hist-games: Query on dice games

Christian Joachim Hartmann lukian at Null.net
Thu Nov 6 23:44:45 PST 1997

Mrs C S Yeldham wrote at Tue, 28 Oct 1997 10:33:16 -0500:
> Dear Justin
> I've been looking at your pages on the Web and admiring the detailed
> knowledge of games shown there.
> I'm looking for information on a specific dice game which is much played at
> re-enactments here in England, but I haven't seen any original references
> to it, and I wondered if you could help me.
> The game is called 'myer' (or mia - or any variation on that - I've never
> seen it written).  If you don't know it, its a bluffing game played by
> three or more (2 is really too few).  The first person shakes, then either
> looks in the dice box or not, passes onto the next person stating what is
> in the box.  The second person will either challenge him by looking in the
> box or pass the box on, or shake and pass the box on (and he can choose
> whether to look or not).  Each call has to be the same or higher than the
> last.  Each round of the game continues until there is a challenge, when if
> the dice in the box show what was called or higher then the caller wins, if
> lower then the challenger wins.  Doubles are higher than singles, double
> six is the highest except for myer which is 1 and 2.  Betting is obvious on
> this.
> Have you come across this game, or something similar?  If so, have you any
> idea where it might have come from?
> Hoping you can help me.
> Caroline

I know that dice game, too, and I knew I had seen the rules printed.
Now I've found time to search the library and I've found two books containing
a description of that dice game.

Both books are fairly recent, older books don't contain that game. Does
that mean that it is new itself or is this just the tenacity of the literature?

Both descriptions tally in most points with the account given above. There
is a scoring system involved, with chips given to each been caught lying
or distrusting a correct call. First to got 5 chips pays the drinks.
I played without any scoring; the game is fun either way!

The game is played on a tray or a piece of cardboard that is passed from
player to player. To accept the tray with the dice box on it is to accept
the combination announced. To refuse it is to force the dice to be shown.

Having accepted a call, a player may pass the box (the tray) on
without looking, but has to announce a combination higher than the previous
one. He may look at his opponents throw, but he has to shake the dice then and
announce a higher combination. He may or may not look at his throw before 
announcing a combination.

The highest combination is 2 - 1. It is called "Max", "Mäxchen", "Major" or "King"
in German.

According to one rule book, the combination of 4 - 2 is even higher that the
2 - 1. It is clear to see that this is an extension of the game -- just a doubled 2 - 1.
It is called "General", "Obermax", "King-Kong" or simply "forty-two".

An extra rule states that if a player announces 2 - 1 (or 4 - 2, if that's the highest
combination) and the next player accepts this last one has to start again by
announcing any combination he pleases. Apparently he doesn't get a chip.

The name "Max" for the highest combination reminds me of two other games:
1. There is a game at dice call "Maxen" where a "Max" is a throw of two ones
and any other number.
2. In the card game of Watten, the highest trump is called "Maxi" or "Maxl".

Furthermore, in the backgammon game of Acey-Deucey, the highest throw
is 1 - 2 (ace - deuce).

As to the name "myer" or "mia", I haven’t got any idea. If that name would
be of German origin, it might be spelled "Meier". There is a dice game
called "Familie Meier", but this is played with three dice and along 
different lines.
The several different  German names for the game of "myer" have all
got to do with "lying" -- a fact understood by all who played that game.

I would therefore like to substitute "liar" for "mia".

**       Christian Joachim Hartmann 
**       lukian at Null.net
**       christian.hartmann at uni-duesseldorf.de

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