Games for your mind

Posts Tagged ‘Board game

scrabble-pieces

scrabble one of the most popular games in US

Scrabble is probably one of the most famous board games ever invented with over 100 million sets sold in all the world.

Today everyone knows Scrabble and have played this linguistic clever game once at least, but few people know the real story of its invention.

In fact not everyone knows that Scrabble before becoming a famous board game was first a commercial flop.

Year 1931; The city of Poughkeepsie, upstate New York, was facing the worst years of the great depression. This was the situation when an architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, lost his job and decided to devote himself to his biggest passion: board games and words. Soon Butts decided to invent a board game to play with words and improve the linguistic skills of the player. Towards the end of 1931 Butts had already developed the basic idea of the board game, which was initially called Lexico.  This game was initially played without the board and players calculated their scores according to the length of the words formed. There were also reward points for words formed with less frequent letters (B, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y) and bonus points even higher for those containing unusual letters (J, K, Q, X, Z).

In 1933, Butts tied to register the trademark of is new board game but his request was denied. Similarly, when he proposed the new board game to the two top gaming company In United States, (Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley), he received only a polite refuse.

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Anti-Monopoly-board-game

Anti Monopoly board game

Ridley Scott announced his commitment into a new movie based on the Monopoly board game.
The script is not ready yet, so we can’t give you an overview of the plot, but we can tell you about the real story behind the invention of Monopoly.

A story of money, success, plagiarism and legal fights revealed to the pubblic only in the eighties after the so called Monopolygate: Read the rest of this entry »

mahjong-piecesThe Mahjong (麻雀麻将),  is a board game for four players, born in China at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and now worldwide popular, especially in United States and Japan.

Its name means “bird of hemp” or “hemp sparrow”.

There are different versions about the birth of this board game, but the most legendary one tells that Mahjong board game was invented by a fisherman in China about 2500 years ago.

The story goes that a fisherman was on his boat and, during a storm, seeing his men worried and scared, he invented something to entertain them. It is said that the gods favoured the poor fisherman and inspired him the invention of a game with few pieces of wood. In a meantime, the fisherman carved the pieces with different symbols, and taught his men how to play this new board game. The crew was so interested in the game that soon forgot the storm.
The fisherman called the game Mah-Jong (hemp bird), remembering the little bird that always followed him during the fishing.

confuciusAnother legend attributes the invention of the Mahjong game to the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, around 500 BC.

This story (considered false by historians) has some curious correspondence with the reality: infact the pieces of the game called the “three dragons” represent the three cardinal virtues professed by Confucius: the red Chung (Benevolence), the green Fa (Sincerity ) and the White Po (love). It is said that Confucius had a great love for birds, and for this reason called the game  Mah-Jong (bird of hemp).

Many of the terms used in this board game, such as Chee and Kong, are explained with the Confucian origin of the game.

However, for historians, the Mahjong game was invented at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Some researchers sad that this game could come from the Madia (马吊) , another popular board game played in China at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty.

There are only hypothesis around the real inventor of this board game. Someone say that it was created by Chinese army officers, to pass the time during the Tai Ping Rebellion (1851-1864), others that the inventor was a noble of Shanghai between 1870 and 1875.

But we like to think that the game of Mahjong  was invented either by the fisherman or by Confucius, because we’re so fascinated by old stories.

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Royal-GameIn 1920 British archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, during some excavations in the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Mesopotamia, found the rests of a Royal tomb full of ancient and beautiful finds.

In this mausoleum Wodley discovered several incredibly well conserved exemplars of an ancient board game.

This artefact was called the Royal Game of Ur and was made more than 2600 years before Christ:

The Royal Game of Ur is one of the oldest board game in history and is composed by two decorated boards and two different sets of seven pieces each.

This incredible piece of game’s history is part of the British Museum’s Mesopotamia collection and was played with pyramidal dices.

Like the Faraons’ board game named Senet, the Royal Game of Ur was a race board game in which the players had to reach the other end of the board with their pieces.

This game had a mistyc power for Ancient Sumers; they  believed that the dead person must play The Royal Game of Ur vs a spiritual entity in order to acess the reign of death.

This ancient Sumerian game can be played on the British Museum’s Mesopotamia website.sumer-map

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Board games have millennial history and have been played in a lot of cultures and societies.
The oldest board game in the world is Senet appeared in ancient Egypt in 3300 b.C.
Senet was very popular in the land of Pharaohs, especially among nobles and rich people, like this unique exemplar of this mysterious board game, inscribed with name of Pharaoh AmunhotepIII, is well preserved at the New York Brooklyn Museum.
senetboard-inscribedwithnameofamunhotepiii
The rules are still unknown to  but a lot of Egyptologist, think that Senet is an old ancestor of chess with its two different kind of pieces (maybe it was for two players) and its special squares in the board (the ones with the hieroglyphics inscriptions).
Senet was something like, the Ancient Egipt National games and became soon a mystic and religious object too: Egyptians believed that dead people had to play Senet against an invisible opponent to enter the reign of the dead. Many Senet playing tables in wood and ivory, with  drawers for the pieces under the board, were found  in  Tutankhamon  grave.
senet_boardgame
Nefertari too liked this board game, in this picture she was playing Senet.

nefertari-playing-senet

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