On this Day:

In 1929, the Game of Bingo was invented by Edwin S Lowe. Ahhh except that people had been annoying others by calling out “BINGO!” in halls well before that …

In the United States, bingo is a game of chance in which each player matches numbers printed in different arrangements on cards with the numbers the game host (caller) draws at random, marking the selected numbers with tiles. When a player finds the selected numbers are arranged on their card in a row, they call out “Bingo!” to alert all participants to a winning card, which prompts the game host (or an associate assisting the host) to examine the card for verification of the win. Players compete against one another to be the first to have a winning arrangement for the prize or jackpot. After a winner is declared, the players clear their number cards of the tiles and the game host begins a new round of play.

Alternative methods of play try to increase participation by creating excitement. Since its invention in 1929, modern bingo has evolved into multiple variations, with each jurisdiction’s gambling laws regulating how the game is played. There are also nearly unlimited patterns that may be specified for play. Some games require only one number to be matched, while cover-all games award the jackpot for covering an entire card. There are even games that award prizes to players for matching no numbers or achieving no pattern.

Bingo played in the US (75-ball bingo) is not to be confused with bingo played in the UK (90-ball bingo), as the tickets and the calling are slightly different.

A game of chance named lotto was being played in Italy by about 1530. In 18th-century a home version (called Tombola) was created in Naples with the addition of cards, tokens and the calling out of numbers. In the nineteenth century a game like this was widely played in Germany to teach children spelling, animal names and multiplication tables.

The French game Le Lotto appeared in 1778, featuring 27 squares in a layout of three rows and nine columns. Five squares in each row had numbers ranging from 1 through 90, which led to the modern design.

In the early 1920s, Hugh J. Ward created and standardized the game at carnivals in and around Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania area. He copyrighted it and published a rule book in 1933.

The game was further popularized by Edwin Lowe. While at a traveling carnival near Atlanta in December 1929 the toy merchandiser saw people eagerly playing a game called “Beano” following Ward’s rules, with dried beans, a rubber stamp, and cardboard sheets. Lowe took the game to New York where friends liked playing it. The Lowe-produced Bingo game had two versions, a 12-card set for $1.00 and a $2.00 set with 24 cards. By the 1940s there were Bingo games throughout the US.

The origin of the name Bingo is unknown but may date to the middle 1920s. There are claims that one of Lowe’s friends was so excited to have won that she yelled out “Bingo” instead of “Beano,” or that the word echoes the sound of a bell.

The most common Bingo cards are flat pieces of cardboard or disposable paper which contain 25 squares arranged in five vertical columns and five side to side rows. Each space in the grid contains a number, except the middle square, which is designated a “Free” space.

A typical Bingo game utilizes the numbers 1 through 75. The five columns of the card are labeled ‘B’, ‘I’, ‘N’, ‘G’, and ‘O’ from left to right. The center space is usually marked “Free” or “Free Space”, and is considered automatically filled. The range of printed numbers that can appear on the card is normally restricted by column, with the ‘B’ column only containing numbers between 1 and 15 inclusive, the ‘I’ column containing only 16 through 30, ‘N’ containing 31 through 45, ‘G’ containing 46 through 60, and ‘O’ containing 61 through 75.

The number of all possible Bingo cards with these standard features is P(15,5) × P(15,5) × P(15,5) × P(15,5) × P(15,4) = 552,446,474,061,128,648,601,600,000 or approximately 5.52×1026.

In U-Pick ‘Em bingo and other variants of bingo, players are issued three 25 number cards which contain all 75 numbers that may be drawn. Players then mark which numbers they wish to play and then daub those numbers according to the numbers drawn. In addition, double-action cards have two numbers in each square.

A player wins by completing a row, column, or diagonal. The most chips one can place on a Bingo board without having a Bingo is 19, not counting the free space. In order for this to happen, only one empty cell can reside in each row and each column, and at least one empty cell must be in each diagonal.

In addition to a straight line, other patterns may be considered a valid bingo in special games. For example, in the illustration above, the 2×2 square of marked squares in the upper-right-hand corner would be considered a “postage stamp”. Another common special game requires players to cover the four corners. There are several other patterns, such as a Roving ‘L’, which requires players to cover all B’s and top or bottom row or all O’s and top or bottom row. Another common pattern is a blackout, covering all 24 numbers and the free space (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

How do you make 3 older ladies in a church basement all yell profanities at the same time ?

Have a fourth one yell “BINGO”…

Second, a Song:

Here are a group of dancers performing to Talamohe (Bingo), which is stated to be similar to Mapouka African dance (and it’s nicely done). Malie Uvea, ‘alu ai ki he ‘auha. From Lapaha, Tonga, posted on YouTube.com by wallisFiaevanoa. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“People ask me if there are going to be stories of Harry Potter as an adult. Frankly, if I wanted to, I could keep writing stories until Harry is a senior citizen, but I don’t know how many people would actually want to read about a 65 year old Harry still at Hogwarts playing bingo with Ron and Hermione.” – J. K. Rowling

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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