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Shut the Box - History and Useful Information

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It's not known for sure where Shut the box originated.  Most theories point to a source in Northern France and give Normandy or the Channel ShutTheBox1.jpg (14600 bytes)Islands as the specific location.  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, Shut the Box 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.  The overriding goal is to completely cover all numbers or "shut the box" which results in the best possible score of zero.


Where to Buy

Masters Traditional Games sells various Shut the Box games including a Sailor's Dice Box which incorporates a nice Shut the Box game with several other Nautical dice games such as Crown and Anchor.


Shut the Box Rules

Rules can be obtained for free from Masters Traditional Games.  


Pubs and Leagues

The King' Arms, Christchurch, Hampshire
The Harbour Lights Hotel, Alderney
The Three Horseshoes, Willian near Letchworth, Hertfordshire
The Bull Hotel, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire
The Star Inn, Ashton under hill, Evesham, Worcestershire 01386-811325 (submitted John Crowther, Feb 2000)





Email to jm at tradgames.org.uk

Copyright 1997 - now by James Masters.