It’s suffered in recent years from declining circulation – a particular problem given its disproportionately large distribution area, much of which is relatively poorly served with road and rail.
Perhaps as a result, its geographical reach has diminished sharply in the last few years; until the late 2000s its distribution area stretched as far to the south-west as Penzance and as far to the north-east as Tewkesbury, and even into South Wales!
However, after the Han Dynasty it rapidly declined in popularity, possibly due to the rise in popularity of the game of Go, and it eventually became almost totally forgotten.
Knowledge of the game has increased in recent years with archeological discoveries of Liubo game boards and game equipment in ancient tombs, as well as discoveries of Han Dynasty picture stones and picture bricks depicting Liubo players.
In 2005 cuts in staff led to some of its journalists to auction themselves on e Bay as a tongue-in-cheek protest.
The However, cost-cutting amalgamations meant that by 2009 there were only two editions left (Somerset & Bristol and Wiltshire).
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For example, the Records of the Grand Historian records a speech made during the reign of King Xuan of Qi (reigned 319–301 BCE) that claims that the capital city of Linzi was so wealthy that its citizens were all able to indulge in activities such as playing musical instruments, cockfighting, dog racing, playing Liubo and playing kick ball. Pottery or wooden figurines of players with model Liubo boards have also been discovered in some Han tombs.
Then with bamboo dice and ivory pieces the game of Liu Bo is begun; Sides are taken; they advance together; keenly they threaten each other. Engraved picture stones (畫像石) and moulded picture bricks (畫像磚) that were widely used to decorate tombs and temples during the Eastern Han period (25–220 CE) also frequently depict people playing Liubo, sometimes as a small part of a complex scene depicting many different activities, but sometimes as the focal point of the scene, with the players attended by servants and playing in the cool of a pavilion.