Robert Charles Bell was born 1917 in Sudbury, Ontario and came to England in 1928. After his education at Haileybury College, Hertfordshire and St Bartholomew's Hospital, he became a consultant plastic surgeon in 1941. Bell was on the editorial board of the British Journal of Plastic Surgery. He later produced many articles on coin collecting for World Coins.

Robert Charles Bell was the author of several books on board-games, most importantly Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations, Discovering Backgammon, Discovering Mah-Jong, Discovering Chess and Discovering Old Board Games. These books helped to popularize several mancala games, e.g. Ba-awa, Wari, and Hus.

Bell died after 1980.

Bell's Main Categories of Board & Table Games

Bell gives origins, history and some game-playing details for some 180 games in the two volumes of his main work. He divides the majority into three main categories Race, Place or Chase/War or combinations of the three.

A Race Game requires the pieces to move from a start point to a finish point usually based on the throw of dice.

A Place Game requires the winning player to form a pattern or shape by placing pieces on a board.

A War Game involves both placement and movement with the additional factor that pieces can be captured. Each of these terms can have a more specific game-related meaning.

Both Robert Charles Bell and Harold James Ruthven Murray use these major categories. Bell separates mancala games from the Race category and also has dice and domino categories. In addition, there is mention of the sub-genre of solitaires and puzzle games.

Much of Bell's work is based on his own research and the books of H.J.R. Murray, John Scarne (the inventor of Teeko), and Henry Dudeny (an English mathematician who specialised in logic puzzles and mathematical games).

A significant number of games within Wikipedia have a reference to Bell's books.


Bell, R. C.
Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations. Oxford University Press, Oxford (UK), 1960 (Vol. I) & 1969 (Vol. II).
Bell, R. C.
Discovering Backgammon. Shire Publications, Aylesbury (UK) 1975.
Bell, R. C.
Discovering Chess. Shire Publications, Aylesbury (UK) 1976.
Bell, R. C.
Discovering Mah-Jong. Shire Publications, Aylesbury (UK) 1978.
Bell, R. C.
The Boardgame Book. Bookthrift Company, London (UK) 1979.
Bell, R. C.
Discovering Old Board Games. Shire Publications, Aylesbury (UK) 1980.


Adapted from the Wikipedia article, "Robert Charles Bell", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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