Unlike test match cricket, Snakes and Ladders is not a game which reflects much credit on its inventor, particularly for fathers of small children, since children seem blissfully unaware of the mind numbing boredom produced by three or four games in succession. If the result of a test match can partly hang on the toss of a coin, Snakes and Ladders depends wholly on throws of a die. St. Cyprian charged Lucifer with inspiring the invention of dice; perhaps he was right?
As we saw in Chapter
, gambling with dice was enormously popular well into the eighteenth century, and for at least 2000 years before. But not until the sixteenth century does definite evidence suggest that dice players started to consider in any detail the chances of their getting a particular result when rolling one or more dice. Perhaps the most famous of the early investigators was the colourful Girolamo Cardano. Born in Milan on the 24th September 1501, Cardano was the illegitimate son of Facio...