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Seven Games

Unabridged   10.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 01/05/2022

Seven Games

A Human History

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Digital Download ISBN:9781696607421


A group biography of seven enduring and beloved games, and the story of why—and how—we play them.

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Product Description

Checkers, backgammon, chess, and Go. Poker, Scrabble, and bridge. These seven games, ancient and modern, fascinate millions of people worldwide. In Seven Games, Oliver Roeder charts their origins and historical importance, the arcana of their rules, and the ways their design makes them pleasurable.

Roeder introduces thrilling competitors, such as evangelical minister Marion Tinsley, who across forty years lost only three games of checkers; Shusai, the Master, the last Go champion of imperial Japan; and an IBM engineer who created a backgammon program so capable at self-learning that NASA used it on the space shuttle. He delves into the history and lore of each game: backgammon boards in ancient Egypt, the Indian origins of chess, how certain shells from a particular beach in Japan make the finest white Go stones.

Roeder explores why games, seemingly trivial pastimes, speak so deeply to the human soul. He introduces an early philosopher of games, the aptly named Bernard Suits, and visits an Oxford cosmologist who has perfected a computer that can effectively play bridge, a game as complicated as human language itself. Throughout, Roeder tells the compelling story of how humans, pursuing scientific glory and competitive advantage, have invented AI programs better than any human player, and what that means for the games—and for us.


"An echo of adolescent enthusiasm underlies William Sarris's lively narration--a fitting tone for this history of the world's favorite and most enduring games AudioFile

"[A] splashy narrative that successfully argues that games … help individuals develop strategies for navigating daily life … This humanistic look at some of the most popular games in history will have readers hooked." ―Publishers Weekly

"Roeder’s appealing biography of seven games ― draughts (checkers), backgammon, chess, Go, poker, Scrabble and bridge ― explores why play is both fascinating and necessary." ― Nature

Author Bio

Oliver Roeder has been a senior writer at FiveThirtyEight and editor of The Riddler, a collection of the site's math puzzles. He studied artificial intelligence as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and holds a PhD in economics focused on game theory. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.