The 10 Most Popular Board Games: Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, Scrabble, Backgammon…


board games

Hello English learners!

Today, we have another fun post.

That is right, we are going to be talking about the most popular board games!

For those that may not know, a board game is a game where you need to move pieces from one part of the board to another.

So the word popular creates an issue like it does in the other posts. However, we can be more subjective with this topic, because people must purchase the board game, unlike speaking a language or watching a movie for free.

We can look at best-selling board games to help determine the most popular board games.

I would like to start with a bit of history to discuss the first recorded board game.

The first board game comes to us from Egypt in the year 3500 BC. The game was called Senet. The object of the game is to move all of your 5 pieces off of the board using Senet sticks as a type of two sided dice.

Let’s talk about more modern board games starting with #1.

The number #1 board game is Chess

This is a very old game brought to us by the good people from India. This game is 1500 years old (starting in 600 A.D). The game gives each player 16 pieces and those pieces have special moves that need to be learned.

The names of the pieces are as follows:







Once you learn the moves of the pieces you can begin to study strategies based on the other players’ moves.

The goal of the game is take the King of the other player by trapping the King to where it can’t make any more moves.

The number #2 board game is Checkers

The same people who bring us wonderful cheese and art brought this game to us. No, not people from Wisconsin! It was the French in the 12th Century. People from Great Britain call this game draught.

In the United States, we call this American Checkers (because we invented it France!) I am joking about the inventing it, but we do call it American Checkers.

You can take an opponent’s pieces by jumping over their piece with your own piece.

When a player loses all of their pieces the game is over. 

The number #3 board game is Monopoly

Monopoly was originally called The Landlords Game. A landlord is someone who owns property and rents it to tenants for money. The person that you pay rent to for your apartment is your landlord. An American woman invited the game in 1903 to educate the public on the negative aspects of private monopolies.

She later sold the board game rights to Parker Brothers in 1933.

The goal of the game is to be the richest person and own the most land.

The rest of this list has controversy surrounding it. People could argue different games in a different order.

The number #4 board game is Scrabble

Originally called Criss-Crosswords, this game was invented in the United States by Alfred Butts in 1938. Why are two of the most popular board games became popular during the 1930’s? If you remember The Great Depression occurred from 1929 to 1939.

People most likely need a cheap form of entertainment. This is also the period that movies became popular. So how does Scrabble work? Each player is given random letters and these letters must be placed on a board to spell a word in the language that is used in that country.

For example, while playing in the United States of America, both players can only use words in English. Each letter has a set value of points assigned to it.

The player with the most points at the end of the game has won the game.

I am giving the #5 most popular board game to Backgammon

This game is 3000 years old, not quiet as old as the oldest (Senet 5517 years old), but it is pretty old. Backgammon is a gift from the Persians (present day Iran). This game has a similar goal of checkers, where you want to remove your own pieces before they remove theirs.

This game involves luck, because a dice must be rolled. By rolling the dice, you can move your pieces in a circular path to get them all in the last section of the board.

The number #6 most popular board game is Trivial Pursuit

Two Canadians (Scott Abbott and Chris Haney) were missing some pieces from our #4 most popular board (Scrabble). So, they decided to invent their own game. Once again, a new innovative game was created out of boredom.

Trivial Pursuit is a game about answering trivia questions (non-important facts) about the following categories:

Geography – blue color

Sports and Leisure – orange color

Entertainment – pink color

Arts and Literature – purple color

Science and Nature – green color

History – yellow color

Each player moves around the board trying to collect all of the trivia pieces to complete their pie. 

The number #7 most popular game is Cluedo (UK) or Clue (US)

This game was invented by Anthony Pratt, in England, in 1949. It was also one of the first games to sale more than one billion dollars. The object of the game is find out who murdered the victim in the game. In the United Kingdom, Dr. Black was killed. In the United States, Mr. Boddy was killed.

Here is a list of the suspects:

Mrs. White – white piece

Mrs. Peacock – blue piece

Miss Scarlett – red piece

Reverend Mr. Green – green piece

Colonel Mustard – yellow piece

The players also must discover how Mr. Black/Boddy was killed.

Here is a list of weapons:


Revolver (gun)

Lead pipe

Dagger (knife)

Candlestick (something that holds candles)

Spanner (wrench) used for tightening bolts

In addition to that, the players must discover which room the crime took place.

Here are the rooms:




Dining Room


Billiard Room





If you like mystery and want to solve a crime with friends or guests, then this is the game for you.

The number #8 most popular game is The Game of Life (also called LIFE)

Milton Bradley invented this game in 1860 in the United States. The game has car pieces that go on a track. Each square has a reward or a punishment in terms of winning or losing money. Each player spins a wheel to determine which square they will land on.

This was America’s first popular parlor game and is sure to bring your friends together. The first one to the last square wins the game.

The number #9 most popular game is RISK

A film director Albert Lamorisse invented RISK in France in 1957. The game involves war, strategy and diplomacy. Each player tries to control a part of the map and plan war to take over the world. This is no quick and easy game. It could take hours to finish, but it is one of my favorite games.

You will make friends and enemies during this game. Test yourself to see if you could have been Napoleon and conquer the world.

The number #10 most popular game is Pictionary

A Canadian invented this game by the name of Robert Angel in 1985. It is a word guessing game in which you must move around a board by winning rounds based on the ability to guess a word that a teammate has drawn. The worse you are at drawing, the funnier this game can be. The setup is fast and takes about one hour to finish.

If you are an artist, then this might be the game for you. Move your piece to the end of the board to win the game!

There you are for the most popular board games. Do you agree or disagree?

Leave comments below to voice your opinion.

More for you:
10 Cool English Learning Games for Adults –
7 Quick Games at Any Stage of an English Lesson

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6 years ago

Absolutely, scrabble is one of the most popular games, not just for playing, but also for boosting one’s thinking ability. I play it very often here and i can calculate word points using

Kindly post more topics specifically related to scrabble as it is needed for the next generation folks to tune up their minds.

Joseph Mooryes
5 years ago

Thanks Brian Thornton for great post. Maybe game Mancala is popular board game. I and many my friends play it.

Deep Thinking
Deep Thinking
5 years ago

You forgot the purple piece from Cluedo – Professor Plum!

Reply to  Deep Thinking
5 years ago

Nice addition! 😃

4 years ago

I like playing board games like carroms, ludo, chess.

Harold Burton
2 years ago

It’s a shame more people didn’t have a chance to play Lufia, Lufia II, and Illusion of Gaia. Those RPGs definitely deserve a spot on this list. Especially more than Contra 3. And heck, what’s with Kirby 3 taking a spot on here and not Kirby Super Star? Come onnnn.And why are there no puzzle games on here? Tetris Attack was the best!

Pierce Fabreverg
2 years ago

Love your list! I’ve tried this game called Lagim – a collectible card game based on the Philippines’ folklore and mythology. The artwork of this game set is also impressive.

Kelly Hubbard
2 years ago

Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thank you

Reply to  Kelly Hubbard
2 years ago

Hi Kelly! Sure, feel free to share.