Scrabble was originally called ‘It’. It was invented in 1938 by an architect called Alfred Mosher Butts who'd lost his job in New York during the Depression. Butts analysed popular table games and was puzzled that while ‘move’ games (like chess) and ‘number’ games (like bingo) had spawned many variations, ‘word’ games hadn’t moved beyond crosswords and anagrams. He spent his unemployment counting letter usage in the New York Times to work out letter distributions; the top 12 letters (e, t, a, o, i, n, s, h, r, d, l, u) account for 80% of all the letters we normally use. In 1934 he turned this knowledge into a new multi-player word game.
It was a decade later that James Brunot, a young civil servant, asked Butts’ permission to register the patent (he had been introduced to the game by a friend who had bought one of Butts’ handmade sets). Brunot registered the game as ‘Scrabble’, coloured some of the squares pink and blue, and put Butts on a small royalty. It enjoyed modest commercial success until the head of Macy’s played it on his summer holiday in 1953: sales were transformed. In 1954 alone, four million sets were sold – the fastest take-off for a game ever.
The game of draughts is peculiarly calculated to fix the attention without straining it.
In the Polish version of Scrabble, the letter Z is worth one point.
Monopoly makers claim that the game was invented by a broke man named Charles Darrow who started sketching street names on his tablecloth. However, although he was involved (he took out US Patent 2,026,082 on the game) not only did he borrow the idea, but he hired a graphic designer to work on the board, so he certainly wasn't penniless. The game was originally developed by a woman named Lizzie Magie, an economic progressive who wanted ‘not only afford amusement’ to players but to educate them about how 1900s economics was unfairly weighted in favour of the landlord.
The best properties to own are the orange ones: Bow Street (£180), Marlborough Street (£180) and Vine Street (£200), because these are the ones players are most likely to land on when leaving Jail.
There is no Marlborough Street in Central London; the one in Monopoly is supposed to be Great Marlborough Street. Marlboro Cigarettes are also named after that street - the site of their first factory. There is also no road called Bond Street in Central London – it is now split into New Bond Street and Old Bond Street.
More than 150 million Scrabble sets have been sold in 29 languages since 1948. 30,000 games start every hour.
Children are the most desirable opponents at Scrabble as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat.
Snakes and Ladders is based on the second century AD game Hindu Moksha-Patamu which was meant to teach children about karma. The 'evil deed' squares which moved you back included disobedience, impure thoughts, drunkenness, murder and desire. Virtue squares moved you forward and included faith, perseverance, compassion, knowledge, and self-denial.
While Snakes and Ladders is Eastern in origin, but Chinese Checkers was invented in Germany in 1892 under the name ‘Stern-Halma’ as a variation of the older American game Halma. Calling the game ‘Chinese’ was a marketing tactic by the Pressman Games Company who acquired the rights in 1928.
The most commonly played word in competitive Scrabble is 'qi', the Chinese word for ‘life force’. The highest scoring word possible is Oxyphenbutazone (a drug used to treat arthritis). It could potentially earn 1,178 – but this has never happened as far as anyone knows. The highest recorded single word score is 392 for ‘caziques’, played by Dr Karl Khoshnaw at Manchester in 1982 (a cazique is a Native American chieftain). The highest score ever reached in a competitive game is 1,320 at Lexington, Massachusetts in 2006.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, then it’s just fun that you can’t see.
The standard American Monopoly board is not based on New York. It's based on Atlantic City, New Jersey.