Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Pub Games Compendium

The classic Pub Games Compendium (above), which includes numerous dice games housed in a Shut The Box, can still occasionally be found in pubs, though sadly it's much rarer to see them in use these days. The presence of a compendium like this in a pub is perhaps a little odd given that most of the games included, and this one lists 20 in the rules booklet, are traditionally associated with gambling. The Gambling Act of 2005 prohibits gambling in pubs.

In practice there are a number of exemptions to this prohibition on gambling in pubs, including the increasingly popular card game Poker, and what are termed 'Equal Chance Games' including Dominoes and Cribbage, so long as the stakes are small. The position with regard to other games of chance, such as the dice games included in this compendium, is not entirely clear, but given that the purpose of the current law is to protect the public from the potential for crime in environments where gambling is unregulated, it's perhaps unlikely that a pound or two on the roll of a dice or the draw of a Domino would draw much attention from law enforcement. Having said that, it's perhaps best to ask the licensee when money is involved in gaming, as it's likely to be their neck on the line should the law inadvertently be broken on their premises. The Poker Dice shown here is a set from games manufacturer K&C, and this game is now presumably included in the 'small stakes' exemption that Poker players enjoy.

The 'Imperial' Dominoes shown above are one of the most commonly found of all vintage sets, and can sometimes still be seen in use where the game is played in pubs. The set advertising Banks's Brewery is yet another example of the strong connection which once existed between beer and tobacco brands, and their prospective customers predilection for gaming at the pub.

Spoof is a classic game of concealment and strategic guesswork, played for small stakes, or more usually a round of drinks, and ideally suited to group play in the pub. The rules are simple. Players conceal from 0 - 3 coins in their closed fists before each player then takes it in turn to guess the total number of coins in play. No player can guess the same number as another, and the player who guesses the correct number each round drops out. The eventual loser is the one who survives the game longest without guessing the correct number, and therefore pays out the stake or buys the round!

Any three coins will do for a game of Spoof, but these Theakston Brewery branded examples add an element of the 'official' to a game which is essentially equipment-free. This set was kindly given to me by games enthusiast and keen skittler John Penny of Dorset. The pinnacle of Spoofing is the United Kingdom Spoof Open Championships, which will be held at the Sutton Staithe Hotel in Norfolk on the 19th of December this year.

The two small brass items shown here represent just two of the hundreds, possibly thousands of different designs of Put & Take spinners to be found. The variety in form of Put & Take's is almost limitless, and needless to say represents fertile ground for the collector. See here for an idea of the huge diversity which exists in such a simple game. Put & Take is yet another example of an easily concealed gambling game which would have been a popular pursuit in pubs at one time. It's also a game which I can't say that I've ever seen being played, which is kind of the point I guess!

More pub games designed to keep a particular drinks brand at the forefront of players minds. This Olde English Cyder 'Inne Games Compendium' includes three sets of branded Darts flights, Poker Dice, and the classic pub game staples of Cards, Dominoes, and a Cribbage Board.

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