Anecdotal stories seem to suggest that Russian roulette was either invented by Russian soldiers in the early 20th century or by Russian prison guards who forced prisoners to play the game for amusement and gambling. If you ask an American, one of these two scenarios is stated as the absolute truth. If you ask a Russian, they will tell you that no hard evidence points to Russians inventing the game, but they concede that it is a distinct possibility.
Russian roulette is a deadly game where a revolver in loaded with a single bullet, leaving five empty slots. The chamber is then spun around, and the gun is handed to the first player. The player puts the gun to his head and points the trigger. Obviously, the player who pulls the trigger on the loaded slot loses.
One of the first known instances of using the term Russian roulette comes from a story that ran in Collier’s magazine in 1937. A Russian soldier in the French Foreign Legion describes to his fellow soldier the practice he had seen while in the Russian army stationed in Romania. However, the soldier in the story describes the game as starting with a fully loaded revolver and removing a single bullet.
While Russian soldiers at that time were known for raucous behavior, drinking, fighting and gambling, no clear evidence shows they ever engaged in such an activity as Russian roulette. In fact, Russian soldiers could not have played because they were only issued rifles. Russian officers were issued revolvers, so it could only have occurred among them. However, officers were often known to be just as raucous as regular soldiers, so this is just a point on semantics.
There is some evidence of another similar game being played by Russian officers called “cuckoo.” In this game, officers hid behind furniture in a darkened room. When someone called out cuckoo, they would shoot at each other. In another version, an officer would stand on a table in the middle of a room, while other officers hid behind furniture. One officer would peep up and yell cuckoo, and the officer on the table would try to shoot him before he hid again.
Posted 3036 day ago