The Royal Game of Ur: Rules & Instructions

Instructions of The Royal Game of Ur

Even though the Royal Game of Ur is an old game, not much is known about it, including its name, including its origins. Because it is no longer played today, and because there is no clear explanation of the rules available, the following is nothing more than speculation. Although many other sets of rules have been proposed for this game, the author has had difficulty finding one that is both playable and elegant, as well as one that appears to be a faithful representation of the original. In the end, it was agreed to present multiple sets of rules, make a suggestion, and let players to make their own decisions.


The game of Royal game of Ur is played on a particular board that has an oddly formed shape. To have a better understanding of the board’s shape, first design a grid of 3 x 8 squares. Eliminate the 5th and 6th squares from both the top and bottom rows by working your way clockwise from the left. Once this is completed, you will have a block of 4 x 3 squares that is connected to a block of 2 x 3 squares across the centre by a bridge of 2 squares. Despite the fact that boards with a variety of layouts have been discovered, the one continuous aspect has been the fact that five of the squares on the board have rosettes etched in them, with the general view being that these squares have a particular importance.

When looking at the center row, the fourth square from the left is where a fifth rosette should be placed.

In addition, six pyramidal dice, each having two dots on two of the four corners, have been discovered.

This is the simplest kind of binary lotteries available.

Path around the board

There have been two different ideas for the direction that the counters should go around the board, both made by well-known game historians. Masters Games has introduced a third option to its lineup. All three claim that entry to the board is made onto the outer row of the fourth square from the left heading left, which is the fourth square from the left. One player enters on the first row, while the other enters on the second row. Upon reaching the corner (with the rosette), the counter shifts to the center row and proceeds in the opposite direction of the previous movement.

HJR Murray

In the middle of the row, when a counter reaches the penultimate square, it turns around and travels to the row opposite to the one from which it started.

It then travels around the outside of the two-by-three rectangle before returning to the bottom of the middle row and exiting the board where it was originally placed. This results in a route consisting of 27 squares, with the 28th move being a bear off of the board.

RC Bell

This is most likely the most often used path, and it corresponds to the description of a game played on the same board that was discovered on a tablet that was discovered 2 1/2 millennia later. In the midst of the middle row, a counter returns to the starting row, moves one square backwards, and then bears off. It is now possible to create a track of 14 squares, with the 15th step being to bear off the board, and players’ counters can only meet in the middle row.

J Masters

This path is similar to the HJR Murray route, except it is shorter, allowing pieces to be borne from the same square as RC Bell. In order to reach the penultimate square in a row, a counter must turn once again, this time to the other row to the one where the counter began, and then go around the edge of the 2 x 3 rectangle before heading off into the gap from whence it began, but from the other side. This is a 16-square route, with the 17th square serving as a detour. A rosette is met every four squares in both this and Murray’s versions, which is an attractive conclusion.

General rules and Objective

The Royal game of Ur is typically considered to be a racing game, with the objective being to be the first to move all seven pieces across the board to the finish point.

  1. To determine who will play first, roll the dice
  2. The player with the highest score will go first
  3. If there is a tie, roll the dice again
  4. It is the players’ turn to throw three binary lots and move one of their pieces. There is a limit on how many pieces may be moved each roll of the dice, and all pieces must always travel forward around the track. If a counter lands on a square that is already occupied by an opponent counter, the counter that fell on that square is removed from the board and the game must be restarted from the beginning.

Masters Games

In light of the information that has been acquired thus far, Masters Games has developed the following conjectured game. It, of course, makes use of the J Masters board, and the binary lot throws are as follows: 0 – you can move four squares. 1 – make a single square movement 2 – make a two-square move 3 – make a three-square motion

  • If a counter lands on a rosette, the dice are thrown once more (and again if another rosette is landed upon). It is not necessary to move the same piece on the additional toss. Pieces can be placed on the board at any point over the course of the game, as long as the square where they were placed on the initial turn is still available. Any counter that can be moved must be moved at all times, and any counter that cannot be moved will result in the player losing their turn. To remove pieces off the board, precise throws are required.

R.C. Bell

As previously indicated, RC Bell followed his predetermined course, and the dice rolls, which provide a completely distinct flavor to the game, were as follows: 0 – advance to position 4 and get another chance. 1 – move 0 and the turn comes to an end. 2 – make the first move and get another throw 3 – go to position 5 and get another throw

  • Each player contributes an agreed-upon sum to a pool of money. A piece may only be placed on the board by throwing a total of five dice, after which it moves as described above for subsequent throws. Each time the rosette is reached, the player responsible must pay an agreed-upon fine into the pool. It is possible to capture and send off the board an opposing counter if a counter lands on the latter piece, which can only be brought back on the board by throwing a five in the regular manner. The pool is won by the player who is the first to remove all of his or her pieces off the board.

British Museum / Irving Finkel

During the late 1990s, the British Museum issued a version of the game that included a reproduction of the royal gaming board, which was called “The Royal Game.” It follows the course of the RC Bell around the board. According to the rules, which are based on the 1st millennium cuneiform table initially transcribed by Finkel, there are five pieces instead of seven, and four binary pyramid lots instead of three, as follows: 0 – move a total of 0 squares, i.e. miss a turn. 1 – make a single square movement 2 – make a two-square move 3 – make a three-square motion 4 – move 4 tiles around the board

  • If a counter lands on a rosette, the dice are thrown once more (and again if another rosette is landed upon). It is not necessary to move the same piece on the additional toss. The placement of pieces on the board may begin at any moment, so long as the square to which the dice will be thrown is not already occupied. Any counter that can be moved must be moved at all times, and any counter that cannot be moved will result in the player losing their turn.

Irving Finkel v. Tom Scott 2017 Rules

The rules are the same as the British Museum rules from 1990 (RC Bell route, 4 pyramid dice, etc.), with the following modifications:

  • The middle rosette square is a safe square and cannot be captured by an opponent piece
  • Each player has seven pieces instead of five

These rules have been given by Masters Traditional Games, an Internet retailer that specializes in high-quality traditional games, pub games, and other unique games, among other things. For more general information, as well as information on copying and copyright, please check our Rules Informationpage.

Our guidelines are detailed directions for having a good time with friends. If in doubt, always follow the rules of the game that is being played locally or the regulations of the house. James Masters is a copyright who was born in 2022. All intellectual property rights are retained.

The Royal Game of Ur: Rules & Instructions

Bar Games 101’s Royal Game Ur is one of the more peculiar games you’ll ever come across because the rules and directions for playing are neither completely understood nor generally agreed upon by everyone who plays. It has been around for more than 5,000 years. For as long as anyone can remember, the game has confounded and interested historians and gaming specialists alike, and while many have developed their own ideas about how to play The Royal Game of Ur, obtaining a conventional, definitive set of rules may be nearly hard to come across.

It is at this point that we come in.

What is the Royal Game of Ur?

The Royal Game of Ur was first discovered in the Royal Cemetery at Ur in Southern Iraq, where archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley discovered it during an archeological dig, making it one of the world’s oldest known games. It was first played as early as 3,000 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest known games. No one understood how to play the game at the time of Sir Woolley’s discovery, however various specialists have subsequently developed their own ideas based on additional archeological evidence and the game’s resemblance to other racing games such as backgammon.

However, we’ll be following the path outlined by Robert Charles Bell because it’s the one that most closely matches an authentic description of the game found on a tablet written circa 177 BC.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the specifics of how the game is played.

How to Play the Royal Game of Ur

The Royal game of Ur is played on a specially created board, with each player getting 14 tokens and determining their actions with six tetrahedron (triangular pyramid shaped) dice. Modern gaming manufacturers have reproduced the game in visually appealing hardwood sets, such as this best-selling set from WE Games, which is now on the market. Because these kits include everything you need to get started, they’re the most convenient option for anyone who wants to get into the game quickly. However, there’s nothing that says you can’t set up your own game at home if you want to save money.

The Board

If you don’t want to use a real board, you may simply draw one on paper instead of using the real thing.

The following is the most succinct method to explain how to accomplish this:

  • A 4 by 3 grid, 2 by 3 grid, 1 by 2 grid (similar to that of the domino piece) should all be drawn before moving on to the next step. Of three grids should be aligned such that the center rows are all the same size, with the 1 x 2 grid in the centre

When you’re finished, the center row of the 1 x 2 grid should line up with the middle row of the other two grids, forming a shape that resembles a spade or the initial I. Fans of the game Azul may recognize the pattern on the Game of Ur boards since it is similar to that of the game Ur. While the designs of these rosettes might vary, the usually recognized arrangement consists of five rosettes that are strategically positioned in the following essential positions: Using the bigger grid, a rosette is inserted in each of the two bottom corners and the center top square.


The game makes use of seven circular counters per player, seven light counters and seven dark counters, to distinguish between each player’s position as inches or checkers. The counters have 5 dots on them, which are grouped in the same way as the indominoes are placed.

The Dice

The Royal Game of Ur is also notable for the fact that it makes use of tetrahedron dice in the shape of a pyramid. Although they are a little more difficult to come by, if you play Dungeons & Dragons or any other role-playing game board games, you could have a few on hand. Alternately, you may purchase them as part of special dice sets, such as this visually appealing dice bundle from Ifergoo.

The Royal Game of Ur: Rules and Gameplay

The majority of experts agree that the goal of the game is to move your counters from the inside square (the starting square) on the bigger grid to the inside square on the smaller grid as quickly as possible (the finishing square). In order to set up this scenario, Player 1 will begin in the top inside corner and Player 2 will begin in the bottom inside corner of the board. For those who are familiar with the Bell version of the game, the path from the initial square to the concluding square is rather straightforward.

  • Players begin at their beginning square and make their way down the row until they reach the end of that row. In the next step, they will go into the middle row and continue working all the way up until they have reached the final square in the smaller grid. At the end of the game, they return to their allotted row until they reach the last square
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The game is won by the person who is the first to place all of their counters in this last square.

Determining Moves With the Dice

One of the most significant distinctions between all of the varieties of The Royal Game of Ur is the method in which the dice control the movement of the players. In the Bell version, participants toss three dice, take the numbers that land with the marked side up, then add them together to get the final result. In the end, you will have a score between 0 and 3, which will define the movements you may make as follows:

  • 0 – Make a four-square move. Throw once more
  • 1 – Do not make any movement. Your turn has come to an end. 2 – Make a one-square move. Throw once more
  • 3 – Make a five-square move. Throw once more

Players must throw a 3 in order to place a new counter on the board, and they have the option of doing so or relocating an existing piece already in play.

How to Capture in the Royal Game of Ur

Counters on the center row are eligible for capture once players have placed their counters on the middle row. When a player’s counter lands on the same square as their opponent’s counter, this is known as capturing. Example: If Player 1 lands on the same square as Player 2, that counter is captured by the first player. Once transferred to Player 2, the counter may only be restored to the board if that player rolls a three on the dice.

The Significance of the Rosettes

Another source of dispute is the use of rosettes in the game. Bell argued that these were penalty squares, and that if a player landed on one, he or she would be required to pay a fine into a pre-established wagering pool. When converting the Game of Ur into a drinking game, this may also be a useful strategy to employ. The player takes a drink every time they land on a rosette on the board.

This is one instance in which we prefer to stray from Bell’s principles and employ the other widely-accepted usage of the rosette squares, which is for safety. So, counters placed on such rosette squares are considered “safe” and therefore ineligible to be taken by an opponent.

Alternatives to Bell’s Royal Game of Ur Rules

Among the several versions of the Royal Game of Ur, Robert Charles Bell’s version is usually recognized as the most popular and commonly played. In no little part, this is due to its relative simplicity when compared to other versions, which is the primary reason why we elected to remain with it as the basis for today’s tutorial. We’d be negligent, though, if we didn’t at the very least introduce you to some viable options.

The HJR Murray Path

The first and most noticeable difference is what is known as the HJR Murray route, which is named after renowned chess historian Harold James Ruthven Murray, who was the one who first proposed it in the first place. Often referred to as the “There and Back Again” path, Murray’s version has players beginning their journey by moving their counters along a path that is similar to Bell’s version, except that once they cross the “bridge” between the two squares, players loop around to the smaller square and return to the starting square.

Once again, the winner is the first player to remove all of his or her counters from the board.

The Masters’ Path

If that appears to be a bit too hard, the Masters’ approach, which was devised by James Masters, is a more contemporary variant. A middle ground between the Murray and Bell versions, this version is the result of a negotiated agreement. Again, it follows Bell’s way into the second square in order to bring the counter into the inside ending square, however this time with the addition of a loop around the second square from Murray’s path to complete the circuit.

The Royal Game of Ur: An Ancient Game With Modern Appeal

One of the most appealing aspects of The Royal Game of Ur is that, regardless of whether you play by Bell’s, Murray’s, or Masters’ rules, you are certain to have a huge amount of fun. The unique game concept and regulations give exactly the perfect amount of challenge and enjoyment, making it a fantastic race game for players of all ages and abilities. Other notable characteristics include its age, which makes it one of the most ancient games ever created. After all, how often in life can you state that you’re participating in the same same game that the ancient Mesopotamians were engaged in 5,000 years prior?

In addition to The Royal Game of Ur, if you prefer games with a lot of ancient history behind them, you might also enjoyShogi, Jacks, or Mahjong, all of which we have found to be just as entertaining as The Royal Game of Ur.

How to play – Royal Game of Ur

A board with two blocks of squares (4 by 3 and 2 by 3) joined by a bridge of two squares serves as the playing surface for the Royal Game of Ur. Five rosettes are placed on the board to indicate the position of each item. 2.An additional die-four is required for the Royal Game of Ur. You can also use three dice, with odd numbers representing one and even numbers representing zero. The number of moves is computed as the total of the dice (1 through 3).

If a throw reveals three consecutive even numbers, the player forfeits their turn. 3.Each person chooses seven BEADS in the color of their choice. BEADS are the first to appear on the board. 4.By rolling a die, players determine who will be the first to begin the game.

How to play

1.There is no particular roll necessary to initiate a BEAD. 2.The number of spaces a player can move their BEAD is determined by a die roll. Three players each begin their turn by entering the board on the square that is directly beneath the rosette on the middle row of play spaces (players enter directly opposite each other). 4.Players maneuver the BEAD along the long length of the bigger block of squares, towards the rosette in the corner, before turning onto the middle row and crossing the bridge to reach the second block of squares.

This route creates 14 spaces, with the 15th move completing the board’s exit sequence.

The number of BEADs on a square is completely up to the player, but only one BEAD can land on a rosette.

9.In order for their BEAD to exit the board, players must roil an exact amount of times.

How to win

A player must be the first to remove all seven of their BEADs from the board in order to win the game.


It was named after two boardgames discovered in tombs by Sir Leonard Wooley, who was excavating in the ancient city of Ur during the 1920s and gave them the title “Royal Game of Ur.” 2.The two boards have been around since around 2600 BCE. There are twelve squares on each game board and six cases on each game board, which are connected by a bridge of two cases between them. One of the two boardgames is well-known, and it is on display in the British Museum in London as part of their collection.

A set of pawns with five black dots on each of its seven white pawns, as well as seven black pawns with five white dots, were discovered as well.

4.The Twenty Squares gameboard in the Ur style was also known as Asseb in Egypt, and it has been discovered in a number of locations, including Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Royal Game of Ur – Game of 20 Squares

The Royal Game of Ur is a Sumerian variant of the ancient Middle Eastern game known as The Game of Twenty Squares, which was discovered in the Royal Tombs of Ur in Iraq in 1926-1927 by Sir Leonard Woolley and is thought to have originated around 2500 BCE. The game is dated to approximately 2500 BCE. One of the Ur copies is housed at the British Museum, which also has a copy. The Royal Game of Ur is housed in the British Museum with the accession number 1928,1009.379. a Nonetheless, the original rules of the Royal Game of Ur are lost; however, some historians have attempted to reconstruct them using a cuneiform tablet discovered in Iraq in 1880 and now housed in the British Museum (Rm-III.6.b – 33333B).

The British Museum has a cuneiform tablet that contains the rules for the game of Twenty Squares.

One of the problems with most historical rules provided by historians such as RC Bell and Irving Finkel is that the game is tedious and uninteresting to play.

Historical researchers who reconstructed rules of play grouped the Royal Game of Ur with the Egyptian Aseb, Jiroft Game of 20 Squares, and Shahr-i Sokhta Game of 20 Squares because they all used the same board but did not have any of the square markings, and because the boards are all similar in appearance and contain 20 squares, they were grouped together.

A game of 20 squares is played.

The National Museum of Iran is located in Tehran.

These rules were devised by Dmitriy Skiryuk(митpи кирк), a Russian game re-constructor, and were first published on his blog in Russian. Dmitriy Skiryuk’s Ground Rules are as follows:

  1. The total number of players is two. With the game, you’ll get a board, seven white pieces with dots on one side and the other side blank, seven black pieces with dots on one side but the other side blank, and three tetrahedral dice with two peaks of the pyramid marked in a different color from the other two peaks. Every one of the three dice is thrown at the same moment. The following factors are taken into consideration while calculating the score:
  1. If one of the dice has the colored corner up and the other two dice have it down, the score is 1
  2. Otherwise, the score is 2. Two dice with the colored corner up and the third dice with the colored corner down equals a score of two. If the colored corner of all three dice is facing up, the score is three points. Alternatively, if no one of the three dice has its colored corner up, the result is 4, which is the highest possible score.
  • A player is not permitted to make any further throws of the dice within a single round. For the purpose of determining who begins the game, both players roll the three dice until one of them receives a score of 1. Whoever scores one first moves first
  • Whoever scores two first moves second. All of the pieces begin at the beginning of the board. The game begins on either cell C4 or A4 depending on whose player scores 1 first in the round. The color of the pieces does not matter
  • Either white or black are acceptable. Whenever a player receives a score on the dice between 1 and 4 and the cell into which this piece is supposed to land (C4/A4 for 1, C3/A3 for 2, C2/A2 for 3, C1/A1 for 4) is available, new pieces are introduced onto the board for the first time
  • When the player receives a score on the dice between 1 and 4, additional pieces are introduced onto the board
  • And when the player receives a score on the dice between 1 and 4. With each round of the game progressing, the pieces continue to advance across the board in accordance with the path indicated by the blue arrows. The opponent receives black pieces and begins from cell A4 on the opposite vertical end of the board, following the same path as the player, but from the opposite direction, as shown by green arrows. Players are unable to skip turns as long as making a move is still an option. A turn is skipped if all of the player’s pieces are stuck and unable to move
  • Otherwise, the turn is skipped. A piece’s blank side is always facing up when it is placed on the board, and it can only move ahead along its path. If a piece falls on a non-safe cell and an opponent’s piece is already present, the piece will knock the opponent’s piece off the board. Blank pieces cannot knock marked pieces off the board, and marked pieces cannot knock blank pieces off the board. Pieces can only knock each other off the board if they are on the same side of the board
  • Otherwise, they cannot. It is impossible for a piece to knock off an opponent’s stacked pieces since the only cells where stacking of both sets of pieces is permitted are safe cells. When the piece reaches cell B8, which is exactly in the center of every piece’s route, the piece is turned over from the blank side to the dotted side to complete the flip. The piece does not flip back to the blank side after it has been flipped over to the dotted side
  • If a piece lands in a cell where an opponent’s piece is present, the following events occur:
  1. It is possible for both pieces to live on the same cell if it is a safe cell or a cell with eyes (details may be found lower down). As long as the opponent’s piece cannot be pushed off the board and the cell in question is of a different kind, the piece can’t be transferred to that cell.
  • Each of the markings on the cells has a specific meaning in the game, as follows:
  1. Whenever a piece falls on a cell with Rosette, it receives a second chance to do the turn. Despite this, a player is not compelled to move that particular piece a second time, but may instead choose to move any of his other pieces that have previously been put on the board or to place a new piece on the board. A piece that falls on a cell with a Rosette has the potential to knock off an opponent’s piece that was already in that cell, and if it does, the player who performed the move gets a second turn.
  1. It is possible for pieces that belong to the same player and land on a cell with 4 Eyes to stack on top of one another up to a maximum of 4 pieces. It is important to note that pieces can only be stacked on the same cell if they are owned by the same player. It is not possible for the opposing player’s piece to fall in a cell that has already been captured by the opponent’s piece or pieces
  2. Cell B7, which is the first cell with four eyes in the tiny block of the board and is the first switching stacking cell, is a switching stacking cell. This implies that the player who landed on it first can place up to four of his or her pieces on it, and the opponent will not be able to knock them off the board or take over that cell. The opponent, on the other hand, can cross it in order to progress into the next cells. Once all of the pieces have left cell B7, it becomes no one’s property, and the other opponent can take over the space. This is due to the fact that cell B7 is utilized to enter and depart the smaller block of the board without causing a traffic congestion, which makes it behave differently from other cells with 4 Eyes
  1. Cells that have four sets of five dots are considered safe. Any combination of four parts can be stacked on top of each other. Depending on the game, the pieces might be from the same player or from opponents, and they can be dotted or blank. With Four Sets of Five Dots, the pieces may only be removed from the cell in the sequence in which they were placed, from the top down. The top piece is the first to move, and it is only after that piece has moved that the following piece below it can move as well. Whenever a piece has another piece on top of it, it is blocked and unable to move out of that particular cell.
  1. In the smaller block, the cells with a Single Set of 5 Dots are positioned in the two corners of the block. A piece that leaves that cell and either falls on or crosses cell B8 is considered to have flipped from the blank side to the dotted side of the grid. The piece does not flip over when it is contained within a cell with a Single Set of Five Dots
  2. Instead, it rotates.
  1. There is just one cell on the board that has 12 Dots, and that cell is B1, which is the last cell on the journey. It is only at the end of the journey that a cell is designated as a safe cell, indicating that it cannot be knocked off for any reason by a dotted piece that has fallen on it. A blank piece that is still at the beginning of the road, on the other hand, cannot be knocked off of it
  2. The cell with 12 dots, on the other hand, can only be inhabited by a single piece. All pieces, whether dotted or blank, belonging to the same player or an opponent, are not permitted to stack on top of this cell.
  1. Cells with five large dots do not have a specific purpose
  2. Instead, they are just plain.
  1. Pieces can escape the board from any of the last four cells as long as the score on the dice is exactly the same as the score on the dice. A piece can exit the board from cell B4 only if the player receives a dice score of 4, from cell B3 only if the player receives a dice score of 3, from cell B2 only if the player receives a dice score of 2, and from cell B1 only if the player receives a dice score of 1
  2. The goal of the game is to cross the path and remove all seven pieces from the board by crossing cell B1. It is not possible to count pieces that have been knocked off the route
  3. These pieces must be reassembled and re-walked across the whole path from the beginning.
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On the subject of strategy:

  1. To avoid gaining an unfair edge over the opponent by scoring 4 on the first roll of the dice, the starting player is only allowed to start with a dice score of 1 in order to prevent them from gaining an unfair advantage by potentially going far ahead of their opponent. When a piece falls on a cell that has the letter Rosette, it receives a second round. There are various alternate rules that enable the second turn to be done solely with a different piece, rather than the piece that fell on a Rosette in the first place. However, it makes more logical to let the same piece to travel since if it is forced to remain on the same cell as Rosette, it would create a needless traffic jam. The reason that further turns are only permitted on the cells that have a Rosette and not on any other cells is that if they were permitted more frequently, it would either generate a traffic gridlock or let the same player to take numerous turns in a row and gain an unfair advantage. The reason that just four parts are permitted to be piled on top of each other is because they must be physically stacked to function properly. When more than 4 pieces are placed on top of each other, the stack begins to collapse. Additionally, the stacking cell illustrations are separated into four portions, hinting that a four-piece stack is intended rather than a larger stack. The components in cell B8 are flipped over in order to avoid a traffic jam from forming when the bridge between the large block and the tiny block is traversed in both directions. Despite the fact that this cell does not interfere with bidirectional flow, it poses a hurdle. This cell is extremely essential from a strategic standpoint, because the cell preceding it is a safe cell, and the cell succeeding it is a Rosette. The players can choose to utilize cell B8 to intentionally create a traffic jam in order to hinder their opponents from moving, however this may occur as a result of a mistake on the part of the players’ plan in some cases. The reason why the pieces turn over only after going through cell B8 and not while still inside it is to make the game more varied and interesting. Consider the following scenario: a piece has come to a halt in cell B8 and has remained with the blank side facing up. This results in a tactical trap, referred to as a “duel,” between two pieces who are attempting to pass each other. Due to the fact that the incoming piece has the dotted side up rather than the blank side up, it cannot be pushed off by another piece. The only method to remove the opponent’s piece is to do it in the cell after this one. This motivates players to hold off on moving the piece in cell B8 on purpose in order to induce this knock out until they have the correct dice score. There are two alternatives available to a player in this situation. Either to pass the other piece over and land behind it, or to remain in front of it and wait for the appropriate dice score to knock off the opponent’s piece once cell B8 has been passed and the piece has flipped over to the other side. Finally, when their piece is in cell B8, this allows the players to express a special wish for a die score of 1, which is more likely with trapezoidal dice. The reason the last cell with 12 dots is safe is because if it were not, it would create an unfair situation where a piece passed through the last cell with 12 dots. If the piece flips over on cell B8 itself, then players would prefer dice scores of 4, which are less common, or even 5, which does not exist, and sit and wait on cells with Rosette, which would cause a traffic jam for the player’s own pieces, since the opponent’s pieces cannot be knocked off, and the wait for the In several ancient racing games, like Senet, Aseb, and others, the final cell of the road is always secure, as a result of which the last cell of the path is always safe. For this reason, the last cell with 12 dots is not a stacking cell for all pieces
  2. If it were, it would be impossible for pieces just starting the game to leave the first four cells of the first row. This would result in this cell being occupied at the beginning and conclusion of the game at all times, which would be frustrating
  3. When playing a second version of the Royal Game of Ur, the only cells that have unique meaning are Rosettes, which explains why the cell with 5 Big Dots does not have any particular meaning. All of the remaining fields are denoted by five large dots. Accordingly, it may be argued that the more complicated version of the Royal Game of Ur, which is being employed in this instance, merely inherited the design of non-special blank cells labeled with 5 Big Dots from an earlier version of the same game, in which those cells had no particular significance. The development of new aspects and regulations in the game, however, has resulted in more sophisticated cell marks as the game has expanded.


  1. R. C. Bell’s Board and Table Games from a Wide Range of Civilizations. Courier Corporation (2012)
  2. Finkel, Irving L. “On the rules for the Royal Game of Ur.” Courier Corporation (2012)
  3. Finkel, Irving L. “On the rules for the Royal Game of Ur.” Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, with Additional Contributions is a collection of papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium on ancient board games. British Museum, pp. 16-32, London, United Kingdom. Botermans, Jack (2007
  4. Botermans, Jack). The book of games has the following sections: strategy, tactics, and history. The Sterling Publishing Company published this book in 2008.

Reader Interactions

(See the PDF link below for further information.) (Right-click to save to your computer’s desktop) The Royal Game of Ur is a 16MB pdf document. There are three different varieties of printable Spinner Dice included with the download, as well as two different sizes of printable counters. Simply cut out the shapes and adhere them on the card. Use the 1-4 spinner for the simplest game; this is the equivalent to using three dice in binary form, such as with two-sided sticks or tetrahedral dice, for the most complicated game.

  1. If you had one light unmarked side up, it would be worth one pip of the dice, two light unmarked sides up would be worth two pips, and three light sides up would be for three pips.
  2. Each die will fall with one tip pointing up, either marked or unmarked, and will land on the table.
  3. Personally, I like to use the binary dice method, which consists of four two-sided sticks or four tetrahedral dice, with the result that four blank-sided sticks or four unmarked tetrahedral points equal either a 5 or a 0 on the board.
  4. The ancient Egyptian game of Senet was played with four two-sided sticks, each of which had two sides.
  5. If one prefers to take the more time-consuming option, the 1-5 or 1-6 spinning dice may be appropriate to use.
  6. When playing the lengthier routes, the ‘two on square’ rule should be followed.
  7. The goal is for you to be the one who is the first to bear off all of your pieces.
  8. Both players roll the dice to see who throws the highest — the highest score goes first.
  9. Dice rolls: 1, move 1 square / 2, move 2 Squares / 3 move 3 squares / 4 move 4 squares / 5 = 0 and implies you do not move at all.
  10. Landing on your opponent’s piece removes your opponent’s piece off the board to be restarted from the beginning.
  11. Your opponent cannot land on this square if occupied by one of your pieces.
See also:  Sorry Game Rules & Strategies and How to Play

Royal Game ofUr Route 1″ data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” src=” alt=”Royal Game of Ur Route 1″ srcset=” 1100w,150w,300w,768w,1024w,1416w” sizes=”(max-width: 1100px) 100vw, 1100px”> Royal Game of Ur Route 1 Royal Game ofUr Route 2″ data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” src=” alt=”Royal Game of Ur Route 2″ srcset=” 1100w,150w,300w,768w,1024w,1416w” sizes=”(max-width: 1100px) 100vw, 1100px”> Royal Game of Ur Route 2 Royal Game ofUr Route 3″ data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” src=” alt=”Royal Game of Ur Route 3″ srcset=” 1100w,150w,300w,768w,1024w,1416w” sizes=”(max-width: 1100px) 100vw, 1100px”> Royal Game of Ur Route 3 Royal Game ofUr Route 4″ data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” src=” alt=”Royal Game of Ur Route 4″ srcset=” 1100w,150w,300w,768w,1024w,1416w” sizes=”(max-width: 1100px) 100vw, 1100px”> Royal Game of Ur Route 4 BACK TO THE TOP: WELCOME TO A4 GAMES: DICE, PIECES AND BOARDS; GAMES LIST:

Royal Game of Ur – Wikipedia

Royal Game of Ur

One of the fivegameboardsfound bySir Leonard Woolleyin theRoyal Cemetery at Ur, now held in theBritish Museum
Years active Earliest boards date toc.2600 – c. 2400 BC during theEarly Dynastic III, being played popularly in the Middle East throughlate antiquityand in Kochi, India through the 1950s
Players 2
Setup time 10–30 seconds
Playing time usually around 30 minutes
Random chance Medium (dicerolling)
Skills required Strategy,tactics,counting,probability
Synonyms TheRoyal Game of Ur, also known as theGame of Twenty Squares, is a two-player strategic raceboard game that was initially played in ancient Mesopotamia around the early third millennium BC. The game is based on the ancient civilization of Ur. Throughout the Middle East, people of all socioeconomic strata enjoyed playing the game, and boards for playing it have been discovered in places as far apart as Crete and Sri Lanka, indicating that it was widely popular. At the height of its popularity, the game took on a spiritual meaning, with occurrences in the game thought to predict a player’s destiny and communicate messages from deities or other supernatural creatures to the player himself. Even though the Game of Ur was prevalent until late antiquity and then died out, it is possible that it evolved into, or was superseded by, an early variant of backgammon during that time period. It was gradually forgotten worldwide, with the exception of the Jewish community of the Indian city of Kochi, which continued to play a variant of it until the 1950s, when they began immigrating to the State of Israel. The Game of Ur was given this name because it was initially uncovered by the English archaeologistSir Leonard Woolleyduring his excavations of theRoyal Cemetery at Urbetween 1922 and 1934, and it was the first game ever discovered in the world. Other archaeologists have subsequently discovered copies of the game in other locations around the Middle East. The rules of the Game of Ur, as they were played in the second century BC, have been preserved on aBabylonianclay tablet inscribed by the scribe Itti-Marduk-balu and discovered in a cave in the Himalayas. The essential principles of how the game would have been played were recreated by British Museum curator Irving Finkel on the basis of this tablet and the layout of the gameboard. The goal of the game is to run the length of the board and bear all of one’s pieces off before one’s opponent does, as quickly as possible. The game, like to contemporary backgammon, incorporates elements of both strategy and chance.


A game box for the games Senet and Twenty Squares, dating from 1635 to 1458 B.C. The Game of Ur was widely played across the Middle East, and boards for it have been discovered in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, and Crete, among other places. It was discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun that four gameboards that looked quite similar to those from the Royal Game of Ur had been hidden there. Several of these boards came with little boxes to store dice and game pieces, and many of them also featured senetboards on the reverse sides, allowing the same board to be used for both games by simply flipping it over.

One of the human-headed winged bullgate sentinels from the palace of Sargon II (c.

Because of its superstitious connotations, the Game of Ur eventually came to be associated with divination, and the tablet of Itti-Marduk-balu makes vague predictions about the players’ futures if they land on specific spaces, such as “You will find friends,” “You will become powerful like a lion,” or “You will draw fine beer.” People saw correlations between a player’s performance in the game and his or her success in real life, according to the results.

  1. Events that appeared to be completely random, such as landing on a certain square, were understood as messages from deities, spirits of departed ancestors, or even messages from a person’s own soul.
  2. This implies that the rules of the game and the way in which the game was played were not static, but varied through time.
  3. A number of board design advancements that appeared to be a failure are also depicted (i.e., only one example of a specific board design is known from the archaeological record).
  4. Some believe that the Game of Ur developed into backgammon, while others believe that early variations of backgammon superseded the Game of Ur in popularity, forcing players to gradually forget about the earlier game.
  5. The game was thereafter banned in the region.

Kochi’s version of the game included twenty squares, precisely like the original Mesopotamian version. However, instead of seven pieces for each player, each player got twelve pieces, and the positioning of the twenty squares was somewhat changed.

Modern rediscovery

During his excavation of the Royal Cemetery at Ur between 1922 and 1934, the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley uncovered five Game of Ur gameboards, which he named after his grandfather. Because the game was discovered in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, it was given the name “Royal Game of Ur,” but later archaeologists discovered other replicas of the game in various sites around the Middle East, earning it the title “Royal Game of the World.” Each of the boards unearthed by Woolley dates back to around 3,000 years ago.

Woolley included photos of two of these boards in his 1949 book, The First Phases, which was published in 1949.

Another is a set with a background composed of discs of shell with blue or red centers set in wood-covered bitumen.

Other gameboards are frequently etched with representations of animals, as is the case with this one.


The rules tablet, which dates back to 177 BC, was discovered (British Museum) No one knew how to play the Game of Ur when it was originally found, and no one ever learned how to play it. Then, in the early 1980s, Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum, translated a clay tablet writtenc.177 BC by the Babylonian scribe Itti-Marduk-balu, which described how the game was played during that time period, based on an earlier description of the rules by another scribe named Iddin-Bl. Finkel’s translation was published in the journal Antiquity.

It had been unearthed among the ruins of Babylon in 1880 and purchased by the British Museum in 1881.

Archaeologists think that this second tablet, which was written many centuries before the tablet by Itti-Marduk-balu and thought to have come from the city of Uruk, was written several centuries before the tablet by Itti-Marduk-balu.

On the basis of these rules, as well as the geometry of the gameboard, Finkel was able to recreate what may have happened throughout the game’s play.

Basic rules

In the year 177 BC, a rule tablet was discovered (British Museum) Initially, no one had any idea how to play the Game of Ur because it had never been found before. A clay tablet written by the Babylonian scribe Itti-Marduk-baluc.177 BC, which described how the game was played during that time period and was based on an earlier description of the rules by another scribe named Iddin-Bl, was translated by Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum, in the early 1980s. Inscriptions on this tablet date back to the last days of Babylonian culture, thousands of years after the first recorded game of the Game of Ur.

Another tablet explaining the regulations, which had previously been in the personal possession of Count Aymar de Liedekerke-Beaufort but had been destroyed during World War I, was also used by Finkel to illustrate his point.

Both tablets have gameboard diagrams printed on the backs of them, making it apparent which game they are depicting. Finkel was able to recreate how the game would have been played based on these rules as well as the geometry of the gameboard.


A set of the Game of Ur was discovered beside a set of twenty-one white balls during an archaeological investigation. It is thought that these balls were used to place bets at some point in the past. According to the tablet of Itti-Marduk-balu, if a player skips one of the boxes designated with a rosette, they are required to deposit a token in the pot to compensate for their mistake. Players may take one of the tokens from the pot when they land on a rosette during the game.


  1. “game-board | British Museum,” says the narrator. The British Museum is located in London. Green, William (abcdefghijklmno) retrieved on November 18, 2021
  2. AbcdefghijklmnoGreen, William (19 June 2008). “Big Game Hunter” is a term used to describe someone who hunts large game. British Journal of Time. ISSN0040-781X. The original version of this article was published on May 25, 2019. abCollon, Dominique (31 May 2018)
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  7. Anne- (April 2014). “Cultural Transmission in the Ancient Near East: Twenty Squares and Fifty-Eight Holes” is the title of a paper published by the University of Pennsylvania. Journal of Archaeological Science.40(4): 1715–1730
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  9. Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzaaabacadaeafagah Botermans, Jack (Jack Botermans) (2008). The book of games has the following sections: strategy, tactics, and history. Edgar Loy Fankbonner is a fictional character created by Edgar Loy Fankbonner. pp.712–20.ISBN9781402742217.OCLC86069181
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  13. (1 October 2015). “Traditional board games: From Kochi to Iraq” is the title of this article. The Hindu is a newspaper published in India. The original version of this article was published on 4 October 2015. retrieved on 6 July 2019 from
  14. “tablet | British Museum” was found on the internet. The British Museum is located in London. retrieved on November 18th, 2021
  15. Andrea Becker’s abcdefghijklmnoBecker, Andrea (2007). “The Royal Game of Ur,” as it is known in the United Kingdom. Irving Finkel is credited with inventing the term “InFinkel” (ed.). Ancient Board Games in Perspective: Papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium, with Additional Contributions is a collection of papers from the 1990 British Museum Colloquium. The British Museum Press, London, England, p. 16.ISBN 9780714111537.OCLC150371733

Further reading

  • Botermans, Jack (Jack Botermans) (1988). The World of Games is a place where people come to play games. Le Chêne, ISBN 978-2851085122, Paris
  • Finkel, Irving, ISBN 978-2851085122, New York (2007), Irv Finkel’s “On the Royal Game of Ur” appears in Ancient Board Games in Perspective, edited by Finkel. British Museum Press, pp. 16–32
  • Finkel, Irving. London: British Museum Press, pp. 16–32. (1991). The tablet containing the rules for the royal game of Ur. Catalogue de l’exposition intitulée “Journey into Antiquity.” Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology
  • Finkel, Irving
  • Marseille: Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne
  • Finkel, Irving (2005). Games: Learn about and participate in five well-known ancient games (3rd ed.). British Museum Press, ISBN 978-0714131122
  • Lhôte, Jean-Marie. London: British Museum Press, ISBN 978-0714131122 (1993). The History of the Game of Societal Cooperation. Flammarion, ISBN 978-2080109293
  • Paris, France.

External links

  • The British Museum’s Irving Finkel has been working on deciphering the world’s oldest rule book. The Royal Game of Ur: Tom Scott vs. Irving Finkel – The British Museum
  • Tom Scott vs. Irving Finkel: The Royal Game of Ur – The British Museum On GouziGouza, you may participate in the Royal Game of Ur.

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