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How To Play Shut The Box

Updated on November 12, 2014

I was thinking about creating a game with playing cards and dice. Since playing cards each have a numeric rank and dice have numbers, you can match the dice total to one or more playing cards.

Then I remembered a dice game called Shut the Box. There is a wooden box with the numbers '1' through '9' printed in a row along the top edge. Next to each number there is a hinged wooden tile that can be flipped over to cover that number. You throw two dice into the box, and match the dice total to the numbers printed along the top edge. If you find a match, you flip a tile over it to cover it.

If you don't have a wooden box, you can write the numbers '1' through '9' on a piece of paper and place coins over the numbers that match the dice totals. You can also use the 'Ace' through 'Nine' from one suit of playing cards, lay them face-up in a row on the table, and flip over the cards that match the dice totals.

The Rules.

The full rules are as follows.

Shut the Box is a dice game for two or more players using standard dice.

At the beginning of the game, each player rolls the dice and the player with the highest roll becomes the starting player.

Each player in turn then tries to shut the box, to cover all of the numbers using the totals from a series of dice rolls. The starting player goes first, followed by each player in turn moving clockwise around the table.

A player rolls the two dice, and looks at covering one or more uncovered numbers that add up to the total thrown.

If an 8 is thrown, the player can cover:
- the 8,
- the 7 and 1,
- the 6 and 2,
- the 5 and 3,
- the 5, 2 and 1, or
- the 4, 3, and 1.

The tiles covered must add up to the dice total.

When a player succeeds in covering numbers, that player continues to roll the dice.

If the 7, 8, and 9 are all covered, the player can choose to roll just one die.

When the player rolls a total that cannot cover one or more uncovered numbers, the player's turn ends. The player scores the total of the remaining uncovered numbers, and passes the dice to the next player to the left.

When all of the players have tried to shut the box, the scores are compared. The player with the lowest score wins the game.

Simultaneous Shut the Box.

Shut the box can be played by all of the players simultaneously if playing cards are used. Give each player the Ace through Ten of one suit. (With more than four players, multiple decks of cards will be needed.)

A starting player is selected as in regular Shut the Box. Each player hold the Ace through Nine in their hand and lays the Ten face-down on the table.

Then each player in turn rolls the dice beginning with the starting player and moving clockwise around the table.

After a roll, each player selects the card or cards in his or her hand that match the total rolled, and lays the card or cards in a pile face-down on the table. When all of the players have selected cards, each player lays the cards selected onto her or his layout of covered tiles. In each case, the selected cards must add up to the dice total.

If a player has the Seven, Eight, and Nine covered, that player can chose to use the total of one dice. The player turns the Ten face-up, and the player rolling the dice rolls one die first (the one die), followed by the second die.

When a player cannot cover a tile or tiles using the dice total, he or she places the remaining cards face-down in a stack on the table and waits for the other players to finish. That player still rolls the dice.

When all of the players have stopped shutting the box, each player adds up the total of her or his uncovered tiles. The player with the lowest score wins the game.


Simultaneous Shut the Box allows all players to share the dice totals so that one player's good totals don't overpower another player's bad totals. To me this is an interesting change to an already popular game.


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