He hath laid on twelve for nine.

I’m not sure what Shakespeare’s trying to tell us here with this. The numbers don’t necessarily add up. There are twelve rounds, I guess? And if Laertes is only three points ahead of Hamlet, Claudius still wins. Is this twelve to nine? That this is meant to be the final score? That he’s laying odds on the final score being Laertes = 12, Hamlet = 9? Or is it that the odds are that?
But if they only play twelve rounds, how could Laertes get 12 points and Hamlet 9? They’d have to play 21 rounds to get that score. Or – points would have to be worth more than one on occasion. Is a hit worth three points? So Hamlet gets three hits and Laertes four in order to win? Or maybe it’s twelve somethings?
The math is funny.
But maybe that’s on purpose. To make it obvious that this weird competition is a set up and Hamlet’s about to get screwed with a sword.


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