SORRY!: Yea, bet they’re sorry they asked.

SORRY!: Yea, bet they’re sorry they asked.

In a recent interview I was asked “Are games for adults too?” and I think I had a coronary because in my world, OF COURSE games are for adults too.  They’re for little kids, big kids, anyone who is a kid at heart and even those adults who haven’t let the little kid inside them out for years.  But again, this is my world — my game-filled world, and while I have a hard time believing it, there are lots of people out there who don’t play games or haven’t played a game since they were a kid.

At my last game night one player said, “ooh, SORRY! I played that when I was a kid” and that comment was closely followed by someone saying they had never played it.  WHAT??!  SORRY! has been on the market since the 1930s how did they not have a copy on their game shelf or see it on a friend’s game shelf when they were a kid?!  Yes, again it struck me that not everyone plays games.  I recall the hours of fun my family has had playing SORRY! and a small part of me felt bad because this nice person missed out.  Therefore, I’m writing an article on SORRY!  Not just a review, because I anticipate and sincerely hope that most of my wonderful readers have played SORRY! at least once, but I’m also going to share a little history on the game.  Consider this a tiny service project and I urge you to share it with your non-SORRY! playing friends.

I’m sure many of you gamer types have noticed, SORRY! looks a bit like Indian Pachisi, better known as Parcheesi to us Americans and Ludo to those in the UK.  This classic Indian game is actually a version of the ancient “cross and circle” games, which have been around for more than a millennium.  In all these games the goal is to be the first to get your pieces all the way around the board.  In SORRY! you need to be the first player to get your 4 movers from Start to Home, but the key difference for SORRY! is the element of revenge.  Sweet, sweet revenge.

William Henry Storey from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, invented the game and it was initially patented in the UK before applying for patents in the US and Canada.   The UK patent was applied for in 1929 and the US one in 1930 – which of course takes a couple years so he doesn’t get it until August 11, 1933 (see picture of the patent drawing at right).  So W. H. Storey & Co. is manufacturing SORRY (minus the !) just outside of London when Robert Barton, president of Parker Brothers in 1933, hears from the Parker Brothers’ London office that there is this Parcheesi-like game that’s selling really well.  With the blessing of George Parker (although slightly reluctant as he saw it as a Parcheesi variant), they pay $25,000 to purchase the US rights for SORRY!  Around the same time, Waddingtons starts selling it in the UK.

In an interesting twist, SORRY! ends up being the very first game to have the signed “Parker Brothers” logo on the box according to The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, by Phil Orbanes.  The “signature” was written by George S. Parker, and who for those of you who don’t know your game history, he was the founder and president of Parker Brothers from its inception in 1883 when he was 16 until he handed over the reigns to Robert Barton in 1933.  Barton was George’s son-in-law having married George’s only surviving child, Sally, in 1931.  So the decision to bring SORRY! to the US was one of Barton’s first acquisitions as president – one that turned out to be a good one too! (If you want to know more about the history of Parker Brothers, I highly recommend The Game Makers.)

The English game of SORRY! looked much like the patent drawing with weird blob-like shapes on the board (see above), whereas it was given quite a face-lift for the US market. The first US version of the game said, “The Fashionable English Game SORRY!” on the box cover and the board on the inside looks extremely similar to the SORRY! we’ve seen for years (at right is the board from 1934).  One of key features of the game is that the deck of number cards, which players use to move their pieces around the board, assigns some numbers special attributes.  For example, if you pull an 11 you can move 1 piece 11 spaces OR swap spaces with another player, if you pull a 4, you must  move 1 piece backwards 4 spaces.  The deck also includes SORRY! cards which allow players to take a piece out of Home and knock any opponent off the outer path of the board, returning them to their Home.   The two slides per side is another fun feature to knock other players off.  You can’t slide on your own color slide, but if you’re caught on any side when someone’s coming down it you’re booted back home!  These great classic “revenge” tactics have made the game a perennial classic and have inspired numerous spin-offs including Shakin’ SORRY!, SORRY! Spin, SORRY! Sliders, SORRY! Card Revenge and many more.

So now that you know little more history of this Hasbro classic, I have to ask, who wants to play?!


SORRY! stats:
$10-20 pretty much anywhere games are sold (Amazon has the classic verion!)
2-4 players
10-20 minutes (the original directions said it “If after playing FOUR games the AVERAGE time taken per game is over twenty-five minutes, the rules should be CAREFULLY read again.” and in that version each number’s attribute had to be looked up in the rule booklet)
Ages 6 and up


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  1. Dave H.

    Very cool and informative! We were a Parcheesi family, but it lacked the built-in taunting of SORRY!

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