Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Ancient Games Still Played Today

 Many of us love playing games. Board games is a fantastic way to spend quality time with friends and family. But did you know that some games are thousands of years old? The oldest game known in the world is Senet, an ancient Egyptian board game played by royalty about 4,000 years ago.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Board games has been around since the beginning of time, and as such, there are many board games that people still enjoy playing today. 

The oldest games in the world can be found in different variations or under different names all over the world. The board game bingo is an excellent example of this. It was played by Native Americans long before it became popular in England, where its name came from.

Bingo is a board game played with cards and numbers, which sports the same name as its caller. The objective of the game? To have a matching card number called out by the caller on one's board - or to be first when all the board numbers are matched! Bingo can still be found in many places worldwide and is also a popular game in some school lessons.

Other board games like chess, checkers, and backgammon originate from ancient India or China, respectively, but you will find them on every continent these days!


Sanet is a board game for two players and one of the oldest board games in the world, which are still played today. Sanet has been around since at least 2000 BC; there's evidence that it was being played as early as 3000 to 4000 years ago! Furthermore, the game is an Egyptian invention—one can see similarities between Sanet boards from this time period with those found on modern-day tables.

How To Play Sanet

The board consists of four rows (piles) containing six fields each, so 24 squares total. Players alternately place stones along their own row (from right to left), trying to form continuous lines across the entire board without disturbing any other player's arrangement. 

Once a stone touches another stone horizontally or vertically, they are locked in place. Players continue to play pieces until all board spaces are filled, or the last stone is placed on their own row, and they have no more stones left, at which point a player wins by forming continuous lines across their opponents' board first!

This board game has been passed down through generations because it can be played for centuries without updating with new rules. So it's easy to understand how Sanet became one of the oldest board games still enjoyed today. The ancient Egyptians invented this winning board game thousands of years ago—and it's still around today!


Backgammon is known as one of the oldest board games played today. It's believed to date back to 3000 BC in Ancient Egypt, and it is still popular among many groups around the world.

Backgammon was brought from Europe to America by English settlers looking for a game that would be different from those they had at home. Settlers found Native American players playing a variation that used dice. At the same time, Europeans preferred board-based games like chess or checkers - so this easy-to-learn alluring pastime became an instant hit with colonial Americans! 

The use of these two teams allowed for more strategic play as well as options when rolling dice (such as doubling stakes). Backgammon has been enjoyed by presidents such as George Washington and James Madison and is still played today as a board game, card game, or online.


In ancient times, chess was played on a board of eight rows by eight columns. Some believe that the game originated in India during the Gupta Empire (320-550), and some historians believe it might have been invented in Persia or China. This is not clear because there are no written records from this time period documenting who created chess.

Photo by Lars Mai from Pexels

It may have also come about as an evolution of earlier games such as shatranj which had similar board layouts and pieces but different rules.

One thing for certain is that the knights were used to guard pawns at least 200 years before their introduction into European chess play around 1000 AD; this implies Persian origin.

The first documented mention of "chess" comes from Iran, where writings suggest Muslim traders picked up the game from the chessboard during their voyages to India or Persia.

How To Play Chess

The board consists of 64 squares arranged in eight lines (eight rows) by eight columns; this board can be represented as a matrix with two dimensions: horizontal rank ("files") and vertical column ("ranks"). 

Each square has four corner spaces on its perimeter, used for diagonally adjacent pieces; these positions cannot hold other pieces. Thus, both players start without any piece except the king's pawn at one end of the board. Players then alternate turns, moving either a single chessman or groups thereof horizontally across ranks onto unoccupied squares until they reach either one of the board's opposite corners or a row where they cannot make any further moves. 

A chessman can only move to an unoccupied square that is not attacked by an opponent's piece; in this way, it resembles international draughts that also had similar rules.


Also known as "draughts," are early games dating back to ancient times. The earliest evidence of the game is found in Egyptian reliefs from around 1500 BC. From there, it spread throughout Europe and eventually became known as checkers (or draughts). 

Checkers has been played on a board with two rows of 12 squares each since at least 1400 AD, but games may have existed before this time that used other shapes for the playing field, such as triangles or hexagons instead of squares.

The rules vary slightly depending on where you live, which sometimes leads people to believe they are different games altogether! For example:

  • French Draughts uses all six pieces.

  • English Draughts use only King and Queen.

  • American Checkers uses only four pieces.

How To Play Checkers

The game is played on an eight-by-eight board with twelve pieces per player. Players use the checkers to capture their opponents' pieces or bear them off the board entirely.

The board is empty at the start of a game; each player owns eight checkers, which are initially placed on their two backmost rows.

 "To start," one player moves any number of his own pieces from their first row to an unoccupied space in front of them, slides them down until they stop, and then places another piece into the now-empty space behind it (if there was more than one move). Then, the game continues with players taking turns moving or sliding remaining pieces forward as many spaces as desired so long as no other rules interfere.

A draw can occur when neither side has enough checkers for all its points, called a kinged board. Although this term originally referred to stalemate positions where both kings could not move, it has come to mean any board where neither player can make a move.


Monopoly is another old board game still played today; Monopoly's origins lie in America, dating back to 1903 where it was originally called 'The Landlord's Game.' 

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

This board game allows players to build property empires by buying, trading, and auction properties. Monopoly is played by players around the world in different variations, with some board games having up to 200 spaces!

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and ladder is a traditional game that is played by two or more players, with the objective to be first to reach the end of the board.

Snakes and ladders games were originally used as an ancient Indian game in Hinduism where it was believed you could win your way out of reincarnation through spiritual discipline; later versions including this one may have been created for moral instruction.

Snakes and Ladders have been a board game for many years and many children still enjoy this board game today!

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