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Overview

Jenga is a game of physical & mental skill built on the simple premise of stacking blocks.

It was created by game designer & author Leslie Scott who developed the game that her family created in Ghana during the 1970s. It was publicly introduced in London at the Harrods' department store in 1982 and launched in North America in 1986.

How to Play

"Jenga" is played with 54 wooden blocks; each block is three times longer than its width, and one fifth as thick as its length 1.5 cm × 2.5 cm × 7.5 cm (0.59 in × 0.98 in × 2.95 in). The blocks have small, random variations from these dimensions as to create imperfections in the stacking process and providing additional challenge to the game.

In order to set up the game, the included loading tray is used to stack the initial tower which has eighteen levels of three blocks placed adjacent to one another along their long side and at right angles to the previous level (so, for example, if the blocks in the first level lie lengthwise north-south, the second-level blocks will lie east-west).

Once the tower is built, the person who built the tower gets the first move. Moving in Jenga consists of taking one and only one block from any level (except the one below the incomplete top level) of the tower, and placing it on the topmost level to complete it. Only one hand should be used at a time when taking blocks from the tower. Blocks may be bumped to find a loose block that will not disturb the rest of the tower.

Any block that is moved out of place must be returned to its original location before removing another block. The turn ends when the next person to move touches the tower or after ten seconds, whichever occurs first.

The game ends when the tower falls or if any piece falls from the tower other than the piece being knocked out to move to the top.

The winner of the game is the last person to successfully remove and place a block.

Other Versions

Throw 'n Go Jenga is a variant originally marketed by Hasbro and is currently being produced and marketed by Winning Moves.

The game consists of blocks that are colored red, blue, or yellow plus a six-sided die. Before each move, the player throws the die, and then follows the instructions on the die:

  • Yellow/End: Remove any yellow block or remove any color end block.
  • Red/Mid: Remove any red block or remove any color middle block.
  • Blue/End: Remove any blue block or remove any color end block.
  • Any two: Remove any two blocks of any color in any position.
  • Wild: Remove any color block in any position
  • Reverse: Do not remove any blocks, but pass the die to the next player in the opposite direction.

Other than the fact that the die determines the proper move, play continues the same as regular Jenga.

Jenga Truth Or Dare Tower is an adult variation of Jenga also marketed by Hasbro.

This version looks like regular Jenga except there are three colors of blocks, red, green and natural, instead of just the natural color of Jenga. Play is the same, but if a player moves a red block on that play, the player must complete the dare printed on it before stacking the block on top.

A player who moves a green block must truthfully answer the question printed on the block before stacking it. The natural blocks have nothing printed on them and are played as in Jenga. However, it is permissible to write a player's own truths or dares on the natural blocks if desired.

"Jenga Xtreme" uses parallelogram-shaped blocks that can create some interesting leaning towers.

"Casino Jenga: Las Vegas Edition" employs a roulette-style game play, featuring a felt game board, betting chips and additional rules.

In addition, there have been a number of collector edition Jenga games, featuring the colors and logos of the Boston Red Sox, Oakland Raiders, New York Yankees, and John Deere, among others. Hello Kitty Jenga, Transformers Jenga, Tarzan Jenga, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Jenga and Donkey Kong Jenga are some of the licensed variations of Jenga.

Jenga XXL and Jenga Giant are licensed giant Jenga games manufactured and distributed by Art's Ideas.

Jenga Giant can reach 3 feet (90 cm) or higher in play.

Jenga XXL starts at over 4 feet (1.2 m) high and can reach 8 feet (2.4 m) or higher in play. Rules are the same as in classic Jenga, except players can use two hands to move the eighteen-inch long blocks.