Interesting Origins of Popular Games - The Leamington Observer

Interesting Origins of Popular Games

Leamington Editorial 28th Mar, 2024   0

Some of the world’s favourite sports have, in fact, hotly debated origins. From blackjack to tennis, and even footie, let’s take a look at the interesting origins of these popular games.


Today, blackjack remains one of the most popular table games for players around the world, so much so that it has spawned numerous digital and themed versions. When players check out blackjack at Paddy Power they will find live blackjack tables like Lightning Blackjack, Premium Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, and Majority Rules Speed Blackjack, which elevates the game to keep it immersive and authentic. Despite the many versions of modern blackjack, however, the origins are much less well known. In fact, no one really knows where and when blackjack came from.

The most popular theory is that the game probably developed in French casinos around the 18th century as Vingt-et-Un, or 21. This could have been a derivation of other card games like Chemin de Fer and French Ferme. Another similar game was played in Spain, except in this game players aimed to reach 31. The name blackjack wasn’t used until the game went to America, where casinos tried out an unusual marketing ploy with the black jacks of the pack. Though this rule didn’t catch on, the name certainly did.


It is thought that early versions of what we think of as modern tennis were being played in monasteries of northern France as far back as the 12th century. At this time, players used their palms to strike the ball, coining the name jeu de paume. The game began to use rackets in the 16th century, and it began to be known as tennis from the Anglo-Norman word Tenez. Though other racket sports emerged from this – namely racquets and squash – the development of tennis didn’t end here.

After the classic British game of cricket began to fall out of fashion in the 1850s, a solicitor called Major Harry Gem and his Spanish merchant friend Augurio Perera combined the gameplay of racquets with the Spanish game of pelota to create lawn tennis. After moving here to Leamington Spa, they partnered with two doctors to found the first tennis club in the world – Leamington Tennis Club – in 1874.


Similar ball games have been played for centuries – the Aztecs played Tchatali, 3rd century BC China had cuju, ancient Japan played kemari, Aboriginal Australians played Marn Gook, and the Romans had Harpastum. However, it wasn’t until the 12th century that the game of football began to be developed in medieval England. At this time, an early derivation of the game was played across meadows and roads in England, usually between two opposing villages or towns.

This early game had little to no rules, which caused absolute carnage. Some players even died due to the brutal nature of the sport. For this reason, football was banned until the 17th century, and a second time in 1835. By 1863, however, the first Football Association (FA) was inaugurated, which standardised the rules, codes of conduct, and the size and weight of the ball. The game was further standardised internationally with the formation of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 1904.

And there you have it – just a few popular games in the modern day that have interesting origins, adding a whole new level to the understanding and respect of the games.


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