Sugoroku

Man and woman playing ban-sugoroku
(from Hikone Screen)

Sugoroku (雙六 or 双六) (literally 'double six') refers to two different forms of a Japanese board game: ban-sugoroku (盤双六, 'board-sugoroku') which is similar to western backgammon, and e-sugoroku (絵双六, 'picture-sugoroku') which is similar to western Snakes and Ladders.[1]

Ban-sugoroku

Ban-sugoroku plays identically to backgammon (it even has the same starting position), except for the following differences:

  • Doubles are not special. If a player rolls doubles, each die still counts only once.
  • There is no "bearing off". The goal is to move all of one's men to within the last six spaces of the board.
  • There is no doubling cube.
  • "Closing out", that is forming a prime of six contiguous points with one or more of opponents men on the bar, is an automatic win.

The game is thought to have been introduced from China (where it was known as Shuanglu) into Japan in the sixth century.

It is known that in the centuries following the game's introduction into Japan it was made illegal several times, most prominently in 689 and 754. This is because the simple and luck-based nature of sugoroku made it an ideal gambling game. This version of sugoroku and records of playing for gambling continuously appeared until early Edo era. In early Edo-era, a new and quick gambling game called Chō-han (丁半) appeared and using sugoroku for gambling quickly dwindled.

This variant of the backgammon family has died out in Japan and most other countries, with the Western style modern backgammon (with doubling-cube) having some avid players.

Other Languages
Deutsch: Sugoroku
français: Sugoroku
한국어: 쌍륙
日本語: すごろく
slovenščina: Sugoroku
українська: Суґороку
中文: 雙陸