hist-games: Willughby on Ticktack

David Levy david.levy at sbcglobal.net
Fri Dec 19 09:19:58 PST 2003

[This is posted both to hist-games and the Yahoo! Trictrac group]

Yesterday, I received my copy of of Francis Willughby’s Book of Games.
Because of my interest in Trictrac
(http://pages.sbcglobal.net/david.levy/trictrac/) the first thing I wanted
to check was the discussion of Ticktack. Mark Waks’ recreation of the game,
based on Willughby, said that the game was over as soon as any points were
scored. My reading of sources other than Willughby made me believe that
Ticktack was played for points much like Trictrac.

Willughby certainly supports Mark’s recreation.

I was then prepared to dismiss Ticktack as a game created by someone who
learned Trictrac imperfectly. It certainly derives much of its vocabulary
from the French. “Tootes” for filling a table is a corruption of the French
word for all -- “tout.” The names of the dice rolls are are funny
combination of French and English. The scoring plays are similar to those in

Yet before I dismissed Ticktack completely, I saw this astonishing gem
(spelling and punctuation preserved):

“Vie Ticktack is when one has as hee thinks the advantage & is likely to
win, hee saies to the other, I Vie. If hee thinks there bee no hopes of it
hee yeilds the game. But if hee have a mind to venture longer and not yeild,
hee saies, I See It. This doubles whatever they play for. If the game bee
not wun the next throw, it may be vied againe, and then what they plaied for
at first is trebled. If it bee vied againe, the stake is quadrupled, &c.,
there beeing as many stakes to bee plaied for as there have bene vies
besides the stake at first, as if there has bene 4 vies & they play for 6
pence the stake will bee ½ a crowne. They use either to stake as often as
they vie or reckon the vies with counters. A double game doubles the stake &
all the vies.

This is something very much like the backgammon doubling cube applied to
Ticktack. The doubling cube is thought to have been “invented” or at least
applied to backgammon in New York in the 1920’s. There are some interesting
The doubling cube always doubles the stakes. It is only the initial “vie” in
Ticktack that doubles the stakes. In deciding whether to take a double, a
player can give up a single stake, or agree to play on for a double stake.
Thus by accepting, the player risks a single stake (lose two instead of lose
one) to gain three (win two instead of lose one) and needs to win one game
in four to accept the double (ignoring double games and ignoring the extra
equity provided by the exclusive option to double next).

The second vie in Ticktack is different. The player can give up a double
stake or agree to play on for a triple stake. Thus by accepting, the player
risks a single stake (lose three instead of lose two) to gain five (win
three instead of lose two). Thus the player needs to win only one game in
six to accept the second vie. Similarly the player needs to win only one
game in eight for the thrid vie, one in ten for the fourth, etc.

This would drive modern backgammon players crazy!

I need to study up on Gleek. Willughby also mentions a vie in Gleek.

Is anyone familiar with other games that use the vie?

David Levy

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