I think it’s time we look over a few more dice games, courtesy of our old friend Alphonso X, from the Libro de los Juegos. Let’s start with a couple of simple ones:

## Riffa

*There is another kind of game which they call riffa that is played in this way: he who first rolls the dice should roll them as many times until he rolls a pair on two, then he should roll the other one. Then the pips of this third die are to be counter with the pips of the other first two dice. *

*And if the other who is playing with him, in rolling the dice in this same way rolls more points he wins, and if as many he ties, and if less he loses. *

This is basically a game of high score. Roll the three dice until you get a pair, then roll the third die one more time. Add up the pips for your score, and the best score wins.

## Par Con As (Pair with an Ace)

*And if he rolls a pair on two dice and an ace on the other, he wins. And if not, the other must roll and in this way they play until one of them succeeds and he who should rolls it first, will win. *

Yep, another game of pure chance. The first to roll any pair with a one on the third die wins. But that’s easy mode for the gamblers of the day. How about something a bit more challenging?

## Panquist

*There is another kind of game that they call panquist and it is played in this way: he who wins the battle will roll first and the other is to place four bets one in front of the other. And whichever one rolls will give the first point number to the other one and the second he will take for himself. *

*And the rolls which can be given are from seven pips to fourteen. *

*And these are the rolls that win both for the one who places the bets as well as the one who rolls the dice to the one whose roll comes first. *

The break in flow here is because I skipped 8 paragraphs showing how pips add up, even though for this game, the way you roll each of the point numbers matters. However, I thought it was best expressed as a table:

Point # |
Dice Show |
# Bets Won |

3-6 |
Ignore & reroll |
0 |

7 |
5-1-1/4-2-1
2-2-3
3-3-1 |
2
3
4 |

8 |
5-2-1
4-3-1
6-1-1/2-2-4
3-3-2 |
1
2
3
4 |

9 |
6-2-1/5-3-1
4-3-2
2-2-5/3-3-3
4-4-1 |
1
2
3
4 |

10 |
5-4-1/5-3-2
6-3-1
2-2-6/4-3-3
4-4-2 |
1
2
3
4 |

11 |
6-3-2/5-4-2
6-4-1
5-5-1/4-4-3
3-3-5 |
1
2
3
4 |

12 |
6-5-1/6-4-2
5-4-3
5-5-2/4-4-4
3-3-6 |
1
2
3
4 |

13 |
6-5-2
6-4-3
6-6-1/5-5-3
4-4-5 |
1
2
3
4 |

14 |
6-5-3
6-6-2/5-5-4
4-4-6 |
2
3
4 |

15-18 |
Ignore & reroll |
0 |

Basically, choose someone to roll first. The person who is not rolling puts up 4 bets as the stakes for the round. The roller rolls at least twice, giving a point number first to their opponent, and then to themselves. Rolls below 7 and above 14 are ignored – there are no hazards in this game. The first person whose point number comes up again wins a number of the bets as shown in the table.

People like this game – it gives the same kind of thrill as modern Craps with slightly less risk, since there’s no bad roll except the opponent’s point number. But one thing about the rules as written just doesn’t fully make sense to me, and that has to do with how each round is bet upon.

Let’s say you’re rolling, and your opponent puts up 4 bets. Then their point number ends up winning, but only for 1 of those bets. What happens to the other 3? If they stay up on the board, then the opponent didn’t win 1 bet – they lost 3. If they get them all back, then they didn’t win anything – they broke even.

For that matter, how does it affect the next round, when the roller is now putting up the 4? Do they just fill it back up to 4? Give back the previous bet and put up a new 4? Add to it, forming a pool?

I dug around, and couldn’t find any source that gave a better explanation of how the betting worked. If each player takes turns putting up stakes for the roller, they will simply get it back as often as not, so it becomes an exercise in losing slowly to the current roller. To make it more exciting, I’d have each player ante 2 coins each round. The game would still progress slowly if only 1 or 2 bets are won, but winning 3 or 4 would be far more exciting it wasn’t all your own money.

Alternatively, have the non-roller put in only 2 bets per round, gradually growing a pool. If someone wins more bets than the pool currently has, then the loser pays the extra out of their current personal stash. This would add much more interest in the results of the rolls, hoping for those high-paying combinations.

## Guirguiesca

For the final dice game from Libro de los Juegos, we have something special, not because of the goal – it’s another Hazard-type game – but because of the playing pieces. This is the only game King Alfonso X presented that uses only 2 dice.

*There is another kind of game they call guirguiesca that is played with two dice in this way: Those who want to play have first to roll battle, and he who wins it will roll first. *

*And if he should roll 6+6 or 6+5 or the flip-sides of these which are 2+1 or 1+1 it will be azar, and he will win one amount of such quantity as they agreed upon that it should be worth. *

*And if per chance he should not roll azar and he should roll four pips or five or six or seven or eight or nine or ten in whatever way that they should come, each one of these will be called a point number and that whomever he is playing with shall have it, and the other will bet upon it whatever amount he should wish and if the one who rolls the dice should then roll of it as many pips as he gave him, this will be called match and he will take whatever is there whether he had been assigned to that point or whether he had kept silent. *

*And if by chance he should not roll a match and he should roll one of the numbers which we said above were azares, he will lose it all. And if he should roll neither match nor azar and he should roll one of the other point numbers, that one he will take for himself, and he will roll as many times until his (point number) or that of the other one comes. And rolling his own he wins and for that of the other one he loses. *

I thought I’d give the entirety of the text for this final dice game. I’d been skipping the part about rolling battle in the previous games – basically it’s just rolling to see who goes first. Usually they’d roll all the dice for a high number, but given the wide range of results, it’s more fair to roll only one die.

After seeing all the other hazard games, this one is very simple. If you get 2, 3, 11, or 12 on the first roll, you win an agreed-upon base bet. If not, they are now *azares*, and you’re assigning the first result as a point number to your opponent, who then places their bet against you.

Next, start rolling again. If you match the opponent’s point number on this second roll, you win. Rolling one of the azares loses. Any other number is now the roller’s point number. Continue rolling until you match your point number and win. If you roll the opponent’s point or one of the azares, you lose. Any other result is ignored.

From here, it’s an easy jump to modern-day Craps, in which the hazards changed to just 11 and 7, which of course is the most common number rolled on two dice. The only point number is taken by the roller. The rolling itself got simplified from these early games – if I recall, it was the betting that got more complicated, with the non-rollers betting on how the roller would win or lose. In this way, craps borrowed from panquist, it seems.

That’s it for this entry, but while there are no more dice games presented in this book, there are many others, with new mechanics and goals, which end up proving the last words the king gave on the subject in this text to be incorrect.

*In this 12 games of dice that we have put here, can be understood all the others that they play in the other lands which are made or which can be made from here on which we do not know. *