Early Irish Board Games
Dr. E. Knott has collected most of the useful evidence concerning brannumh.  She shows that there is a special piece in the game called the branan. The word branan is a common poetic epithet for a chief and the piece is probably a "king-piece" of some sort. It is often referred to as the branan dead and hence may have sometimes been made of ivory and thus distinguished from the other pieces on the board. Dr Knott publishes a part of a poem "Abair riom a Eire ogh," attributed to Maoil Eoin Mac Raith,  which throws much light on the game of Brandub. I quote her translation in full:
Thirteen pieces were used in the game, five on one side and eight on the other, as is evidenced by Acallam na Senorach: 
Concerning this game the early sources tell us practically nothing. Zimmer  was the first to recognise that it was a board game and collected many examples of its use. Only one instance however gives any information, and even here we cannot be sure that we are not dealing with transference by the writer of a feature from one of the other games. A passage in the Tain  tells of Cuchulainn playing buanfach with Loeg, his charioteer. Loeg had to keep his eye on the plain below them and nothing came into it that he did not see. Nevertheless he won every other game from Cuchulainn. This seems to be a reference to the alternate winning idea apparently associated with fidchell in Cormac's Glossary.
DISCUSSION OF THE EVIDENCE
It is obvious that the games of fidchell and brandub cannot be completely reconstructed from the above evidence. If however we examine the comparative material, both literary and archaeological, we can come to fairly secure conclusions.
25. The Bardic Poems of Tadhg Dall O hUiginn, ii, pp. 198-9.
26. Dr. Knott has assigned no date to the poem. Its language, metre and style show that it belongs to the court poetry of the period 1200 - 1640. The word ti here translated 'square', as the context suggests, has on pp. 26 and 27 been translated 'row, line'. Had it both meanings?
27. Stokes, Irische Texte, iv, i ll. 3949-50.
28. Zeitschrift fur Vergleichende Sprachsforschung, xxx, pp. 78-80.
29. Ed. Windisch, ll. 1809-12.
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