The History of Klackers

In 1988, Mike moved from Pennsylvania to Vail, Colorado. He soon discovered this curious pub dice game. No one was quite sure what to call it… some said, “Down the Line”, others were certain it was “Shut the Box”. Mike called it “KLACKERS” because of the sound of wood “KLACKING” against wood.

The early games were crude, wooden creations, but people loved it! They could not get enough! Mike thought to himself, “This is it, if I can make this game look as good as it is fun to play, people will be KLACKING everywhere.”A couple of years later, Mike moved to Durango and made the first official KLACKERSgame.

Klackers has sold close to 3,300 games and counting. So come on in and Click on the “Model” page to find the game that’s right for you so you can start KLACKIN’. You’ll never regret it!!

Shut the Box: History

It’s not known for sure where Shut the box originated. Most theories point to a source in Northern France and give Normandy or the Channel Islands as the specific location. It appears that it has been played in this region for at least two hundred years and is a game popular with sailors and fishermen. There is only evidence for the game in England from the middle of the twentieth century, and since most games of a similar ilk spawned references in a variety of literature, this would seem to be a good indication that it did not originate in that country. In fact, Timothy Finn in his “Pub Games of England” says that that the game was brought to the South of England from the Channel Islands in 1958 by a Mr. ‘Chalky’ Towbridge. Apparently the game has several names, one of which is Canoga and one unconfirmed rumor claims that Shut the Box is also common in Zambia!

Shut the Box is also known as Canoga. Being a traditional pub game without any national or international governing body, variations of equipment and rules abound. Where there is doubt, the locally played rules should always apply. These rules are comprehensive instructions for friendly play. They are not a complete set of standard regulations encompassing all situations that might be encountered.

The Play

Shut the Box can be played by any number of players although it is most enjoyable with two, three or four. Some people even play the game solo as a pastime akin to patience. As played traditionally in English pubs, Shut the Box is a gambling pastime with each of the players paying an agreed amount into the “pool” at the beginning and the winner collecting the pool at the end of each round. However, it isn’t necessary to gamble in order to play the game.

A round of the game consists of each player taking one turn. A player’s takes a turn by repeatedly throwing the dice until the player cannot continue. Each throw of the dice is taken as follows:

If 7, 8 and 9 are all covered, the player decides whether to throw one die or two. If any of these 3 numbers are still uncovered, the player must use both dice. The player throws the die or dice into the box and adds up the pips. The player must then cover up a set of unique uncovered numbers that add up to the sum thrown. So for instance, if the total pips is 8, the player may choose one of the following sets of numbers as long as all of the numbers in the set are available to be covered:

  • 8
  • 7 & 1
  • 6 & 2
  • 5 & 3
  • 5 & 2 & 1
  • 4 & 3 & 1

The player then does exactly the same thing with a second throw and so on.

Once a number is covered up, it stays covered so, eventually, the player will throw a total for which it is not possible to find a set of uncovered numbers. When this happens, the player scores the sum of the numbers that are still uncovered. So if the numbers 1, 5 and 9 are uncovered and the player throws a 4, with options 4 or 3 & 1, the turn finishes and the player’s score is 15.

If anyone succeeds in shutting the box i.e. closing all the numbers, that player wins outright immediately and receives double the stake from all players. Otherwise, after each player has taken one turn, the winner of the round is the player with the lowest score.


A popular variant for two players is called the ‘long game’. The player who goes first attempts to shut the box exactly as above. When the turn ends, the other player takes over the board as it is and attempts to uncover all the covered numbers using exactly the same rules. When a double is thrown, the player gets an extra turn. The player who shuts the box or uncovers the box first, wins.

Another way of playing is to add the number of points each round to a player’s score. A player has to drop out when that player’s score reaches 45 and the last player remaining wins the game.

Some people play that the single die option comes into force once the total of the remaining numbers is less than six.

An alternative way of calculating the score is occasionally used whereby the number read directly from the available digits on the box is the score for the player. E.g. if the numbers 1, 5 and 9 are uncovered, the score is 159.

An old pub gambling favorite, Shut the Box uses two dice and a special wooden playing tray. The tray features the numbers 1 – 9 in a row, each of which has a hinged or sliding cover. A turn involves repeatedly throwing the dice and shutting or covering a number or pair of numbers every throw. The turn ends when no numbers can be covered upon the throw of the dice at which point the player’s total is calculated. The overriding goal is to completely cover all numbers or “shut the box” which results in the best possible score of zero.Text provided by: James, Masters Games.Read the article from Inside Outside Magazine on Klackers