Game of the Goose

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A French Version of a "Jeu de l'oie"

The Game of the Goose or Goose game is a board game with uncertain origins. Some people connect the game with the Phaistos Disc (because of its spiral shape), others claim that it was originally a gift from Francesco I de' Medici of Florence to King Philip II of Spain sometime between 1574 and 1587,[1] while the latest theories attribute to the Templars the creation of the game.[2] According to these theories the Templars, possibly inspired by other games or discs (as the Phaistos Disc) from the Holy Land, developed a game and a secret or encrypted guide to the Way of St. James, representing each numbered space in the game a different stage in this journey. Furthermore, the hidden messages would not be just in the game but in the monuments, cathedrals and churches along the Way to Santiago de Compostela.[2][3]

In June 1597 John Wolfe had attested that the game existed in London. It is thought to be the prototype for many of the commercial European racing board games of recent centuries. The game is mostly played in Europe and seen as family entertainment. Commercial versions of the game appeared in the 1880s and 1890s, and feature typical old European characteristics such as an old well and children in clothes from the period. In the 1960s, the game company CO-5 marketed a variant called Gooses Wild.

Description[edit]

The board consists of a track with consecutively numbered spaces (usually 63), and is often arranged in a spiral with the starting point at the outside. Each player's piece is moved according to throws of one or two dice. Scattered throughout the board are a number of spaces on which a goose is depicted; landing on a goose allows the player to move again by the same distance. Additional shortcuts, such as spaces marked with a bridge, move the player to some other specified position. There are also a few penalty spaces which force the player to move backwards or lose one or more turns, the most recognizable being the one marked with a skull and symbolizing death; landing on this space results in the player being sent back to start. On Spanish boards the reverse is usually a parchís board.

In worldwide culture[edit]

  • In Jacques Offenbach's comic opera La Belle Hélène, the Greek Kings sing about and play a Game of the Goose and argue over cheating.
  • In his 1899 novel Le Testament d’un excentrique, Jules Verne uses the United States as a giant real-life Game of the Goose board, on which seven players race each other in pursuit of a $60,000,000 inheritance.
  • In Roger Martin du Gard's novel The Thibaults, Monsieur Chasle, the proprietor of a store that markets various inventions, mentions that one of his designers has created a portable jeu de l'Oie des Alliés imprinted with scenes from the Battle of the Marne, Douaumont, and other battles of World War I.
  • In Ursula Dubosarsky's novel for children, The Game of the Goose (Penguin Australia 2000), three children find an old copy of the Game of the Goose in a Salvation Army store, and have magically transforming adventures while playing it.[4]
  • The game was the basis for a game and stunt show in Italy named Il Grande Gioco Dell'Oca (The Great Game of the Goose), as well as the near-identical Spanish version, El gran juego de la oca (same). The Spanish version ran from 1993 to 1995, and again in 1998 as El nuevo juego de la oca (The New Game of the Goose).

References[edit]

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