Games with fake / unreasonable history
Arty Sandler
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Recently I got an idea to make a list of games, which are unreasonably claimed to be traditional to some place or another (or not claimed but thought to have some long history by many people).

If you know such games, please add it to the list and provide some short comment explaining game's situation.

UPDATE: old games with some widely known but "fake" legend are welcome too.
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1. Board Game: Surakarta [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:11651]
 
Arty Sandler
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This game is called a "traditional Indonesian game" in many places, including Wikipedia. However, it seems that this claim is unreasonable. You can read the following thread to get more information:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/389921/
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2. Board Game: Chinese Checkers [Average Rating:5.10 Overall Rank:17509]
Arty Sandler
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Many people think that this game is an old Chinese one. Well, one of the reasons for that is the game's name. However, this game is not that old (it was invented in 1892) and it has nothing to do with China (nor with Checkers).
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3. Board Game: Kalah [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:3656]
Arty Sandler
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Kalah is another game that is thought to be an old Mankala game by many people. The game was invented in 1940.
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4. Board Game: Tavreli [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Arty Sandler
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Tavreli is claimed to be a traditional Russian Chess-like game. There are some grounds for the existence of a game called Tavreli in the past, however, there is no strict evidence of that game being Chess-like.

Today's Tavreli has nothing to do with any old game: it was invented by several people in the late 90s of XX century.
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5. Board Game: Coppertwaddle [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:12822]
Caleb
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Seminole
Florida
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How about tongue-in-cheek claims? The faux history of Coppertwaddle is pretty interesting reading in its own right.
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6. Board Game: Gala [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
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Compared to Gala, the claims about Surakarta even look sensible because the supposed origin is moved to the other side of the earth. And that is difficult to check. Gala seems completely made up, including the names of the pieces. I remember somebody saying that there is no evidence the game has ever been played by anyone. Take this with a grain of salt, but you will get the idea.
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7. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:143]
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
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So, emperor Yao sat down and invented a game for the edification and education of his spoiled son. And since we know when emperor Yao lived, we know that Go is 4300 years old. Or so. Hey, it is what it says on BGG!

Let me tell you about the day Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf sat down in order to design Fox and Geese. Then, we can use it the other way around and date our beloved protagonists from the fairy tales.

For every credibility gap, there is a gullibility fill.
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8. Board Game: Age of Napoleon [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1937]
Mark Paul
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
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Several Solitaire card games have been attributed to Napoleon, either as the fact he was the inventor or constant player. The double-pack game Napoleon at St. Helena, is such an example. We do know that he played and studied the game of Whist,but there is no account of his playing any patience games.
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9. Board Game: Connect Four [Average Rating:4.85 Overall Rank:17540]
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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Connect Four is also sold as "The Captain's Mistress".



"An amusing story is that the game is so called from the fact that Captain Cook hid away in his cabin for hours playing this game, his crew supposing that he was locked away with a mistress. Whether true or not, it certainly gives the game a charming name."
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10. Board Game: Darkies in the Melon Patch [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
 
Trent Hamm
United States
Huxley
Iowa
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See this text? It's a gratuitous waste of GeekGold.
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The game itself isn't important. Spending time intellectually jousting with likeminded folks is the real reason to game.
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This game has a twisted and bizarre history. Here's a taste: the DitMP controversy
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11. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.37 Overall Rank:17563]
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
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Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
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Usually regarded as the brainchild of Charles Darrow,
most of the game really dates back a few decades earlier -
amusingly, as an anti-wealth statement.

Not surprisingly, a burgeoning capitalist managed to
sell the idea as his own.
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12. Board Game: Char [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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The overtext below is true.
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The overtext above is false.
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Char ("the game that decided history") comes with an 8-page booklet describing murky, disputed origins revealed in "Hieroglyphic graffiti within the Gizan pyramids", and tracing the game forwards through history; at the end, there is a page of fake scholarly references.
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13. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:135]
Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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Astounded this one hasn't made the list yet.

It has a long tradition and history in China, does it? Does it really? Hmmm....

Haggis made a similar pretext, only put itself in Scotland instead. One of many reasons why I've never got on well with these two games.
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14. Board Game: Yucata' [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:7141]
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"In the deepest rain forests of Mexico, near the town of Palenque, stands the Mayan Sun temple. Here in 1995, the famous archaeologist and games expert Stefan Dorra, discovered the remains of an ancient game. He used these to reconstruct the game, probably last played around 1300 A.D. The spaces on the board of Yucata' exactly match the ground plan of this renowned archaeological site. The pale and dark stones in the game represent good and evil influences, which the players seek to collect, or avoid. Probably Yucata' was played solely by Mayan priests, as part of their ancient rituals, but there aren't many Mayan priests around these days, so it's probably safe enough to play the game, without any risk of angering the Gods."

I see no way that this could not all be true.
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15. Board Game: Rex [Average Rating:5.73 Unranked]
Felis Concolor
United States
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"Minerva, the goddess of Wisdom, created the game to settle the constant domestic quarreling of Jupiter and Juno, the king and queen of the gods."

Erm, yeah, because we all know that competitive games are great for helping people to get along...
 
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16. Board Game: Lai Shai [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Felis Concolor
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Invented by a man named Lai Shai in 2800 BC China, or by a dude in Chicago in 1943? You be the judge.
 
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17. Board Game: Thunderbird: The Mystic Game of Many Angles [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Felis Concolor
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"The mystic story of the game might be viewed as mere fiction but--is this so?"

Why yes, it is. Still, I enjoy the style of writing found in the rules and story for this game, which can be found as a PDF in the files section.
 
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18. Board Game: Oshi [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:5139]
Felis Concolor
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"When Goddess Amaterasu gifted the first Emperor of Japan with the sanshu no jungi, or Imperial Regalia, she also passed along a piece of her wisdom in the form of a game called Oshi, or Push."

Good game, but a rather extraordinary claim.
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19. Board Game: Wykersham [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:11318]
Felis Concolor
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This one has more of a big fish story than a myth, but I like it. (Read the text from the image for the story.)
 
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20. Board Game: Omnigon [Average Rating:5.84 Overall Rank:13327]
Felis Concolor
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"I happened upon a channel in the rocks that led to a spacious cavern."

Mmmm hmmm.
 
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21. Board Game: Jungle [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:8820]
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
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Just ran across this geeklist while doing some research for an annual medieval games tournament. (I was researching Surakarta at the time.)

I had accepted the many sources that said this was either an "ancient" or at least "traditional" Chinese game, but I began having doubts. I had assumed that it was a traditional game, discovered by westerners, who adapted it into Stratego.

Now I'm not so sure. Try as I might, I can't find any references to this as an ancient game. I can't find literary references. I can find antique Xiangqi boards for sale on e-bay. Not so with Dou Shou Qi. I have found Chinese people who know the game and say it is indeed a popular children's game in China, but it's not like it's a universally played game. It also is curiously lacking in some of the surveys of old games of the orient.

So, is it possible that this is itself a modern adaptation of Stratego, instead of the other way around?

If anyone has a definitive answer, I would appreciate learning it.
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22. Board Game: Jeson Mor [Average Rating:5.42 Unranked]
David Lame
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Huntington Woods
Michigan
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Another game whose lineage I would like to verify, but I'm skeptical.

It's usually attributed as a traditional Mongolian game, and the theme at least is kind of cool, but on sites that talk about Mongolia, Mongolian culture, or Mongolian games, I can't find any reference to it.

If anyone has any more firm information that would fix this as an actual Mongolian game, I would appreciate it. (Or even a translation of the title.)
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23. Board Game: El Tablero de Jesus [Average Rating:4.78 Unranked]
Wolfram Troeder
Germany
Bruchkoebel
Hessen
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The fakest history of all devil

The claim:
"Tablero de Jesus" was very popular in Spain and in the Spanish possessions in the Low Countries during the first half of the fifteenth century. It was banned by the Pope in 1458, which ban apparently stayed in force until the early twentieth century!
In detail:
The history of Tablero:

1. The game is known to have been played by Cistercian monks at the Abbey of Los Santos de Campo in Granada by 1404 and boards have been found in a few Spanish abbeys, as well as Tuscany, Provence and the Low Countries.

2. The Abbot of Cleaves in England, in 1449 refers in his journal to "the Jesus boarde".

3. The Bishop of Limoges defended the game in 1446.

4. The game was banned by Pope Sylvester V in 1458.

5. The board being sold by Erzbergen-St.Susse is based on one found at the Abbey of Saint-Michel-des-Fosses in Provence. This board is highly decorated, with a floral motif covering most of the squares and featuring various religious symbols on some of them. No one seems to know if these symbols influenced play or were merely decoration, but in the footnotes there is a reference to a British professor Bryce Ryefield as having given an opinion on one of the odder symbols on the board.

The truth

1. There is no Abbey of Los Santos de Campo in Granada by 1404. Furthermore 1404 Granada was under Muslim rule!

2. There is no city named Cleaves in England, supposed home of the Abbot of Cleaves, who wrote of the game in his journal.

3. There was indeed a Bishop of Limoges in 1446, but nothing found sofar ties him with Tablero

4. The New Advent Online Catholic Dictionary has no listing for a Sylvester V (though there were Sylvesters I through III). Callistus III was Pope in 1458.

5. Neither does there exist any record of Professor Bryce Ryefield. Even the author of the game’s history itself, Dr. I.Y. Erzbergen-St.Susse, seems to be a fabrication as the Brunswick University.

The proof:
The author is revealed:
It was invented in the early 1970 see the information from the grandchild of the author: Tablero
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24. Board Game: Cohorts: Game of Roman Checkers [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked]
Karen Robinson

Colorado
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The description says that it's one of the world's oldest games, and then says the rules are by L. Sprague deCamp, clearly invented as part of a series of games invented by popular writers. It was based on Faulkner's attempt to figure out what Latrunculi may have been, and that was certainly an ancient Roman game, but this one is not that game. It's a pretty good game, though.
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