How to Play Shut the Box (Rules, Tips And Guidelines )

Let us introduce you to Shut The Box – a game so simple, fun, and immersive, even kids will have a hard time letting you win.

Shut The Box rose to popularity as a dice game and continues to maintain that reputation in several high and low-end bars across the globe under a variety of names including Clackers, Trick Track, and Jackpot. It has slowly also found a place in our homes and fun family nights.

With this article, let’s add another variety to your itinerary of game nights.

What Is Shut The Box Game?

Shut The Box Game Info image

Shut The Box is a simple dice game that requires more than sheer luck with the throw of dice to win. The total value of the number of pips on the dice corresponds to the total value of tiles a player can drop, which brings in the element of arithmetic thinking and strategy to win the game. With each tile, you drop, you inch closer to shutting the box.

Number Of Players: Preferably 2-4, but can be enjoyed among larger groups

Ages: Fun for all ages

Difficulty: Easy

Main Objective: Getting numbers on the dice that exactly add up to the value that is required to drop the tiles, and finally shut the box while maintaining the score as low as possible.

Why We Love It: Shut The Box requires minimum set-up, is flexible to the number of friends or players involved and can be enjoyed for hours at end without getting bored. The ease of the game coupled with the low chances of winning makes us all want to have at least one more go at it.

Shut The Box: A Brief History

Although the history of Shut The Box lacks conclusive evidence, tell-tales confirm it dates back to as long as the 12th century and finds origins in France. Some theories also suggest that it was born in the bars during the mid 20th century and the pubs of 1960s Manchester are living proof of the same.

Equipment And Set-Up: What You Need To Get Started

Shut The Box game can be set-up within a minute and you hardly need to get your hands on a lot. Have a look at what you’ll need:

Baize Interior Box

– Shut The Box is played in a small box of about 14 inches in horizontal length that opens up into a tray with tiles.

– Generally, 1 row of 9 tiles numbered 1 to 9 are arranged along the top length

– However, for convenient multi-player versions, companies like We Games offer a box with 10 tiles arranged along all four lengths.

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WE Games - The Original Shut The Box Dice Game - Walnut Wood - 4 Players can Play at The Same time for The Classroom, Home or Pub - Large Size - 14 inches
$49.99 $29.99
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10/07/2023 06:07 pm GMT


2 dice are required for a traditional game; multiples of two can be used when players are throwing simultaneously.

– These come along with any shut the box game set you purchase like this set by Front Porch Classics provide dice matching the theme of the box.

Front Porch Classics Circa Shut-the-Box, Wooden 9 Number Dice Game with Case for Travel, for Adults and Kids Ages 8 and Up
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We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/02/2023 12:37 am GMT

Shut The Box Rules And Guidelines

Shut The Box rules are easy to get a hang of which makes it an easy game to play. However, that’s pretty much superficial because the risk management of choosing the right combination to drop down and arithmetics involved make it a difficult game to win.

The probability of winning shut the box is found out to be 1 in 276 and this adds all the more to the appeal of shutting the box. Curious about how to exactly go about the game? Find out below.

Playing The Game

The traditional Shut The Box rules don’t allow rotation, which means one player plays all chances in a single turn before passing on the dice to the next player.

The first player throws the dice and the number of pips that appear on the upper face of the dice is added (generally barring exceptions or variations in which they are subtracted). The resulting number tile(s), in the player’s preferred combination, is then dropped.

A player continues to play the turn until the dice throw yields a number that cannot be added up to a corresponding tile combination. Once this sort of a ‘dead-end’ arrives, the player’s turn is over and the dice are passed on to the next player.

Point To Remember: If the numbers 7-9 are all dropped during a player’s turn, the player can choose to play with a single dice.

Tip: Go for a single die when the remaining tile numbers are really small because the chances of scoring them as addition are rare.

Example: Let’s understand the game better by taking an instance of two players, A and B, playing Shut The Box with 9 tiles.

Player A throws the dice and the upward faces have 3 and 4 pips which add up to 7. Now, this player has the option to drop the following tiles:

– 7

– 6,1

– 5,2

– 4,3

– 4,2,1

Suppose Player A decides to drop 4,2, and 1, so in the consecutive chances the player will aim to drop the remaining — 3,5,6,7,8,9 tiles. A continues to throw dice and now only tiles 3 and 6 are remaining which leaves the player with the choice of ditching the second die.

Player A chooses to continue playing with two dies and in the next throw, the number of pips is 6 and 2 which add up to 8. Had the player gone with the choice of playing with one die, the chances of dropping 6 in this throw would have been 50% whereas getting a 3 and 3 to drop 6 was far lower.

Player A meets a dead end and has to pass the dice to player B.

Player B continues in the same fashion and the tiles numbered 1,2, and 5 remain. The player chooses to roll a single die because two numbers are smaller (follows the above tip) and the next throw yields the number 2. Now the player is left with tile 5 and 1.

The player can move on to play the remaining two chances to attempt to shut the box, or simply declare the victory by comparing the scores.

Scoring And Winning in Shut The Box

shut the box image

Scores are calculated towards the end of a player’s turn by adding up the values of the remaining standing tiles. If any player manages to drop all tiles and shut the box, the player becomes the obvious winner of the game. If no player is able to shut the box, the player with the lowest score wins.

In the above example, player A’s score totals to 9 (the sum of 3 and 6). No matter if player B meets the dead-end in the next throw or not, B is the winner because the remaining tiles add up to 6, which is a lower number.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the rules of subtraction in Shut The box?

Traditional Shut The Box only allows the addition of the number of pips on the dice to shut down tiles, however, the rules of subtraction are valid in some variations. Here, the larger number on one die subtracts smaller one on the other and the resulting number is shut down. The rest of the game continues in the traditional format.

Can kids play Shut The Box?

Although popular as an adult’s dice game, Shut The Box is an excellent tool to help children practice basic mental addition in a fun way.

Which is the most popular variation of Shut The Box?

Golf, missionary, and Canoga are the most popular variants of this game. While the first two primarily vary in the rules of scoring from the original game, Canoga divides the tiles among participants and the rules followed then are similar to golf.

Alternative Games to Shut the Box You Might Like to Try

For a fun family game of dice, try out Qwixx whereas for super interesting card games, don’t forget to check out Five Crowns or Queen Poker.

You might also like games like Headbanz, Boggle and Dice Forge to add variety to your frequent family game nights. It’s simple to play and is all fun.

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