I invented Hare & Tortoise in 1973, basing it on an original movement mechanism devised in 1969 for an abortive game
called Space Race. (It was the year of the first moon landing.) Development was remarkably rapid: invented 13 October,
tested 20 October, revised and replayed 4 November, play-tested soon after by the
Games & Puzzles review panel, and licensed to
the recently-founded publisher Intellect Games on 17 December.
Intellect Games, 1974
Haring forwards at great speed, Intellect had it on the shelves by the following June. The first edition (right) was
designed by Shirtsleeve Studio in Victorian style. In 1975, in the first Game of the Year Award inaugurated by Games &
Puzzles magazine, a readers' poll placed Hare & Tortoise in the Top Ten after Scrabble, Mastermind, Diplomacy and
Monopoly, and ahead of Cluedo. Unfortunately, Intellect Games was sold in 1976 to an industrial company seeking
to establish itself in the games field. Poor management led to the virtual loss of the game from the UK market, though it
continued to rate high in British Game of the Year polls.
Ravensburger published the award-winning first German edition in 1978 in a design best described as
Ruritanian, or fairy-tale romantic. By the end of the year it had become one of Germany's fastest-selling games.
Sublicensed to other European manufacturers, the same design appeared in French (Le Lièvre et la Tortue
Dutch (Haas en Schildpad
) and Spanish (La Liebre y la Tortuga)
. An Italian version also featured the
Ravensburger board and cards, but surmounted it with a garish box-lid (right
Having discovered by now that H&T was not really a kids' game, Ravensburger produced this more restrained box design
for the French edition (left
), which was also used for their English-language edition published in the USA.
With the demise of Intellect Games, the UK licence was taken up in 1980 by Waddingtons House of Games, with abysmal design
and production values (below
) including a reduction to
Waddingtons 1980, with Portuguese sub-licence
a maximum of four players to save on component costs. They seem also to have
sublicensed it to Majora, a Portuguese company. Thomas Malloy kindly sent me a picture of "A Lebre e a Tartaruga" of which
he recently purchased an old, battered copy, and I have prettied it up for reproduction here.
The Britvic travesty game
Waddingtons also produced this promotional version of the game in which carrots were replaced by glasses of Britvic fruit
juice. It would have been nice if they had sent me a copy (I only managed to get this image (left
) courtesy of
The Games Journal
), but at least I got some royalties for it.
Then again it was not until 2009 that I stumbled upon this image of an edition of the game
evidently sublicensed by Waddingtons (who again told me nothing about it) to the Australian
games company John Sands.
Sedate Swedish design
Waddingtons also sublicensed the Scandinavian rights to the Swedish games company Alga, who published it
in Swedish, Norwegian (left
), Danish, and, I believe,
Finnish ("Jänis ja kilpikonna"), though I have never actually seen the Finnished product.
(For a reading of the fable in Finnish, visit
Alga subsequently smartened up the box design to make it look less like a kids' game (right
Gibsons (UK) 1987
In 1987 the UK rights were taken up by Gibson Games, of whom I then lived within walking distance. They had the happy idea
of going back to Shirtsleeve Studio, designers of the original Intellect version, who responded by
updating it from early to late Victorian. For this new edition I revised the layout by moving the first lettuce
square from 7th to 10th from Start, now widely regarded as a definite improvement.
When Ravensburger inexplicably ceased publication in 1999 I was approached by Joe Nikisch of Abacus Games for The German rights.
To avoid copying Ravensburg Ruritanian they commissioned an updated design (right
) that cleverly combines fantasy
with modernity, hard though it may be to envisage racing drivers subsisting on carrots and lettuces.
Abacus sub-licensed to Rio Grande for the US edition.
A change of management at Ravensburger resulted in a change of mind when the agreement with Abacus was coming to
an end. For their new edition - appearing nearly 30 years after their first publication! - the game reverted to
its best-known design, but with the improved layout of 1987 (first lettuce on 10th square) and revisions to the hare-card
instructions that you draw when landing on a hare square.
In 2010 Gibsons republished
Gibsons 2010: box and board
the game for the English-language market.
Michael Gibson decided, with my agreement, to break away from the traditional Ruritanian ethos and at my suggestion
to produce a design more in keeping with the intellectual nature of what is essentially an abstract game with a
light thematic dressing up. As it doesn't
reproduce well on the small scale shown here (right
), it may be worth pointing out that the outline sketches
surrounding the actual race track depict famous English landmarks, including
, the Blackpool Tower
The Angel of the North
A new edition for the Spanish, Portuguese and South American markets, with rules in three languages including
Catalan, was published in July 2014 by
It uses the Abacus/Rio Grande artwork and incorporates yet another version of Jugging the Hare.
Pirates and home-made versions
For this pirated Czech edition (left
) I am indebted to French games-collector
François Haffner, who exchanged his copy for one of my only two remaining copies of
Shoulder to Shoulder
. An unexplained curiosity of this game is
that lettuces are replaced by apples. Does that make Bohemia a lettuce-free zone?
The Hungarian pirate
Rudolf Rühle, of the European Society of Game Collectors (ESG)
sent me these images (right
) of a 1986 Hungarian pirate with a motor racing theme. Quantities of fuel replace
carrots, and lettuce squares have become compulsory pit stops.
Austrian electrical promotion
This Austrian promotional adaptation, apparently advertising an electrical company,
(the principal characters are "Voltinger & Wattinger") was exhibited by Rudolf Rühle at the ESG
stand at the 2011 Essen game fair.
Home-made east of the Berlin Wall
In 1984 Wolfgang Großkopf, a games enthusiast in the then GDR (German Democratic Republic, i.e. communist East Germany)
home-produced a one-off version of Hare & Tortoise using standard playing-cards for his hand-made board and renaming it
"Energie". Großkopf similarly reproduced many other western games that took his fancy, and recently donated his
entire collection of them to the European Society of
, whose co-founder Rudolf Rühle I thank for providing me with these images.
Two more home-made versions from the former GDR
I visited the Chemnitz Games Museum in 2013 and saw some exhibits left over from a previous exhibition of home-made products
". Here are two of them:
by Helmut Göpner of Hennickendorf, right
by Michael Karbe of Berlin-Lichtenberg.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, another pirated edition was being produced by a
South American games company called Tipo's. I'm not sure whether this set, sent me in the late 1980s by my late friend
Jaime Poniachik of Buenos Aires is from Argentina or Uruguay. Possibly both.
Differences between similar editions
Games collectors are intrigued by the fact that almost every edition or reprinting incorporates greater or lesser
differences from the previous one. The most significant differences relate to the arrangement of the board, the number of
carrots youy may not have more than upon reaching Home, and methods of jugging the hare. For details, see
Rules of play
Jugging the hare
. A relatively minor difference is that in some editions
the squares are numbered backwards from 64 (immediately after Start) to 1 (immediately before Home), enabling you
to see at a glance from any position how far it is to Home and thus how many carrots you need. This helpful guide first
appeared in the second Intellect version (1976) and has been sporadically followed in subsequent versions of the game.