Games that originated in pubs
Drinking in pubs has been a favourite past time for many for centuries, and during those years many people have come up with new ways to keep themselves entertained by inventing games to pass the time. In fact, some of our most loved games might not have been around today unless it was for the local pub and ale house. Here’s a look back at how a few of our most loved games originated or were made popular in pubs.
Possibly the first ever game to be played in a pub is backgammon. The game was invented around five thousand years ago in Iraq, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that it came to Great Britain. It’s thought backgammon really took off in pubs around England because people could bet on the outcome of games. A number of Elizabethan laws were passed to ban the game being played, but by the 18th century these had all been reversed and even members of the English clergy were said to be fans of the game.
Of course one of the most popular games to have originated from a pub to be considered a sport has to be darts. The first reference to the game ever being played comes from two journals in 1819, but back then a blowpipe was used to fire the darts onto the board. The target was similar to that of an archery target, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that the board began to look like it does today. It is thought that the board was divided up into numbers by French fairground stall owners to make the game look easier than it is.
Unlike most pub games, darts is considered to be a real sport where players can earn big money from championships around the world. Tournaments like the European championships can give out big cash prizes and like all traditional sports, people can place bets on the outcome of games as well on sites like Bookies.
It’s thought skittles was one of the most popular games of the medieval ages, but its popularity in modern times is probably down to pubs. The basic rules of the game are simple, throw a ball at some pins and try and knock as many as you can down. But because there were never any federations or rule books created for skittles, most of the rules were created by people in pubs and passed on to their friends. This means that the rules and even the size of the pins differ from county to county depending on what pub you visited.
Whist most traditional pub games are being replaced by electronic ones around the country, some ale houses are still trying to keep the history of these games alive. Hopefully the rules can be remembered for new generations to continue to enjoy these games whether they are in a pub or not.