These boards are positions in Camelot (a board game invented in the late
1800s by the original founder of Parker Brothers). The puzzle title points to the name of the game
(via a scene from Monty Python and the Holy
Grail). The rules can be found online. The game is played
on a modified chessboard, with two kinds of pieces, Knights and Men. There
are three types of moves, plus a combination move available only to
Plain Move: move a piece one square in any direction
(horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), like a king in chess.
Canter: jump a piece over a piece of its own color, in any
direction, not removing the jumped piece. You can jump as many times as
you like over pieces of the same color as part of a single canter move
(like multiple jumps in Chinese checkers).
Jump: jump a piece over a piece of the opposite color, removing
the jumped piece. You can likewise string together as many jumps as you
can manage as part of a single move, removing each jumped piece
immediately as it’s jumped (like multiple jumps in checkers).
Knight’s Charge: Knights (but not Men) can do a Canter followed
by a Jump as part of one move. That is, the Knight jumps over a string
of as many pieces of its own color as it likes, followed by jumping over
a string of as many pieces of the other color as it can manage.
If a player can capture a piece with a Jump, they must capture on
that turn (if more than one way to capture a piece or pieces exists, the
player can choose any of them). If Jumping takes a piece to a square where
it can continue to Jump, it must do so.
Each board shows a situation where one side or the other can win in the
specified number of moves, ending by capturing all of the opponent’s
pieces with a single Knight’s Charge (cued in the flavortext). The length
of that Knight’s Charge is specified for each board.
In each Knight’s Charge, the two indicated steps provide directions
encoding a letter in semaphore (cued by the flags mentioned in the
Individual board solutions:
- Red wins in 1: Knight’s Charge SE–SW–NW–NE–NE–S–S–SE. The fifth and sixth steps (NE, S) encode the semaphore letter E.
- White wins in 2: First White’s top-left piece moves NE, forcing Red to jump SE. Then the Knight’s Charge goes N–N–E–NW–E–SE–N. The second and sixth steps (N, SE) encode V.
- Red wins in 3: (1) Red’s topmost piece moves NW, forcing White to jump S. (2) Red’s bottom-left piece moves SW, forcing White to jump NW. (3) Knight’s Charge NE–S–NW–W–S–S–NW–S–NW, with steps 1 and 8 encoding E.
- White wins in 1: Knight’s Charge N–SE–SW–W–NW–[E–N–SW], where the brackets indicate that those three pieces can be jumped in either that direction or the opposite direction (NE–S–W). Steps 2 and 3 encode N.
- Red wins in 2: (1) Red’s second-from-leftmost piece canters SW over its leftmost piece, forcing White to jump three pieces (N–E–SE). (2) Knight’s Charge W–SE–SW–S–[NW–S–E]–SW–NW (encoding S).
- White wins in 3: (1) White’s leftmost piece moves SW, forcing Red to jump N. (2) White’s (now) top-left piece moves NW, forcing Red to jump SW. (3) Knight’s Charge with the right-hand Knight: W–SW–E–NW–W–N–NW–S–S–SE (encoding T).
- Red wins in 1: Knight’s Charge NW–S–NE–NW–SW–[S–W–NE]–NW–N (encoding E).
- White wins in 2: (1) White’s rightmost piece moves E, forcing Red to jump SW–NW. (2) Knight’s Charge SE–NE–NW–NE–W–N–E–[E–S–NW]–NW (encoding V).
- Red wins in 3: (1) Red’s top-left piece moves NW, forcing White to jump S. (2) Red’s (now) top piece moves NW, forcing White to jump SW. (3) Knight’s Charge W–N–NE–S–NW–NW–S–S–NW–S–SE–W (encoding E).
- White wins in 4: (1) White’s topmost piece canters S, forcing Red to jump NE. (2) White’s rightmost piece moves S, forcing Red to jump NW. (3) The piece northeast of White’s lower knight moves E, forcing Red to jump NW. (4) White’s lower Knight Charges N–NW–N–SE–N–E–S–SW–E–E–S–S–NW (encoding N).
The answer is EVEN STEVEN.
(NB: The note about the current rules is there because in the original
version of the rules, capturing all but one of the opponent’s pieces was
sufficient for victory. In the current version, all pieces must be
captured. The current rules are what you’ll find online, but in case you
happen to have grown up with a 1930s printing of the game . . . )