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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Crown and Anchor


Guest Hill 60
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I keep coming across references in books on WWI to a game called Crown and Anchor.

Can anyone shed some light on how this game was played? I believe it involved 2 dice, with special markings, and a board.

Is the game still played, maybe under a new name?

Cheers - Lee :blink:

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There's a full description of the game in Denis Winter's _Death's Men_. I don't have my copy to hand at the minute but I'm sure someone will have.

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Here's the bit from 'Death's Men:

"The only game for gambling hard core was Crown and Anchor. Illegal at the time, it is hard today to find out the rules, though a pub near the Elephant and Castle in South London keeps the name alive. There were three dice with a symbol of the game on each facet. The participant placed his money on one of the board symbols. If that figure came up on all three dice, the man got three times his stake back, if on two dice, double, and so on. In the parlance of the game, the crown was the sergeant-major, the spade the shovel, the diamond the curse and the anchor the meathook. The game might be known as Bumble and Buck, and the symbols as the dart [heart], shamrock [club], gravedigger [spade] and Kimberley [diamond]. The chat, recalled by Graham, was part of the game.

'Here we are again. The sweaty socks. Cox and Co. the army bankers. Badly bent but never broke. Safe as the Bank of England. Undefeated because they never fought. The rough and the tough, the old and the bold. Where ye lay, we pay. Come and put your money with the lucky old man. I touch the money but I never touch the dice. Any more for the lucky old heart? Make it evens on the lucky old heart. If you don't speculate, you won't accumulate.......' "

There's a lot more where that came from, and if you understand it you're a better man than me!

Cheers

Joe

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Film buffs may like to compare this 'patter' to the opening of the mockney epic _Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells_ Plus ca change! :D

Simon

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Joe - Thanks for that! I'll start looking for some dice, learn the game and fleece the family around the Christmas table!

Seriously, I think that I used to have one of these dice when I was a kid. I think I threw it away about 20 years ago!

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Tne Crown and Anchor game originated in the Royal Navy but appears to have be taken up by every shark under the sun. As JoeG has said, it was illegal, which no doubt made it even more attractive. I have come across several references to it being played during off duty hours on the Western Front.

The only winner of course was the "board" owner who had patter enough to attract the hardened gambler, or more often the naive first -timer. The "board" was often a piece of cloth, marked out appropriately, which could be quickly folded and pocketed when the owner's lookouts spotted the approach of the Military Police or orderly officer.

Believe it or not it is now sold as a PC game!

Terry Reeves

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Cheers - Terry. I did read that the 'board' was normally made of cloth for easy of concealment.

If 4 of the faces of the dice showed 1 of the 'signs' then what was on the other 2 sides, was it a gold dot?

Don't suppose anyone knows if the dice are still available anywhere?

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Good news, Lee! You can now compose your letter to Father Christmas.

Crown and Anchor (the mat, betting chips and dice) is included in a set called Shipmates Dice Games, which costs £5.99 from House of Marbles (who specialise in the most beautiful marbles on the planet) in Devon. Tel 01626 835286 or uk@ houseofmarbles.com. They do home delivery.

Gwyn :P

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I have a public announcement to make, I AM A MUPPET.

After my better half knocked off duty last night she came home and read through the Forum. She noticed my question on the Crown and Anchor game, she then went into the loft and brought down a box of dice games which included.....yes, Crown and Anchor!!! How was I to know she bought it 10 years ago?

Many thanks to all who helped me with this question. The game she has doesn't have the rules anymore so the help there was welcome!

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I'm vaguely familiar with the game "Crown and Anchor", but i read somewhere, that a popular pastime of the German soldier was a card game known as "Skat". I don't mean to confuse the issue, the playing of the above sounds complicated enough :blink: , but does anybody know anything about the rules of "Skat", was it a gambling game etc?

Lee, Connect 4 is about my limit!! :D

Regards, Chris Noble.

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