Holding 1

Parlour Games for Modern Families: Yacht

This is the game from which the best-selling commercial dice game Yahtzee was born, invented by a Canadian couple on their yacht in 1954. It involves rolling the dice three times on each turn to try to achieve a number of set combinations. A delicious after-dinner-mint of a game.

Number of players: 2 to 10

Age: 7 and up

You will need: Five dice, and paper and pencil for drawing up your scoring table

Playing time: 30 minutes

Object of the game

To be the player with the highest score at the end of the game, when all categories have been filled — that is, after 13 rounds.

How to play

First, you need to make up a score sheet, like this one. We used to do this afresh each time but, recently, we harnessed the power of our computer for good and printed up a wad of tables, which gets us into the game quicker.


For anyone who has played poker, some of these categories are self explanatory. This is what they are and how they are scored: for the top half of the table, one point is gained for each one thrown; two points for each two thrown, and so on. If a player achieves a score of at least 63 points for the first six categories (the equivalent of having rolled three of each number), he achieves a bonus of 35 points.

In the bottom half, three of a kind is the face value of all dice when at least three of them are the same number. Ditto for four of a kind. Full house is three of one number and two of another, earning a score of 25 points. A short straight is any run of four dice, for example, two, three, four, five; and a long straight is a run of all five dice, either one through to five or two through to six. A short straight earns 30 points, and a long straight 40 points. The Yacht is all five dice of the same number — 50 points. ‘Chance’ is your one opportunity to score when the dice have given you nothing: it is simply the face value of all dice added up.

To play, the first player rolls all five dice and, on the basis of what numbers come up, decides which category he will be aiming for — although this can change in the course of a turn. He then has two more rolls to try to complete the category (that is, up to three rolls in one turn), each time putting aside the dice he wishes to keep. If, however, he wishes to score after just one or two rolls, that’s fine, too.

By the end of the third throw, the score has to be attributed to one of the categories, even if it is a zero because the dice haven’t provided a scoring combination. Afterwards, this score cannot be changed, and no category can be scored twice.

An example of a single turn: Susan rolls two, four, five, five, six. She keeps the two fives, and rolls the other three dice: one, three, five. She keeps this third five, then rolls the remaining two dice, coming up with two and two. She can either score this as 15, under her fives at the top of the table, or score it as a full house, or three of a kind, in the bottom half, depending on which categories she has already filled.

After 13 rounds, the game is over and subtotals from the top and bottom halves of the score sheet are added to make the total. The player with the highest score wins. Often, it’s the player who has managed to roll a Yacht.

Parlour_Games_coverThis is an edited extract from Parlour Games for Modern Families by Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras, published by Scribe, RRP$24.99, out now. Available here.