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shut the box

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Shut the Box

This game, for two or more players, has long been popular in Northern France. Players roll dice to cover (or flip) a set of numbers 1 to 9. The player with the lowest score wins (or the person who manages to close the box.)


  1. two dice
  2. a board (or a sheet of paper!) with nine boxes numbered 1 to 9
  3. nine counters used to cover the numbers during the course of the game—in some parts of the world, specifically made trays with sliding or flipping tiles are used (as seen above)

Players aim to cover as many of the numbers as possible, in accordance with the throws of the dice. High-numbered boxes should be covered first, since it is the player with the lowest score who wins.

Begins after a preliminary round has decided the first shooter (usually the player with the highest roll of the dice). Each play in turn throws the two dice, adding the spot values and deciding which boxes to cover.

For example, a throw totaling 10 would allow the player to cover these combinations:


Once the player has covered his chosen numbers, they throw again and makes a further choice. Numbers that have been covered up cannot be used. When a player has covered up the three highest numbers (7,8, and 9), only one die may be thrown. Continue throwing until no combinations match the remaining numbers still uncovered. The turn is complete and the uncovered numbers remaining are totaled to constitute the score.


All the numbers on the board are once more exposed and the dice are handed to the next player. Play continues until everyone has a turn. The person with the lowest score wins.

The rare fun part: If all the numbers get covered during a turn, the box is closed and that player wins. (It's good to slam the lid shut for full effect.)

Betting optional :
Create a pot and have folks ante up to play. This can be as little as a quarter or as much as the market is willing to bear.