Connect 4 – the story behind the saga
Board games were a huge hit back in the 1980's with toy stores stocking hundreds of different multi-colored game sets for both kids and adults, including everything from Candy Land to Monopoly to Trivial pursuit; there was one in every flavor to suit almost every taste. Though one of the most popular board games around was released by the Milton Bradley trademark and came under various names including 4 in a row, captain’s mistress, four up and four play, but is most popularly known as connect 4. Whether you were a child growing up in the 80's or not, chances are high that the name 'Connect 4' instantly brings back fond memories of playing this simple but addictive board game on a lazy Sunday afternoon with your friends or family. Since its humble beginnings this classic favorite has been developed into several follow up variations, a handheld electronic version and various other forms of the game including a unique wood carved 3-D connect 4 game. Several gaming companies have also come out with their own spin on the rules, increasing the number of dots in a row or allowing players to pop out dots to add extra challenge to the overall game-play.
The rules of the game
One aspect of this game that makes it so appealing to people of all ages is its simplicity; in fact it only takes a few minutes to learn the rules and get started. There are several versions of the game to date, but the most widely known version was released by Milton Bradley in 1974 and included a vertical standing square frame which had a 7 wide by 6 high grid of holes with slots in the top where you could insert either blue or yellow circular disks to fill in each hole. Each player would take their turn dropping a disk into one of the slots, each filling in a particular hole on the grid; the goal being to strategically stack your disks in the right places so that you’d form four disks in a line either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. It sounds easy, but your opponent could easily drop their disk into a slot to block your attempts at getting 4 in a row.
Development of the game
The Milton Bradley Company, now known as Has Bro, are ultimately championed with releasing a fun playable version of connect 4, but they were in no way the inventors of the game. In fact the origins of this addictive board game are slightly blurry and there is little hard evidence on record, although one American antique games company claims to have reproduce an authentic wooden version called the ‘Captain’s Mistress’ following original archived plans from the turn of the century. The resulting compact toy has 7 columns and a set of dark/light brown balls which are simply dropped into the columns one on top of the other to form the 4 in a row lines. What’s more, to further authenticate this companies claims their replica version of the game can clearly be seen in the hand of a man having his photo taken at the beach at the beginning of the 1900’s, placing the earliest record of connect 4 in Edwardian times Britain.
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