Lexicon 2

Casting dice to see how they will land has intrigued people for thousands of years. In some countries, such as India, cowrie shells are used to determine the future. Knuckle-bones (from legs of mutton) and divining sticks have also been used as dice in many different coun¬tries throughout history by people who believed that the gods would reveal the future to those who understood how to interpret their signs.

Sometimes, in Medieval England, dice were thrown on a dice board. The board was divided into six spaces. A funnel was suspended above the board and the dice were tossed through this cup. Actually, the cast depended not upon the markings of the dice that landed up but upon the value of the space they landed upon.

Otherwise, dice were usually shaken in a wooden cup and tossed out together upon the table. Dice cups are still used today, especially in games like Backgammon, where they are even padded to muffle the sound.

DOUBLET or PAIR.-When a pair of dice is thrown and the same number of dots appears on the upper faces of both dice, a “doublet” has been thrown. In most board games, a pair or doublet entitles a player to another throw and turn.Throwing a doublet may also mean that two playing pieces are joined as a team and moved together as one piece, as in Pachisi.

COCKED DICE.-If one or both of the dice land on top of a piece on the board or are tilted against something, they are “cocked” and should be tossed again.

TEETOTUNt.-A teetotum is a four- or six-sided top that is spun with the fingers. The sides are marked with numbers or dots so that the number that lands down when the top stops spinning determines the player’s move.