hist-games: Trictrac & Ticktack

Imran Ghory imran at bits.bris.ac.uk
Mon Mar 31 13:21:28 PST 2003

On Sat, 29 Mar 2003, Jane and Mark Waks wrote:

> Putting all this together, it's hard to interpret the game as longer
> than running to the first hit. I'd like to be more certain of myself
> here, though. So the question is: are there any other references to
> Ticktack, especially ones that would suggest otherwise? 

>From The English Rogue, Part 4 (1671),

"There are Fullams of two sorts, which you may make run high or low, that
is, 6, 5, 4 or 3, 2, 1. either by drilling holes in the black spots, and
load them with Quick-Silver, stopping up again the said holes again with
Pitch, or filing the corners of the Dice. You may procure also, (which you
must have Implements as neceary in your intended Profeion, as Tools are
for any working occupation.) I say, there are Dice which you may get,
which will run nothing but a Sise, another a Cinque, another a Quatre,
&c. which are very useful at Tables; for if you want a Cinque, or so to
enter at Back-gammon or Irish, hitting that Blot at an after-game, you
recover again, and ten to one but you with the Game; besides, it is useful
for a single Hit at Tick-tack, or for taking points, by joyning two
together of a different sort."

Which seems to favour the "single hit" theory.

However The atheist (1684) suggets otherwise,

"Ten Guinea's? Let me see; Ten Guinea's are a pretty little pidling Sum,
that's the truth on't: But what will it do, Jackie-boy? Serve, may be,
to play at Tick-tack in an Afternoon, three Hits up for a Piece, or
so; but when will that recover my Hundred agen? "

> In particular,
> I'm looking for descriptions of Ticktack, or sources (in either French
> or English) closely associating the two games. I don't know Trictrac
> (or, indeed, most of the French sources) particularly well, so there
> might well be informative French sources on the subject that I haven't
> seen.

I don't know any English work which mentions both tric-trac and
tick-tack, moreover mentions of tick-tack virtually disappear around 1675,
about the same time tric-trac starts being mentioned, so I'd be inclined
to believe that both are the same game.

It might be unrelated but I notice that of the works I've looked at, those
mentioning tick-tack don't use the term "bearing" while the ones
mentioning Irish or Tables do.

> (Indeed, in the absence of hard data I have to suspect that the English
> variant may actually be the ancestor game. The longer game feels very
> much like an attempt to take the gambling game and turn it into
> something that's enjoyable without rapidly passing money back and
> forth...)

I think I'm right in saying that the earliest mention of Tick Tack (about
1550) predates any direct evidence on trictrac, although by the early
seventeenth century trictrac was being played across Europe so both games
probably originated in the sixteenth century. Apparently Clement Marot
left Genevea in 1543 to avoid being disciplined for playing trictrac, but
I haven't seen the source evidence for this.


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