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"Uckers" or "huckers" is the most famous naval game. An ultimate form of ludo, Uckers grew in popularity during the 1920s.

The term "Huckers" comes from the days of wooden ships - to 'huck', or 'hog', the vessel was to scrub the barnacles and other birch twigs whilst she was in dock.

The different branches of the Navy play by different rules.

Photograph of sailors playing Uckers onboard
Uckers onboard (RN FPU)

Uckers was so popular that in 1937 the HMS Ark Royal launched with a readymade deck covering in the design of a giant ludo board.

EJF Records writes in his diary in 1934 -

'The "hucca" boards are out again. A civilian would think the fellows mad if he could see some of the antics while a game is in progress. Fellows playing sit on the floor and if by chance the thrower has a chance of "Hucking" an opponent he does a ceremonial shake. Twists the cup various ways and speaks to the dice, and then when the dice is thrown 4 sterns [bottoms]are cocked in the air and 4 noses very nearly rub the deck as they count the spots on the dice. Could see it just as well if they sat still but rubbing noses on the dice almost, seems part of the game.'

A larger version of uckers named "grand uckers" helped its popularity as a spectator sport. Oversize players dressed in grotesque outfits and with helpers to assist in throwing the dice now begun to represent ships and even squadrons at uckers.

Uckers rule being read out by man in fancy dress for competition
Reading the rules out. Grand uckers. (RNM)

In 1954 the Royal Navy staged its largest and most colourful version of the game at Wembley. No fewer than 64 players participated with two volunteer bands and the Band of the Coldstream Guards as further entertainment to the fans.