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Shut the Box

Guide to History and the Rules of Shut the Box

Shut the box game


The origin  is unknown but the game can be traced back to 19th Century France. The game did not appear in England, however, until the mid 20th Century.
It's not known for sure where Shut the originated. 

It appears that it has been played in this region for at least two hundred years and is a game popular with sailors and fishermen.  There is only evidence for the game in England from the middle of the twentieth century, and since most games of a similar ilk spawned references in a variety of literature, this would seem to be a good indication that it did not originate in that country.  In fact, Timothy Finn in his "Pub Games of England" says that that the game was brought to the South of England from the Channel Islands in 1958 by a Mr. 'Chalky' Towbridge.  Apparently the game has several names, one of which is Canoga and one unconfirmed rumour claims that Shut the Box is also common in Zambia!

An old pub gambling favourite the game uses two dice and a special wooden playing tray. The tray features the numbers 1 - 9 in a row,
each of which has a hinged or sliding cover.  A turn involves repeatedly throwing the dice and shutting or covering a number or pair of numbers every throw.  The turn ends when no numbers can be covered upon the throw of the dice at which point the player's total is calculated. 

Shut the box in play

Game Rules
The game may be played by any number of players.

The dice are thrown in turn by all players into the felt-lined section of the box, the object being to cover up as many spaces corresponding with the aggregate of the numbers shown on the dice or the number of each individual die. Up to two numbers can be covered with each throw of the dice. The winner is the player who has the lowest total when the open numbers are added up after the dice fail to correspond with any numbers that are left uncovered.

The following example will show how this works. The first player throws the dice which show a 6 and a 5. As it is preferable to close up the big numbers first, the numbers are added together making 11 and the number on the box is covered. The same player throws the dice again, this time, they show a 6 and a 3, added together make 9. The player decides to cover the 9. The dice are thrown once more and show a 4 and 5, added together make 9. The player decides to cover the 7 and 2. A double 1 is thrown next, but this makes an aggregate of 2 which cannot be matched by the numbers in the box. However, the player is allowed to cover the number shown on one die, in this case the 1 would be covered.

The numbers left open are then totaled. They are 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12. The players score is 48. The next player then takes the dice and proceeds in the same manner, and so on until all the players have had their turn. The player with the lowest score is the winner.

Should a tie result, it is played off. If a player succeeds in covering all the numbers, they have Shut the Box and are paid double by the losing players.

Buy Jaques Shut the Box HERE