Not only is Yahtzee one of the most difficult games in history to spell correctly, it is also one of the most difficult games to truly understand. It might look simple at first - dice, a shaker and a notepad - but one look at the instruction manual was enough to put many a kid off for life. But if you put the time in and managed to master the game of Yahtzee, this in itself always earned you a great deal of respect from peers and parents alike.
The name of the game comes from the fact that its inventors were based on a yacht when they came up with the idea. It was during 1956 that Yahtzee came to fruition - out of sheer boredom - and fast became popular through word of mouth. The two wealthy Canadian yachtsmen behind the game approached Edwin Lowe, who'd developed the bingo games back in the 1920, who decided to manufacture the game after buying the rights from the two entrepeneurs. In 1973, Edwin Lowe was bought out by Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) and Yahtzee went from strength to strength, marketed at first as 'The game that makes you think while having fun' and then later 'The fun game that makes thinking fun'.
There's a huge degree of luck involved in a game of Yahtzee. Each player received five dice to roll on each of his goes. These are shaken in the cup and rolled onto the table for all to see. You may choose to keep certain dice as they are or choose to roll again (you can do this three times on a go). Your aim is to achieve the highest combined score in each of the scoring categories. Much like a game of poker, Yahtzee's scoring categories comprised three and four of a kind, full house, large and small straights, plus a chance slot and a Yahtzee slot (five of a kind). There were 13 possible scoring combinations. A game of Yahtzee consists of 13 rounds during which the player chooses which scoring combination is to be used in that round. Once a combination has been used in the game, it cannot be used again. This was all kept a record of in the supplied notebook, using one of those tiny pens you see in banks, then totted up at the end of the game. Obviously, a Yahtzee was the coveted combination - not only for its 50-point score, but because you could brag about your random good luck too!
Like any simple game that scored well with consumers, Yahtzee was given a few makeovers in its time and appeared as in a travel-sized version, Word Yahtzee, Casino, Pyramid, Battle, Triple, Triple Deluxe, Showdown and even an electronic version and now as an application for the Apple iPhone. In the 70s, there was even a TV show based around the game.
Clearly, it must be doing something right, as according to Hasbro, 50 million Yahtzee games are still sold each year, proving once again that maths can be (ahem) fun!