How to Play Shut the Box: A Classic Dice Game

shut the box

Shut the Box is a delightful and engaging dice game that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for centuries. Its simplicity, combined with an element of strategy and chance, makes it a perfect choice for family gatherings, social events, or simply passing the time with friends.

In this blog, we’ll take you through the rules and strategies for playing Shut the Box, ensuring you have a great time while honing your arithmetic skills.

The Objective

The primary objective of Shut the Box is to close all the numbered tiles or flaps on a box or tray, each representing a number from 1 to 9 or 1 to 12, depending on the version of the game you are playing.

Players take turns rolling two dice and then use the sum of the dice to flip down one or more tiles that correspond to that sum. The game continues until a player cannot make a valid move, at which point their score is calculated based on the remaining open tiles.

Setting Up the Game

To play Shut the Box, you will need the following:

  1. A Shut the Box game set: This typically includes a wooden or plastic box with numbered tiles or flaps and two dice.
  2. Players: The game can be played with one or more players. While it’s often enjoyed as a solo game, it’s even more fun when played with friends or family members.


Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to play Shut the Box:

  1. Decide on the order of play. You can either take turns clockwise or have the youngest player go first.
  2. Each player, in their turn, rolls the two dice. The sum of the dice determines the tiles that they can flip down. For example, if you roll a 5 and a 3, you can choose to flip down the tile numbered 8 (5 + 3) or any combination of tiles that adds up to 8.
  3. Tiles that are flipped down cannot be used again in the same turn. For instance, if you roll a 4 and a 2, you cannot use both the 4 and the 2 to flip down the tile numbered 6 in the same turn.
  4. Continue taking turns clockwise until a player cannot make any valid moves with the rolled dice. At this point, their turn ends.
  5. Calculate the score for the player who couldn’t make a valid move by adding up the numbers on the remaining open tiles. The goal is to have the lowest score possible.
  6. Keep track of each player’s score, and when everyone has taken a turn, the player with the lowest score wins the game.

Strategy Tips

While Shut the Box is a game of chance, there are a few strategies that can help you improve your odds and lower your score:

  1. Focus on the high-value tiles first: Try to flip down the tiles with the highest numbers early in the game. This reduces the risk of getting stuck with a high score later on.
  2. Keep track of the remaining possibilities: As the game progresses, mentally track which combinations of dice rolls can still be used to flip down tiles. This will help you make informed decisions.
  3. Plan for multiple dice rolls: When deciding which tiles to flip down, consider the potential outcomes of the next roll. This can help you avoid getting trapped with no valid moves.


Shut the Box is a classic dice game that offers entertainment, mathematical challenges, and opportunities for strategic thinking. Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, this game is sure to provide hours of fun.

So, the next time you gather with your loved ones or seek a simple yet enjoyable way to pass the time, consider giving Shut the Box a try. It’s a game that has stood the test of time and continues to bring joy to players of all ages.


1. How many players can participate in a game of Shut the Box?

Shut the Box can be played with one or more players. It is often enjoyed as a solo game, but it can also be played with friends or family members in a multiplayer format.

The number of players can vary based on the version of the game and the preferences of the participants.

2. What are the different variations of Shut the Box?

Shut the Box comes in various versions with different numbers of tiles or flaps. The most common versions include 9-number and 12-number Shut the Box sets.

Some versions have a “double” rule, allowing players to double the tile values when flipped down. Additionally, there are electronic and online versions of the game that may have unique rules or features.

3. What happens if a player cannot make a valid move with the rolled dice?

If a player cannot make a valid move with the rolled dice because all the tiles corresponding to the rolled sum have already been flipped down, their turn ends, and they receive a score based on the remaining open tiles.

It’s essential to strategize and try to avoid situations where you cannot make a move, as this can lead to a higher score.

4. Is there a strategy for winning Shut the Box?

While Shut the Box involves an element of luck, there are some strategies that can improve your chances of winning and achieving a lower score. For example, focus on flipping down high-value tiles early in the game to reduce your potential score, and plan your moves to account for future dice rolls.

Keeping track of which tile combinations are still available can also help you make informed decisions during the game.


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