The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Cross and circle games, an overview

I’m trying to get an overview over the variants that exist of the Pachisi/Ludo concept. I’m not interested in the moment in the traditional games (Pachisi, Chaupar, Yut) but the imports into Europe and the Americas. And of course I’m especially interested in the computer implementations.


Also known as Homeward Bound, this seems to have been the first ever Pachisi derivate in the West, published in 1863 by the London company John Jaques & Son. It was discontinued in the 1920s. There is astonishing little information about it on the web. Only German Wikipedia has an article about it, which at the time of writing has two pictures of boards and a scan of the original rules.

I have not found a computer game based on Patchesi. The layout of its board (essentially the original Pachisi cross diagonally on a square board) wouldn’t make it well fit for computer graphics anyway.


This game was first published by one John Hamilton as Patcheesi in the USA. He soon changed the name to Parcheesi to avoid the similarity with pot cheese. In 1868 he sold the rights to Albert Swift in New York, who in turn sold them to John Righter and Elisha Selchow in 1870. In 1874, Selchow & Righter registered the trademark Parcheesi: The Game of India.

Very similar to Parcheesi is the Spanish Parchís (which however is played with only one die), the Colombian Parqués and the Swiss Eile mit Weile. The latter dates to the late 19th century and was for a while quite popular in Germany, until Mensch ärgere Dich nicht came along.

Computer versions of this family seem to hail mainly from Spain, where Parchís is very popular.

Parchus Parchís


The name is Latin for I play. Ludo was patented in 1896 in London. Its rules are simpler than the older games, making it well fit for children. Ludo was the first Pachisi derivative to be played clockwise. In the English language, the name of this game has become somewhat synonymous with the whole cross and circle genre, and numerous computer versions exist.

Ludo Ludo Ludo 3.11a

Mensch, ärgere Dich nicht!

This is probably the most influential Pachisi derivative. It was invented by Josef Friedrich Schmidt in the winter 1907/08, originally for private use, published in 1912, but became popular only after he sent 3000 copies to field hospitals in 1914. By 1920 one million copies had been sold, at the end of the century about 60 million. It is found in three out of four German homes and the best known and most popular board game of any kind.

It has been sold under similar names in several other countries, being especially popular in the Netherlands (Mens erger je niet). The Swedish Fia med knuff is usually identical very similar to Mensch ärgere Dich nicht as well, but it seems that Fia med knuff is more a generic name than a specific variant, though there has been some discussion about this.

More computer games are based on Mensch ärgere Dich nicht than on any other Pachisi derivative, and on the PC, some of the oldest. Interesting enough these oldest are not from Germany, but from the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

Mens erger je niet Člověče nezlob se! Mensch ärgere dich nicht Mensch ärgere Dich nicht! MADN Los Raus Hier!


I’ve written about Sorry! before. It was invented in England in the 1920s and became the most popular Ludo-type game in the USA, mostly replacing Parcheesi. Still there aren’t many computer implementations.

Sorry! Slippery Ludo

Le jeu de dada

Also known as Petites chevaux or Jeu des trotteurs, Le jeu de dada was invented in France around 1936. It has the simplest rules of them all and is supposed to represent a horse race. The tokens are usually shaped like knights in chess, the squares outside the cross often show pictures of horses. Both physical and (the not very numerous) digital instances tend to show a lot of love for detail.

Le jeu de dada


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