Also called by a bewildering variety of alternative names such as “close the doors”, it isn’t known where this old game originated. Most theories point to a source in Northern France; some specify Normandy and the Channel Islands as the specific location and claim that it has been played there for at least two hundred years. There is only evidence for it within England from the middle of the twentieth century, it having reputedly been brought to the South of England from the Channel Islands in 1958 by Mr. ‘Chalky’ Towbridge. The game is apparently also popular in Zambia!
An old pub gambling favorite, Shut the Box uses two dice and a special wooden playing tray. In the most common version, the tray features the numbers 1 – 9 in a row, each of which has a hinged cover and a turn involves repeatedly throwing the dice and shutting or covering a number or pair of numbers each 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 ultimate aim is to completely cover all numbers or “shut the box” which results in the best possible score of zero.