The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

The mysterious Fia med knuff

In one point I was wrong in my cross and circle games overview: Fia med knuff is not the equivalent of Mensch ärgere Dich nicht, but it could be considered a variant of the latter. Let me list the actual facts:

  • But for one element the boards of the two games are functionally equivalent.
  • This one element is the center: While in Mensch ärgere Dich nicht, the goal is to place all four tokens on the ladder, in Fia med knuff the goal is to put them into the center field.
  • Apart from the functional equivalence, the boards are very similar in the graphics too. While all earlier Pachisi derivates had angular fields, Mensch ärgere Dich nicht had circles connected with lines. Fia med knuff has circles too, though usually not connected.
  • Another small visual difference is that Mensch ärgere Dich nicht has four colored circles per player where the pawns are placed on at the beginning of the game, while Fia med knuff has only one large circle.
  • There are some other rule differences: Players can leave the jail on rolling six or one, cannot overtake their own pawns, do not have to capture those of their contrahents.

Everything else is rather mysterious. It starts with the name. The name of the game is Fia, med knuff is just an add-on meaning with push, referring to pushing your adversaries’ pawns off the board. But what does Fia mean? Acoording to one manufacturer, Namnet Fia kommer från det latinska ordet fiat som betyder gång. Google translates gång as time, but fiat actually means let there be or let it be done, which makes no sense in connection with the game.

I get the impression that Fia med knuff is not anyone’s trademark, and that it is generally used more as a name for the concept than for a specific game with a specific look and feel (as is the case with Mensch ärgere Dich nicht).

There are two scenarios I can think of. One is that some Swedish publisher saw the success of Mensch ärgere Dich nicht in the 1920s and brought out a very similar game under a different name.

The other is that Fia med knuff is actually older, and was what inspired Schmidt to his game. It is remarkable that where the two games are different, Fia med knuff is often more similar to the older Ludo. Of course this theory wouldn’t go well with the Germans, who consider Mensch ärgere Dich nicht as one of their 50 greatest inventions, along with aspirin, the thermos flask, and the theory of relativity.

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