|Ever wonder where some of our board games
and symbols come from?
Well, here's a few we thought you might enjoying testing your friends over.
the deal with "Community Chest?"
Famed for introducing the phrase "You have won second prize in a beauty
contest" to the lexicon, all standard Monopoly sets contain a deck of
twelve "Community Chest" cards. Where does this sometimes lucky,
ocassionally unfortunate stack of random events get its unusual name?
As it happens, the
Community Chest was named after a series of charitable movements that
sprung up in the United States beginning around 1913. They existed to
raise money from local businesses and individuals and redistribute it
to various worthy causes. Community chests were something of a hit: by
1948 there were over 1,000, and today they survive as the United Way.
You might have heard of them.
|Why are Scrabble letters distributed the
way they are?
Scrabble Any Scrabble pro can tell you there are 12 Es, six Rs, and one
Z in the game, but can they tell you why?
Formulated by its creator Alfred Mosher Butts, Scrabble's curious
letter distribution owes a debt to the New Yrok Times. Butts wanted the
spread to reflect the English language as it was used at the time, so
he studied the relative frequency of each letter on the front page of
the paper, and used the resulting data to guide the development of his
He made a tweak, though. The letter "S" appears very frequently in
English -- it's around the seventh most common -- but Butts decided to
only include four in Scrabble in order to make the game harder and
limit the use of plurals.
All that only applies to the English version, of course. Localized
Scrabble versions -- of which there are many -- use letter frequencies
appropriate to the language and add accented letters and characters
that aren't used in the English game.
The first thing most players do upon opening a new deck of cards is to
find the two (or sometimes three) Jokers and discard them. Unless
you're playing canasta or gin rummy, or one of a handful of other
games, you won't need them -- and decks of cards got along just fine
without them until the 1860s, which is when they began to appear. But
where did they get their name? It's not as if they're especially
Like many oddities of the modern playing card deck, its origins aren't
totally clear -- but the name is thought to come from the game Euchre,
which once used Jokers as the highest trump cards. Jacks are the usual
pick these days.
|What was the first American board game?
Traveller's Tour Although European settlers brought numerous games over
the Atlantic to the new world, the Puritans didn't look very kindly
upon them. Dice, for example, were associated with gambling, and like a
great many other entertaining pastimes, condemned as Satanic.
So the first board game published in America, "Traveller's Tour Through
the United States," doesn't exactly sound like a thrilling play. Dating
back to 1822, it takes place on a map of the States (as it was at the
time, with nothing much west of Louisiana) and had gameplay consisting
of identifying major cities and guessing their population while moving
'round the board.
Sound like a barrel of laughs? Compared to another of America's oldest
games, it was. 1843's "The Mansion of Happiness" featured a spinner
instead of those evil dice, and its players were given the task of
collecting good Puritanical virtues like piety, prudence, and chastity
while avoiding sins like immodesty, ingratitude, and worst of all,
|Where does the term "Bullseye" come from?
Some might want to believe the word came from an imagined dartboard
which really did feature the eye of an unfortunate bovine, no bulls
have ever been harmed in the making of this winning term. In
fact, the term "bullseye" has been used since about the 17th century to
describe just about any small, round object, including windows, candy,
and the English one-crown coin. As for how it came to refer to the
center spot on a dartboard, opinions vary. Maybe it's just a reference
to the shape of the center of a target -- or perhaps it came from
observers staking "bullseye" coins on a perfect shot. Either way, the
word's a lot older than the game of darts itself, which only dates back
to about 1870.