold, the other half of tinned bronze,” showing that fidchell was played by equal forces. The Roman board game latrunculi (“little soldiers”) was also played with pieces of equal numbers; latrunculi is known from post-Roman Britain, and so it is possible that fidchell was a descendent of latrunculi.
The legends describe fidchell as a game played by royalty, and even the gods. According to the Irish it was invented by Lugh, the Irish god of light, and was played very skillfully by his son, the hero Cúchulainn. A series of fidchell games also forms an important episode in Tochmarc Étaíne.
As often as fidchell is mentioned in legend and myth, however, we are still largely in the dark about exactly how it was played. There are two main theories regarding the rules and board layout of fidchell. The first, and most common, is that fidchell is a variant of the Welsh game tawlbwrdd, itself descended from the Norse tafl games. These games, along with the Irish brandub, are played on a grid, often seven squares by seven, with the king in the middle. The king has a number of defending pieces around him at the beginning of the game, and they are surrounded by twice as many attackers. The object is to make a clear path for the king to the edge of the board, while the attackers must attempt to surround, and thereby capture, the king.
This theory is supported by an artifact found in Balinderry, Ireland, consisting of a wooden board with a seven by seven grid, marked off by holes similar to those found in a cribbage board, which has Celtic symbols on it. This artifact is almost certainly a tafl variant, and perhaps even a Brandub board, and most commentators assume that it is the type of board upon which one would have played fidchell. Reconstructions of probable rules proceed from there.
However, there are a few difficulties with this commonly accepted view. First, the tafl variants are usually played with unequal numbers of pieces, the attackers being twice as numerous as the defenders. Fidchell seems almost certainly to have been played with equal numbers on both sides. Secondly, some claim that the tafl games, especially tawl-bwrdd, were often played with a die, made of a sheep’s knucklebone, and this feature seems conspicuously absent in fidchell. In fact, in Wales, there is a clear distinction between tawlbwrdd and gwyddbwyll, which, if carried across to Ireland, would tend to indicate a similar distinction between fidchell and brandub.
christ what an asshole