Monday, 14 May 2018

Shut the Box!

Isn't it weird how you discover something for the first time - and then a few days later, encounter it again? 
Whilst helping Jim declutter, I found a little wooden tray, about 12" square, lined with green baize - with numbered tiles at one end. These were on a spindle so they could be flipped over to show the blank underside. Jim could not recall what it was, he thought it might have been part of a family game.
Bob didn't know what it was, and went of to research the internet. He came back and said it was called "Shut the Box" and you needed a pair of dice in order to play the game.
Bob had found out that the basic premise of the game is that you have to throw the dice, and then flip over tiles equivalent to the total of the two numbers. e.g. if you throw 6 + 5, that's 11. Sp you can flip 9 +2, 8+3, 7+ 4 or 6+5. You throw again, and flip some more. Once the total of the remaining tiles is 6 or less, you just throw one die. If at any point you cannot flip your score, you are out - and your final score is the total of the remaining visible tiles. If you can flip all the tiles, then you have 'shut the box' and you've won [full instructions here] We left the tray in the kitchen - then went to Norfolk.
And would you believe it? There at the village fete, one of the stalls had the usual try-your-luck stuff, a tombola, a treasure map...and a Shut the Box game. I think it was 50p a go, and if you managed to shut the box, you'd get £2.50 back. I don't gamble, and I decided there was no likelihood of winning, so I smiled and walked by. But Bob and I were quite astonished by the coincidence of seeing it being played only a day or two after discovering the game's existence.
When we got home to Dorset I stood in the kitchen playing the game whilst waiting for the tea to cook. In 18 games, I shut the box only once! My final scores ranged from 3 to 32. It is great fun, and there are clearly strategies for choosing the optimum tiles to flip. It also has the advantage of being quick to play. [Maximum of 9 throws per round - usually far fewer]
We're keeping it, as it is the sort of easy game which might be useful for Church Events [without the gambling element, naturally!]
It is believed to date back over 700 years, to Normandy, and also been played in the Channel Islands. It has other names too, like TricTrac and Canoga. In the 60s it was apparently popular in pubs in the Manchester area.
Has anyone else played this game? Did you have one when you were a child?

1 comment:

  1. It would be a good game for school also, maybe for early finishers, in a maths class, as it would reinforce number bonds.


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