50 Mind-Boggling Facts About Your Favorite Board Games

Reading these won’t be a trivial pursuit.

1. Original paper versions of Battleship included land areas in addition to the water.

2. Battleship was one of the first games to be made into a computer game in 1979.

3. The inventor of Boggle, Allan Turoff, was married in FAO Schwarz’s dollhouse department.

4. In order to prevent Boggle players from using a certain swear word, the letters F and K only appear once on the same cube, making it impossible for them to both be played at the same time.

5. Candy Land was at the center of one of the first disputes over domain names on the web, as in the mid-’90s candyland.com was a porn site. Hasbro successfully sued for control of the domain.

6. Candy Land was invented by a retired schoolteacher while she was recovering from polio.

7. The phrase “back to square one” might have been inspired by Chutes and Ladders.

8. The player who goes first in Connect Four can win 100% of the time.

9. A traditional Connect Four board has 4,531,985,219,092 possible positions.

10. There is an urban legend that David Bowie invented Connect Four. English radio DJ Stuart Maconie made that particular piece of trivia up.

11. There is an unconfirmed story that Captain Cook was one of the first people to play a Connect Four-style game. The famous explorer apparently spent so much time in his quarters playing the game that it was nicknamed “cabin mistress.”

12. The inventor of Cranium came up with the idea for the game after he and his wife dominated another couple in Pictionary, but lost horribly in Scrabble.

13. Cranium was the first non-coffee product to be sold at Starbucks.

14. It was also the first game to be sold on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

15. The original Game of Life featured spaces for suicide, disgrace, poverty, and prison.

16. The Checkered Game of Life, the precursor to the modern Game of Life, was Milton Bradley’s first and only game.

17. A Life tile awarding the player $100,000 for winning a Nobel Prize was replaced with a new tile providing the same amount for appearing on a reality TV show.

18. The name Jenga is based on the Swahili word meaning “to build.”

19. According to Hasbro, the tallest Jenga tower ever was 40 levels tall plus two additional blocks on top.

20. The longest Monopoly game ever went on for 70 straight days.

21. Parker Brothers once sent a group of players who had run out of money during a 161-hour marathon game extra cash by plane and an armored car.

Fred van den Driessche / Flickr: fredvdd

22. It’s possible (though incredibly improbable) to win a two-player game of Monopoly in only 21 seconds. It would take four turns and only nine rolls of the dice.

23. The most expensive Monopoly set in the world is worth $2 million. It was crafted with 23-karat gold, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.

24. The prisoner on the jail space has a name: Jake the Jailbird.

25. Fidel Castro banned Monopoly in Cuba.

26. In World War II, the Allies smuggled maps, compasses, and files to POWs by hiding them in Monopoly sets.

27. Parker Brothers prints 30 times more Monopoly money every year than the United States prints real money.

28. The prize money for winning the Monopoly World Championship is $20,580 — the same amount of money there is in the game’s bank.

29. The tokens were inspired by pieces on a charm bracelet on the suggestion of inventor Charles Darrow’s niece.

30. Operation was invented by a sophomore at the University of Illinois in 1962 as part of a class assignment to invent a game or toy.

31. The inventor, John Spinello, only made $500 off his game after selling the prototype.

32. The “patient” in Operation is named “Cavity Sam.”

33. The “brain freeze” ailment was added to the game in 2003 following a public vote, beating out “growling stomach” and “tennis elbow.”

34. Ouija boards were widely regarded as “harmless parlor tricks” until famous spiritualists began taking them seriously in World War I.

35. A convicted murderer was once awarded a retrial because four of the jurors used a Ouija board to determine his guilt.

36. Musician Alice Cooper adopted his stage name after a Ouija board told him he was a the reincarnation of a 17th-century witch.

37. Risk was invented by Albert Lamorisse, a famous french film director best known for his short film The Red Balloon.

38. There are 13 words in the official Scrabble dictionary that are impossible to play even using both blank tiles, including KNICKKNACK, PIZZAZZ, and SENSELESSNESSES.

39. Assuming you get the right triple word and double letter tiles, the highest possible scoring words are NETZAHUALCOYOTL and CZECHOSLOVAKIAN.

flickr.com / Creative Commons

40. Using all of your letters in one turn is called a Bingo.

41. Inventor Alfred Mosher Butts determined how many of each letter there should be by counting letters on the pages of the New York Times, and other popular newspapers.

42. Scrabble is an official sport in several African countries, including Senegal and Mali.

43. One in three American households has a Scrabble set.

44. Official Scrabble tournaments use totally flat tiles so players can’t pick the letters they want by “brailing” and feeling the surface of the tiles.

45. The first 5,000 copies of Settlers of Catan sold out so fast that inventor Klaus Teuber doesn’t have a copy of the first edition.

46. Two journalists invented Trivial Pursuit in 45 minutes after being shocked at the price of a Scrabble set.

47. The author of a series of trivia encyclopedias sued the makers of Trivial Pursuit for allegedly stealing questions from his books, as one question was an intentionally wrong fact he’d put in to thwart copiers.

48. In the early ’80s there was only one company in the United States that had the special card stock for Trivial Pursuit’s questions, and there were huge delivery delays as a result.

49. According to Hasbro, Yahtzee was invented by a wealthy Canadian couple who liked to play the game on their Yacht.

50. The probability of rolling a Yahtzee in one roll is 1 in 1296. The chances of doing it in all 13 rounds of a normal game are 1 in 29 duodecillion — A 41 decimal-long number.

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